Award Opportunities

Best Paper Awards

C. F. Chen Best Paper Awards    

The C. F. Chen Best Paper Awards recognize top journal and conference articles in which a graduate student is first author. The competition is held annually and provides three $5,000 awards, one each in electrical engineering, computer science, and translational research in medicine. 

First authors must be Vanderbilt electrical engineering or computer science graduate students, and the papers must be accepted or published by a peer-reviewed journal or conference in the prior calendar year. Nominations are made by faculty advisers, who should limit nominations to one or two papers of exceptional quality from their group each year. 

Faculty members from outside the School of Engineering who advise eligible graduate students may nominate papers. The nomination form is available on REDCap

Nominations are due  February 28  and awards are announced at the end of the spring semester. The CF Chen Best Paper award winners will present their work and be honored at a reception in May. The events in 2021 will be held virtually. 

The awards program was created in 2021 by a gift from May Juan Chen, BA’68, and Chun Fu “CF” Chen, Ph.D.’68, of Akron, Ohio. CF Chen, who received his Vanderbilt Ph.D. in electrical engineering, was a professor at The University of Akron from 1968 until his retirement in 1994. 

He established the digital electronics program in the UA College of Engineering. Chen has been an active entrepreneur as well. During his tenure at UA, he founded Quatech Inc., a company specializing in designing data acquisition and data communication for personal computers. The company was sold to a venture capital firm in 2000. 

May Juan Chen earned her BA in psychology at Vanderbilt and a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from the University of Akron. The Chens are active philanthropists in Akron. 


  • Papers must be accepted or published in the prior calendar year.
  • Peer reviewed papers in journals and conferences are eligible.
  • First authors must be Vanderbilt electrical engineering or computer science graduate students.
  • Each first author may only enter one paper per year.
  • Each paper may only be entered one time.


  • Graduate student advisors can nominate one paper per student in a single category.
  • Only papers of exceptional quality should be nominated. Advisors are encouraged to nominate only one or two papers from their group.
  • Nomination letters must address the factors specified in the evaluation criteria.


  • Each paper will be ranked by faculty according to:
    • Impact and innovation
    • Originality and novelty
    • Selectivity of venue and peer review comments
  • The score will be the sum of the ranks. The lowest average ranked papers will win. Ties will be decided by committee vote.