Doctoral Excellence Award


Our 2020 Winners

  • Biochemistry: Leah Zagore
  • Biomedical Engineering: Nathaniel Braman
  • Clinical Translational Science: Uriel Kim
  • Epidemiology & Biostatistics: Daniel Ontaneda
  • Genetics & Genome Sciences: Andrew Morton
  • Molecular Medicine: Tyler Alban
  • Neurosciences: Taylor Jay
  • Pathology: Tristan de Jesus
  • Pharmacology: Wilnelly Hernandez-Sanchez
  • Physiology & Biophysics: W. Michael Babinchak
  • Arthur F.W. Hughes Award: Justine Ngo

The Doctoral Excellence Award in Biomedical Sciences is established to recognize outstanding graduate students in PhD programs at the School of Medicine. Successful candidates will exhibit exceptional qualities in research, scholarship, service, and collaboration. Nominees' work should represent highly original work that is an unusually significant contribution to the field and their contribution to the project should be clear. In addition, the student should have made significant contributions to the scientific community through involvement in activities that support the laboratory, department, school, institution, or national science organizations. A maximum of one student per PhD program will be selected, but a program may not have a student selected in a particular year. The SOM Graduate Program Directors will review the nominations and select recipients of each Award.

In addition to the Doctoral Excellence Award, this process can also be used to nominate eligible graduate students can also be nominated for the Hughes Award in Developmental Biology or Embryology.

To be considered for the Krampitz Award from the department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, and the Olson Award from the department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, students should contact the appropriate department.


Open to graduating PhD students in Biochemistry, Bioethics, Biomedical Engineering, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Genetics, Molecular Medicine, Neurosciences, Nutrition, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology and Biophysics, and Systems Biology and Bioinformatics.

To be eligible for the Doctoral Excellence Award, a student must have completed all doctoral degree requirements and have a conferral date between August and May of the academic year.

Please download the Doctoral Excellence Award Review for more information.


Nominee will be judged in three main areas: original scholarly work, significant contribution to the field, and significant service contributions.

Nominations occur electronically and must include

  1. A brief letter of nomination (or self-nomination) in non-technical language, presenting the purpose, methods, results of the research, and a clear statement of its significance within the discipline. It is important to delineate the intellectual contributions of the nominee. The student’s outside activities establishing their significance in the broader scientific, institutional, and/or local community need to be addressed. Nomination letters are limited to a maximum of two pages.
  2. An updated copy of the nominee's curriculum vitae.
  3. A letter of support from a member of nominee's dissertation committee or research advisor. The letter of support will be requested by email, so please be prepared to provide the name and email of the letter writer. Nominators who are research advisors or dissertation committee members of nominee will have the option to use the nomination letter as the letter of support. Nominations must be received by end of business on Thursday, April 1, 2021.

Winners will receive a certificate and small monetary award at the Graduate and Postdoctoral Award Ceremony, and Award information will appear in the commencement booklet. If you have any additional questions, please contact Hua Lou at  For assistance with technical issues, please contact Malana Bey at