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ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards

The ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards recognize highly accomplished graduate students who have produced exceptional dissertations of outstanding scholarly quality in any field of study.

The nomination form will be live in early September.

General Information


Nominees must be awarded the doctoral degree during the 2023 calendar year, which includes commencements held in May, August, or December. Students who defended the dissertation in 2022 but received the degree in 2023 are eligible to be nominated.

Students who defend the dissertation in fall 2023 but do not receive the degree until May 2024 are ineligible for the current year, but may be nominated for the 2024 competition. An exception is allowed for students in the dual M.D./Ph.D. Medical Science Training Program who have completed, defended, and submitted the final copy of the dissertation in 2023. These students are eligible to be nominated even though the awarding of the doctoral degree is deferred until completion of the M.D.

Nominations of outstanding women, minorities, and members of other groups historically underrepresented in their disciplines are encouraged.

Number of Awards

Ten awards in the amount of $1,000.

Source of Nominations

Nominations must be submitted by the chair of the student’s department or program, who may submit only one nomination per year.

Selection Process

A faculty committee reviews nominations and selects finalists which are forwarded to the Michigan Society of Fellows. Members of the Society of Fellows make the final selection, including those designated for honorable mention.


The nomination deadline is Monday, November 6, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. EST

For more information contact:

Honors and Awards
Rackham Graduate School
Telephone: (734) 615-0255
Email: [email protected]

Guidelines for Preparing Nominations

A nomination dossier must include:

  • Cover sheet with contact information
  • A letter of nomination
  • Up to three letters of support submitted directly by the letter writers
  • Dissertation abstract
  • Academic transcript (unofficial copy)
  • Curriculum Vitae

Incomplete dossiers cannot be reviewed.

The online nomination dossier may be set up by a faculty or staff member. Others may be given login access to the site as needed. The nomination system may be accessed as often as needed in order to complete the nomination dossier. All materials must be uploaded in Adobe PDF format.

Cover Sheet

Complete the online cover sheet with all information requested for both the nominee and the nominator—not the administrator who may have initiated the dossier—and the contact information for the graduate coordinator.

Letter of Nomination

The nominating letter should include the nominee’s name, department or program, and the title of the dissertation. As committee members represent a range of disciplines and may not be familiar with the nominee’s field, describe the quality and significance of the nominee’s dissertation in a way that conveys its significance to those not acquainted with the field.

The nominating letter may be no longer than 1,350 words and should address the areas below; those that do not will disadvantage the nominee:

  • A concise description of the dissertation topic
  • General comments about the nominee, including overall scholarly credentials
  • The degree of innovation, creativity, and insight shown by the author
  • The scope and importance of the work to the department and to the field
  • The effectiveness of the writing (including whether it is reasonably understandable to faculty in related disciplines)

Letters of Support

Up to three additional letters of up to 1,000 words each may be provided by faculty or others who have worked with the nominee and can comment on the merits of the dissertation. The letter writers must submit be instructed to submit letters in PDF format directly to the online nomination dossier. The link for letter writers to submit letters of support will be available when nominations open in early September.

Dissertation Abstract

Provide the nominee’s dissertation abstract.

Academic Transcript

Provide a current unofficial transcript of the nominee’s graduate work.

Curriculum Vitae

Provide the nominee’s current c.v., including full details of all publications and presentations.

Distinguished Dissertation Award Winners

2022 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Winners

  • Harsh Agarwal, Chemical Engineering, “Charge Transfer of Transitional Metal Ions for Flow Battery Applications”
  • Freida Blostein, Epidemiologic Science, “Salivary Omics Measurements as Biomarkers in Epidemiological Analyses”
  • Tyler Gardner, Astronomy and Astrophysics, “Probing Unique Regimes of Exoplanet Science with Long Baseline Interferometry”
  • Robert Graham, Biomedical Engineering, “Mechanisms of Action and Sources of Variability in Neurostimulation for Chronic Pain”
  • Youngrim Kim, Communication and Media, “Pandemic Data Publics: Surveillance Culture and Civic Action in Times of Public Health Emergencies”
  • Özge Korkmaz, Anthropology, “Politics, Ethics, and Complicity in Turkey’s Kurdistan: Anxieties of an Era”
  • Vincent Longo, Film, Television, and Media, “A Hard Act to Follow: Live Performance in the Age of the Hollywood Studio System (1920-1950)”
  • Andrew McInnerney, Linguistics, “The Argument/Adjunct Distinction and the Structure of Prepositional Phrases”
  • Weijing Tang, Statistics, “Statistical Learning for Large-Scale and Complex-Structured Data”
  • Weichao Zhang, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, “Mechanisms of Lysosome Biogenesis and Regulation”

2021 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Winners

  • Mikel Haggadone, Immunology, “Mechanistic Insights into Regulation of Vesicular SOCS3 Secretion by Alveolar Macrophages: Interplay Between Cell Stress and Metabolic Remodeling “
  • Yinqiu He, Statistics, “High-Dimensional Statistical Inference: Phase Transition, Power Enhancement, and Sampling”
  • Eshita Khera, Chemical Engineering, “Engineering Tumor Distribution of Antibody-Drug Conjugates”
  • Cindy Lin Kaiying, Information, “Afterlives of Authority: An Ethnography of Fire Prediction, Social Order, and Technocracy in Indonesia”
  • Rebecca Marks, Educations and Psychology, “From Talkers to Readers: Neural and Behavioral Foundations of Emerging Literacy”
  • Michelle May-Curry, American Culture, “Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor: Black Womanhood and the Visual Politics of Mixed Race Family Albums, 1918 to 2020″
  • Zhijie Qu, Astronomy, “The Warm-Hot Circumgalactic Medium and Its Co-Evolution with the Galaxy Disk”
  • Akshitha Sriraman, Computer Science and Engineering, “Enabling Hyperscale Web Services”
  • Mei Ling Meilina Tsui, Music Composition, “Nomadic Trails for Chamber Orchestra”
  • Erica Twardzik, Movement Science, “Optimizing Post-Stroke Functioning: Using Mixed Methods to Understand the Role of Built and Social Environments for Physical Activity, Quality of Life, and Lived Experience”

2020 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Winners

  • Devika Bagchi, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, “Investigating the Roles of Wnt Signaling in Mature Adipocyte Function”
  • Molly Brookfield, History and Women’s and Gender Studies, “Watching the Girls Go By: Sexual Harassment in the American Street, 1850-1980”
  • Lu Chen, Physics, “Study of Thermal and Magnetic Properties in Strongly Correlated Materials”
  • Adrian Deoancă, Anthropology, “End of the Line: State Infrastructure, Material Ruin, and Precarious Labor Along Romanian Railroads”
  • Adi Foord, Astronomy and Astrophysics, “Discovering the Missing Population of AGN Pairs with Chandra”
  • Kathryn Holihan, Germanic Languages and Literatures, “Staging the Hygienic Subject: Anatomy, Bodies, and the Public Health Exhibition in Germany, 1911-1931”
  • Dominic Liao-McPherson, Aerospace Engineering and Scientific Computing, “Variational and Time-Distributed Methods for Real-time Model Predictive Control”
  • Christina May, Neuroscience, “How Sweet It Is: The Role of Taste Perception in Diet-Induced Obesity”
  • Anne Menefee, Environmental Engineering, “Carbon Mineralization in Fractured Basalt”
  • Vivian Truong, American Culture, “‘Whose City? Our City!’: Asian American and Multiracial Movements Against Police Violence in New York”

2019 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Winners

  • Yassel Acosta Matutes, Applied Physics, Spatially-Resolved Fluorescence-Detected Two-Dimensional Electronic Spectroscopy to Probe Excitonic Structure in Purple Photosynthetic Bacteria
  • Juliette Becker, Astronomy, Emergent Properties in Exoplanetary Systems
  • Kaitlin Cassady, Psychology, Age-Related Neural De-Differentiation in the Sensorimotor System
  • Christina Cross, Public Policy and Sociology, The Color, Class, and Context of Family Structure and Its Association with Children’s Educational Performance
  • Joseph Gamble, English and Women’s Studies, Sex Before Sex Ed: Sexual Practice, Pedagogy, and Affect in Early Modern England
  • Ximena Gomez, History of Art, Nuestra Señora:Confraternal Art and Identity in Early Colonial Lima
  • Crystal Green, Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, Automated Deformable Mapping Methods to Relate Corresponding Lesions in 3D X-ray and 3D Ultrasound Breast Images
  • Nicole Michmerhuizen, Pharmacology, Examining Mechanisms of Sensitivity and Resistance to Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase Inhibitors in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Olivia Palmer, Biomedical Engineering, Non-Invasive Venous Thrombus Composition and Therapeutic Response by Multiparametric MRI
  • Andrew Schwartz, Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Hepcidin/ferroportin/HIF-2α regulation of iron metabolism at the systems and cellular level

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2018

  • Charlotte Chan, Mathematics, Period Identities of CM Forms on Quaternion Algebras
  • Qi Chen, Computer Science, Proactive Vulnerability Discovery and Assessment in Smart, Connected Systems Through Systematic Problem Analysis
  • Traci Johnson, Astronomy, Focusing Cosmic Telescopes: Quantifying the Systematics of Strong Lensing Mass Models in the Era of Precision Lensing
  • Jessica Moorman, Communication Studies, Being Single Is…: A Study of Black Love Media and Single Black Women’s Sexual Socialization
  • David Morphew, Classical Studies, Passionate Platonism: Plutarch on the Positive Role of Non-Rational Affects in the Good Life/li>
  • Cyrus O’Brien, Anthropology and History, Redeeming Imprisonment: Religion and the Development of Mass Incarceration in Florida
  • Meredith Skiba, Biological Chemistry, Structural and Biochemical Investigation of Methylation and Elucidation of t-Butyl Formation in Polyketide Biosynthesis
  • William Stroebel, Mechanical Engineering, Comparative Literature, Fluid Books, Fluid Borders Modern Greek and Turkish Book Networks in a Shifting Sea
  • Dakotah Thompson, Exploration of Radiative Thermal Transport at the Nanoscale Using High-Resolution Calorimetry
  • Michael Won, Chemical Biology, Structure, Function, and Inhibition of Protein Depalmitoylases

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2017

  • Kevin Golovin, Materials Science and Engineering, Design and Application of Surfaces with Tunable Adhesion of Liquids and Solids
  • Kyle Grady, English Language and Literature, Moors, Mulattos, and Post-Racial Problems: Rethinking Racialization in Early Modern England
  • Wendy Gu, Environmental Engineering, Metals and Methanotrophs: 1. Genetic and Biochemical Characterization of the Uptake and Synthesis of Methanobactin; 2. Bioinformatic Analyses of the Effect of Rare Earth Elements on Gene Expression
  • Jordan Harrison, Nursing, Functional Status, Quality of Life, and Long-term Survival in a Cohort of Women with Breast Cancer and Heart Failure: Results of the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey
  • Jeremy Hoskins, Applied Mathematics, Diffuse Scattering and Diffuse Optical Tomography on Graphs
  • Jenny Kreiger, Classical Art and Archaeology, The Business of Commemoration: A Comparative Study of Italian Catacombs
  • Oana Mateescu, Anthropology and History, Serial Anachronism: Re-assembling Romanian Forest Commons
  • Sara Meerow, Natural Resources and Environment, The Contested Nature of Urban Resilience: Meaning and Models for Green Infrastructure and Climate Change Adaptation Planning
  • Steven Roberts, Psychology, So It Is, So It Shall Be: Group Regularities and Prescriptive Judgments
  • Yue Shao, Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineered in vitro Model for Peri-implantation Human Embryogenesis

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2016

  • Azadeh Ansari, Electrical Engineering, GaN Integrated Microsystems for RF Applications
  • Nielson T. Baxter, Microbiology and Immunology, Microbiota-based Models Enhance Detection of Colorectal Cancer
  • Yoonseob Kim, Chemical Engineering, Stretchable Electronic and Photonic Materials from Self-Organized Nanoparticles
  • Emily Maclary, Human Genetics, Evaluating the Role of Long Non-coding RNAs in X-chromosome Inactivation
  • Elizabeth Mann, Political Science, Presidential Policymaking at the State Level: Revision through Waivers
  • Austin McCoy, History, No Radical Hangover: Black Power, New Left, and Progressive Politics in the Midwest, 1967-1989
  • Cassie Miura, Comparative Literature, Humor of Skepticism: Therapeutic Laughter in Early Modern Literature
  • Naveen Narisetty, Statistics, Statistical Analysis of Complex Data: Bayesian Model Selection and Functional Data Depth
  • Sara Rimer, Environmental Engineering, Controlling Hazardous Releases While Protecting Passengers in Civil Infrastructure Systems
  • Emily Waples, English Language and Literature, Self-Health: The Politics of Care in American Literature, 1793-1873

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2015

  • Lauren Cleeves, Astronomy, Molecular Signposts of the Physics and Chemistry of Star Formation
  • Lauren Cline, Natural Resources and Environment, The Ecological Factors that Structure the Composition and Function of Saprotrophic Fungi: Observational and Experimental Approaches
  • Alix Gould-Werth, Social Work and Sociology, Public Benefits and Private Safety Nets: Demographic Disparities in Resources Following Job Loss
  • Konstantina Karageorgos, English Language and Literature, Beyond the Blueprint: Black Literary Radicalism and the Making of a Cold War Avant-Garde
  • Brian Metzger, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Disentangling the Effects of Mutation and Selection on the Evolution of Gene Expression
  • Davide Orsini, Anthropology and History, Life in the Nuclear Archipelago: Cold War Technopolitics and the U.S. Nuclear Submarines in Italy
  • Maxwell Radin, Physics, First-principles and Continuum Modeling of Charge Transport in Li-O2 Batteries
  • Charles Sebens, Philosophy, Locating Oneself in a Quantum World
  • Brandon Seward, Mathematics, Krieger’s Finite Generator Theorem for Ergodic Actions of Countable Groups
  • Bai Song, Mechanical Engineering,, Probing Radiative Thermal Transport at the Nanoscale

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2014

  • Xiao Che, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Near Infrared View of Stellar Surfaces and Circumstellar Disks with an Upgraded Optical Interferometer
  • Weiqiang Chen, Mechanical Engineering, Microengineered Biomaterials and Biosystems for Systems Immunology, Cancer Biology, and Stem Cell-based Regenerative Medicine
  • Henry Colburn, Classical Art and Architecture, The Archaeology of Achaemenid Rule in Egypt
  • June Huh, Mathematics, Rota’s Conjecture and Positivity of Algebraic Cycles in Permutohedral Varieties
  • David Lai, Biomedical Engineering, Microfluidic Reduction of Osmotic Stress in Oocyte and Zygote Vitrification
  • Kai Mao, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Autophagy Induction and Mitochondrial Degradation in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Michael Pifer, Comparative Literature, The Stranger’s Voice: Integrated Literary Cultures in Anatolia and the Premodern World
  • Atef Said, Sociology, The Tahrir Effect: History, Space, and Protest in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011
  • Ronit Stahl, History, God, War, and Politics: The American Military Chaplaincy and the Making of a Multireligious Nation
  • Yi-Chin Wu, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Verification and Enforcement of Opacity Security Properties in Discrete Event Systems

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2013

  • Michael Anderson, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Hot Gaseous Halos Around Galaxies
  • Kerry Ard, Natural Resources and Environment, Changes in Exposure to Industrial Air Pollution Across the United States from 1995 to 2004: The Role of Race, Income, and Segregation
  • Aaron Armbruster, Physics, Discovery of a Higgs Boson with the ATLAS Detector
  • Matthew Cohn, Classical Studies, The Admonishing Muse: Ancient Interpretations of Personal Abuse in Old Comedy
  • Brian DeVree, Chemical Biology, Activation of G Protein-Coupled Receptors and Heterotrimeric G Proteins
  • Federico Helfgott, Anthropology and History, Transformations in Labor, Land and Community: Mining and Society in Pasco, Peru, 20th Century to the Present
  • Sara Jackson, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Staging the Deadlier Sex: Dangerous Women in German Text and Performance at the Fin de Siècle
  • Jongho Kim, Civil and Environmental Engineering, A Holistic Approach to Multi-Scale, Coupled Modeling of Hydrologic Processes, Flow Dynamics, Erosion, and Sediment Transport
  • Dongyoon Lee, Computer Science and Engineering, Holistic System Design for Deterministic Replay
  • Yan Long, Women’s Studies and Sociology, Constructing Political Actorhood: The Emergence and Transformation of AIDS Advocacy in China, 1989-2012

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2012

  • Ellen Block, Social Work and Anthropology, Infected Kin: AIDS, Orphan Care, and the Family in Lesotho
  • Joseph Braymer, Chemistry, Understanding the Roles of Metal Ions in the Fate of Reactive Oxygen Species and in Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Dae-Hyun Kim, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Design Loads Generator: Estimation of Extreme Environmental Loadings for Ship and Offshore Applications
  • Alwyn Lim, Sociology, The Global Expansion of Corporate Social Responsibility: Emergence, Diffusion, and Reception of Global Corporate Governance Frameworks
  • Jinjin Ma, Mechanical Engineering, Experimental and Computational Characterizations of Native Ligaments, Tendons, and Engineered 3-D Bone-Ligament-Bone Constructs in the Knee
  • Sven Nyholm, Philosophy, On the Universal Law and Humanity Formulas
  • John Prensner, Molecular and Cellular Pathology, Discovery and Characterization of Long Noncoding RNAs in Prostate Cancer
  • Rebecca Sears, Classical Studies, The Practical Muse: Reconstructing the Contexts of a Greek Musical Papyrus
  • Laura Sherman, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Understanding Sources and Cycling of Mercury Using Mercury Stable Isotopes
  • Yizao Wang, Statistics, Topics on Max-Stable Processes and the Central Limit Theorem

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2011

  • Remy Brim, Pharmacology, Investigations Into the Therapeutic Potential of a Bacterial Cocaine Esterase for the Treatment of Cocaine Toxicity and Cocaine Abuse
  • Ksenya Gurshtein, History of Art, TransStates: Conceptual Art in Eastern Europe and the Limits of Utopia
  • Daniel E. Horton, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Climate Dynamics of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age
  • Kathryn Howell, Psychology, Assessing Resilience in Preschool Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: Utilizing Multiple Informants and Evaluating the Impact of the Preschool Kids’ Club Intervention
  • Bin Hu, Operations, Technology, and Innovation Management, Essays on Procurement with Information Asymmetry
  • Nathaniel Mills , English Language and Literature, Ragged Figures: The Lumpenproletariat in Nelson Algren and Ralph Ellison
  • Christopher T. Nelson , Materials Science and Engineering, The Nanoscale Structure and Dynamic Properties of Ferroelectric Films
  • Yi Xiang , Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Analysis of the Molecular Mechanism and Physiological Role of Golgi Stack Formation and Golgi Biogenesis

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2010

  • Alyson Jones, Musicology, Playing Out: Women Instrumentalists and Women’s Ensembles in Contemporary Tunisia
  • Casie LeGette, English Language & Literature, The Past Jumps Up: British Radicals and the Remaking of Literary History 1790-1870
  • Jamaal Matthews, Education and Psychology, Toward a Holistic Understanding of Academic Identification in Ethnic Minority Boys at Risk for Academic Failure
  • Bobak Mosadegh, Biomedical Engineering, Design and Fabrication of Integrated Microfluidic Circuits Using Normally-Closed Elastomeric Valves
  • Gustavo Patino, Neuroscience, Who moved my protein? Mechanisms of Epileptogenesis due to Mutations of Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel SCN1B
  • Christopher Roberts, Public Policy and Sociology, Exploring the Fractures within Human Rights: An Empirical Study of Resistance
  • Kevin Tucker, Mathematics, Jumping Numbers and Multiplier Ideals on Algebraic Surfaces
  • Feng Wang, Biological Chemistry, Structural Analyses of Telomere Associated Proteins

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2009

  • Eric W. Groenendyk, Political Science, The Motivated Partisan: A Dual Motivations Theory of Partisan Change and Stability
  • Blair Allen Johnston, Music Theory, Harmony and Climax in the Late Works of Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • Jasper F. Kok, Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Science, Understanding Wind-Blown Sand and the Electrification of Granular Systems
  • Eranda Nikolla, Chemical Engineering, Combined Experimental/Theoretical Approach Toward the Development of Carbon Tolerant
    Electrocatalysts for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Anodes
  • Howard L. M. Nye, Philosophy, Ethics, Fitting Attitudes, and Practical Reason: A Theory of Normative Facts
  • Robert Grant Rowe, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Differential Regulation of Two- and Three-Dimensional Cell Function
  • Nathalie E. Williams, Sociology, Living With Conflict: The Effect of Community Organizations, Economic Assets,
    and Mass Media Consumption on Migration During Armed Conflict
  • Ruth E. Zielinski, Nursing, Private Places – Private Shame: Women’s Genital Body Image and Sexual Health

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2008

  • Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, Political Science, The Autonomy-Fostering State: Citizenship and Social Service Delivery
  • Todd Bryan, Natural Resources and Environment, Aligning Identity: Social Identity and Changing Context in Community-Based Environmental Conflict
  • Kimberly Clum, Social Work and Anthropology, The Shadows of Immobility: Low-Wage Work, Single Mothers’ Lives, and Workplace Culture
  • Lori Khatchadourian, Classical Art and Archaeology, Social Logics Under Empire: The Armenian ‘Highland Satrapy’ and Achaemenid Rule, CA. 600-300 BC
  • Mark Kiel, Cell & Developmental Biology, Identification, Localization and Characterization of Hematopoietic Stem Cells and Their Niche
  • Michelle Miller, Romance Languages and Literatures, Material Friendship: Service and Amity in Early Modern French Literature
  • Matthew Schulmerich, Chemistry, Subsurface and Transcutaneous Raman Spectroscopy, Imaging, and Tomography
  • Susan Sierra, Mathematics, The Geometry of Birationally Commutative Graded Domains

Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2007

  • Xiaoyun Chen, Chemistry, Investigating Biointerfaces Using Sum Frequency Generation Vibrational Spectroscopy
  • Francis Cody, Anthropology, Literacy as Enlightenment: Written Language, Activist Mediation, and the State in Rural Tomilnadu, India
  • Catherine Rose Fortin, Linguistics, Indonesian Sluicing and Verb Phrase Ellipsis: Description and Explanation in a Minimalist Framework
  • Emily Greenman, Public Policy, Intersecting Inequalities: Four Essays on Race, Immigration and Gender in the Contemporary United States
  • Rebecca A. Haeusler, Biological Chemistry, tRNA Genes as Organizers of Genetic Information
  • Hoyt J. Long, Asian Languages and Cultures: Japanese, On Uneven Ground: Provincializing Cultural Production in Interwar Japan
  • David Lynn Moehring, Physics, Remote Entanglement of Trapped Atomic Ions
  • Scott A. Tomlins, Pathology, Discovery and Characterization of Recurrent Gene Fusions in Prostate Cancer