Doctoral Thesis Award


In 2022, CARMA established an annual PhD Thesis award to recognize outstanding contributions of its members in the Canadian rock mechanics and rock engineering community.

Prof. Doug Stead PhD Thesis Award

This named award is in honour of Prof. Doug Stead’s many outstanding and ongoing contributions to Canadian rock mechanics and rock engineering, including open pit geomechanics and rock slope engineering, underground rock mechanics, numerical modelling, landslides, petroleum engineering, and laboratory testing, among others.

This award shall recognize an outstanding doctoral thesis in rock mechanics or rock engineering granted by a Canadian institution.

2023 Recipient

Dr. Josephine Morgenroth receives CARMA's 2023 Prof. Doug Stead PhD Thesis Award from Prof. Doug Milne.

The 2nd Annual Prof. Doug Stead PhD Thesis Award was presented on April 30th, 2023 at the Rock Engineering Society Annual Meeting during the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum Convention in Montreal, Québec, to Dr. Josephine Morgenroth for her PhD thesis completed at York University titled “Practical applications of machine learning to underground rock engineering”. Prof. Doug Milne, Chair of the Award Committee, presented the award.

2022 Recipient

Jonathan Aubertin receives award from Doug Stead at RockEng22 Symposium, August 9, 2022

The inaugural Prof. Doug Stead PhD Thesis Award was presented in August 2022 during RockEng22, the 22nd Canadian Rock Mechanics Symposium in Kingston, Ontario, to Dr. Jonathan Aubertin for his PhD thesis completed at Queen’s University titled “Characterization of rock salt response to blasting using terrestrial laser scanning technology”. Prof. Doug Stead kindly agreed to present the award.


Award nominees must have been members in good standing of CARMA during the nominating period. A nominator does not have to be a member of CARMA.

To be considered for an award, the candidate must be nominated within two (2) years of the date of the official doctoral degree certification (i.e., for the 2024 award, since December 31, 2021).

Selection Criteria

The recipient of this award may also be nominated by CARMA for the ISRM Rocha Medal; therefore, selection criteria similar to those of the Rocha Medal are applied. The Award Committee shall consider the following criteria and weightings:

  1. Problem Statement (10%): Description of the problem being addressed by the thesis.
  2. Appreciation of state-of-art (10%): Quality of literature review and bibliography; awareness of pertinent previous research; ability to convey concisely the state-of-the-art and add insight.
  3. Advancement of state-of-art (35%): Extent and quality of new work; logistical accomplishment of investigations performed; difficulty of problems and extent to which a solution is reached, verified (through field, laboratory, and/or numerical investigations), and explained.
  4. Practical application and usefulness (35%): Benefit to humankind in short and medium term, particularly in applied rock engineering, which may focus on any or all of civil, mining, or petroleum engineering; avoidance of natural hazards, economies and improved safety in construction, etc.
  5. Quality of presentation (10%): Format, use of headings, style, language, clarity, clarity of introduction and conclusions, etc.

Nomination Package

Each award nomination must include the following items:

  1. Cover letter including the full name and contact information of the nominator, and the author, title, and reference information for the nominated thesis;
  2. One page curriculum vitae of the nominee, including the name, nationality, place of birth, position held, postal address, telephone, and email;
  3. Abstract of the nominee’s contribution (up to 250 words);
  4. Significance of the nominee’s contribution (up to 500 words) where the nominator should explain the significance in terms of the award selection criteria;
  5. An electronic copy of the complete thesis document; and
  6. An electronic copy of the doctoral degree certificate.

Members of the Award Committee must not be related to or have a close professional, academic, or supervisory connection with one of the nominees. If a thesis is submitted causing such conflict of interest, the person concerned shall inform the Award Committee Chair, who will take appropriate action.

Selection Committee

The Award Committee shall consist of between three and five CARMA members in good standing, selected by the Committee Chair and approved by the CARMA Executive, and shall be formed at each regular annual meeting of the Executive. The Committee Chair will be appointed by the Executive and shall serve as chair for no more than two years and will have been a member of the Award Committee for at least one year prior.

Each new Award Committee shall attempt to preserve the majority of its membership from one year to the next such that the committee maintains some continuity and committee members shall serve no more than three consecutive years (with the exception of the Committee Chair who may serve up to four consecutive years). Attempts shall be made to include:

  1. At least one previous award recipient and/or CARMA Executive member;
  2. Diversity of institutional representation including academia, industry, and national laboratories;
  3. Diversity of discipline, including representation from more than one of civil, mining, and petroleum; and
  4. Diversity of representation from CGS Rock Mechanics Division and CIM Rock Engineering Society.

The committee shall not include more than one individual from any given institution or organization.


The award shall be presented to the recipient at a CARMA event, such as a RockEng Symposium.

If no CARMA Symposium is scheduled in a given year, the award shall be presented at an Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Geotechnical Society (CGS) Rock Mechanics Division or the Canadian Institute for Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum (CIM) Rock Engineering Society, in consultation with the award recipient.

The award shall be presented by Prof. Doug Stead, the CARMA Chair, or a designate.

Award Prize

The award recipient shall be given an award plaque or framed certificate naming the recipient, the title of their work, and her/his University.

CARMA, at its discretion, may pay for the travel and registration fee of the award recipient to the symposium/conference at which the award will be presented.

Submission and Selection Schedule - 2024

CARMA shall collect electronic award nominations at all times via email ( The deadlines for 2024 are as follows:

DeadlineSubmission & Selection Stage
December 31, 2023Nomination submission deadline
January 8, 2024CARMA Chair distributes full details of nominations to each Award Committee Member
February 15Award Committee recommends award recipient to CARMA Executive*
February 28CARMA Executive ratifies or declines to ratify the initially recommended award recipient**
March 7If initial recipient is declined by CARMA Executive, Award Committee recommends alternate award recipient
March 15CARMA Executive ratifies final award recipient and informs the recipient in writing, or declines to ratify the award for the particular year

*The Award Committee shall (i) review the nominees, (ii) compare nominations to selection criteria and rank the nominees, and (iii) recommend the name of the preferred award recipient to the CARMA Executive.

**In the event that an award selection is not ratified, the CARMA Executive may, at its discretion, request another recommendation from the Award Committee else no award shall be made for that year.

At the discretion of the Award Committee, if there are no suitable candidates in a particular year, the award does not have to be given that year.