Scholarships and Awards

Physics Department Fellowships

The Physics Department has fellowships available through the generous gifts and endowments of friends and donors. These fellowships provide supplemental funds for first year students in addition to one half the normal teaching assistant appointment in order to provide students more time to identify and secure research with physics faculty and researchers. All admitted students not eligible for a Regents or Merit Fellowship are automatically considered for a Physics Department Fellowship.

Regents' Fellowships
The University of Michigan Board of Regents established the Regents' Fellowships to recognize outstanding incoming graduate students. This fellowship is available only to U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens. The fellowship is a two-year award consisting of a stipend, tuition, and health insurance. These are the most prestigious University of Michigan fellowships available to entering physics students and are awarded in recognition of outstanding undergraduate accomplishment and future promise.

Helmut W. Baer Graduate Fellowship

The Physics Department offers one Helmut W. Baer Graduate Fellowship each year. This award is sponsored by funding from the Helmut W. Baer Family in recognition of Helmut W. Baer. It provides full stipend, tuition, fees, and health insurance for one academic year.

Colegrove Fellowship
The Physics Department offers one Colegrove Fellowship each year. The award is sponsored by funding from Barbara Colegrove. It provides full stipend, tuition, fees, and health insurance for one academic year.

Ford Fellowship
The Physics Department grants 1-4 Ford Fellowships each year. This award is sponsored by the Ford Motor Company and provides full stipend, tuition, fees, and health insurance for one academic year.

Outside Fellowships
The Physics Department and the Rackham Graduate School will enhance support for many outside fellowships such as NSF Graduate Fellowships and Minority Graduate Fellowships. The NSF annual stipend is supplemented usually without additional duties, and year-round comprehensive health insurance is provided. The program is subject to the same stipulations regarding academic progress as are the Regents' Fellowship.


Department Awards and Prizes 

Peter Franken Award 

Peter Franken was a leading member of the Michigan physics faculty for two decades whose contributions include pioneering discoveries in non-linear optics, novel developments in spectroscopy, and detailed studies of physical symmetries.

Award Criteria: The Franken Award is presented every year to honor outstanding work by a first- or second-year Physics graduate student. Selection factors will include grades in graduate courses, involvement in research, and a letter of support from the student's advisor.

Award Amount: $1,500-$2,000

Number Awarded: One student per year

To Apply: The student’s faculty advisor must submit a letter of nomination and support which includes the student’s involvement in research to the Student Services Office, 
physics.sso@umich.edu or 1440 Randall Lab.

Deadline: Faculty must submit their nominations to the Student Services Director by the fourth Friday in March.  This prize is awarded by a faculty committee each April.

The 2015 recipient of the Peter Franken Award is Jessica Muir.

 Past Recipients 
 2014  Zhengkang Zhang
 2013  Benjamin Lawson
 2012  Jack Kearney
 2011  Daniel Wilcox
 2010  Benjamin Norman
 2009  John Schaibley
   Timothy Saucer
 2008  Eric Paradis
 2007  Kelly Younge
 2005  Vladimir Dergachev
 2004  Michael Busha
 2003  Meng Cui
 2002  Martin Madsen
 2001  Feng Wang

Parkinson Travel Funds

Award Criteria: Awards are available to Physics Ph.D. students who are presenting either a paper or poster at a conference. Students must be studying experimental physics (not high energy or theory).

To be considered for funds, a student must:
1) Complete the application.
2) Attach a copy of the program or letter of invitation (e-mail acceptable) with the applicant's name clearly stated verifying participation in the conference.

Award Amount: A student may receive only one domestic or international travel grant award per fiscal year (July 1- June 30).

1) Domestic- up to $400 for travel in the continental United States, and up to $600 for transcontinental travel, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
2) International- up to $600 for conferences in Canada, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe, and up to $900 for conferences in Africa, Asia, South America and Australia.

Number Awarded: 10-20 per year

Deadline: Applications must be received at least three weeks prior to the conference. Applications will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis.

Please Note: No application will be considered for funding retroactively.
Funding is Limited and May Expire Without Notice

Download: Parkinson Application

Notification: Applicants will be notified of the results in writing. Please note: All awards are taxable; international students will have taxes withheld prior to receiving funds so actual award amount will be less than indicated above.


Kent M. Terwilliger Memorial Thesis Prize


A member of the Michigan physics faculty for more than three decades, Kent Terwilliger was internationally recognized for his leadership and achievements in particle physics. This annual award is given to a graduate student for the most outstanding Ph.D. thesis in physics.

Award Criteria: The selection criteria for this prize are the scholarship and importance of the research and its presentation in the doctoral dissertation. The timely completion of graduate studies is an important consideration as well.

In addition:
1) The doctoral chair or co-chair must be a faculty member of the Physics Department
2) The doctoral degree must be either in Physics or in a joint program that includes Physics
3) The oral thesis must be defended by the end of the current winter term
4) The thesis must have been completed and submitted the previous year

Award Amount: $4,000

Number Awarded: One student per year 

To Apply: Students must submit a copy of their abstract and have at least one letter of support from a faculty member. Abstracts and letters of support may be submitted to Student Services Office, physics.sso@umich.edu or 1440 Randall Lab.

Deadline: There is no application needed, but letters of support are due by the fourth Friday in March. Students can nominate their own thesis but must have recommendation letters from faculty. This prize is awarded by a faculty committee each April.

The Kent M. Terwilliger Memorial Thesis Prize for 2015 is awarded to Dr. Dong-Ling Deng

 Past Recipients
 2014  Dr. Yifan Zhang
 2013  Dr. Christian G. Fink
 2012  Dr. Xuhuai Zhang
 2011  Dr. Kelly C. Younge
 2010  Dr. Fang Yuan
 2009  Dr. Xiaodong Xu
 2008  Dr. David Moehring
 2005  Dr. Almut Mecke
 2004  Dr. Rhonda Dzakpasu
 2003  Dr. Berbeco
 2002  Dr. Gang Chen
 2001  Dr. Teamour Nurushev
 2000  Dr. Thomas O'Donnell
 1999  Dr. Jeffrey Siewerdsen
 1998  Dr. Baoxing Chen
 1997  Dr. Bita Ghaffari
 1996   Dr. Yongquian Liu
 1995  Dr. Hun-Moo Jeon
 1994  Dr. Si Ho Kwok
   Dr. Daniel Hubbard
 1993  Dr. Ping Xie
 1992  Dr. Scott Peacor
 1991  Dr. Pak-Ming Ho

Marcellus L. Wiedenbeck Award


The family of Marcellus Lee "Marc" Wiedenbeck established this award to honor Marc Wiedenbeck's 40 years of service on the Michigan faculty. The Wiedenbeck Award is presented to a graduate student that exemplifies outstanding teaching abilities.

Award Criteria:
1) Teaching evaluation scores
2) Student comments on teaching evaluations
3) Feedback from faculty supervisors
4) Feedback from lab supervisors
5) Portfolio submitted by student containing: a) class materials (handouts, quizzes etc.) developed by student b) a brief overview written by the student of the instructional materials used in the course c) any additional material the student wishes to submit

Award Amount: $1,500

Number Awarded: One graduate student per year

To Apply: Students must submit a portfolio to Student Services 1440 Randall Lab containing: a) class materials (handouts, quizzes etc.) developed by student 
b) a brief overview written by the student of the instructional materials used in the course 
c) any additional material the student wishes to submit.

Deadline: Students can self nominate by emailing the Director of Student Services by the fourth Friday in March. The faculty committee will review the cases of all nominated students. They will narrow the field to between 3 and 5 candidates. Each finalist will be asked to discuss her/her portfolio in a 20 minute interview with the committee. A winner will be selected following these presentations and the award is presented at the Departmental Undergraduate Awards Ceremony the day before graduation.

The 2015 recipient of the Wiedenbeck Award is Wen Guo.

 Past Recipients
 2014  Daniel Shafer
 2013  Mallory Traxler
 2012  Tim Saucer
 2011  Brandon Erickson
 2010  Cameron Gibelyou
 2009  Tim Cohen
 2008  Brian Nord
 2007  Jie Savage
 2006  Aaron Reinhardt
 2005  Christopher Savage
 2004  Andrew Pawl

Wirt & Mary Cornwell Prize


Funded by a bequest from the Cornwell family, the Wirt and Mary Cornwell Prize is awarded solely on the basis of merit. The Prize is distributed to a uniquely qualified graduate student who, during the four previous years, shall have demonstrated the greatest intellectual curiosity [and] given most promise of original study and creative work in one of six disciplines - one being physics.

Award Amount: $10,000

Number Awarded: One student per year

Award Criteria: Eligible students shall be drawn from the pool of those who have passed the Qualifying Examination.

Other factors include:

  1. Grades in graduate courses
  2. Independent study
  3. Research experience and accomplishments
  4. Demonstrations of intellectual initiative and originality
  5. Any other evidence of creative activity and potential shall be a factor, such as reports or papers written, apparatus designed or constructed, experiments carried out, and other notable citations received or academic competitions won.

To Apply: Students must submit a copy of their CV and have at least one letter of support froma faculty member. CVs and letters of support may be submitted to Student Services Office,
physics.sso@umich.edu or 1440 Randall Lab.

Deadline: Faculty must submit their nominations and nominees CV to the Student Services Director by the third Friday in March. The prize is awarded in the month of April.

The 2015 recipient of the Wirt and Mary Cornwell Prize is Alex Burgers.

 Past Recipients
 2014  Hang Chi
 2013  Aaron Armbruster
 2012  Ryo Saotome
 2011  David A. Adams
 2010  Brian Karrer
 2009  Rachel Sapirow
 2008  Eva-Marie Proszkow
 2007  Yanou Cui
 2006  Michael Busha
 2005  Wouter Deconinck
 2004  Michael Gastner
 2003  Haibin Wang

For more information on any of these prizes, contact the Student Services Office, 1440 Randall Lab (734) 936-0658 or physics.sso@umich.edu.