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Winners announced at a ceremony in December, during CGS’s 48th Annual Meeting.

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) / UMI Distinguished Dissertation Awards, the nation's most prestigious honor for doctoral dissertations, were presented to Thomas Rondeau, Ph.D. of the Institute for Defense Analysis and Jessica Horst, Ph.D. of the University of Sussex.  The winners were announced at a ceremony in December, during CGS’s 48th Annual Meeting. 

Bestowed annually since 1982, the awards recognize recent doctoral recipients who have already made unusually significant and original contributions to their fields.  ProQuest, the world’s premier dissertation publisher, 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 $2000 honorarium, and travel to the awards ceremony.

Dr. Rondeau received the 2008 Award in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering for his dissertation, “Application of Artificial Intelligence to Wireless Communications.”  He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering last year from Virginia Tech.  The Award in Social Sciences was presented to Dr. Horst for her work on toddlers’ language acquisition abilities.  She completed her doctorate in Psychology at the University of Iowa in 2007.

“The exciting thing about each year’s body of doctoral work is that it represents the leading edge of academic scholarship across disciplines,” said Austin McLean, ProQuest Director of Publishing.  “The fact that research in two very different fields applies concepts of artificial intelligence shows how relevant doctoral work is to our society.”

Dr. Horst’s dissertation, “Turning Novel Names into Known Names,” proposed a theory on how to combine existing knowledge on how humans quickly identify words (“fast mapping”) with knowledge about how we learn.  Using both lab experiments and computer modeling, she discovered that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the ability to fast map does not mean a toddler has actually learned a new word; full-word learning is a gradual process.  Dr. Horst is currently a Lecturer (assistant professor) in Psychology at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Rondeau’s groundbreaking dissertation provides a viable foundation for the concept of “cognitive radio:” wireless transmitters and receivers that can intelligently reconfigure themselves to changing conditions or needs, to create better, faster, and even new methods of communication.  His dissertation has been called the “complete treatise” that develops the theory, technological basis, and implementation details for cognitive radio.  Dr. Rondeau is Research Associate at the Institute for Defense Analysis in Princeton, NJ.

For more information about Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) / UMI Distinguished Dissertation Awards visit


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14 January 2008

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