Winners of 2019 CGS/ProQuest® Distinguished Dissertation Awards Announced
    December 5, 2019


    Katherine Hazelrigg, Council of Graduate Schools

    (202) 461-3888 |


    Alison Roth, ProQuest

    (734) 707-2691 |


    Washington, DC The Council of Graduate Schools / ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards, the nation’s most prestigious honors for doctoral dissertations, were presented to Kishauna E. Soljour and Brian M. Sweis during the Council’s award ceremony at the 59th Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN. Dr. Soljour received her PhD in May 2019 at Syracuse University in history, and Dr. Sweis completed his PhD in 2018 from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in neuroscience.


    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 educational technology and content – including 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 of recognition, a $2,000 honorarium, and a travel stipend to attend the awards ceremony.


    “The Distinguished Dissertation Awards demonstrate the significant impact young scholars have in their disciplines,” said CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega. “Dr. Soljour and Dr. Sweis’s innovative research contributes and expands upon work in their fields and demonstrates the value and impact of graduate education to the world. Their work deserves to be celebrated."


    “Drs. Soljour and Sweis are exceptional scholars who have contributed critical insights to their disciplines,” said Angela D’Agostino, Vice President of Product Management for ProQuest’s dissertation products. “ProQuest is proud to partner with CGS to recognize their excellence. The works these scholars have published will contribute to significant advancements in their fields of study, and we’re excited to follow where their research takes them in the future.”


    Dr. Soljour received the 2019 Award in Humanities and Fine Arts for her dissertation, Beyond the Banlieue: French Postcolonial Migration & the Politics of a Sub-Saharan Identity. Using oral histories from Black communities in Paris to reveal a rich legacy of sociopolitical, economic, and cultural efforts to navigate and negotiate this divide, Soljour details and historicizes the space between French state acculturation policies and the lived experience of Afro-French residents from 1945-2018. Her project mines the experiences of black diasporic populations in Paris over the past seventy years to reimagine the place and power of race in contemporary French history. Dr. Soljour is currently a senior program manager at Working In Support of Education (W!se).


    The 2019 Award in Biological and Life Sciences was presented to Dr. Sweis for his dissertation, Beyond Simple Tests of Value: A neuroeconomic, translational, disease-relevant, and circuit-based approach to resolve the computational complexity of decision making. By combining neuromodulation technologies targeted to circuit specific memories along with neuroeconomics to dissociate complex decision processes, Sweis links specific memories to how decisions are made and how each can uniquely go awry. Through his research, Sweis hopes to “better understand individual differences in pathogenesis and to develop novel interventions tailored to an individual’s circuit-specific computational dysfunction.” Dr. Sweis is currently a physician-scientist trainee at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where is he completing his M.D. in neuroscience.


    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 supports the important work in the world’s research and learning communities. The company curates six centuries of content – the world’s largest collection of journals, ebooks, primary sources, dissertations, news, and video – and builds powerful workflow solutions to help libraries acquire and grow collections that inspire extraordinary outcomes. ProQuest products and services are used in academic, K-12, public, corporate and government libraries in 150 countries.


    Along with its companies and affiliates Ex Libris, Alexander Street, and Bowker, ProQuest helps its customers achieve better research, better learning and better insights. For more information, visit our ProQuest and Extraordinary Stories blogs, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


    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.