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Chancellor’s Dissertation Medal

Award Description

The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA), in coordination with the Division of Graduate Education & Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA), is seeking outstanding graduate students who have recently completed their thesis work at UC San Diego.  Each department is eligible to nominate one student who has completed an outstanding dissertation in the past year.  A committee of faculty assembled by the dean of each school will select a winner from each school at UC San Diego.  Award winners will have the opportunity to be honored at commencement and an awards luncheon. Winners will also be recognized as a recipient of the medal on the GPSA and GEPA webpages. 


This Medal is an excellent opportunity for the university to recognize the work of our most outstanding students as they leave with their PhDs. 



  • One PhD student from each department will be considered for the school-level award.
  • PhD students who are registered with the School of Medicine or Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will be included with the School of Biological Sciences
  • PhD students who are registered with the School of Global Policy and Strategy and Rady School of Management will be included with the School of Social Sciences.
  • PhD students must have defended their PhD thesis and completed their paperwork with the GEPA between April 1st of 2022 through March 31st of 2023, in order to be eligible for the award.



  • 2 letters of recommendation from committee members
    • One of which must come from the committee chair or co-chair
  • Research summary (1000 word maximum) of the dissertation research, including project background and rationale, an explanation of research design (e.g., methods, procedure, analysis plans), and other important aspects of the project
  • One optional, additional page listing references included in the research summary (i.e., references need not count toward the 1000 word maximum)
  • Copy of the dissertation including an abstract
  • Letter of support from the department chair
  • Current contact information including a non-UCSD email address


Criteria for selection

The quality of the research and dissertation alone is to be considered for applicants to this award.  The criteria to be considered by the committees are:

  • Impact:  The importance and impact of the research to the field and/or the department
  • Originality:  The insight, originality, and creativity shown by the author
  • Presentation:   The effectiveness of the writing, clarity, and organization of the thesis
  • Quality:  The soundness of the methodology and the quality of the data


Response Deadline

  • Department level: Department nominations and requirement materials are due to the school dean no later than Friday, April 21, 2023. Each department will choose one nominee to send on to their school dean or designee.
  • School level: School selections are due to GPSA Vice President of Academic Affairs, Mikah Bertelmann, at by Friday, May 5, 2023.


Notification of Award

Award winners will be notified of their selection by Friday, May 12, 2023.

Awardees will be recognized at Graduate Commencement on Saturday, June 17, 2023.


Congratulations to the 2022 recipients!

  • Arts and Humanities: Keir GoGwilt (Music)
  • Biological Sciences: Daniella McDonald (Biomedical Sciences)
  • Wertheim School of Public Health:Yuqi Qiu (Biostatistics) Daniella McDonald (Biomedical Sciences)
  • Jacobs School of Engineering: An Zheng (Computer Science and Engineering)
  • Physical Sciences: Yi Yang (Physcis)
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Jia-Rui Shi (Oceanography & Climate Science)
  • Social Sciences: Lauren Nippoldt (Anthropology)

Congratulations to the 2021 recipients!

  • Arts and Humanities: Sebastian Speitel (Philosophy)
  • Biological Sciences: Robert Kim (Neuroscience)
  • Wertheim School of Public Health: Lara Marquez (TBD)
  • Jacobs School of Engineering: Zexiang Xu (Computer Science and Engineering)
  • Physical Sciences: Jesse Peltier (Chemistry)
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Benjamin Birner (Geosciences Research Division)
  • Social Sciences: Richard Gao (Cognitive Science)

Congratulations to the 2020 recipients!

  • Arts and Humanities: Sky Johnston (History)
  • Biological Sciences: Jennifer Dumdie (Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences)
  • Jacobs School of Engineering: Sunmi Shin (Materials Science)
  • Physical Sciences: James Wampler (Physics)
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Travis Courtney (Geosciences Research Division)
  • Social Sciences: Lauren Olsen (Sociology)