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Arrington Writing Award Winners Announced at Utah State University

Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014

USU graduate student Scott Marianno, 2013 Arrington Writing Award 1st place

USU graduate student Scott Marianno received the top prize for the 2013 Arrington Writing Awards, an essay contest offered in conjunction with the Arrington Mormon History lecture.

Chad Nielsen, 2013 Arrington Writing Award 2nd place

Chad Nielsen

Joshua Hortin, 2013 Arrington Writing Award 3rd place

Joshua Hortin

Three students took top honors at the 2013 Leonard J. Arrington Writing Awards competition that is coordinated by Utah State University. The awards are offered in conjunction with the annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture, traditionally held in the fall. The 2013 lecture featured Dr. Gregory A. Prince who presented “Faith and Doubt as Partners in Mormon History.” Prince not only holds degrees in dentistry and pathology, but has also built a reputation as a Mormon historian, publishing many articles and two books.

The writing competition is open to university students studying at any of the region’s universities. This year, all three winners are students at Utah State University.

Scott Marianno, a graduate student in history, took the top prize and a cash award of $1,000. The $500 second place prize went to Chad Nielsen who is studying biological engineering. The third place award of $250 went to Joshua Hortin.

The winning essay by Marianno is titled “Appropriating the Mormon Past: Faith, Intellect and the Reformation of Mormon Identity.”

As a graduate student Marianno’s current research relates to race and marriage in Utah in the early 20th century. He completed his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University with an emphasis in history and ancient near Eastern studies. He is originally from northern California and is one of a set of triplets. He said he is a San Francisco Giants fan and enjoys playing soccer and softball with his wife.

Nielsen is a busy student who, in addition to his major, works as an intern with Ron Sims in the USU biofuel and bioproducts production from microalgae project and the biological phosphorus removal, combined with bioenergy production research, at the City of Logan lagoons. He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. Apart from his scientific and engineering interests he has multiple hobbies, including reading and writing about LDS history and theology. He maintains three blogs largely dedicated to Mormon history, a website dedicated to one of his pioneer ancestors and pursues several freelance research projects in what little free time he can find. Nielsen grew up in the Ogden, Utah, area.

The title of his second-place essay is “Leveraging Doubt: The Impact of Lester E. Bush, Jr.’s ‘Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: A Historical Overview’ on Mormon Thought.”

Hortin, the competition’s third-place recipient, was born and raised near West Haven, Utah. The title of his essay is “How Doubt Built the Foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Hortin studies environmental engineering at USU. In a submitted bio, he said he served an LDS mission in San Fernando, Calif., and is interested in Joseph Smith-era history and following news associated with the LDS church. He said he runs a personal religious-themed blog with occasional commentary on current events, historical research and LDS culture. He is interested in environmental issues and said he hopes to continue research and education with the goal of solving environmental tension.

The three winners were honored Feb. 27 during the Friends of Merill-Cazier Library spring lecture. The cash awards are provided by the Leonard J. Arrington Lecture and Archives Foundation. The student essays responded to and expanded upon Prince’s fall lecture.

“We are pleased the interest in the writing competition continues to grow and we congratulate this year’s winners,” said Brad Cole of USU’s Special Collections and Archives and ex-officio member of the Leonard J. Arrington Foundation board.

Next year’s Arrington Lecture features Ronald Walker. The date of the lecture has not yet been set.

The student papers from the 2013 competition will be available on the University Libraries’ Digital Commons site. They can be found by searching “Arrington” from the library’s Digital Commons tab.

Related links:

Contact: Brad Cole (435) 797-8268,

Writer: Patrick Williams (435) 797-1354,

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