Matters to a Degree

Some students have the misconception that APAGS and APA focus primarily on professional practice issues. While it is true that about 70 percent of APAGS members are studying for degrees in the health service professions (clinical, counseling and school psychology), APAGS is equally committed to supporting science-oriented students.

In 2009, the APAGS Committee created the APAGS Science Committee to address the unique needs of research-oriented students. Since then, the Science Committee has worked to promote psychological science in innovative ways. The members of the committee represent broad areas of psychology including cognitive, developmental, clinical, experimental, social and neuroscience and hail from a variety of universities, including Dartmouth, Washington University, Purdue, Yale, North Carolina and the University of California at San Diego.

One of their biggest contributions has been promoting and awarding grants, including the APAGS Basic Psychological Science Research Grant, which supports innovative graduate student research with $1,000 scholarships. Through this program, we've supported 14 amazing scientists who are studying diverse topics in psychological research, including intergroup trust, neuroendocrine responses to interpersonal rejection and visual processing in romantic relationships, to name but a few areas. In its first three years, the grant has grown to become APAGS's most popular.

To create opportunities for student scientists even earlier in their careers, the Science Committee developed the Junior Scientist Fellowship with Psi Chi, the national psychology honor society. These $1,000 grants fund research projects by students in their first or second year of graduate school, while also preparing them to apply for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (upon which the application is roughly based). In addition to selecting grantees, the Science Committee provides written feedback to all applicants to improve their chances of future success. Last year, this grant received more than 100 applications and funded five promising students — including two entering first-year students. This year, APAGS and Psi Chi have increased their contributions to fund nine students.

The Science Committee has also been working to develop science-focused student programming at APA's Annual Convention. Past sessions have informed graduate students about federal and private funding sources, how to write successful research grants and how to write and review journal articles.

Because publication is a central concern among science-oriented students, the Science Committee is embarking on its most ambitious goal yet: Creating a research journal for all APAGS members. Each issue would highlight a specific theme or topic, such as climate change and psychology or paths to graceful aging. The journal would include short review articles from leading psychological scientists and their students on their work, particularly focusing on translations and applications of their research. In addition to being interesting reading and a place to publish, the journal would give graduate students an opportunity to get involved in the journal editing and review process by enlisting doctoral students to serve as associate editor and reviewers. If approved by the APA Council of Representatives, this journal will be the first in APA to have a significant level of student input in the editorial process.

For a group that is less than three years old, the Science Committee has been ambitious in its undertakings and remarkably successful in its accomplishments. These impressive achievements attest to the fact that APAGS and APA are indeed dedicated to research-focused students. We are committed to providing ongoing resources and opportunities for the next generation of psychological scientists. APAGS is always looking for more scientists to get involved in all of its activities, not just the Science Committee. Learn how to get involved with APAGS.