Junior Pfeifer receives 1 of just 18 Beinecke awards

Helen Pfeifer, a junior majoring in comparative literature and in history, both in Arts & Sciences, is one of 18 students nationwide to receive a 2005 Beinecke Scholarship to support graduate study in the arts, humanities or social sciences.

Each year, approximately 100 colleges and universities are invited to nominate a junior “of exceptional promise” for a Beinecke Scholarship, which is worth $32,000.

Pfeifer plans to pursue a doctorate in intellectual history at either Columbia University or at the University of California, Berkeley.

“I am delighted that Helen was selected for this prestigious award,” said Ian MacMullen, Ph.D., assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, who oversees undergraduate applications for external fellowships and scholarships. “Helen’s remarkable academic record and her outstanding potential as an interdisciplinary scholar are founded on a rare and potent combination of analytical ability and creative insight.

“As a college junior, she is already designing and executing academic projects of genuine originality,” he added. “She is destined to make a significant scholarly contribution to the humanities, and especially to the field of intellectual history, as a pioneering researcher and inspiring teacher.”

The daughter of Swiss natives, Pfeifer was born in Germany and raised in Columbia, Mo. Her mother is an art professor and her father a physics professor, both at the University of Missouri.

A Natalie E. Freund Art Scholar and Kenneth E. Hudson Scholar, Pfeifer also was one of five WUSTL juniors to be selected for the Undergraduate Honors Fellowship program, which awards students $3,000 to pursue a research project culminating in a published paper.

She will use the money to do research in Berlin this summer for her history thesis on that city’s underground infrastructure during the Cold War division.

She also received the history department’s Helen and Isaac Izenberg Prize for the best junior essay written in advanced seminar classes in 2004. The essay was for a class on U.S. relations with Latin America.

Pfeifer, who began her WUSTL studies as a painting major in the School of Art, is founder and president of the University’s Diorama Artist Community and art editor of Spires, an intercollegiate arts and literary magazine. She also serves as a peer counselor for the Sexual Assault and Rape Action Hotline, or SARAH.

Last summer, she taught literature to low-income high-school students in the Upward Bound Program in Northfield, Mass. From November 2000-January 2001, while attending high school in Naples, Italy, she organized and mediated a panel discussion on global issues like racism, discrimination, religion and war for the Seminars on Global Education in Naples.

Each Beinecke Scholar receives $2,000 immediately before entering graduate school and $30,000 while attending graduate school.