Religion Major Anna Duong-Topp Wins Patricia Lindell Research Prize

Posted on December 2nd, 2020 by

We are excited to announce that recently-graduated Religion Major Anna Duong-Topp (’20) has won this year’s Patricia Lindell Research Prize, awarded by the faculty of the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library. Ms. Duong-Topp’s paper, “Ontological Homelessness as a Phenomenology of Belonging: Comparing the Nihilism of Martin Heidegger and Keiji Nishitani,” was selected from among dozens of submitted papers from across the College. As the selection committee observed, Ms. Duong-Topp’s paper “stood out […] as a model of scholarship, skillful writing, and effective use of sources.”

The Patricia Lindell Research Prize is funded by the Friends of the Library-Gustavus Library Associates in an effort to recognize the centrality of student scholarship to both the Library and the College.

This honor carries with it a $400 award.

We are so proud of Ms. Duong-Topp and look forward to hearing about her many wonderful scholarly accomplishments in the years to come.



Crawling through a famous hole within the support beam of Todaiji temple in Nara, Japan. The hole is said to be the size of Daibutsu’s (the Great Buddha’s) nostril, and ensures enlightenment to those who can crawl through.


An update from Ms. Duong-Topp, about her first year in the MA program in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. 

I’m in my first year of an M.A. program at the University of Chicago Divinity School, which is one of the most prominent hubs of religious study in the United States. My current research focuses on the loci of religious value systems within civic education processes, inquiring into how global citizenship can be taught through authentic and thorough religious pluralism. The U.S.-Japan relationship, which is embroiled in exploitation, calamity, but also mutual idolatry, is a wonderful vehicle for these inquiries.

Though my program is challenging, I’m grateful for its interdisciplinary approach, which allows students to supplement their research with classes in language, social sciences, policy, and STEM. As a scholar of Japanese studies, this format allows me to take coursework across the various dimensions of Japanese concern, religious or otherwise. There is also a plethora of workshops where students can receive feedback for their original research from folks at the forefront of their field. I’ll be presenting at my first workshop this month, which is terrifying but mostly invigorating.

Every faculty and staff member I worked with at Gustavus contributed in some way to my journey here. Professors John Cha, Mary Gaebler, and Sarah Ruble in particular provided profound amounts of support for my academic and career concerns. They taught me, both implicitly and explicitly, that religious practice amidst religious study is a treasure. Keeping this teaching close has grounded me throughout my studies and motivated my inquiries.

[February 8, 2021]

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