Departmental Prizes

For Undergraduate Students


Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women's Studies

The Pembroke Center is pleased and honored to offer the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women’s Studies. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding honors thesis on questions having to do with women or gender. In the spring, the Pembroke Center invites faculty in all fields to nominate honors theses for the prize. A committee of faculty who teach and write in the area of gender studies will make the selection.

If you wish to make a nomination, please email the following to [email protected] by 1:00 pm on the current nomination deadline date:

  • thesis adviser’s evaluation
  • a copy of the thesis

The Ruth Simmons Prize carries with it an award of $1,000.

Full list of recipients of the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women's Studies

Congratulations to the 2020 Ruth Simmons Prize recipient

Sebastián Niculescu 
Ethnic Studies

Sebastián Niculescu won the Ruth Simmons Prize in Gender and Women’s Studies for her honors thesis  “Ábreme: Performing Trans of Color Critique.” Written for her ethnic studies concentration in the American studies department, "Ábreme" ("open up" or "let me in" in Spanish) melds Latin American decolonial and black feminist scholarship in a work that examines trans pop and street performers, and proposes new ways of understanding trans realities. Leticia Alvarado, assistant professor of American studies, wrote that “‘Ábreme’ is an elaboration of, and significant contribution to, the nascent field of trans of color critique.”


Joan Wallach Scott Prize

The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women annually awards the Joan Wallach Scott Prize for an outstanding honors thesis in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Joan Wallach Scott is the Harold F. Linder Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. Among her many books are Gender and the Politics of History (1988), Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (1996), Parité: Sexual Equality and the Crisis of French Universalism (2005), and The Politics of the Veil: Banning Islamic Headscarves in French Public Schools (2007). Professor Scott taught at Brown from 1980-1985, where she was Nancy Duke Lewis Professor and Professor of History. She was the founding director of the Pembroke Center.

Each year the Pembroke Center awards this prize for an outstanding thesis by a Gender and Sexuality Studies Concentrator. The Joan Wallach Scott Prize carries with it an award of $500.

Click for a list of all Joan Wallach Scott Prize recipients

Congratulations to the 2020 Joan Wallach Scott Prize recipient 

Tabitha Payne
Development Studies

Development studies concentrator Tabitha Payne won the Joan Wallach Scott Prize for her honors thesis "Queer Histories of the Khmer Rouge Regime: Surviving Sex/Gender and Genocide." In her thesis, Payne argues that under the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal trans-homophobic state (1975 – 1979), queer Cambodians found spaces for relationality under the mandated "men's" and "women's" dormitories, eating groups, and work units. Focusing on the stories of three trans men who found love and friendship in the same commune, she embeds queer survivors’ narratives into the long arc of Cambodian history.

For Graduate Students


Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize

The Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women annually awards the Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize for an outstanding dissertation in the area of feminist studies. Marie J. Langlois became a trustee emerita of the Corporation in 2007 having previously served as trustee and vice chancellor of the University since 1998.  She served as a member of the Board of Fellows from 1992 to 1998, as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1985, and as a trustee and treasurer of the University from 1988 to 1992. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Brown in 1964 and a master of business administration degree from Harvard University in 1967. Ms. Langlois recently retired as managing director of Washington Trust Investors, a division of Washington Trust Company.  She currently serves on the boards of directors of the Rhode Island Foundation, Lifespan, Salve Regina University, Rhode Island Philharmonic and Music School, and Rhode Island Public Radio.

Each year the Pembroke Center awards this prize for a dissertation in areas related to gender studies or feminist analysis. If you wish to nominate a dissertation, please email the following to [email protected]edu by 1:00 pm on the current nomination date:  

    • A nominating letter including a brief description of the dissertation
    • A letter of support from a second member of the dissertation committee
    • A copy of the dissertation

    The Marie J. Langlois Prize carries with it an award of $1,000.

    Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize recipients

    Congratulations to the 2020 Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize recipient

    Virginia Thomas
    American Studies

    Virginia Thomas won the Marie J. Langlois Dissertation Prize for her dissertation in American studies titled “Dark Trees: Regional Archives of Familial Intimacy, Lynching Violence, and Racial Reproduction in the US South.” Using archival scrapbooks and family albums, Thomas explored how souvenir images of lynchings, alongside images of family trees and private photos, show how lynching shapes racial, gendered, and sexual politics in the American South.


    Helen Terry MacLeod Prize

    From 1995-2007 the Pembroke Center awarded this prize for an outstanding undergraduate honors thesis that addressed questions of gender or women, or that brought a feminist analysis to bear on a topic of study.

    MacLeod Prize recipients 1995-2007

    In 2007, this award was changed from a prize for a completed honors thesis to a research grant available to support undergraduate honors research. See the grants page for more information.