Margaret "Peggy" Bates
Margaret “Peggy” Bates

By Abby Weingarten

Each spring, the Gender Studies program at New College recognizes exceptional undergraduate student research with the Margaret Bates Awards.

This year, there were 11 laureates: Grant Brewer, Tiffany Clark, Olivia DelGandio, Emma Rose Knadle, Megan O’Brian, Freddie O’Brion, Nicholas Pracko, Arantxa Prince, Katie Thomas, Benjamin Valen and Jon-Douglas (Jonny) Werstler.

“We honor our students, both for their original work now and for what it predicts about their future achievements,” said Amy Reid, Ph.D., a professor of French and gender studies, and the director of the Gender Studies program at New College. “We know that the senior thesis process—where students focus intently for a year on an original research project—is not just the culmination of a New College degree; it’s a way for students to realize the many skills they have developed here: research and writing, problem solving, logistics, communication and collaboration.”

The Bates Awards are named after the late Margaret “Peggy” Bates, who was a beloved member of the New College faculty. An authority on African history and international law, Bates exemplified the ideals of global citizenry and inspired her students to excel. She served as a professor of political science from 1971 to 1995, and as the College’s interim provost from 1989 to 1992.

The Gender Studies program has been distributing Bates Awards for more than a decade “both as a way to highlight and encourage [student] work, and as a way to provide some financial support for their attending conferences,” Reid said, adding that the latter has been mostly put on hold due to the pandemic.

During “Feminist Friday” gatherings at New College, students presented their work and received feedback from the faculty.

“Receiving this award after the long struggle it took to get here feels absolutely amazing—and validating of all my hard work and the many, many tears I shed for it,” Clark said.

The students’ work is as follows:

Grant Brewer

  • Theatre, dance and performance studies/gender studies areas of concentration (AOCs)
  • Thesis title: Your Turn to Role: Queer Worldbuilding in Dungeons and Dragons
  • Nominated by thesis sponsor Associate Professor of Sociology Queen Zabriskie, Ph.D.
  • Thesis committee included Professor of English and Theater and Performance Studies Nova Myhill, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Gender Studies Nick Clarkson, Ph.D.

Tiffany Clark

  • English AOC
  • Thesis title: Funny Feminism: Rebellious Humor in Contemporary Women’s Literature
  • Nominated by thesis sponsor Professor of English and Gender Studies Miriam Wallace, Ph.D.
  • Thesis committee included Clarkson and Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Emily Carr, Ph.D.

Olivia DelGandio

  • Sociology AOC
  • Thesis title: Choose Life, Have an Abortion: How Shout Your Abortion is Using a Public Pedagogy of Hope to Reframe the Conversation Around Abortion
  • Nominated by thesis sponsor Zabriskie
  • Thesis committee included Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies Emily Fairchild, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Caribbean Studies Sarah Hernandez, Ph.D.

Emma Rose Knadle

  • Gender studies AOC
  • Thesis title: Everyday Activism for Everyday People: Transformative Practices of Self-Care, Cultivating Relationships and Collective Care
  • Nominated by thesis sponsor Clarkson
  • Thesis committee included Wallace and Reid

Megan O’Brian

  • Art history AOC
  • Thesis title: Fashioning the New Woman: Elsa Schiaparelli and the Illusion and Agency of Feminine Performance
  • Nominated by thesis sponsor Assistant Professor of Art History Katherine Brion, Ph.D.
  • Thesis committee included Reid and Professor of Art History Magdalena Carrasco, Ph.D.

Freddie O’Brion

  • Art/gender studies AOC
  • Thesis title: Exuberant Viscera
  • Nominated by Clarkson
  • Thesis committee included thesis sponsor Assistant Professor of Art Ryan Buyssens, M.F.A., and Associate Professor of Art Kim Anderson, M.F.A.

Nicholas Pracko

Arantxa Prince

  • Sociology/history AOC
  • Thesis title: Off to the Mother Country: Community Cultural Wealth and the Construction of Windrush Jamaican Transnational Motherhood
  • Nominated by thesis sponsor Zabriskie
  • Thesis committee included Fairchild and Assistant Professor of History Brendan Goff, Ph.D.

Katie Thomas

  • Art history AOC
  • Thesis title: From the Kitchen to the Dining Room: Domestic Labor in the Second-Wave Feminist Installations Womanhouse and A Woman’s Place
  • Nominated by thesis sponsor Brion
  • Thesis committee included Carrasco and Clarkson

Benjamin Valen

  • Psychology/art history AOC
  • Thesis title: LGBTQ+ and Going to Church?: Acceptance, Closeness and Lived Experiences of LGBTQ+ Individuals in Openly-Affirming Churches
  • Nominated by Associate Professors of Psychology Steven Graham, Ph.D. and Catherine Cottrell, Ph.D.
  • Thesis committee included sponsor Cottrell, Graham and Brion

Jon-Douglas (Jonny) Werstler

  • Psychology AOC
  • Thesis title: Emotional Regulation and Gender: An Exploration of How Gender and Emotion Regulation Relate to Physiological and Psychological Responses to Emotionally Powerful Music
  • Nominated by thesis sponsor Assistant Professor of Psychology Kathleen Casto, Ph.D.
  • Thesis committee included Cottrell and Associate Professor of Music Maribeth Clark, Ph.D.

Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.


Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is a top-ranked public liberal arts college and the state’s Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in arts, humanities and sciences, a master’s degree program in applied data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

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