Personalities

  • A presidential commission has named Archie Bates, PhD, as one of the 2012–13 White House Fellows. Bates, a United States Army Major, most recently served as the executive officer to the director of Army Human Resources Policy. His many accomplishments include being deployed to Baghdad with the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, where he was responsible for the readiness of more than 8,000 soldiers. The White House Fellows Program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to give promising American leaders "first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs."
  • The Society for Text and Discourse has presented Marcel Just, PhD, of Carnegie Mellon University, with its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. A professor in the university's department of psychology and director of its Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging, Just was one of the first researchers to use fMRI to study reading comprehension. He also studies the neural bases of language comprehension, problem-solving and other tasks.
  • Larry Leitner, PhD, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Constructivist Psychology Network for his contributions to scholarship, research and mentoring. The Miami University psychology professor supervises in the Psychology Training Clinic, where doctoral students learn to conduct psychotherapy and psychological assessments under the supervision of licensed clinical psychologists. Leitner's research focuses on the theory that the universe is integral. "In addition to being a masterful therapist, a dynamic teacher and one of the foremost scholars of constructivist psychology…Larry has exemplified what it means to be a mentor," says former student Donald Domenici.
  • Last spring, the United Nations placed "happiness" on its global agenda and designated Bhutan to pilot a national happiness program. In August, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the king of Bhutan, appointed Fresno State psychology professor Robert Levine, PhD, to an international advisory group that will develop policies to maximize the quality of life, educational attainment, physical, psychological and emotional well-being, and cultural and ecological integrity for Bhutan's citizens.
  • Robin Shallcross, PhD, a psychology professor at Pacific University, Oregon, won a Fulbright Specialist Award to teach a three-week course in October at the Universidad Latina de América in Mexico. Shallcross lectured on the psychological effects of circular migration, an increasingly common phenomenon that has brought many migrants from central Mexico to Oregon in search of jobs, and then returned them home to their families. Before leaving, Shallcross and her students interviewed Mexican immigrants in Oregon, and, while in Mexico, they interviewed former immigrants and their families about the stress of long separations. Her goal is to help both Mexican and American psychologists better serve this population with evidence-based, culturally relevant interventions.
  • Patrick O. Smith, PhD, a clinical psychologist and associate dean for faculty affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center will lead a four-month program to foster transformational leadership among the medical center's deans, department chairs and other senior administrators. The university is one of three schools nationwide selected to participate in the pilot program, which was developed by Smith, Sunergos, a leadership development consulting firm, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. The program will provide coaching and workshops to help leaders adopt the principles of shared vision, innovation and creativity.
  • Jose Szapocznik, PhD, professor and chair of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine department of epidemiology and public health, will direct a new Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the university. The institute, funded by a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, is charged with accelerating the translation of biomedical discoveries into new therapies for patients, engaging communities in clinical research and training a new generation of researchers who are better prepared to resolve the complex health problems of an increasingly diverse nation.
  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham's department of psychology presented Lisa Huffman, PhD, with its 2012 Distinguished Service Alumni Award on Oct 3. Huffman is associate professor of educational psychology at Ball State University, where she co-leads a cultural exchange program with a university in Kenya that helps students understand how culture affects child development. In January, she will lead a group of undergraduates on a semester-long study abroad program to Australia, where they will volunteer at a charity for people with disabilities. Huffman studies memory and strategy development in children.
Psychological scientists honored at White House

President Barack Obama honored 96 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) winners last summer, including four psychological scientists. Honorees are nominated by federal science agencies.

Psychologist Li Cai, PhD, was nominated by the U.S. Department of Education, which has supported his work through the Institute of Education Sciences. Cai is an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he holds appointments in both the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the department of psychology. His expertise is in quantitative methods, particularly latent variable models, item response theory and statistical computing. Cai received his PhD from the University of North Carolina.

The other three psychological scientists who received PECASE honors were nominated by the Department of Health and Human Services, which has supported their work through the National Institutes of Health.

Krista M. Lisdahl, PhD, is an assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Using behavioral and brain imaging techniques, she investigates the effects of chronic drug use in adolescents and young adults, including determinants of individual differences. Her PhD is from the University of Cincinnati.

Trained as a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pawan Sinha, PhD, is on the faculty of MIT's department of brain and cognitive sciences. His research harnesses behavioral, neuroscientific and computational approaches to examine processes of object recognition in visual perception and their development.

Brendan M. Walker, PhD, is an associate professor in the Washington State University. department of psychology. He received his PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research is focused on the neural mechanisms underlying alcohol and drug abuse and on the development of pharmacotherapies for addiction.

The Society for Personality and Social Psychology (Div. 8) presented its top honors to three psychologists:
  • Daniel McAdams, PhD, of Northwestern University, who won the society's Jack Block Award for his work on how people create personal narratives.
  • James Pennebaker, PhD, of the University of Texas, who won the society's Distinguished Scholar Award for his research on how writing about personal trauma carries long-term benefits for mental and physical health.
  • Daniel Wegner, PhD, of Harvard University, who won the Donald T. Campbell Award for his work in the area of thought suppression, or how people can become preoccupied with something they are asked to forget.