ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award

2021 CAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award


About the Award

The CAGS-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes Canadian doctoral dissertations that make unusually significant and original contributions to their academic field. They were established in 1994 and are presented annually by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS), with sponsorship support provided by ProQuest. Winners of this award will be granted a $1,500 cash prize, a certificate of recognition, and an opportunity to attend the 59th Annual CAGS Conference, to be held virtually in November 2021.

We invite submissions of dissertations in both official languages.

This year, a first and second place winner will be selected from each of the following categories:

  1. Engineering, Medical Sciences, and Natural Sciences
  2. Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences


Eligible Dissertations include:

  1. A dissertation in any discipline in engineering, medical sciences, and natural sciences completed and accepted by the Graduate School between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020.
  2. A dissertation in any discipline in the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences completed and accepted by the Graduate School between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020.

Note: In interdisciplinary domains or in fields that overlap the two broad areas in which the prizes are given, the Dean of Graduate Studies must decide for which prize it is appropriate to submit the dissertation.

Nomination Procedure

Member institutions may submit two nominations – one for each category of award.

Each nomination must include:

  1. A letter of support from the Dean of Graduate Studies, which also includes the following information:
    1. A description of the process used to select the nominee;
    2. The name and departmental affiliation of the nominee’s research supervisor;
    3. The name and affiliation of the external examiner;
    4. The date of the defence and the date of final acceptance of the dissertation by the Graduate School (the date at which the final copy of the thesis, including all required corrections, is submitted to the graduate school).
  2. A letter from the student’s supervisor or program director describing the reasons for the nomination, and why the dissertation constitutes a significant piece of original work.
  3. A copy of the external examiner’s pre-defence report. The examiner’s report must be dated and signed or otherwise authenticated by the Dean of Graduate Studies.
  4. An abstract of the dissertation, not exceeding 350 words, written by the candidate in non-technical language (the candidate should also be aware of their nomination for the award and provide the information in items 4 and 5; should this not be possible the reasons must be given in the letter from the dean).
  5. An up-to-date c.v. of the nominee.
  6. The name and coordinates of the person to contact for questions relating to the nomination.

Submission Period


CAGS is accepting nomination packages for the 2021 CAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award during the period 1 March – 30 April 2021. Complete nomination packages should be submitted electronically in a single file to no later than 4:00 PM (EST) on 30 April 2021. Please include “CAGS Distinguished Dissertation Award” in the subject line.


Dr. Ina Anreiter, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto
Dr. Hannah Kia, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto

Dr. Janelle Marie Baker, Anthropology Department, McGill University
Dr. Soren Mellerup, Department of Chemistry, Queen’s University

Dr. Ashley Whillans, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia.
Dr. Christian Reimer, Department of Physics, National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS)

Dr. Boyang Zhang, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Toronto.
Dr. Leila Qashu, Department of Ethnomusicology, Memorial University.

Dr. Douglas Hunter, Department of History, York University.
Dr. Drew Higgins, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo.

Dr. Bree Akesson, School of Social Work, McGill University.
Dr. Michelle (Tonkin) Parker, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Victoria.

Dr. Eric Weissman, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University.
Dr. Daniel Boyce, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University.

Dr. Laura Bisaillon, Department of Population Health, University of Ottawa.
Dr. Aaron Shafer, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta.