Graduate School

Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Prize

The Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award is an annual prize awarded by the Graduate School for superior achievements in research by students who are completing their Ph.Ds.

Nicholas W. Bellono PhD '15, receives a Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award at Commencement.

Supported through the generosity of the Joukowsky Family Foundation, the awards are usually given to four students per year, one from each of the four main areas: the humanities, the life sciences, the physical sciences, and the social sciences. The award and an honorarium are given out at the Graduate School Commencement ceremony.

All dissertations nominated for the Dissertation Award are reviewed by the Graduate Council, which also makes final determinations regarding the winners.

Nomination Process and Requirements

  • Nominations should be made through UFunds, found under the Graduate Student and Alumni Awards button.
  • The award is open to completing doctoral candidates from all programs.
  • Each candidate must be nominated by his or her program, and each doctoral program may submit only one nomination.
  • Each program must submit:
    a) the student's abstract of the dissertation (which should not exceed 4,000 words, or 10 pages single spaced);
    b) detailed letters of nomination from the student's advisor, a member of the dissertation committee, and a third reader, which should address the student's achievement and the potential impact on the scholarship or research of his or her field; and
    c) an electronic copy of the student's dissertation, including the signature page.
  • It is possible to nominate someone who has not defended the dissertation by the deadline. To be considered, the candidate must defend and submit the dissertation by May 1, 2024. 

Nomination Deadline

April 1, 2024

Winners of the Outstanding Dissertation Award

Sponsored by the Joukowsky Family Foundation

Life Sciences

Cel Welch ’24 Ph.D.

Biomedical Engineering
Novel Devices, Physical Mechanisms, and Analytical Techniques for Use in Next Generation Cellular Diagnostics
Read more about Cel's research and award

Social Sciences

Giulia Buccione ’24 Ph.D.

Culture, Agency, and Water: Essays on the Development of the Middle East and North Africa
Read more about Giulia's research and award

Physical Sciences

Laura Heuman Lark ’24 Ph.D.

Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences
Influence of Compositional Structure on Planetary Geological Evolution
Read more about Laura's research and award


Mariajosé Rodríguez-Pliego ’23 Ph.D.

Comparative Literature
Foundational Futures: Nationhood, Migration, and Environment in the Literatures of Abiayla
Read more about Mariajosé's research and award

Life Sciences

Kiara Lee ’23 Ph.D., Sc.M.

Biomedical Engineering, Global Public Health
Leveraging Biotransport Mechanisms in the Design of Technologies to Improve Access to Blood-Based Diagnostics
Read about Kiara's award and research

Social Sciences

Suvaid Yaseen ’23 Ph.D.

Islamic Intersections: Religion and Politics in Kashmir in the Long Twentieth-Century
Read about Suvaid's award and research

Physical Sciences

Anant Hariharan ’23 Ph.D.

Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
Understanding Overtone Interference in Surface Wave Measurements: Application to Anisotropic Imaging of the Uppermost Mantle Beneath North America
Read about Anant's award and research


Dennis Hogan ’22 Ph.D.

Comparative Literature
The Queen of Two Worlds: Crisis and Creation in the Central American Transit Zones, 1848-1914
Read about Dennis' award and research

Abigail Kaywana-Ann Brown, Melanie White, Tangli Ge, Ethel Mylene Barja CuyutupaLife Sciences

Abigail Kaywana-Ann Brown ’21 Ph.D.

Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Deciphering FOXOs role in promoting longevity through transcriptional and epigenetic regulation
Read about Abigail's award and research

Social Sciences

Melanie White ’22 Ph.D.

Africana Studies
What Dem Do to We No Have Name: Intimate Colonial Violence, Autonomy, and Black Women’s Art in Caribbean Nicaragua
Read about Melanie's award and research

Physical Sciences

Tangli Ge ’22 Ph.D.

Uniform Mordell–Lang Plus Bogomolov
Read about Tangil's award and research


Ethel Mylene Barja Cuyutupa ’21 Ph.D.

Hispanic Studies
Tiempo de Promesa: Resonancias de la Revolución Cubana en la Poesía Latinoamericana
Read about Ethel's award and research

joukowsky winners
Left to right, top to bottom: Botai Xuan, Mallory Matsumoto, Cyrus Cousins, and Nicolas Campisi

Life Sciences

Botai Xuan ’21 PhD

Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology
Unraveling the Contributions of Polyploidal Giant Cancer Cells in Cancer Progression
Read about Botai's award and research

Social Sciences

Mallory Matsumoto ’21 PhD

Sharing Script: Development and Transmission of Hieroglyphic Practice among Classic Maya Scribes
Read about Mallory's award and research

Physical Sciences

Cyrus Cousins ’21 PhD

Computer Science
Bounds and Applications of Concentration of Measure in Fair Machine Learning and Data Science
Read about Cyrus' award and research


Nicolas Campisi ’20 PhD

Hispanic Studies
El retorno de lo contemporáneo: La novela latinoamericana en el fin de los tiempos (The Return of the Contemporary: The Latin American Novel in the End Times)
Read about Nicolas' award and research

Life Sciences

Madeline Bourque Kearin ’20 Ph.D.

“A Refuge of Cure or of Care”: The Sensory Dimension of Confinement at the Worcester State Hospital for the Insane

Physical Sciences

Lu Lu ’20 Ph.D.

Applied Mathematics
Theory, Algorithms, and Software for
Physics-Informed Deep Learning


Erika Valdivieso ’20 Ph.D.

Virgilian Imitation in Colonial Latin America

Life Sciences

Hyeyoung Shin ’20 PhD

Putative Timekeeper Neurons and Noncanonical Brain Rhythms in Perception

Read about the 2020 prize recipients


Reyhan Durmaz ’19 Ph.D.

Religious Studies
Stories, Saints, and Sanctity between Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages

Life Sciences

William Jordan III ’19 Ph.D., Sc.M.

Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Data Science
Drosophila Dosage Compensation as a Model for Combinatorial Transcriptional Regulation

Physical Sciences

Evgenios Kornaropoulos ’19 Ph.D.

Computer Science
Information Leakage in Encrypted Systems through an Algorithmic Lens

Social Sciences

Florian Felix Gunsilius ’19 Ph.D.

Essays in Nonparametric Econometrics


David Meir Mittelman

Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
Skepticism and the Limits of Knowledge in Modern Brazilian Narrative

Life Sciences

Megan Beth Cole

Health Services Research
The Impact of Medicaid Expansion on Community Health Centers: Effects on Health Insurance Coverage, Quality of Care, and Patient Volume

Physical Sciences

Sameer Subramanian Iyer

Applied Mathematics
Boundary Layers for 2-D Stationary Navier-Stokes Flows over a Moving Boundary

Social Sciences

Maria Cecilia Hwang

American Studies
Shadow Migration and Gendered Illegality: The Temporary Labor Migration of Filipina Sex Workers in Asia

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