Winners of 2017 CGS/ProQuest® Distinguished Dissertation Awards Announced
    December 7, 2017

    For Immediate Release



    Katherine Hazelrigg, Council of Graduate Schools
    (202) 461-3888 |


    Beth Dempsey, ProQuest
    (248) 349-7810 |


    Awards recognize outstanding research by graduates in the fields of Biological and Life Sciences & Humanities and Fine Arts


    Washington, DC -- The Council of Graduate Schools / ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards, the nation’s most prestigious honors for doctoral dissertations, were presented to Chad Johnston and Leif Fredrickson during the Council’s 57th Annual Meeting award ceremony. Dr. Johnston completed his PhD in 2016 at McMaster University in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, and Dr. Fredrickson received his PhD in 2017 from the University of Virginia in History.


    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 Distinguished Dissertation Awards recognize the significant contributions young scholars make in their disciplines,” said CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega. “Dr. Johnston and Dr. Fredrickson’s work demonstrates the value and impact of graduate education to the world.”


    “These are significant contributions to research on issues that are both timely and important to our communities,” said Austin McLean, director, ProQuest Scholarly Communication and Dissertations Publishing, “They are great exemplars of the groundbreaking work that is produced at universities. Speaking on behalf of all of us at ProQuest, we’re honored to help acknowledge and disseminate this research.”


    The 2017 Award in Biological and Life Sciences was presented to Dr. Johnston for his dissertation, New Techniques Facilitate the Discovery and Study of Modular Microbial Natural Products. The rise in antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to modern healthcare. Increasing resistance is rendering our current antibacterial arsenal useless at a time when almost no new antibiotics are being developed. In his doctoral thesis, Johnston pioneered new techniques to use new big data analytics and computer automation to reveal these new antibiotics, providing tools that are poised to dramatically increase the rate of drug discovery and push back the tide of antibiotic resistance. Dr. Johnston is currently a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


    Dr. Fredrickson received the 2017 Award in Humanities and Fine Arts for his dissertation, The Age of Lead: Metropolitan Change, Environmental Health, and Inner City Underdevelopment.  Using lead hazards as a case study to explore the relationship between metropolitan development, environmental health, and social inequality, Fredrickson shows how suburbanites and suburban development benefited from lead-related technologies not shared by those in the inner city, and the costs of lead pollution from these technologies were imposed disproportionately on inner-city residents. Fredrickson examines how one element, lead, linked the environment, metropolitan expansion, the state, and capitalism over the course of a century, providing a window into the tradeoffs that shaped the lives of millions.


    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 approximately 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced 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.


    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®, Alexander Street™, Bowker®, Dialog®, Ex Libris® and SIPX® businesses – and notable research tools such as the RefWorks® citation and reference management platform, the Pivot® research development tool and the Ebook Central®, ebrary®, EBL™ and MyiLibrary® ebook platforms. 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.