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Mary-Claire Ward Geoscience Award

Objective of the award:

The objective of the award is to encourage and support a graduate student in Canada whose thesis embodies the concept of increasing our knowledge of the geological history of Canada through field mapping. The thesis will meet this requirement by incorporating mapping as a significant component.

Mary-Claire Ward, the former Chairman of Watts, Griffis and McOuat Ltd., was a tireless and vocal advocate for government investment in basic geoscience in Canada.  She was especially supportive of mapping programs to ensure Canada’s geological knowledge base was conceptually and factually correct in order that it might support private sector investment in the mineral sector.

Selection committee

The selection committee for the Mary-Claire Ward Geoscience Award comprises representatives of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), Watts Griffis and McOuat Limited (WGM), the National Geological Surveys Committee (NGSC) and the Geological Association of Canada (GAC). 

Criteria for evaluation

The applications will be evaluated based on a combination of the academic excellence of the individual, the excellence and innovation of the thesis project, the degree to which the individual isadvancing the mapping-based geoscientific knowledge of Canada, and the evidence of progress as indicated by scholarly contributions (papers, talks, posters).

What constitutes mapping

The committee views geoscience mapping as any field-based study whose aim is to provide 2-D and 3-D maps (portrayals) of reasonably sized areas of Canada, and an understanding of the geological evolution of those areas/volumes (meaning complementary lab studies of various types). A significant boots-on-the-ground component is expected though this may be integrated with other methods such as remote sensing, geophysics, etc.

Student eligibility

In order to be eligible for this award, the student must still have active student status until at least the last day of April. Previous recipients of this award are not eligible to apply.


Section 9

The following details about your planned thesis

Title of thesis

Location of work

Description, including present status (maximum 500 words)

The committee will consider the following in its review:

Is this a well thought out thesis project, with clearly identified problems, clear plan of how to address and solve the problems, and the best use of techniques or technologies to address the problems?

Other considerations:

  • clear grasp of the geological problems to be solved
  • role of field mapping in the completion of the thesis
  • well-developed plan in place to solve the problems
  • accomplishments so far
  • complementary follow-up analyses
  • innovation
  • conciseness


    Section 10

    The following details about the geoscience mapping component of your thesis

    Total amount of time spent conducting field mapping for your thesis (in weeks or months)

    Description of the mapping strategy and objectives (Maximum 300 words)

    The committee will consider the following in its review:

    Is geoscientific mapping a significant component of the thesis project? To what extent is the applicant involved in planning and conducting the mapping?

    Other considerations:

    Section 11

    Please answer the following question

    How will your thesis contribute to Canadian geoscience mapping? (Maximum 500 words)

    The committee is looking for:

    The degree to which this thesis project truly contributes to increasing the understanding of the Canadian geoscience knowledge base through mapping.

    Other considerations:

  • is the size of the region covered commensurate with the hoped for outcomes?
  • intention to get the mapped information into the public domain
  • publication plan
  • does this project fill a fundamental knowledge gap?
  • conciseness
  • Is the mapping scale and strategy commensurate with the objectives of the research?
  • Innovative mapping approaches
  • Integration of different types of mapping data or techniques

Section 11

The letter of reference by each of the sponsors will be a valuable component of this application and should support the reasons for this particular applicant to be chosen as the winning candidate. Brief and uninformative letters will have a negative impact on the applicant’s chances of winning the award.  The committee will evaluate the degree to which the supervisor believes in the student and the project.

For more information, contact:

Krishana Michaud
Student & Early Career Program
416.362.1969, x297
[email protected]


  1. Complete and submit this form and all attachments.
  2. The following must be attached in order for your application to be processed:
    • University transcripts for your last completed degree and your current studies.
    • The following references:
  3. A letter from your thesis supervisor validating your statement about the value of your thesis to the Canadian geoscience knowledge base.
  4. A letter from one other person (ideally this will be a previous employer in the mineral industry or in a geological survey) attesting to your merits for this award.
  5. The deadline for submission is December 15.


    1. The application and all attachments must be submitted through this form 
    2. Previous recipients of this award are not eligible to apply.

    Deadline for applications

    December 15, 2023.

    Announcement of award recipient

    The selection committee will announce the award winner on February 1, 2024.

    Further information

    Questions about this application or the award should be addressed to Krishana Michaud, Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada, [email protected]

    Application Form