Winners of 2013 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards Announced
    December 13, 2013

    Washington, DC The Council of Graduate Schools / ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards, the nation’s most prestigious honor for doctoral dissertations, were presented to Austin Mason and Valorie Salimpoor at an awards ceremony during the CGS 53rd Annual Meeting. Dr. Mason completed his PhD in history at Boston College in 2012. Dr. Salimpoor earned her PhD in psychology at McGill University in 2013.


    Bestowed annually since 1982, the awards recognize recent doctoral recipients who have already made unusually significant and original contributions to their fields. ProQuest, an international leader in dissertation archiving, discovery and access, sponsors the awards and an independent committee from the Council of Graduate Schools selects the winners. Two awards are given each year, rotating among four general areas of scholarship. The winners receive a certificate, a $2,000 honorarium, and funds for travel to the awards ceremony.


    “The scholars selected to receive the 2013 awards have found new ways to combine research technologies and interdisciplinary fields, making remarkable contributions to their research areas,” said Mary Sauer-Games, ProQuest Vice President of Information Solutions. “ProQuest is honored to highlight their dissertations as exemplary works of doctoral study.”


    The 2013 Award in humanities was presented to Dr. Mason for “Listening to the Early Medieval Dead: Religious Practices in Eastern Britain, 400–900 CE.” His interdisciplinary dissertation research uses methodologies from archeology and history along with the technology of geographic information systems (GIS) to reconstruct life in first-millennium Britain. As a prime example of ‘digital humanities’ research, the project uses GIS technology to reinterpret the way graves were sited and positioned in the mortuary rituals of pagans and Christians during the period. Dr. Mason is currently a tenure-track faculty member at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.



    Photo caption: The 2013 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards. From left to right: Jeff Welsh, University of Scranton (selection committee member); Jeannine Blackwell, University of Kentucky (selection committee member); Carolyn Hodge, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (selection committee chair); Austin Mason, winner, 2013 Distinguished Dissertation in the Humanities; Noreen Golfman, Memorial University (selection committee member); Charles Caramello, University of Maryland, College Park (selection committee member); Mary Sauer-Games, ProQuest/UMI


    Dr. Salimpoor received the 2013 Award in biological and life sciences for her dissertation, “Music, Emotion, and the Reward System: Investigations with (11C) raclopride Positron Emission Tomography (PET), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Psychophysiological Methods.” Her research examines the dopamine response in the context of positive emotional responses to musical passages that elicit “chills.” The project shows the distinct brain circuitry responsible for the anticipation and the experience of the chills, which the brain perceives as pleasure. Dr. Salimpoor is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Rotman Research Institute in Toronto.



    Photo caption: The 2013 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards. From left to right: Karen Colley, University of Illinois at Chicago (selection committee member); Steven Matson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (selection committee chair); John Kiss, University of Mississippi (selection committee member); Mary Sauer-Games, ProQuest/UMI. Not pictured, Valorie Salimpoor, winner, 2013 Distinguished Dissertation in the Biological and Life Sciences.


    More information about the CGS / ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award is available at or at


    About the Council of Graduate Schools

    The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of over 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. Among U.S. institutions, CGS members award 92% of the doctoral degrees and 78% of the master’s degrees.* The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.

    * Based on data from the 2012 CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees


    About ProQuest (

    ProQuest connects people with vetted, reliable information. Key to serious research, the company’s products are a gateway to the world’s knowledge including dissertations, governmental and cultural archives, news, historical collections and ebooks. ProQuest technologies serve users across the critical points in research, helping them discover, access, share, create and manage information.


    The company’s cloud-based technologies offer flexible solutions for librarians, students and researchers through the ProQuest®, Bowker®, Dialog®, ebrary® and EBL® businesses – and notable research tools such as the Summon® discovery service, the ProQuest Flow™ collaboration platform, the Pivot™ research development tool and the Intota™ library services platform. The company is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with offices around the world.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.