Skip to main content

Chancellor’s Dissertation Medal

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)

If you are interested in this award when you defend, find below the details for the 2021 cycle call for nominations:

Call for Nominations

Award Description

The Graduate Student Association (GSA), in coordination with the Graduate Division and the Office of Research Affairs, 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 UC San Diego division will select a winner for their division. Historically, award winners have had the opportunity to be honored at commencement, where they received medals at the time of being hooded. Winners will be recognized as a recipient of the medal on the Graduate Division website.


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


  • At most one PhD student from each department will be considered for the division-level award.
  • Medical and pharmacy school students will be considered with the division of biological sciences; GPS and Rady students will be considered with the division of social sciences.
  • Students must have defended their PhD theses and completed their paperwork with the Graduate Division between April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, or commencement year, 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 (references need not count toward the 1000 word maximum)
  • Copy of the dissertation including an abstract
  • Letter of support from the department chair

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 required materials are due to divisional deans no later than Friday April 23, 2021
  • Divisional level: Divisional selections are due to the GSA VP Academic at and April Bjorsen at no later than Friday May 7, 2021

Immediate Next Steps

  • If you are a student and would like to be considered for this award, please notify your committee chair(s) and begin preparing your application materials
  • If you are a committee chair and would like to nominate one of your students, notify your student and department chair, and request that the student begin preparing his or her application materials
  • If you are a department chair, prepare to receive application materials and select a department nominee by April 23, 2021
  • If you are a dean of division, prepare to receive departmental nominations and prepare to submit your divisional selection by May 7, 2021

Notification of Award

  • Award winners will be notified of their selection by May 14, 2021
  • Historically, an award winner event has been held around the second week of June 2021


Questions?  Please contact GSA VP Academic at