While performing a literature search in preparation for his BCN honors thesis experiment, Winter '14 Psychology Honor graduate Nathan Chesterman discovered that scant research had been done on the role of a certain region of the brain—the insula, or insular cortex—in laboratory rats.  Nathan thus used an experimental procedure to show that there are so-called ‘hedonistic hotspots’ in rat brains that play a role in mediating pleasure and disgust. Nathan further used evidence from his literature search to show that these results have important evolutionary implications on social and economic rewards in humans, and points towards possible directions for future research. Nathan’s lab supervisor praised not only his experimental design but also his ability to synthesize literature from multiple fields to create a theoretical framework for the experiment, demonstrating “an incredible ability to synthesize and process diffuse and complicated information, using that ability to successfully conduct scholarly research which resulted in a truly superb multi-term thesis.”  For demonstrating an ability to use the interplay of multidisciplinary literature research and laboratory research to expand the frontiers of scientific knowledge, the award committee is pleased to award him the second place Blue Award for Multi-Term Projects.

View the complete list of Undergraduate Research Award winners.