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Updated: Thu, 07/18/2024 - 18:12

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Dr. Dimitrije Pivnicki Award in Neuro and Psychiatric History

The Dimitrije Pivnicki Award in Neuro and Psychiatric History is offered by the Osler Library and the Montreal Neurological Institute and Library to support research in the fields of neuro-history and the history of psychiatry. The award was established in 2012 by the family and friends of Dr. Pivnicki (1918-2007), who practiced and taught psychiatry at the Allan Memorial Institute of McGill University from 1956 to 1996. With degrees in law and medicine, he had a wide and eclectic interest in classic and modern languages and literature, and a keen appreciation of the history of neuropsychiatry, an area of scholarship that will be advanced by this award.

The award supports a student or scholar wishing to carry out research utilizing the rich archival and monographic holdings at McGill University, such as the Penfield Archive in the Osler Library, and other resources available at the Osler Library, the Montreal Neurological Institute and the McGill University Archives. The Osler Library’s collections are listed in the McGill Library Catalogue and the Osler Library Archives Collection website.

The award is open to students at McGill University as well as external students and researchers. 

Terms: Awards totalling approximately $13,000 (CDN) are typically divided each year among a small number of scholars, whose individual awards depend upon need and duration of visit. Funds are typically paid as reimbursement for travel and travel-related expenses. Recipients are required to carry out research on neuro and psych history in Montreal during the 2024-25 fiscal year (1 May 2024 - 30 April 2025). May be renewable.

Requirements: We invite applications from a variety of individuals, including graduate students, scholars and professionals. Recipients are requested to submit a report of their work suitable for publication in the Osler Library Newsletter and may be invited to give a brief presentation at the University.

How to Apply: Applicants should download and fill in the application form. Applicants must also submit a CV and a detailed project proposal, and arrange for two letters of recommendation to be sent to the Osler Library. Electronic submissions are preferred. Please send all documentation attached to an email to osler.library [at] Files should have the name of the applicant, Pivnicki, and the year (e.g. Smith_Pivnicki_2024_application). 

The deadline for applications has passed; applications are typically due in January.

For More Information: please contact the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University, osler.library [at] or 514-398-4475.

Congratulations to our 2024 recipients!

  • Sarah Ahmed is a PhD candidate in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University where she studies early modern conceptions of mental health, child development, and the Self, particularly in 18th-century Britain. She holds an M.A. in History from Boston College (2022) and an M.S. in Psychology from the University of North Florida (2019). She has lab and field experience in social/ personality, developmental, and cognitive psychology and has published articles on the creative thinking process and the psychology of writer’s block in Perspectives in Psychological Sciences and The Creativity Research Journal. Her research project, “Nervous Disorders in 18th-Century Britain,” explores 18th-century conceptions of psychopathologies and neurology.

  • Dr. Francesca Brittan is Associate Professor of Music and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University. She is the author of Music and Fantasy in the Age of Berlioz (Cambridge, 2017) and co-editor of Berlioz and His World (University of Chicago Press, 2024) and The Attentive Ear: Sound, Cognition, and Subjectivity, 1800-1930 (University of Pennsylvania Press, in progress). Her current book project is Instruments of Mind: Neural Organologies from Descartes to Cybernetics.

  • Elizabeth Weissberg is a narrative nonfiction writer based in Minnesota whose work investigates questions of meaning and purpose. Her most recent writing explores these themes in the context of prosociality and controllably induced altered states of consciousness. She received an MFA from NYU’s Literary Reportage program in 2021, and she holds a BA in philosophy from Yale, where she focused on applied ethics. She has worked as a reporter and essayist for Weave: The Social Fabric Project at The Aspen Institute and has been published by The Guardian, Soft Punk Magazine, and Thirty West, among other publications.

Previous winners:


  • Dmitry Eliferov is a PhD student of Department of Humanities of The IM Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Moscow, Russia. He finished the residency program in neurosurgery at Russian Medical Academy of Continuous Postgraduate Education (RMACPE) in 2022. His research is focused on a history of the Department of Neurosurgery at the above-mentioned Academy from its establishment in 1938 until 2000. His current project is aimed at comparison of Soviet and Canadian systems of neurosurgery training during that period and their transformation during and after WW2.

  • Will Mari is an assistant professor at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. He received his MPhil from Wolfson College, Cambridge and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. He studies media history, especially analog-to-­digital transitions and their impact on news workers, and related the fate of related technology tools, from software to hardware. He is the author of A Short History of Disruptive Journalism Technologies, and The American Newsroom: A History, 1920-1960, as well as Newsrooms and the Disruption of the Internet: A Short History of Disruptive Technologies, 1990-2010.
  • Lena Moore is a Research Affiliate with the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Her research project, “Making Military Posthumanity in Late American Empire,” involves a critical examination of how ideas about technological “posthumanity” began to crystallize during the Cold War through rising psychological, psychiatric, and neurological sciences, and human experimentation.


  • Matthew Soleiman is a PhD candidate in the Department of History and Science Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego. His dissertation traces the rise of a holistic understanding of pain within and beyond the twentieth-century mind and brain sciences.


  • Lucas Richert is an Associate Professor and the George Urdang Chair in the History of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Break On Through (The MIT Press, 2019) and Strange Trips (MQUP, 2019). His new project, a history of McGill graduate Dr. Eric Berne and Transactional Analysis, seeks to understand novel mental health therapies against the backdrop of struggles within the field of mental medicine and American society more broadly.
  • Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch is the Alberta Medical Foundation/Hannah Professor in the History of Medicine and Health Care at the University of Calgary, Alberta (Canada). Among his recent book publications in the history of medicine are A New Field in Mind: A History of Interdisciplinarity in Early Brain Science (McGill-Queens University Press, 2020) and (with Guel A. Russell, eds.) Forced Migration in the History of 20th-Century Neuroscience and Psychiatry – New Perspectives (Routledge, 2017). The project for his new monograph, “Great Minds in Despair – The Forced-Migration of German-Speaking Neuroscientists to North America, 1933-1989,” will make use of several archival fonds held at the Osler Library, foreign-language journals in the Redpath Library, and personal files from the McGill University Archives.


  • Dr. Emmanuel Delille is an Associate Researcher at the Centre Marc Bloch, a French-German institute in social sciences affiliated with the Humboldt University (Berlin) and the Centre d’Archives de Philosophie, d’Histoire et d’Édition des Sciences (CAPHES, ENS-Paris). In 2017, he published a book (Ethno-psychiatrie, ENS Éditions) about the history of transcultural psychiatry, based on materials held at the McGill University Archives.
  • Cristina Nigro is a PhD candidate in the History of Health Sciences program within the Department of Anthropology, History & Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Her project, a history of the electrophysiological and molecular study of cognition, places the field of neurophysiology at the center of changing discourse of what it means to be human in the twentieth century.
  • Michele Riva is an Assistant Professor of History of Medicine University of Milano Bicocca, with a particular research interest in the history of cardiology and work-related stress.



  • Erika Biddle is a PhD candidate in Communication & Culture at York University; her award has been renewed after first being given in 2017.

  • Maia Isabelle Woolner is a PhD candidate in history at UCLA. She holds a B.A. from McGill University and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation investigates the intersection of temporality and curability in French mental medicine during the Third Republic.



  • Erika Biddle is a PhD candidate in Communication & Culture at York University. Her project, "Plastic Publics," draws on neuroscience, behaviorism, cybnernetics, management, and art and architecture to investigate the evolution of plastic publics, or the many social, technological, aesthetic, affective, and political encounters that modulate people in interconnected social groups.
  • Carly Naismith is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at York University. Her project looks into connections between medical schools and local asylums in the procurement of cadavers for dissection from the late nineteenth century on.



  • Jason Rovito is a PhD candidate in Communication & Culture at York and Ryerson Universities. His project, The Neuro-Sociological Imagination in Nineteenth Century Montreal, aims to investigate the discursive fact that the sociological dimension that once provided an ecological context for nineteenth century neurological discourse has all but disappeared.
  • Shana Cooperstein is a PhD candidate in Art History at McGill University. Her project, Reading between the Lines: Post-Academic Drawing Pedagogy in Nineteenth-Century France, explores how the belief that habit generated skills necessary for artistic practice and industrial design became deeply ingrained in widespread discussions about the nature and goals of art education, and will be used as part of her doctoral research.



  • Shana Cooperstein is a PhD candidate in Art History at McGill University. Her project, Reading between the Lines: Post-Academic Drawing Pedagogy in Nineteenth-Century France, explores how the belief that habit generated skills necessary for artistic practice and industrial design became deeply ingrained in widespread discussions about the nature and goals of art education, and will be used as part of her doctoral research.

  • Dr. Boleslav Lichterman is a Professor of Medical History, Russian History and Cultural Studies at IM Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University. His project, Management of Head Injuries during World War I, aims to provide an overview of logistics and different strategies of management of head injuries during WWI and its impact on the development of neurosurgery as a separate specialty. His research will be used as preparation for an eventual paper.



  • Dr. Craig Stephenson holds a doctorate degree in the field of Psychoanalytic Studies from the University of Essex. His project, The Mimetic Space, will present an analogical argument positioning a cultural history of the concept of “mimesis” beside the very recent proliferation of research around the identification of “mirror neurons.” A four-part lecture series based on this research is scheduled to be presented at the International School for Analytical Psychology, Switzerland in October 2015 and will be published as a book in 2016.

  • Dr. Emmanuel Delille is an Associate Researcher at the Institute for the History of Medicine in Berlin. His project, Henri Ellenberger (1905-1993) and the History of Transcultural Psychiatry: Toward a Critical Edition of his Works, aims to research and update the synthesis drafted by Ellenberger for the Encyclopédie médico-chirurgicale in 1965-1967. This will provide the necessary documentation to complete a book on transcultural psychiatry.


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