Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding Ph.D. Research Guidelines

This is a College-level competition across all Departments/Programs for Ph.D. graduate students who are on track to receive/graduate with their conferred degree between May 2023 – December 2023.  It is intended to highlight the creativity and outstanding research achievements demonstrated by our Ph.D. students. Departments/Programs may each present up to two graduate students for this award. A committee will select three student winners for this award.

Eligibility Criteria and Selection of Candidates

  • Criteria for the award: creativity and outstanding research achievement.
  • Graduate chairs can present up to two Ph.D. students as candidates for this award. To identify their candidate(s), we recommend using a process that allows nominations from both students and faculty, including student self-nominations. 
  • Students must be on-track to receive/graduate with their conferred Ph.D. degree between May 2023 – December 2023.
  • Department/Program submission deadline: Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The nomination package must include the following as a single PDF in the order listed

  • Student personal statement (1-page max) explaining:
    • Why they should be selected for the Towner Prize.
    • How has the student and/or their research been involved in/impacted our local or broader community?
      • Examples include but are not limited to: involvement in student organizations, serving as a GSI, volunteer activities, and research impact on a specific community.
  • Two letters of recommendation (one from the student’s advisor).
  • The student’s CV with links to publications and/or patents.
  • One-page abstract on the student’s research
    • The abstract may include 1 figure as a part of the single-page abstract. Abstracts should not exceed 1 page. See abstract template for guidelines.
    • Abstracts will be available online on the ERS website

Departments/Programs should submit these documents as one PDF file with the nomination form


  • December 12, 2022: Call for nominations announced to Graduate Chairs and Coordinators.
  • Wednesday, February 1, 2023: Department/Program nominations due.
  • Late February 2023: Winners selected.
  • Sunday, March 19, 2023: Winners recognized at CoE Leaders & Honors Awards Banquet.

Awards & Review Process

  • Candidates will be judged on their submitted materials by a panel of judges.
    • The judging rubric will assess research quality, effective communication, and broader impact. 
  • Three winners will each receive $2,500. Winners will be highlighted on the CoE website. 
  • Winners will be honored at the CoE Leaders & Honors Awards Brunch in March.

Questions about the Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding Ph.D. Research can be directed to