The Dean James E. McLeod Freshman Writing Prize was created to encourage freshmen in the College of Arts & Sciences to begin engaging in research in the early stages of their undergraduate careers; to understand that scholarship is a creative form of expression that can reach others in real and meaningful ways; and most importantly, by fully participating in the process of research and writing, to see themselves as scholars in the making.

Dean McLeod was a great supporter of intellectual engagement and the transformation that can occur when students immerse themselves in the study of subjects they passionately care about. He also understood the power of individual mentorship and teaching.

The Dean James E. McLeod Freshman Writing Prize provides first-year students and their teachers a framework within which to work together to produce significant and meaningful pieces of writing for possible publication. It gives freshmen their first taste of writing for a broader audience and introduces them to research as a significant, valued, and valuable part of the undergraduate experience.

The long term goal of this prize is to encourage students to seek further opportunities to cultivate their intellectual interests by producing creative and innovative scholarship; to develop ideas they are passionate about into meaningful projects extending beyond the classroom; and to induce them to consider the power of entering larger public discourses by engaging in serious, well thought-out research. More information is available through the Center for the Humanities.

Submission Requirements for the Prize

An original research paper (10-12 pages of text) that explores some aspect of race, gender and/or identity. The paper may derive from any discipline provided that it is written in English and was created for a freshman seminar or course taken during the first year, taught by a Washington University instructor. Papers can be nominated through self-nomination or by instructors. Only one paper may be submitted per student.

Winning papers and honorable mentions are posted to with permission from the students.


Research Papers from 2019


Do It for the Culture, Priyanka Iyer


Sustenance Abuse: Anorexia, Bulimia, and & Black Women, Olivia J. Williams

Research Papers from 2018


Racializing Sexuality: Voicing the Forced Silence of Young Black Queers on TV, CeCe Heard


Queer as Folklore: How Fun Home Destabilizes the Metronormative Myth, Grace MacArthur


Gentrifried: the Foodways of Neoliberal Urban Redevelopment in St. Louis, Elizabeth Schwartz

Research Papers from 2016


Paging Equality: A Study of Women Leadership Positions in Medicine, Olivia Crow


The Receptivity of Black Audiences to Progressive Black Television, Adon Wade-Currie


You Better Work: The Decriminalizatin of Sex Work as a Transgender Woman of Color Rights Issue, Emily Wyland