Esra Predolac
Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies

KU CREES announces Laird essay contest winners

Mon, 05/16/2022

LAWRENCE — The Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (CREES) at the University of Kansas has announced that the 2022 Roy D. and Betty Laird Essay Contest winners are undergraduate students John Lubianetsky, for his essay “The United States’ Role in Resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Transformation and Change in Caucasian Security,” and Aylar Atadurdyyeva, for her essay “‘The Woman Question,’ Dostoevsky, and the Women of ‘Crime and Punishment.’”

Now in its 28th year, the essay contest is named after the late Roy Laird, a longtime member of the Russian, East European & Eurasian studies and political science faculties, and Betty Laird, whose support makes this prize possible.

A committee of four REES faculty read and independently rated the anonymous essays submitted for the contest. According to CREES Director Erik Scott, Lubianetsky’s essay offered “productive ideas for seeking a stable peace in Nagorno-Karabakh.” He said that Atadurdyyeva’s essay provided “a thought-provoking analysis of gender in 19th-century Russian literature and its relevance for understanding Russia’s past and present.”

Both Lubianetsky and Atadurdyyeva will receive a $250 cash prize award.

John Lubianetsky, KU student and Laird Essay contest winnerLubianetsky is from Kansas City, Missouri. At KU, he is pursuing a triple major in Chinese language & literature, global & international studies and political science, with minors in intelligence & national security studies and Russian, Eastern European & Eurasian studies. His academic interests are in East and Central Asian security and in international arms control. In the future, he plans to attend graduate school to study international relations.  

Aylar Atadurdyyeva, KU student and Laird Essay contest winnerAtadurdyyeva, from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, is a third-year student majoring in global & international studies, microbiology and political science with minors in German studies, psychology and Russian, East European & Eurasian studies. She is an active member of the University Honors Program, where she serves as a student ambassador. She is currently interning with Education USA, a U.S. Department of State program. After graduation, she intends to pursue a doctorate in either microbiology or political science with hopes of becoming a scholar-practitioner.

CREES is a designated  National Resource Center (NRC) for the study of Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia by the Department of Education and receives Title VI funds for educational events and outreach activities. For more information on CREES events and activities, visit or call 785-864-2358.



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