The Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) is delighted to announce the recipients of the 2021 CAGS-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award.

Winner – Engineering, Medical Sciences and Natural Sciences Category

Dr. Qingzhe Zhang, Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre (EMT), Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS)

Supervisors: Professor Dongling Ma, PhD, Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Advanced Functional Nanocomposites, INRS; Professor Mohamed Chaker, PhD, Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Plasma Applied to Micro- and Nanomanufacturing Technologies, INRS

Dissertation: “Broadband graphitic carbon nitride-based photocatalysts for environmental and energy applications.”

Dr. Qingzhe Zhang, Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre (EMT), Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS)

Dr. Qingzhe Zhang’s dissertation focusses on the development of cost-effective photocatalysts for efficient collection of solar photons over a vast range of wavelengths. This innovative research resulted in three new nanocomposite photocatalysts based on graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4), a metal-free 2D material. Zhang’s discoveries in the realm of plasmonics have highlighted the enormous potential of photocatalysts to efficiently treat wastewater, while his investigations into the manufacture and use of metal-free black phosphorus photocatalysts have revealed fascinating ways to harness solar energy in the production of a zero-emission fuel, hydrogen. 

Dr. Zhang completed a BSc and a MSc in Environmental Engineering in China. He received his PhD from INRS in 2020, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the same institution researching novel nanostructures for broadband solar harvesting. Dr. Zhang holds seven patents and has published one book chapter as well as 35 research articles that have been cited more than 1200 times. He has received several awards and distinctions including the 2020 Prix Relève Étoile Louis-Berlinguet and a Doctoral Research Award from the province of Quebec. Dr. Qingzhe Zhang is currently a Qilu Young Scholar and full professor at the School of Environmental Science and Engineering at Shandong University, where he continues to pursue research on solar-driven wastewater remediation and the production of green fuels.

“Dr. Zhang is a highly qualified and motivated researcher with extremely sound fundamental knowledge, first-rate technical skills and exceptional communication skills. He has proven to have the leadership, perseverance, initiative and intellectual creativity to carry out cutting-edge research independently. The innovative work he has done during his dissertation will certainly have a major impact in the coming years in both the energy and environmental fields.” Professors Dongling Ma and Mohamed Chaker, PhD Supervisors

Winner – Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Category

Dr. Ugo Gilbert Tremblay, Department of Law, Université de Montréal

Supervisors: Hugues Parent, Full Professor, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal; Bernard Baertschi, Maître d’enseignement et de recherche, Institut d’éthique biomédicale/Département de philosophie, Université de Genève

Dissertation: “Does criminal responsibility have a future? An investigation into the philosophical, legal and psychological foundations of criminal accountability in the age of neuroscience.”

Dr. Ugo Gilbert Tremblay, Department of Law, Université de Montréal

Dr. Ugo Gilbert Tremblay’s dissertation explores how developments in the field of neuroscience are impacting broader notions of responsibility and accountability in the context of criminal law. Using a multidisciplinary approach that integrates philosophical, juridical, legal, medical, and psychological perspectives, Gilbert Tremblay’s research represents the first attempt to systematically assess the influence that new understandings about the brain could have in the making of defences in Canadian criminal law.

The dissertation is distinguished by its unprecedented use of genealogical and historical research, as well as it’s elucidation of the changing nature of free will and other core concepts in the western legal tradition. Gilbert Tremblay’s interventions on the role of rhetoric in judicial discourse are particularly innovative, and serve to challenge commonly-held understandings of criminal responsibility and the foundations of accountability.

Dr. Gilbert Tremblay holds a doctorate in law (Université de Montréal) and in philosophy (Université de Genève), and is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Faculty of Law at McGill University. His research project examines hate speech as a public health issue, and is supervised by Professor Daniel Weinstock and funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC). Gilbert Tremblay has been a member of the editorial board of L’Inconvénient since 2015, in which he has published numerous essays.

“Mr. Gilbert Tremblay’s thesis on the impact of neuroscience on criminal responsibility is remarkable. It is distinguished by its completeness, originality, richness and depth. Its contribution to legal science is considerable.” Hugues Parent, PhD Supervisor

“This thesis is a remarkable scholarly effort that draws on the knowledge of numerous disciplines, sometimes in competition with each other on the dogmatic level, sometimes in parallel in order to show their undeniable complementarity. The originality of the analysis is matched only by its erudition.” Pierre Rainville, Full Professor, Faculty of Law, Laval University, External Examiner

The CAGS-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes Canadian doctoral dissertations that make unusually significant and original contributions, both to their respective academic communities and to Canadian society at large. The award was established in 1994 and is presented annually by CAGS, with sponsorship support provided by ProQuest. For the 2021 award season, eligible dissertations must have been completed and accepted by the graduate school between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020.

As expected, there were many extraordinary nominees for this award and the competition was extremely difficult to adjudicate. Twenty-two universities from across Canada participated, each of whom were eligible to submit only one nomination per category after a rigorous internal selection process. In total, CAGS received 44 dissertations that were assessed by two independent committees, each consisting of 16 expert judges. Both committees were unanimous in their decision and commended the exemplary dissertations produced by Dr. Gilbert Tremblay and Dr. Zhang.

Dr. Gilbert Tremblay and Dr. Zhang will each receive a cash prize of $1,500, a certificate of recognition, and an invitation to present at the 60th Annual CAGS Conference, to be held in Montreal in November 2022. CAGS congratulates the winners for their tremendous accomplishments!