Outstanding Dissertation Award - University of Houston
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These awards will be given to an eligible graduate student who submitted an outstanding dissertation representing “original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline.” Awards will be given in the following 4 broad fields in rotating years:
  • mathematics, physical sciences and engineering
  • social sciences
  • biological sciences
  • humanities and fine art

Two $1000 awards will be given per year; one in each of the eligible fields.

In 2023, the fields will be biological sciences/life sciences and humanities and fine arts. A list of the detailed fields of study for 2023 in each category are listed below.

  • Biological Sciences/Life Sciences: biology; botany; zoology; ecology; embryology; entomology; genetics; nutrition; plant pathology; plant physiology; anatomy; biochemistry; biophysics; microbiology; pathology; pharmacology; physiology; and related fields (health sciences). Also included are agriculture, forestry, zoology; and related fields.
  • Humanities and Fine Arts: history; philosophy; language; linguistics; literature; archaeology; jurisprudence; the history, theory and criticism of the arts; ethics; comparative religion; and those aspects of the social sciences that employ historical or philosophical approaches.

If a dissertation is multi- or interdisciplinary in nature, a significant portion of the work must be comprised by at least one of the 2023 fields of competition.


  • Each graduate program is eligible to nominate one individual for the award in a given year

  • The effective date of the degree awarded, or the completion of doctoral degree requirements and dissertation, must lie in the period of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2023, inclusive, for each nominee.
  • The UH Dissertation Award winners will be nominated for the national CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award. All nominees dissertation must be available in the ProQuest depository. 

  • Materials must be compiled as a single PDF and named as follows: Dissertation_Field_LastName.pdf  and emailed to gradschool@uh.edu by June 5, 2023

Nomination Package Checklist

  1. The nomination form, completed and signed by the dean/associate dean of the college.
  2. An extended abstract of the nominee’s dissertation (not to exceed 5 double-spaced pages). Appendices containing other material, such as charts, tables, and/or references may be included as additional pages.

  3. Three letters of recommendation evaluating the significance and quality of the nominee’s dissertation work. One of these letters is to be from the nominee's dissertation supervisor, another from a member of the nominee's dissertation committee, and the third from a person of the nominee's choice.

  4. The nominee’s curriculum vitae (not to exceed five pages).

  5. Certification by the collegiate Dean/Associate Dean that the dissertation was approved in partial fulfillment of requirements for the doctoral degree and that the student completed the doctoral degree within the past two academic years and/or summer sessions (July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2023, inclusive)

Dissertation Award Winners

2021 Award Winners

Anna Marissa Schoen, Political Science Ph.D., winner, Fine Arts/Humanities

Alberto Wilson III, History Ph.D., honorable mention, Fine Arts/Humanities

Arvand Asghari (Khonakdari), Biology Ph.D., winner, Biological/Life Sciences


2022 Award Winners

Jamie Karthein, Physics PhD, Winner, Mathematical, Physical Sciences and Engineering

Ya Zhou, Chemistry PhD, Honorable Mention, Mathematical, Physical Sciences and Engineering

Lichau Sun, Developmental, Cognitive, & Behavioral Neuroscience PhD, Winner, Social Sciences

Hamza Zahid, Economics PhD, Honorable Mention, Social Sciences