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Eatcs Distinguished Dissertation Award

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

Open or Edit a Nomination

General Information


Nominees must be awarded the doctoral degree during the 2017 calendar year, which includes commencementsheld in May, August, or December. Students who defended the dissertation in 2016 but received the degree in 2017 are eligible to be nominated. Students who defend the dissertation in fall 2017 but do not receive the degree until May 2018 are ineligible for the current year but may be nominated for the 2018 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 2017. 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. Recipients will be notified in March 2017, and awards will be presented at a public event on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.


The nomination deadline is 5:00pm, Wednesday, November 8, 2017.

For more information contact:

Honors and Awards
Rackham Graduate School
Telephone: (734) 615-0255
E-mail: honorsandawards@umich.edu

Guidelines for Preparing Nominations

As described below, a nomination dossier must include a cover sheet with contact information, a nominating letter, up to three letters of support submitted directly by the letter-writers, dissertation abstract, academic transcript, and curriculum vitae. Incomplete nomination 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.

Nominating Letter

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. Letter writers must be instructed to upload their letters in PDF format directly to the online nomination dossier. Nominators must provide letter writers with the UMID of the nominee and the name of the award, and direct them to https://secure.rackham.umich.edu/Faculty/support/ where the letter can be submitted.

Nominators will be able to read letters in the nomination dossier and choose which to include with the nomination dossier. The review committee will only see letters that have been selected.

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.

Open or Edit a Nomination

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
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
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
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
First-principles and Continuum Modeling of Charge Transport in Li-O2 Batteries
Charles Sebens
Locating Oneself in a Quantum World
Charles Sebens
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
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
The Tahrir Effect: History, Space, and Protest in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011
Ronit Stahl
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
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
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
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
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
Topics on Max-Stable Processes and the Central Limit Theorem

ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2011

Remy Brim
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
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
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
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
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
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
Living With Conflict: The Effect of Community Organizations, Economic Assets, and Mass Media Consumption on Migration During Armed Conflict
Ruth E. Zielinski
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
Subsurface and Transcutaneous Raman Spectroscopy, Imaging, and Tomography
Susan Sierra
The Geometry of Birationally Commutative Graded Domains

Distinguished Dissertation Awards of 2007

Xiaoyun Chen
Investigating Biointerfaces Using Sum Frequency Generation Vibrational Spectroscopy
Francis Cody
Literacy as Enlightenment: Written Language, Activist Mediation, and the State in Rural Tomilnadu, India
Catherine Rose Fortin
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
Remote Entanglement of Trapped Atomic Ions
Scott A. Tomlins
Discovery and Characterization of Recurrent Gene Fusions in Prostate Cancer

We are pleased to report that alumnus Heng Guo (PhD ’15) has been awarded the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) Distinguished Dissertation Award 2016. Guo was advised by Dr. Jin-Yi Cai.

Guo's research focuses on the computational complexity of counting problems. Counting problems include the computation of all kinds of quantities such as the number of satisfying assignments, proper graph colorings, success probabilities, and partition functions in statistical physics, etc. They have important applications all across computer science. Heng Guo endeavors to map out the landscape of counting problems according to their inherent difficulty. In particular, he has shown sweeping dichotomy theorems regarding constraint satisfaction problems and Boolean Holant problems, both on general graphs and on planar graphs. In addition, he has made contributions to advance approximate counting/sampling algorithms, improving techniques such as correlation decay and Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithms.

Congrats, Heng!

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