Past Awardees

The Casey Shearer Memorial Award for Excellence in Creative Nonfiction is awarded to a full-time Brown junior or senior for creative nonfiction.  Please learn more about past recipients below.

First Place
Angie Kang ’20
“Eye Fold"

Second Place
Bamidele Oke ’20 
“Notes on the (Un-)Aesthetic"

Award Winners

First Place
Abigail Neill '19
"A Tale of Two Herptiles"
Abigail Neill is living in the Bay Area and studying for the LSAT while working as a Legal Practice Assistant at Morgan Lewis and Brockius in San Francisco. 

Second Place
Victoria Huynh '19
"Speak of the Dead"

Honorable Mention

Zachary Barnes '20
"Do I Know You?"

First Place
Julia Tompkins '18
"Height of Land"
Julia Tompkins graduated from Brown in 2018 with honors in English. At Brown, she wrote and edited for The College Hill Independent. She is a past winner of the Casey Shearer Memorial Award and the Preston Gurney Prize for Literary Criticism. She also received an honorable mention in the W.B. Yeats Poetry Competition. She now works as a strategist at 2x4, a global design consultancy based in New York City. She lives in Brooklyn.

Second Place
Claribel Wu '19
Claribel Wu '19 is currently practicing radical relaxation, patience, and forgiveness in her creative journey. As a writer and multimedia storyteller, she is interested in how spaciousness and breath can cultivate a quantum connection between story and listener. In this time of rest, Claribel is developing literary comics that approach the question of how we can approach a turbulent reality, full of love and grief, with the lucid strength of compassion.

First Place
Liza Yeager ’17 “The Big One”
Liza Yeager is a radio producer and audio artist. Her work has aired on shows like Invisibilia, 99 Percent Invisible, and WNYC’s Nancy. She currently produces at NPR’s Planet Money, and before that, she was the assistant editor for Jad Abumrad's Unerased. Recently, Liza has been making stories about thrushes, queerness, chatbots, unconditional love, and the Texas Rangers. She learned to make radio by producing stories with her friends, as the co-founder of Brown’s audio storytelling collective, Now Here This.

Second Place
Georgia Wright ’17 “Strange Light”

First Place
Paige Morris ’16
“Black Girls Don’t Cry”
Paige Aniyah Morris (B'16) is a writer, editor, translator, and educator from Jersey City, NJ. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Rutgers University-Newark and is now based in South Korea, where she works on a curriculum development team in Seoul. Her writing and translations have appeared in The Rumpus, Strange Horizons, Nabillera: Contemporary Korean Literature, and others.

Second Place​
Anisha Dias Bandaranaike ’17
“Telescoping Series”

First Place
Stephanie Hayes ’15
“The Girl with the Serpentine Arm”

Second Place
Eleanor Duke ’15
“When Time Stops”
Ellie Duke (Brown '15) lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and works as the Southwest editor for the arts magazine Hyperallergic. She also co-founded and co-edits Contra Viento, a journal for art and literature from rangelands. Previously she was the managing editor of the publishing project at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

First Place
Vera B. Carothers ’14
“High Water Mark”
Vera Carothers is a Nonfiction MFA candidate at Columbia University and Online Nonfiction Editor at Columbia Journal. She also works as a teaching artist for The Moth. Previously, she worked as an assistant producer at WNYC and traveled the country as a bilingual facilitator with StoryCorps. Her audio work has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition, NPR's Latino USA, WNYC, WAMU and Panoply. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University.

Second Place
Sienna J. Zeilinger ’15
“Home In”
Sienna Zeilinger lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she works as a college access advisor in various local high schools. Since graduating, her writing has appeared in Real Life, Salon, and Missing Providence: A Frequency Anthology, and is forthcoming at Curbed. Her best editors continue to be her fellow Brown grads!


First Place
Elizabeth Powers ’14
“The Year of the Dragon”

Second Place
Erica Schwiegershausen ’13
“My Brother”

First Place​
Malcom Burnley ’12
"The Diplomat and the Demagogue: When Richard Holbrooke Met Malcom X”
Malcolm Burnley is a longform journalist based in Philadelphia. He's a senior writer with The Fuller Project, where he reports on gender equity for a range of outlets. In 2019, he co-authored a TIME magazine cover story and in recent years has published work in The Atlantic, POLITICO, NPR, and more. He's the co-host of an upcoming season-long investigative podcast by iHeart Radio called The Missionary.

Second Place
Zachary N. Bornstein ’12
"Zack’s Snack Shack & The Cedar Box”
Zack Bornstein is an Emmy-nominated, Peabody-award winning, and WGA Award-winning writer & director from Saturday Night Live (NBC), Jimmy Kimmel Live(ABC), Alternativo(Comedy Central), The Good Cop (Netflix), Red Nose Day(NBC), New Years Eve (NBC), College Signing Day (Michelle Obama), Little Late with Lily Singh (NBC), etc. He has been published by The New Yorker, McSweeney's, Cavalier Literary Couture, Vulture, Paste, American Bystander, etc. Zack studied Neuroscience at Brown University ’12.

First Place
Joseph E. Glaser-Reich ’11
“The Operation”
Joe currently jumps out of perfectly good helicopters for a living as a rescue swimmer with the U.S. Coast Guard. He also works for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Psychological Health group to help integrate positive and performance psychology into the training of Coast Guard rescue swimmers and other DHS operators. In his free time, Joe moonlights as an Assistant Instructor for the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program.

Second Place​
Dayna M. Tortorici ’11.5
“Reelin’: A Graphic Essay”

Honorable Mentions​
Panpan Song '12

Fred Milgrim '12
Fred Milgrim is an Emergency Department resident at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He worked briefly as a reporter in New York after graduation. He covered the Boston Marathon bombing as a reporter, and coronavirus as an ER doctor on the front lines, after which he appeared on Anderson Cooper. He has been published in The Daily, Fast Company, Esquire Magazine and The Atlantic. Fred studied Creative Nonfiction Writing at Brown, class of 2012.  

First Place
Sarah C. Gibson ’10.5
“On Hogs”

Second Place
Sara N. Mann ’10
"the space inside the seedpod (excerpts)"
After graduating in 2010, Sara received a Master of Arts in Teaching also from Brown and has been teaching 11th and 12th grade English in Massachusetts since then. She lives in Arlington, MA with her husband and (very tiny!) son.

Honorable Mention
Laura Brown-Lavoie '10.5
"Friends You Haven't Met Yet - Notes"
Laura Brown-Lavoie is a poet, performer, and farmer in Providence. Since graduating in 2010, she twice represented Providence as a finalist in national poetry slam competitions, and served for 2 years as the co-director of the Providence Poetry Slam. In 2011, she founded Sidewalk Ends Farm with her sisters, beginning on an abandoned house lot in Providence, and eventually growing to feed a 60-family CSA and selling produce at 2 local farmer's markets and to restaurants. In recent years, Laura has worked as an Artist Facilitator for the City of Providence, and is currently piloting a program to train local artists as Community Health Workers, while remaining deep in study of the medicine of plants. Laura recently completed her first full-length poetry manuscript, Club Desire, which burst from a ruptured gas main on Allens Avenue a couple years ago and is still hissing.

First Place
Kevin B. Roose ’09.5
“The Workers are Few”
Kevin Roose is a technology columnist at The New York Times, and a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. He is a New York Times bestselling author of two books, Young Money and The Unlikely Disciple, and has a new book, Futureproof, coming out in May. He is a regular guest on "The Daily" and other national news programs, and lives in the Bay Area.

Second Place​
Noam Dorr ’09
“Wouldn’t It”
Noam Dorr is the author of Love Drones (Sarabande Books), which was recently featured in Poets & Writers Magazine as one of the best debut nonfiction books of 2019. Born and raised in Kibbutz Givat Haim, Israel, he is a former Fulbright scholar and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Dorr is currently a doctoral candidate in the Literature and Creative Writing Ph.D. program at the University of Utah.

Honorable Mention
Sandra Allen '09
"The Problem with the Writer"
Sandy Allen is an author and speaker based in the Catskills. Their first book, A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia (Scribner), was named one of the best nonfiction books of 2018 by Esquire. Sandy's essays and features have been published by venues such as BuzzFeed News, Pop-Up Magazine, Guernica, Gay Magazine, Bon Appétit's Healthyish, the podcast 99% Invisible, and them., where they write a column called Between the Binary.

First Place
Robert A. Moor ’08
"Welcome to the Monkhouse”
Robert Moor is a writer living in Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia. On Trails, his first book, was a New York Times bestseller and the recipient of the Saroyan Prize, the National Outdoor Book Award, and the Pacific Northwest Book Award. His true crime podcast, “Over My Dead Body, Joe Exotic”, has been downloaded more than 5 million times and is currently being made into a TV miniseries starting Kate McKinnon. He has one husband, no children, and no pets.

Second Place
Brittany G. Harwood ’09
“Write in This Space”
Britt Harwood is an attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid in Oakland, California. Her practice focuses on the intersection of mental health and the law. She provides client-centered, trauma-informed wraparound civil legal services to children and young adults who are homeless, in foster care, and justice system involved. Britt represents clients in administrative hearings, state court, and federal district court, and is a partner in Alameda County’s juvenile mental health court. Previously, Britt was a disability rights advocate for incarcerated and re-entering adults with mental disabilities. She also worked as a legal fellow in New Orleans, Louisiana defending individuals on death row. Britt received her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2014 and is a member of the California Bar.

Honorable Mention
Stephen Salisbury '09
Stephen plays in the band Sun June and is pursuing a PhD in microbiology at UNC Chapel Hill.

First Place
Alexander James Eichle ’08
“Silent Night”
Alex Eichler is a news editor at HuffPost. His work has appeared at HuffPost, The Atlantic, n+1, io9, McSweeney's and The Boston Globe. He lives in Brooklyn next to a very noisy parking lot.

Second Place
Molly Beth Young ’08
"Pages from the Goncourt Journals”
Molly Young is the literary critic for New York magazine, and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. She contributes crossword puzzles to the New York Times, and is the co-author with Joana Avillez of of D C-T!, published by Penguin Press in 2018.

First Place​
Cutter Wood ’06
“Corona”Cutter Wood’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Harper's, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Paris Review Daily, and other publications. His first book, Love and Death in the Sunshine State, was the basis for fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and it was selected for the New York Times Book Review’s 2018 summer reading list. His second book is forthcoming from HarperCollins. He is the 2020-21 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Washington at the George Washington University.

Second Place
Mallory A. Kass ’06
After graduating from Brown, Mallory received a master’s degree in English Literature from Oxford before becoming an editor at Scholastic Press. Her titles include the New York Times bestsellers A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd and Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly, and the critically-acclaimed House With Chicken Legs. Mallory is also the author of the internationally bestselling series The 100 (as Kass Morgan) which was the inspiration for the hit CW show and has been translated into more than fifteen languages.

Honorable Mentions
Jennifer Silverman '06
"Six Bright Horses and the Land of the Dead"
Jen Silverman’s plays include: Witch, The Roommate, Collective Rage: A Play In 5 Betties and The Moors. They are published by Samuel French (US), Oberon Books (UK) and S. Fischer-Verlag (Germany). Her story-collection, The Island Dwellers, is published by Random House; her novel is coming out with them in 2021. Jen also writes for TV and film. Jen is a member of New Dramatists, a MacDowell fellow, and recipient of the Yale Drama Series Award.

Meryl Rothstein '06
"Lucy and the Chinese Bandits"
Meryl Rothstein is the features editor at Bon Appetit, where she eats as much dessert as the test kitchen will allow.

First Place
Ida M. Johnson ’05
“Grains of Holy”
After graduating from Brown with a degree in comparative literature in 2005, Ida spent six years working as a teacher and teacher coach with Teach for America. In May of 2020 she will graduate with a PhD from the Department of Scandinavian at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation is, "Girls, Boys, and Beasts: The Queerness of Child-Animal Figurations in Scandinavian Literature and Culture."

Second Place
Benjamin D. Clark ’05
“Looking at Bobby Fisher”
Ben Clark presently serves as an advisor to health-technology companies. Previously, Ben was President of IDx Technologies. Last year, IDx received the first-ever clearance from FDA for an AI system capable of fully automated disease detection – allowing specialty-level diagnostics to be deployed in frontline care settings. IDx-DR is broadly cited as a model of rigorously validated healthcare technology by FDA, AMA and ADA. Ben lives with his wife and three children in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Honorable Mentions
Claire E. Dunnington ’05
“Est: A Thesis for the Year 1819”
Claire Dunnington received her MFA in Nonfiction from Columbia University on a Dean's Fellowship. There, she taught writing to undergraduates, worked at a literary agency, led the Nonfiction Dialogues program, and was Nonfiction Editor of the Columbia Journal. Her writing has been published in Slice Magazine, The Indiana Review, and Lumen Magazine, among others, and she recently completed a full-length work of nonfiction. She lives in Brooklyn and works as a tutor and a harpist.

Vanja Torbica ’06
“Jezik (Tongue, Language)”

First Place
Michael H. Laws ’05
“The Death of Downtown”
A longtime copy chief at and contributor of articles (criticism, reviews, panegyrics, etc.) to such august publications as The Hill in Washington, DC, and the Village Voice in New York City, Laws currently works regular freelance gigs for Artforum and Bookforum, the Columbia Journalism Review, and People magazine—yeah, you heard that right—among other outlets. He lives with his wife and cat on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and will someday finish a novel. Maybe.

Second Place
Jennifer S. Cheng ’05
“Mother Tongue”
Jennifer S. Cheng is a poet-essayist. She is the author of MOON: LETTERS, MAPS, POEMS, selected by Bhanu Kapil for the Tarpaulin Sky Award and named a Publishers Weekly “Best Book of 2018,” and HOUSE A, selected by Claudia Rankine for the Omnidawn Poetry Prize. She received awards from Brown University, the University of Iowa, the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Fulbright program, Kundiman, Bread Loaf, and the Academy of American Poets.

Honorable Mentions
Jamie D. Fleischman ’05
“Me and Danny Down by the Schoolyard”
Jamie Fleischman lives and works in Los Angeles, where she’s forged a multifaceted career in entertainment. As a development executive and writer, she’s helped shape and create scripted series, movies, reality shows, documentaries, and podcasts for NBCUniversal, Amazon Studios, A+E Networks, Audible, and more. A native New Yorker who swears she hasn’t become an L.A. cliché, Jamie can usually be found working on her comedy pilot or stuck in traffic on the 101.

Cecilia E. Kiely ’04
“Notes from the Field”
Cecilia Kiely is a semi-professional writer and editor and amateur parent. She has an MFA in prose from the University of Washington, where she was awarded several Stafford loans for her work. She’s never sure which is worse, listing a single publication or none at all, but her creative work has appeared in Sinister Wisdom. She also writes about boat-related topics for Passagemaker magazine. She lives in New Hampshire.

Sara K. Tedeschi ’04
Sara Tedeschi, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a rheumatologist and clinical investigator at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where she serves as Co-Director of the Giant Cell Arteritis Fast Track Clinic. Dr. Tedeschi receives support from the National Institutes of Health to study pseudogout, a painful arthritis caused by calcium crystals. She continues to write nonfiction -- sometimes creatively -- in the form of scientific manuscripts and grants.

First Place
Joanne C. Leow ’03
“Dear Mama”
Joanne Leow is Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. She has published articles on Asian Anglophone literature in various academic journals. Her creative writing has appeared in Brick, Ricepaper, Catapult, The Goose, among others. Her book manuscript “Counter-Cartographies” examines the intersections of authoritarianism, urban space, and contemporary Singaporean cultural production. Her SSHRC-funded project, “Intertidal Polyphonies” ( is a transmedial resource of interviews, short films, field recordings, and other research on the coastlines of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Vancouver.

Second Place
Katharine J. Smyth ’03
“James Joyce’s Trieste”
Katharine Smyth is a writer based in Brooklyn. She has worked for The Paris Review and taught at Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction. Her essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Elle, The New York Times, Literary Hub, and The Paris Review, among other publications. Her first book, All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf, was published by Crown in 2019 and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.

Honorable Mentions
Molly J. Geidel ’03
“The Way In: Six Short Pieces about the Deaf Community in America”

Alexandra T.L. Blair ’03
“Forming the Pomegranate”

Martha B. Lackritz ’03
“Making Headlines”

First Place

Tucker Lieberman, ’02
“Fifteen Meditations on Masculinist Physico-Spiritual Experience”
Tucker Lieberman lives in Bogotá, Colombia. After studying philosophy and journalism, he worked in technology for an investment company for eleven years. His nonfiction books include the literary criticism Painting Dragons, the memoir Bad Fire, and the biography Ten Past Noon. His short fiction is in the anthologies I Didn’t Break the Lamp and Trans-Galactic Bike Ride. He was born with a deformed hip, has run a half-marathon, and has walked on fire.

Second Place
Kerala Goodkin, ’02
“Immigrants in Action”
Kerala currently works as a Senior Strategist for a marketing agency focused on social impact. Following her graduation from Brown in 2002, she co-founded The Glimpse Foundation, which merged with National Geographic in 2008. Since her time at National Geographic, she has directed digital marketing efforts for a number of nonprofits. A novel that she started at Brown, “How Things Break,” won the Elixir Press Inaugural Fiction Award and was published in 2006. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two children.

Honorable Mentions
Harper Alexander
The Anniversary Party”

Anna Henderson, ’03
Dr. Anna Henderson is a scientist and artist who spent the last seven years working in politics. She is the founder of The Nature Library literary art instillation in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Her publications have appeared under the name E.A. Farro in The Common, Rumpus, The Kenyon Review, and The Normal School, among others. She is a recipient of a 2010 Loft Literary Center Mentor Award and a 2019 Minnesota State Art Board grant.

First Place Winner
Elyse Lightman, ’02 “Stillness Seeking”
Elyse Lightman Samuels is passionate about using writing to advance solutions for social justice and has worked for over a decade in the social justice field, in the US and globally. She is an independent writer and leads communications for Unbound Philanthropy, which seeks to build a vibrant, welcoming society and just immigration system in the US and UK. Elyse serves on the Board of the women's leadership organization, Harpswell. In addition to her BA at Brown, Elyse holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Columbia's School of the Arts and an MPA from NYU Wagner.