Julian Clement Chase Prize


Lydia Francis in front of her research poster

Lydia Francis, BA '18, won the Julian Clement Chase Prize for her historical analysis paper of the development of Meridian Hill Park.

The GW University Writing Program’s Julian Clement Chase Prize recognizes exceptional research writing projects focused on the District of Columbia.

Winning students receive $1,000 and present their research at the Julian Clement Chase Award Ceremony each fall. Prizewinners are also invited to present a keynote speech at the University Writing Program's Writing and Research Conference. The deadline to submit applications for this year's award is Monday, May 23, 2022.

Questions about the prize? Please contact Phyllis Ryder.



The Julian Clement Chase Prize is named in honor of Sgt. Julian Clement Chase, a native of Washington, D.C., who graduated in 2008 from DC’s Wilson High School. While serving with the United States Marine Corps, he was killed in action at the age of 22 in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. He was set to matriculate as a freshman at GW in the spring of 2013.

Born in Washington, Julian knew and relished his city. His family has established this prize in his honor to recognize others who explore D.C. with the intelligence and exuberance that he did. 


Application Guidance

Entries will be reviewed by a committee composed of GW faculty, representatives from the community and former prizewinners. To apply, complete the application form and email it to [email protected].


Submission Criteria

  • Submissions must be undergraduate work completed during the academic year of application. Applicable courses might include UW 1020 and Writing in the Disciplines (WID) courses, senior theses, capstone projects and other work undertaken at GW.
  • Submissions should include original research demonstrating in-depth engagement with the Washington, D.C., community from any discipline taught at GW, including social sciences, humanities, arts and sciences.
  • Submissions must clearly and effectively communicate ideas, including whether the project contributes to the scholarship of a particular field (e.g. ethnomusicology, sociology of neighborhoods or scientific analysis of water services that leads to policy recommendations).
  • Research should adhere to academic standards of the relevant field or discipline.


Potential Topic Areas

Washington, D.C., is the primary focus of the Julian Clement Chase Prize. Therefore, engagement with D.C. plays a critical role in the judging process.

  • Social sciences or humanities students might engage D.C. in terms of place, history, neighborhoods and cultures.
  • Students in the arts might engage D.C. in terms of its artistic expressions or research related to art that they have created representing the District.
  • Students from the sciences might submit research projects that address quality of life issues in D.C.

Collaborative or team projects are welcome, with a clear explanation of how entrants worked together.


Past Winners

Note: Winning papers are archived in GW's institutional repository.

Chase Kleber

"Sundays in the Park

Chase Kleber’s capstone essay Sundays in the Park is an analysis of the drum circles in DC’s Malcolm X/ Meridian Hill Park with a particular focus on sound.  Kleber explains his project this way:

“I seek to study space, specifically being Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park – this designated, bordered, and monitored land – and I wish to encounter the various ways of being in it with a careful approach to sound. I highlight the importance of care, as I require methods beyond an objectifying imperial gaze.”


2021 Award Ceremony

Beatrice Mount

"Imagining One D.C.: Using Feminist and Queer Theory as a Basis to Combat Gentrification"

 Gentrification is a growing, urban phenomenon with specific implications for feminist and Queer theorists. Yet despite the overwhelming amount of women and queer communities driving anti-gentrification activism, the intersections of gentrification, feminism, and Queer theories remain understudied. In an effort to understand how feminist and Queer theories may inform or interact with anti-gentrification activism, I conducted a five-month-long, participatory research-based case-study of one organization in the District of Columbia: Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE) DC. Using materials and notes drawn from ONE DC’s online sources and meetings ONE DC, I argue that ONE DC roots itself within feminist and queer theories to develop successful strategies to fight against gentrification. By focusing on intersectional identities, avoiding hierarchies, and imagining a future outside of current power structures and ideals, ONE DC develops a concrete understanding of and concrete resistance strategies to gentrification, exemplifying potential resistance strategies against nebulous, interlocking oppressions.


2020 Award Ceremony

Adam Graubart
Pursuing Tzedek: DC Synagogues Building Movements for Social Justice

Graubart researched involvement in social justice work among Jewish congregations in D.C. His project — his senior thesis — used interviews and quantitative research to examine how these congregations seek to align actions with values.


2019 Award Ceremony

Lydia Francis
The Irony of Capital Development: A Critical History of the Origins of Meridian Hill Park from the Perspective of Washington Residents

Francis’s paper is a layered historical analysis of the development of Meridian Hill Park. She reframes the common narrative about urban park development by providing evidence that the community that was demolished was likely a thriving, established and diverse working class area.

Xavier Adomatis
Re-Segregate D.C. Schools: An analysis of Gentrification’s Peculiar Consequences on Francis-Stevens” 

Adomatis offers a provocative analysis of one of Georgetown's public elementary schools, School Without Walls, Francis-Stevens. When the school recruited more neighborhood students, parents sent their children to preschool and then transferred them to private schools after kindergarten. As a result, the school lost its Title IX funding without benefiting from parents' ongoing participation with the school.


2018 Award Ceremony

Victoria Rowe
Seek First to Understand: Exploring the Implementation of Culturally Relevant Education in the District of Columbia

After demonstrating the educational disparity among D.C.'s black and white students, and reporting the dissatisfaction that black students have expressed about local school climate, Rowe reviews education scholarship and finds that culturally relevant education could have a positive effect. She then interviews a pool of DCPS teachers to discover whether they use culturally relevant teaching strategies and whether the DCPS professional development programs have helped them do so. She concludes with policy recommendations.


2017 Award Ceremony

Kaeleigh Christie
An Evaluation of the Implementation and Enforcement of Washington D.C.’s Truancy Policy

Christie critiques D.C.'s public school truancy policy in practice. Using DCPS datasets, Christie highlights remarkable inconsistencies in the ways D.C. public schools practice early intervention for truancy, suggesting that more resources might allow schools to offer more potentially beneficial support to at-risk students.

Emily Niekrasz
Washington, D.C.’s 1973 Acquisition of Home Rule After One Hundred Years: Confronting the Issues of Race and Representation in the Nation’s Capital

Niekrasz advances an argument that is as timely as it is historically grounded: that the national civil rights movement is tied up with the status of the nation's capital — and vice versa. She combines research in archives and special collections with D.C.-related sources tracked down as far afield as South Carolina to demonstrate how the most rigorous historical methodology can examine Washington's recent past to address issues of the broadest importance.


2016 Award Ceremony


Related Writing Award

  • The Eckles Prize for Freshman Research Excellence
    Hosted by GW Libraries, this award offers three cash prizes each year of up to $500 to recognize students research that demonstrates significant and meaningful use of GW’s library services and collections.