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Graduate School Medal

We live in an increasingly complex world, therefore understanding the nature of social, cultural and political issues in the US and across the world is exceptionally difficult. It is clear that there are no easy answers to our world’s current problems — making it all the more important that we dedicate ourselves to understanding the complicated answers. The Graduate School at the University of Washington is dedicated to training the next generation of individuals — in laboratories and classrooms, in business and government, at home and abroad — to provide leadership and to impact positive change through innovative solutions.

Compelled by the world around them, our graduate students are positioned at the leading edge of learning and discovery, seeking new approaches and innovative solutions to some of our most intractable problems. To recognize and honor the “scholar-citizens” in our midst, the Graduate School offers the Graduate School Medal.

This medal is given to recognize a doctoral candidate whose academic expertise and social awareness are integrated in a way that demonstrates an exemplary commitment to the University and its larger community. The medal recognizes that any given question or issue may be characterized by several competing perspectives and negotiated meanings steeped in the doctoral students’ intersectional identity, lived experiences, and how these converge in their scholarly research and social impact. Hence it recognizes doctoral candidates who move beyond seeking discrete answers to complex problems. 

About the Graduate School Medal 

The Graduate School Medal is a $5,000 award to a Ph.D., DMA, Au.D., DNP, DPT, or Ed.D. candidate who displays an exemplary commitment to both the University and its larger community. The Graduate School Medal recognizes the “scholar-citizens” whose academic expertise and social awareness are integrated in a way that demonstrates active civic engagement and a capacity to promote political, cultural and social change. The sociocultural and political impact is not only tied to the academic work, but may also demonstrate how the researcher’s intersectional identity influences the conception of ideas, solutions, and those impacted by the research outcomes. The Medal is funded from the UW Graduate Fellowship Fund, which is supported primarily by annual gifts from alumni and friends of the UW. The medal recipient will be announced in mid- to late May 2024. 

NOMINATION DEADLINE: Wednesday, April 10, 2024, noon (PT) 


Any graduate student who has achieved candidacy for a Ph.D., D.M.A. or Ed.D. and who expects to receive their degree by August 2025 is eligible for the Graduate School Medal, as is any student in a practice doctoral program (Au.D., D.N.P., D.P.T., some Ed.D. programs) who expects to receive their degree by August 2024. 

Students enrolled in J.D., M.D., Pharm.D., and D.D.S. degrees are not eligible for this award program. 

Departments may nominate only one student. 

Nomination process 

Doctoral candidates must be nominated by their home academic department. The Graduate School Medal does not take applications directly from students. Departmental staff or faculty authorized to use the Awards section in MyGradProgram must submit nomination materials through the this portal. 

Each nomination consists of the following: 

  • a 1–2 page nomination letter from a dean/director/chair; 
  • a 1–3 page (double-spaced) statement from the student addressing the integration of their academic experience and social awareness, and describing their vision for promoting political, cultural and social change and how their academic record advances this; 
  • a 1–2 page letter from the chair of the nominee’s doctoral supervisory committee; 
  • a curriculum vitae from the student. 

Nominations must be submitted through the Awards section in MyGradProgram absolutely no later than Wednesday, April 10, 2024 at noon to be accepted for consideration.

Late submissions will not be considered. 

Review process 

Nominations meeting initial review requirements will be examined by a committee consisting of Graduate School deans and a current member of the Graduate Council. The committee will select a pool of finalists to be forwarded to the Graduate School Council for consideration. The Council will review the finalists’ applications, conduct interviews during mid- to late April or early May, and make the final selection. 

Criteria for selection 

In addition to the minimum criteria listed above, nominees will be expected to have demonstrated — and/or show potential to demonstrate — an ability to integrate intellectual insight and social concern. 

Successful nominees will: 

  • have applied their disciplinary expertise to the world around them and for the public good, 
  • be committed to “problem-oriented” scholarship and its requisite interdisciplinary nature, and 
  • be integrating their work in the academy with engagement in the public/private sectors. 

The Graduate School Medal recipient will be a scholar-citizen who illustrates the synergy between graduate-level achievement in the University and social or cultural productivity outside. 

2023 Graduate Medal Award recipient

Previous award recipients

  • 2022: Matthew Fowle, Public Policy and Governance
  • 2021: Nick Maurice, Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • 2020: Paul Tubig, Philosophy
  • 2019: Brandon Nguyen, Rehabilitation Medicine
  • 2018: Cassandra Simonich, Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • 2017: Niket Thakkar, Applied Mathematics
  • 2016: Erica Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • 2015: Cuauhtemoc Mexica, Comparative Literature
  • 2014: Shiri Azenkot, Computer Science and Engineering
  • 2013: Chris Bassett, Mechanical Engineering
  • 2012: Jill Woelfer, Information School
  • 2011: Yaw Anokwa, Computer Science and Engineering
  • 2010: Anna Cavender, Computer Science and Engineering
  • 2009: Renee Byrd, Women Studies
  • 2008: Caroline Faria, Geography
  • 2007: Thomas Robey, Bioengineering
  • 2006: Laura Certain, Genome Sciences and Karen Rosenberg, Women Studies
  • 2005: Mae Henderson, Women Studies and Melanie Roberts, Neurobiology and Behavior
  • 2004: Vibha Sazawal, Computer Science and Engineering and Jeanette Bushnell, Women Studies
  • 2003: Selina Mohammed, Nursing and Maha El-Taji, Near and Middle Eastern Studies