UCLA Undergraduate Essay Prizes

2020 Essay Prize Winners

Writing Programs is pleased to announce the winners for the 2020 Peter Rotter, Teague-Melville, and Tom Davey Essay Prizes!

This year, our winners were honored via a virtual awards ceremony. Please view the presentation here. Congratulations to all our award winners!

Peter Rotter

Dido Wang (nominated by Dr. Sarah Morris, Classics) “Descending God, Ascending Man: A Study of the Mycenaean Gold Masks from Grave Circle A”

First-year Writing Prize: Charisse Vu (nominated by Professor Gosch in Cluster 73A, “Mind over Matter”) “Sentience in Cephalopods: What Could this Imply about the Origins of Consciousness?”

Tom Davey Science Writing

Maddy Krohn (nominated by Dr. Rubinson, Writing Programs) “Pigpens, Pollution, & Paradigms: The Menace of Factory Farming and Why Laboratory-Grown Meat is the Future We Need”


Jemma Tan (nominated by Dr. Nersessian, English) “War Time: Disruption & Perception in Persuasion” 

Cailin Garcia (nominated by Professor Deuel, Writing Programs) “My Girlfriend is Famous and She Doesn’t Even Care”

Rucha Modi (nominated by Dr. Appel, Anthropology & Global Studies) “Domestic Workers of Doha: Asianization, Commodification, and Exploitation”

Announcing the 2020 Peter Rotter, Teague-Melville, and Tom Davey Essay Prizes

Recognizing superior achievement in undergraduate writing in the Humanities

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020 Essay Prizes! If your students have produced superior work on Humanities topics, please consider nominating their papers. Prize winners receive up to $1,000 each!

The deadline for submissions is 4:00pm, Monday, April 6, 2020.


The competition is open to all UCLA undergraduates who have written a humanities-focused essay in Spring 2019, Summer 2019, Fall 2019, or Winter 2020. The submitted paper must have been written as a course assignment during one of these quarters. While foreign language essays are welcome, they must be accompanied by the writer’s own English translation.

The prizes will honor the best humanistic writing in lower- and upper-division undergraduate classes. Please note that the Tom Davey Award is specifically for science-based writing in the humanities (e.g., student work dealing with medicine, environmental issues or sustainability, psychology, sociology, etc.)

Nomination Process

The essay must be nominated by the instructor. All instructors/TAs are limited to three nominations; any submissions beyond that will not be considered. Instructors must complete an online submission form for each essay which explains the assignment and highlights the paper’s strengths. Incomplete online forms will not be considered.

Students interested in being nominated should contact their instructor and provide them with: their full name, current mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, and student identification number. It is the responsibility of the student to confirm receipt by the Writing Programs Office via email only prior to the deadline.

Submission Deadline

Nominated essays can be submitted online from now until Monday, April 6 at 4:00pm. Winners will be announced in May. For more information, please contact Andrea Hernandez at ahernandez@humnet.ucla.edu or at (310) 206-1145.

Click here to submit your nominations!

Kurnitz Creative Writing Award

The Kurnitz Creative Writing Award is sponsored by the Dashew Center for International Students & Scholars. This writing competition is specifically designed to recognize the creative writing work of international students.