Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions relating to the Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award may be viewed below.

What should I title my nomination?

Please enter the nominee’s name (last, first) along with “CDA - Research  2024” as the title of the nomination.

Do I request the reference letters from the referees?

No. The Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research will solicit the reference letters.  We will track responses as they are received and will send reminders to the referees at appropriate points.

Can I get more information on what is required for short answer questions 1 – 3?
  • Short Answer Question 1
    • Present a succinct narrative summary of the research achievements of the nominee that warrant recognition through the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award. The summary should be persuasive to colleagues outside the candidate’s field (200-word max).
  • Short Answer Question 2
    • Briefly detail your professional relationship to the nominee (300-word max).
  • Short Answer Question 3 (For Renominations Only)
    • Please list accomplishments since the last nomination, and show they strengthen the case for recognition through the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award.  Reference letters from last year will remain valid, but if you would like us to invite referees to refresh their letters please make that request at the end of the answer you provide (1000-word max).
What does an impactful nomination look like?
  • Our tips very closely align with NSF’s recommendations for the Waterman Award. These tips apply to both the CDRA senior and junior nominees.
  • Indicate what makes the nominee exceptional. Avoid regurgitating a list of transactions or merely listing metrics such as publications, citations, award funding, etc. Rather, identify key traits and targeted examples that highlight the nominee’s strengths and outstanding achievements.  While metrics in particular can be a helpful part of the nomination letter, they alone are not sufficient.
  • Indicate/show why the nominee’s research matters and where it will have impact.
  • In simple terms, explain the nominee’s research to a generalist academic audience. Explanations should be clear, easy to follow, free of jargon, and understandable to the general audience. Note: the CDRA reviewer panel is composed of faculty from across the full spectrum Pitt scholars, and may include artists, humanists, scientists, clinicians, and members of the professions.  It is critical to remember that a successful nomination will seek to convince all of these disciplinary experts that your candidate is worthy of this award.
  • NOTE: Strong references will be from diverse institutions and roles, to provide a more complete picture of the nominee.
  • References should complement the nomination and provide specific examples. They should not duplicate the nomination.
  • Reference writers do not need to repeat information already provided in the nomination.
Who is considered an external referee?  Can this include referees that are within Pitt, but are external to the nominee’s School or Department?
  • No, external referees must be outside the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Note that for dually appointed Pitt/UPMC faculty, a letter from UPMC is considered internal.
Can I renominate a faculty member using the same nomination package from a previous year?
  • Yes. Nominations from a previous year may be reactivated through InfoReady.  Please see Guidelines for additional details. 
  • Note that while nominations from a prior year are welcome, a reactivation with no changes, rather than a thorough revision of the packet might not make as strong an impression on the awards committee.
I am renominating a faculty member.  Do I have to fill out the text entry short answer questions under “Details”, or can I skip to question 3?

Whether you are nominating or renominating a faculty member, questions 1 and 2 are required fields on the nomination.  Your nomination cannot be submitted unless they have been answered.

I am renominating a faculty member. What information do I place in the short answer sections?

You can reenter answers to question 1 and question 2 from the nominee's original nomination into the text boxes for the corresponding questions in this nomination.  The only new information you need to provide is in response to question 3.  This is where you will state how your nominee has added to his/her research achievements or recognition since the last nomination.  If you would like a copy of the nomination packet you submitted for a previous nomination cycle, please contact  Mandy Singh at

How may the monetary awards be used?

Each Chancellor’s Distinguished Award will consist of a cash prize to the faculty member of $2,000 and a grant of $3,000 to support the faculty member’s research activities.
The appropriate use of the $3000 grant, which is consider a Research Allocation, is outlined in the Research Allocations Policy RI 06):

“Research allocation funds are to be used for cost sharing for proposals, start-up costs for both current and new faculty, repair and minor renovation of research facilities, purchase of major research equipment, and closely related research expenditures.  They are also intended as seed money and to improve our competitive position in attracting sponsored research projects.  Some instructional support like research experience for undergraduates shall be permitted.  These funds may be used for the support of graduate students, shops, technicians, etc., to the extent that such use demonstrably improves the present research environment and furthers the research mission of the School. They may not be used for salaries of tenured and tenure-stream faculty, administrative support, or to substitute for support traditionally granted from the base budget.”