Distinguished Women Scholars Awards

The Distinguished Women Scholars (DWS) Awards and Lecture Series were established by the Vice-President Academic and Provost to highlight and honour outstanding research and creative achievements by female-identifying scholars. The purpose of these awards is to celebrate, recognize and share the impact of outstanding research and creative achievements by women at any stage of their careers.

DWS award winners participate in a public event organized by the nominating unit (such as a lecture or panel discussion) to showcase and share the impact with our broader community.

The lecture series hosts visiting/guest recipients to create an opportunity for our community to be inspired and impacted by the accomplishments of DWS. The series celebrates outstanding and high calibre accomplishments at any career stage (the level of accomplishment commensurate with career stage). It also aims to provide opportunities to engage with and inspire students and collaborators through class participation and group events. 

Lectures are free and open to the public. Please contact  for more information.

Fall 2021 Update: Please note that, due to the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Distinguished Women Scholars program has been put on hold for 2021. All applications submitted for 2021 will be brought forward for consideration during the next nomination cycle. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to opening the next call for nominations, hopefully in 2022.

Featured DWS lecture: "The slice rank polynomial method and applications, Part 1" by Dr. Lisa Sauermann

In 2016, Tao introduced the slice rank polynomial method as a reformulation of a technique that first appeared in work of Croot, Lev and Pach, and was the basis of a breakthrough of Ellenberg and Gijswijt on the upper bound for the famous cap-set problem. The cap-set problem asks about the maximum size of a subset of F_3^n not containing a three-term arithmetic progression. In this series of three lectures, we will discuss the slice rank polynomial method, various applications, and some of its limitations.

In the first lecture, we will give some background and show (following Tao) how the slice rank polynomial method can be used to show the Ellenberg-Gijswijt bound for the cap-set problem.

In 2016, Tao introduced the slice rank polynomial method as a reformulation of a technique that first appeared in work of Croot, Lev and Pach, and was the basis of a breakthrough of Ellenberg and Gijswijt on the upper bound for the famous cap-set problem. The cap-set problem asks about the maximum size of a subset of F_3^n not containing a three-term arithmetic progression. In this series of three lectures, we will discuss the slice rank polynomial method, various applications, and some of its limitations. In the first lecture, we will give some background and show (following Tao) how the slice rank polynomial method can be used to show the Ellenberg-Gijswijt bound for the cap-set problem.

Featured DWS lecture: "The slice rank polynomial method and applications, Part 2" by Dr. Lisa Sauermann

The second lecture will discuss more applications, in particular a result of Naslund and Sawin on the so-called Erdös-Szemeredi sunflower problem (which is a problem in extremal set theory), as well as an upper bound for the maximum size of a subset of F_p^n that does not contain p distinct vectors summng to zero. The problem of determining the maximum size of such a subset is closely related to the Erdös-Ginzburg-Ziv problem in discrete geometry.

In 2016, Tao introduced the slice rank polynomial method as a reformulation of a technique that first appeared in work of Croot, Lev and Pach, and was the basis of a breakthrough of Ellenberg and Gijswijt on the upper bound for the famous cap-set problem. The cap-set problem asks about the maximum size of a subset of F_3^n not containing a three-term arithmetic progression. In this series of three lectures, we will discuss the slice rank polynomial method, various applications, and some of its limitations. The second lecture will discuss more applications, in particular a result of Naslund and Sawin on the so-called Erdös-Szemeredi sunflower problem (which is a problem in extremal set theory), as well as an upper bound for the maximum size of a subset of F_p^n that does not contain p distinct vectors summng to zero. The problem of determining the maximum size of such a subset is closely related to the Erdös-Ginzburg-Ziv problem in discrete geometry.

Featured DWS lecture: "The slice rank polynomial method and applications, Part 3" by Dr. Lisa Sauermann

In the third lecture, we will continue to discuss this problem, showing a much better upper bound by combining the slice rank polynomial method with additional combinatorial ideas.

In 2016, Tao introduced the slice rank polynomial method as a reformulation of a technique that first appeared in work of Croot, Lev and Pach, and was the basis of a breakthrough of Ellenberg and Gijswijt on the upper bound for the famous cap-set problem. The cap-set problem asks about the maximum size of a subset of F_3^n not containing a three-term arithmetic progression. In this series of three lectures, we will discuss the slice rank polynomial method, various applications, and some of its limitations. In the third lecture, we will continue to discuss this problem, showing a much better upper bound by combining the slice rank polynomial method with additional combinatorial ideas.

Featured DWS lecture: "Climate-driven species re-distribution in marine coastal systems" by Dr. Greta Pecl

As a marine ecologist passionate about science communication, Dr. Gretta Pecl develops and leads many large interdisciplinary projects that extend across research and communication domains.

In this lecture, Dr. Pecl talks about the extent and nature of the climate-driven redistribution of life in our ocean, highlighting both challenges and potential management responses at various spatial and temporal scales. She finishes with ideas for how scientists and the public can effectively and interactively engage on these issues. This talk was presented on March 19, 2021 by UVic's Department of Biology as part of the Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture Series.