2022 CAGS-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award Recipient

Zachary Witkower headshot

Congratulations to UBC alum, Dr. Zachary Witkower, who has received the 2022 Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Pro-Quest Distinguished Dissertation Award for his dissertation on The action unit imposter: head position influences social perceptions by changing the appearance of the face.

His dissertation represents a significant breakthrough in understanding how nonverbal behaviour conveys complex social information. Bringing together sixteen mixed-method, multinational, and interdisciplinary studies, his dissertation research demonstrates that head movements influence how people evaluate each other by changing the appearance of the face.

Dr. Witkower’s research has been published in nineteen peer-reviewed articles in top tier journals in his field, with nine more currently under review. He has delivered nearly two dozen presentations to national and international audiences at conferences and universities, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.

“My postdoctoral work is a continuation of my graduate research," says Witkower. "Although the methods and scope of my research have changed over time, I continue building upon my graduate work by investigating how and why nonverbal behavior is used to communicate social rank, emotion, and personality, around the world and across the lifespan."

“I have 3 pieces of advice. First, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Second, don’t make a habit of disagreeing with your data. Third, sometimes it’s important to go down a rabbit hole.” – Dr. Zachary Witkower

The CAGS-ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes Canadian doctoral dissertations that make unusually significant and original contributions, both to their respective academic communities and to Canadian society at large. Dr. Witkower will be officially recognized at the annual CAGS conference in the fall.


Read the full news release

Read his dissertation

Monday, 01 May 2023