Chancellor Malatras Launches the Inaugural Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards

April 15, 2021

Winner to be Selected Amongst Nominations of SUNY PhD Student Dissertations and Will Also Receive $5,000 for Professional Development; Up to Five Finalists will Each Receive $1,000 for Professional Development

Extended Abstracts from Each of the Six Honorees' Guaranteed to be Published by SUNY Press—A Rare Opportunity in Public Higher Education

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Watch the full press conference here

Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced the inaugural Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards. The winner and up to five finalists will be selected amongst nominations of SUNY PhD student dissertations. The top prize of $5,000 for professional development will go to the winner, and $1,000 each for the finalists for professional development. Extended abstracts of each awardee's work are guaranteed to be published by SUNY Press—a rare opportunity in public higher education. All awardees will also be invited to a workshop to learn how to turn their dissertation into a book. Guidelines for the inaugural award will be delivered to SUNY campuses this month.

Each year SUNY graduates nearly 1,200 PhD students from its doctoral-granting campuses, including: University at Albany, Binghamton University, University at Buffalo, Downstate Health Sciences University, SUNY ESF, SUNY College of Optometry, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Stony Brook University, and Upstate Medical, as well as SUNY's statutory campuses within Alfred University and Cornell University. The fields of study range from agriculture, biological, physical, and social sciences to engineering, and the fine arts.

"The hard work and years-long efforts that it takes to see a dissertation through the end is a rite of passage for doctoral students and a culminating event that underscores the beginning of their next chapter in following their life's calling of adding to the pursuit of knowledge and new scientific breakthroughs. And SUNY students are conducting nation-leading research with practical applications that will help improve our way of life," said Chancellor Malatras. "To celebrate this accomplishment with the many driven and talented doctoral students throughout our system, we have created the Chancellor PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards, which also provides additional professional development support and publication of their extended abstracts by SUNY Press to launch their careers. These students will go on to leave a positive impact on their respective fields, communities, and the world at large, and we are proud to assist them in furthering their careers and becoming recognized leaders following their graduation."

SUNY Board Trustee Courtney Burke said, "Innovative research flourishes at the master's and doctoral level, and SUNY students immerse themselves in their studies and are eager to share their findings and results within academia and beyond. The Chancellor Distinguished PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards will help them in this endeavor through financial and professional support. On behalf of the Board, we are proud of the work of our graduate students, and look forward to seeing what they accomplish upon graduation."

SUNY Provost-in-Charge F. Shadi Shahedipour-Sandvik said, "One of SUNY's strengths as a system is attracting PhD students who are driven, academically talented, innovative, and with the drive that is required for a successful completion of an original work in pursuit of a PhD degree—our PhD students contribute to some of the most highly influential research and scholarly work and disseminated through high impact publications. A PhD thesis for these graduates is the culmination of years of hard work and focus that for many starts in the first year of entering the graduate program. At SUNY, we commit ourselves to educating not just scholars but leaders that positively influence their specific field of study, their community and in some cases the world. The Chancellor PhD Graduate Dissertation Awards is our way of recognizing the best of the best."

SUNY Polytechnic Institute Acting President Tod A. Laursen said, "Under the leadership of Chancellor Malatras, SUNY continues to foster graduate student success. As SUNY Poly looks to grow our graduate programs, we strongly encourage our PhD students to apply for this exciting opportunity to receive additional professional development. This award will recognize doctorial research achievements, while supporting the critical professional activities, such as conference attendance and publication costs, which are necessary to bridge graduate studies to a successful career that will have lasting impact."

SUNY Poly graduate student Emma Rocco said, "As a PhD candidate working with Prof. Shahedipour-Sandvik here at SUNY Poly, I—and many other SUNY students throughout the system—have been given such incredible opportunities to work in world-class research facilities and take coursework required to be successful. This award furthers the commitment to help students succeed within the system and collaborate to advance their research studies. It is a great feeling to have our hard work recognized, and gives us impactful exposure, and furthers the success of SUNY students as we apply for fellowships and academic positions upon graduation."

Kasey Hogan, SUNY Poly graduate student and SUNY Brockport alum said, "I started off in higher education as an undergraduate student at SUNY Brockport in the physics department, where there were many opportunities to apply for grants, awards, and summer research funding. It was a small department where you get to know your professors by name—this is where I developed my scientific sense and desire to pursue an advanced degree, which led me to SUNY Poly. Through my work with Prof. Shahedipour-Sandvik, my mindset has completely changed, and I feel as though I've developed into a true engineer. All PhDs want to leave an impact on their respective fields, and we can achieve this through establishing connections, publications, and broadcasting our work—this award will undoubtedly help us do just that, and I look forward to applying."

Each honoree will have flexibility in how the professional development award is used so it can best support the recipient's immediate career goals, including:

  • Conference attendance and registration fees
  • To offset open access publication in a book or journal
  • Publishing services assistance for book or journal publications
  • Subvention funding for book publications
  • Editorial services for publishing in academic journals, including but not limited to authoring support services and open access funding

All finalists will also be invited to a workshop featuring a SUNY Press facilitated panel discussion on how to turn their dissertation into a book. The panelists at this workshop will include editors and advisory board members from SUNY Press, as well as recently published book authors from across the system. Workshop topics will include practical advice on preparing a publishing strategy; creating winning book proposals; and assistance locating the right publisher for their topic. Award finalists will also be encouraged to submit their own topics for discussion.

About SUNY Press

SUNY Press sponsors nationally recognized and rapidly growing lists of publications in the areas of African American Studies, Asian Studies, Education, Environmental Studies, Indigenous Studies, Italian American Studies, Jewish Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Queer Studies, Religion, Transpersonal Psychology, and Women's Studies. Through its Excelsior Editions imprint, SUNY Press makes available exceptional works for all readers and showcases the diversity and abiding energy of the peoples, histories, and natural beauty of the New York region.


About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

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