Cottrell Scholars

TREE Award

TREE (Transformational Research and Excellence in Education) Award

The TREE award is designed to recognize the outstanding research and educational accomplishments of the community of Cottrell Scholars.  Additionally, the award serves to encourage the improvement of science education at American universities and colleges and raise the national profile of the Cottrell Scholars.

The TREE award consists of an unrestricted $20,000 award sent to the awardee institution on behalf of the award recipient’s educational and scholarly work.  The recipient is encouraged to use these funds to foster advancements in their research and educational accomplishments.  An additional $5,000 award is provided to the recipient to support lectures and travel to other institutions to help broadly communicate the recipient’s innovative research and educational accomplishments.

The TREE award is highlighted in two venues.  TREE awardees are invited to give a plenary talk at the Cottrell Scholars Conference and a session or reception is organized at a professional society meeting in honor of the awardee.  RCSA also provides funds for promotion of the award in professional journals.


Nominees must be at least 6 years beyond the year of their Cottrell Scholar award and hold a faculty appointment at a research university or primarily undergraduate institution in the United States. For the 2016 competition, eligibility will be limited to Cottrell Scholars who received their award in 2010 or earlier. No submissions are accepted from Cottrell Scholars who have already received a TREE award.

Nomination Process

Two nomination letters must be provided for the TREE award.  One letter must come from the chairperson of the nominee’s department and the second letter must come from a single Cottrell Scholar. Nomination letters should highlight the exceptional research and educational accomplishments of the nominee (see Application Process below). For a complete list of Cottrell Scholars click here.

Application Process and Deadline

The nominee must provide (i) a two-page bio sketch listing the most significant publications, awards and honors, and (ii) a four-page essay that has two components of equal weight.  The first part of the essay must describe the nominee’s Transformational Research, which could be a single publication or a larger body of work that has had a transformative impact on a field of research. The second part must describe the nominee’s Excellence in Education, which again could be a single example (e.g., outreach program, textbook) or a larger body of work (e.g., continuous national leadership) that clearly distinguishes the accomplishments of the nominee.  Educational accomplishments that reach beyond the nominee’s home institution will be considered as particularly meritorious. Completed applications are due by close of business on November 1, 2016. All materials must be submitted electronically as pdf files to RCSA Program Director Silvia Ronco at TREE awards will be announced in March 2017.

Selection Process

A selection committee composed of senior Cottrell Scholars and members of the RCSA scientific staff reviews applications and makes recommendations to the RCSA President.  Final selection is approved by members of the RCSA Board of Directors

TREE Awards


 Rigoberto Hernandez, chemistry, Georgia Tech

Vincent Rotello, chemistry, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Catherine Murphy, chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Keivan Stassun, astrophysics, Vanderbilt University

Mats Selen, physics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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