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 2024 – December 2024.  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 2024 – December 2024.
  • Department/Program submission deadline: Friday, January 19, 2024

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

  • Student personal statement (up to 1500 words (approx. 3 pages max)):
    • 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


  • Dec. 7 – Call for nominations
  • Jan. 19 – Nominations due from departments
  • Feb. 12 – Winners are announced
  • March 24 – Winners will be honored at the College of Engineering Leaders & Honors Awards Brunch

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. 

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