Christopher Joshua Benton (SMACT ’23) received the first place 2023 Obermeyer Prize for Academic Writing for his essay “Beyond Bowties & Bean Pies: A Material Analytic Approach to Eating & Meaning-making in the Nation of Islam,” which was featured in Thresholds and published by MIT Press.

The three Obermayer prize categories recognize excellence in student writing about one of the core goals of an MIT education: understanding how innovation happens. The awards seek to encourage undergraduate interest in that process; in the history of invention as an intellectual and imaginative pursuit; academic investigation of that process in historical context; and the importance of sharing the stories of what can be understood as the making of the modern world with the broadest possible audiences.

The Ilona Karmel Writing Prizes, awarded each May by the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing to acknowledge the best MIT student writing across a range of categories, was named in honor of the late Ilona Karmel, novelist, poet and senior lecturer in the Writing program. Throughout her teaching career, Karmel’s outstanding contributions to creative writing at MIT were her inspirational teachings and relationships with students.