Charles A. McDowell Award


UBC VP Research

Sponsor deadline:

Award Details

Established in 1985, the Charles A. McDowell Award for Excellence in Research, one of UBC's most prestigious research prizes, is named in honour of Professor Emeritus Charles A. McDowell.

Professor Emeritus Charles McDowell was head of the Chemistry Department from 1955 until 1981 and one of the giants of UBC’s history. His vision, and his greatest achievement, was to create a vital, modern department, first class in both teaching and research. He realized in particular that the greatness of a university is set by its research achievements.

The award, consisting of a medal and a certificate, will be made to an outstanding early career member of the faculty of UBC who has demonstrated excellence in pure or applied scientific research.

Jump to Nomination Package details.


Nominees must:

  • Be full-time tenure-stream faculty at UBC who has spent at least five years on staff.
  • Have received their PhD no more than 12 years prior to nomination.
    • For the November 15, 2023 deadline, PhD must have been received no earlier than November 15, 2011.
    • Faculty members who are more than 12 years post-PhD at the time of nomination who have had legitimate career interruptions (e.g. parental leave, extended sick leave, clinical training, family care) remain eligible. If applicable, these details must be outlined in the nomination form.
  • Currently hold a research grant from NSERC.


  • May not hold a Charles A. McDowell Award for Research Excellence concurrently with a Killam Faculty Research Prize. They can be nominated for both awards in a given year, but cannot receive both.

Selection Criteria

Nominations will be evaluated against the following three criteria:

  1. Demonstrated excellence in pure or applied scientific research relative to peer group at a comparable career stage.
  2. Demonstrated research impact, accounting for context of the discipline or field of study.
  3. Evidence of potential for national or international research leadership.

Nomination Process

  • Self-nominations will not be accepted.
  • Faculty members must be nominated by at least one tenured, tenure-track, or emeriti faculty member in their Faculty.
  • Nominators must complete and submit all documentation.

Note: The Dean's office should be informed of the intention to submit a nomination and the name of the proposed nominee in order to avoid duplicate nominations. (Dean's signature not required)

Nomination Package

Nominators must submit all required materials by the November 15 (11:59 pm) deadline using this nomination form.

Nomination form fields include:

  • Nominator information: Name, faculty, department, email address
  • Nominee information: Name, position, faculty and department, year of PhD, year started at UBC, details of career interruptions if applicable, email address
  • Citation (50 words): Brief summary of the nominee’s research written for a nonexpert audience

Required documents:

  1. Nomination letter (1,200 words): A letter of nomination signed by at least one faculty nominator, including the name, title, and affiliation of each nominator. The letter should:
    • Frame the achievements of the nominee for a non-specialist, multidisciplinary, university-wide committee.
    • Set the subject matter and the contribution of the research in perspective. It should also illustrate how the nominee has had an impact in their field.
    • Explain how the nominee meets the award criteria and why they should be selected to receive the award.
  2. Letters of support (3): Three external letters of support from arm's-length referees. Recommended 1,200 words max per letter.
    • The letters of support are critical to the selection process and should be objective assessments of the nominee’s suitability for the prize.
    • Referees should be external to UBC and internationally recognized in their field (i.e. outside of UBC and preferably one from outside Canada)
    • Referees must be at arm’s length and may not include thesis or dissertation supervisor(s), anyone the nominee has supervised, or anyone with whom the nominee has collaborated (as co-author or co-investigator) within the past 6 years.
    • Letters written by referees with a confirmed conflict of interest with the nominee will not be included and the package will be considered incomplete. Incomplete packages will not be reviewed.
    • Letters must be signed and dated.
    • Letters in excess of three will not be considered.
  3. CV: Official updated UBC CV including complete list of publications (no page limit)


Please review the FAQs, and contact

Previous Award Winners


  • Marie Auger-Méthé (Statistics and the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries)


  • Zachary Hudson (Chemistry)


  • Stephanie Waterman (Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences)


  • Russ Algar (Chemistry)

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