The Perfect 10: Rewards Earned, a Decade in the Making

Marla Elsea
Jul 15, 2021

Ten recipients. Ten thousand dollars each. For members in the dissertation writing stage of doctoral studies, the Society's Dissertation Fellowship can be a game changer. When applications open in October, will you be next?

When Thomas Herbst applied for the Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellowship last year, he was working his way through his study of volcanoes at the University of Missouri. While researching pressure associated with volcanic activity, his need to relieve a bit of personal financial pressure was mounting. He turned to the Society's million-dollar-a-year awards program for help.

"Prior to earning a place at Mizzou, I was employed as a geologist with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources," said Herbst. "I was sincerely passionate about every aspect of being a geologist for the state. However, my interest to conduct original research and make a genuine contribution to the field went unsatisfied." That desire to return to academia also brought with it the additional costs associated with the research.

The selection process for a dissertation fellowship examines how the fellowship will contribute to the completion of the dissertation, the significance of original research, and endorsement by the dissertation chair. Recipients receive $10,000 to apply toward 12 months of dissertation writing.

Herbst was named one of the 2021 Dissertation Fellows earlier this year. "I am so grateful and honored," he said. "This has been ten years in the making, and since my initiation in 2010, it has never left my thoughts that the generous benefits and opportunities for graduate students offered by Phi Kappa Phi could one day be put to good use."

What's the best part of Society membership for him? "The fervent and unwavering dedication to honoring academic excellence across all disciplines is, in my humble opinion, what makes Phi Kappa Phi stand out. On the day of graduation, I will be extremely proud to wear the Phi Kappa Phi regalia."

To learn more about the program or to sign up for a reminder when it opens, click here. Questions? Contact Kelli Partin, awards manager, at