Karas Award

The Karas Award for Outstanding Dissertation has been established to recognize excellence in doctoral research at Iowa State University. Each year the two winners of this award become Iowa State University’s nominees to the national competition for the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)/University Microfilms International (UMI) Distinguished Dissertation Award. Awards are selected annually in two of the rotating four broad disciplinary areas announced by the Council of Graduate Schools—Humanities and the Fine Arts, Mathematical and Physical Sciences and Engineering, Biological Sciences, and Social Sciences. (The CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award, consisting of an honorarium of $2,000 and a certificate of citation, is presented at the annual meeting of the Council of Graduate School in early December each year.)

The two disciplinary areas for consideration in odd years (2015, 2017, 2019, etc.) are:

  1. Humanities and Fine Arts
  2. Biological Sciences

The two disciplinary areas for consideration in even years (2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, etc.) are:

  1. Mathematical and Physical Science and Engineering
  2. Social Sciences

The deadline for the Karas Award competition is March 1, and the award amount will be $1,000 for each dissertation award winner. Award winners are expected to be available to receive the award in person.

The date of the degree awarded, or the completion of doctoral degree requirements and dissertation, must fall within a two year timeframe of the award (e.g., for students providing a dissertation for the 2018 competition, the degree must have been awarded in the period from July 1, to June 30, 2018). For students graduating after March 1, 2018, the dissertation must have been cleared through the Graduate College for submission to University Microfilms/Proquest prior to March 1. (If that student wins the award but does not meet all degree requirements before June 30, 2018, he/she must forfeit the award.)

Nomination Process:

The nomination process follows the guidelines for the CGS/UMI Dissertation Award. Write/address the letters of recommendation for the students to the CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award.

The ISU faculty, DOGE or major professor, who is nominating the student must prepare materials in one PDF and submit to .

Each nominee must prepare:

  1. An abstract (not to exceed 10 pages) of his or her dissertation, typed double-spaced. In addition, appendices containing non-textual material, such as charts or tables, may be included. The pages should be numbered, and each should bear the name of the nominee.
  2. Letters from at least three referees selected by the nominee, evaluating the significance and quality of the nominee’s dissertation work, are to be included in the nomination materials. One of these letters is to be from the nominee’s dissertation supervisor, another from a member of the nominee's dissertation committee, and the third from a person of the nominee’s choice.
  3. Additionally, a letter of support should be included from the Director of Graduate Education (DOGE) in the student’s discipline.

These materials must be emailed to by end of business day on March 1, 2018 (Only one submission can be sent forward to the Graduate College from a graduate major.)

A faculty committee will be appointed by the Graduate College to evaluate the nominees and choose one winner in each of the two advertised areas (the committee also has the choice to choose no winners for a particular year). Nominees’ dissertations should represent highly original work that is an unusually significant contribution to their fields.

A check for $1,000 and a plaque will be presented to each winner at the Sigma Xi banquet in April.

A list of recipients for the Karas Award is also available.