Distinguished Early Career Scholar Award

The Distinguished Early Career Scholar Award honors remarkable investigators at Grand Valley State University who began their independent scholarship within the past six years. These scholars demonstrate mastery in their field and show significant potential for continued success. The award recipients have made major contributions to theory, research and creative practice, and they have earned national recognition for their outstanding achievements. In addition to the honor of being designated a CSCE Distinguished Early Career Scholar, recipients of the Award are given an award of $500.  Nominations for the Award are solicited from deans, department chairs, and faculty colleagues.

2020 Recipients


Carrie Buist

Caitlin Callahan

Christopher Dondzila

Huafang Li

Carrie Buist, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
College of Community & Public Service

Joined Grand Valley State University in 2016.
Carrie Buist is a pioneer in her field, specializing in queer criminology and LGBTQ issues within the criminal justice system. Her first book, Queer Criminology, was awarded the Outstanding Book of the Year Award from the Division of Critical Criminology within the American Society of Criminology. The first of its kind, this piece of theoretically grounded literature has contributed not only to the discipline, but to conversations on campuses across the country. Buist’s scholarship has enhanced the national reputation of Grand Valley.

Caitlin Callahan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Geology
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Joined Grand Valley State University in 2015.
Geoscience scholar Caitlin Callahan has demonstrated a consistent and strong commitment to increasing diversity in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She currently
serves as co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation Award exploring the importance of relationships and community networks in attracting and retaining underrepresented students in the geosciences. Callahan has emerged as a national leader for the Earth Educators’ Rendezvous, an annual event bringing together researchers and practitioners working in all aspects of undergraduate
earth education.

Christopher Dondzila, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Movement Science
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Joined Grand Valley State University in 2015.
Christopher Dondzila’s multifaceted research explores the relationship of physical activity, chronic diseases, and physical functioning. He was awarded the Hally Beth Poindexter Young Scholar Award by the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education in 2018. While at Grand Valley, Dondzila has published two articles related to the accuracy of physical activity trackers and four articles on physical activity, aging, and exercise intervention — all of which have been heavily cited by his peers. Dondzila exemplifies the best aspects of the teacher-scholar model that Grand Valley values.

Huafang Li, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration
College of Community & Public Service

Joined Grand Valley State University in 2017.
Huafang Li has distinguished himself as a leading scholar in the practice of philanthropic giving, foundations, and the nonprofit sector in China. In a little over two years, he has published 10 peer-reviewed journal articles and contributed to two chapters in the book Experiments in Public Management Research: Challenges and Contributions (Cambridge University Press). His impressive scholarship has earned him high standing in his field, as evidenced by the many talks Li has been invited to give.

Application Materials

Data to be included with the nominations:

  • Completed Declaration Page
  • A statement from the nominee, one or two pages in length, of that person's professional accomplishments deemed most significant
  • Two letters of support from faculty colleagues who have knowledge of the nominee’s ability as a scholar and who are not committee members. The letters should address the criteria for the award.
  • Curriculum Vitae

** Please note: ONLY the above stated documents, combined into a single PDF, will be accepted as a completed nomination packet. No additional documents will be accepted. Please submit electronically to: csce@gvsu.edu 

Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria are used in nominations and evaluations of nominees:

  • Potential to develop a national reputation  
  • Major contributions to theory, research, and/or creative practice
  • Highest standards of professionalism 


Process and Timeline


Nominators: Each college sets its own internal deadline for the initial review. The CSCE is not involved in this part of the process. Contact your dean’s office to inquire about internal deadlines for nominations and materials to be submitted to the college dean’s office for review.

Dean’s Office: The applicant’s dean’s office must submit the electronic copy (pdf) of this form (Declaration Page) and all supporting materials, as a single PDF, to the CSCE office by November 1. Submit electronically to: csce@gvsu.edu 



Procedures for Administering the CSCE Distinguished Early Career Scholar Award

Each college may nominate a faculty member for one of the four University wide awards. Recipients will be recognized as distinguished scholars. The award selection procedure is as follows:

The Faculty Award Committee for each college will select one faculty member (except CLAS, which selects up to seven, and Seidman College of Business, which selects up to two) to be considered for the award. Committee members will be selected by the dean. Committee membership will be a minimum of three faculty:

Nominations for the award may come from college dean, department chair, and faculty colleagues. Self-nominations are not accepted.

All full-time faculty members who have been employed at GVSU a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 6 years are eligible.

Up to four awards will be made each year. Each recipient will receive $500. 

An individual faculty member may not receive the award more than once.

Recipients are selected by the Research and Development Committee. 

The CSCE will forward the names of recipients to the provost and relevant dean by December 15. The dean will inform the recipient of his or her selection. The CSCE will inform nominees who are not selected.

Declaration Page

Download a Declaration Page


All tenured and tenure-track faculty members who began their independent scholarship within the past six years.