Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA): 2009 Annual Report

Toni C. Antonucci, Ph.D., Chair

The Board of Scientific Affairs held one meeting in 2009, on March 20-22. The regularly scheduled fall meeting was cancelled due to APA budget constraints so BSA conducted its business via conference calls and email. The following report summarizes the major issues that were of concern to the Board over the past year. 

PSY21 – Psychological Science for the 21st Century

BSA and the Science Directorate continue to work together on PSY21-Psychological Science for the 21st Century.  This initiative aims to create a foundation for supporting and promoting the science of psychology.  The goals of this initiative are to advance the science of psychology, provide value to the APA membership, and attract new members.  PSY21 is organized around three areas of emphasis: (1) facilitating the responsible conduct of research (RCR), (2) promoting a culture of service to the discipline, and (3) identifying and addressing infrastructure needs for the science of psychology.  

  • Science Leadership Conference (SciLC) –   BSA worked with Science Directorate staff in planning the fifth annual Science Leadership Conference that took place November 2009.  The goal of the annual conference is to bring together key leaders to develop a common agenda that will advance psychological science and help secure its future.  The 2009 meeting focused on advocacy and featured 100 psychological scientists making the case to their own members of Congress that psychological science can enhance the Nation’s health. 

  • Culture of Service Awards – These awards presented at the Science Leadership Conference, and established by BSA, honor both individuals and Departments of Psychology. The Departmental Award for Culture of Service in the Psychological Sciences was presented to the Psychology Departments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of South Florida. The individual Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science was presented to Jack Dovidio who is at Yale University and to Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Golinkoff (jointly).  Dr. Hirsh-Pasek is at Temple University and Dr. Golinkoff is at the University of Delaware.  These awards, established by BSA, recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to psychological science through their commitment to a culture of service and recognize departments of psychology who instill a culture of service in their training of students and mentoring of faculty.  

  • Committee on Human Research (CHR) – The Council of Representatives approved the re-establishment of a continuing Committee on Human Research (CHR), which will complement the charge of the Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE).  Following its establishment, BSA issued a call for nominations and selected seven members to serve on CHR.  These new members will broadly represent the various areas of psychological research involving human participants. CHR plans to hold its first meeting in the spring of 2010.

Advanced Training Institutes (ATI)

BSA continues to oversee the implementation and expansion of training opportunities for researchers.  During 2009, four ATI’s were held.  These include: 

  • Non-Linear Methods for Psychological Science , at the University of Cincinnati, June 8-12, 2009.  Organized by Guy Van Orden, this ATI provided a thorough introduction to a variety of non-linear and dynamical methods.  Such methods are becoming increasingly prominent within psychology and related disciplines.  Specific topics included time series analysis, recurrence quantification analysis, fractal analysis, and dispersion analysis.  In addition to lectures and discussion, there was ample hands-on computer time with software for non-linear analysis. 

  • Research Methods with Diverse Racial & Ethnic Groups , at Michigan State University from June 22-26, 2009.  Fred Leong led this ATI, which included sessions on methods for investigating treatment outcomes in diverse populations, quantitative and qualitative methods, the why’s and why-not’s of web-based data collection, measurement equivalence and invariance across diverse groups, and methods for work in areas ranging from genomics to HIV prevention.  

  • Structural Equation Modeling in Longitudinal Research , at the University of Virginia, June 29-July 3, 2009.  John McArdle, a University of Southern California faculty member, and John Nesselroade of the University of Virginia, led this course, which featured a series of lectures and hands-on computer workshops on longitudinal methods, modeling, and measurement in contemporary psychological research using SEM.  

  • Exploratory Data Mining in Behavioral Research , took place at the University of Southern California from July 20-24, 2009.  John McArdle led this course, which provided an overview of recent methodological advances in this topic.  The ATI covered the conceptual bases and strategies of exploratory data mining, and reviewed current techniques and software.  Participants gained hands-on experience with the techniques and were invited to bring their own data and research problems to work on in consultation with the course instructors.

Meritorious Research Service Commendation

BSA developed the Meritorious Research Service Commendation to recognize outstanding psychologists in the federal government and nonprofit organizations who help foster psychological science through their work in planning, promoting, and managing funding programs for research and research training.  2009 is the eighth year in which the citation was given.  BSA selected Cheryl Boyce, National Institute on Drug Abuse (formerly at the National Institute of Mental Health) and Vivian Ota Wang, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH and National Science and Technology Council, Executive Office of the President to each receive a commendation for 2009.

Summer Science Fellowship

The Summer Science Fellowship is a modification of the Summer Science Institute.  Eight students, all rising seniors in college, were selected to take part in this 6-week intensive research experience.  Faculty members from Washington, DC/Baltimore area universities agreed to mentor the SSF students over the summer.  In some cases, the students were able to propose research studies, have it approved by the university IRB, and complete the study in the summer.  Others were able to make substantive contributions to ongoing research projects in the labs.  The SSF students also spent a number of days at the APA headquarters building, learning about careers in psychological science, the importance of science advocacy, and how to gain entrance to graduate school.

Decade of Behavior

The Science Directorate continues to coordinate Decade of Behavior activities which include the Behavior Matters Booklet Series – a publication that offers a sampling of behavioral research that has led to innovations and improvements in our lives.

Science at the APA Convention

The 2009 Convention was organized into plenary sessions, substantive division programming, topical track programming, board/committee programs, awards addresses, and an opening and closing session.  The science programs sponsored by BSA included the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award addresses, the Neal Miller Lecture, the Master Lectures, and BSA, CPTA, CARE, and Science Student Council programs.

Lecture Programs

Master Lecture Program : BSA selected the following speakers to participate in the 2010 Master Lecture Program at the 2010 convention:   Jaana Juvonen, PhD, developmental psychology; Jeffrey Alberts, PhD, learning, behavior, and action; Steven Paul Reise, PhD, methodology; Ty Cannon, PhD, psychopathology and treatment; Harry Triandis, PhD, social and cultural psychology. 

Distinguished Scientist Lecturer Program : BSA selected the following speakers to deliver Distinguished Lectures at regional psychology conferences:  Craig Anderson, PhD, Jacquelynne Eccles, PhD, and Randall Engle, PhD.

Neal Miller Lecture : BSA selected Bryan Kolb, PhD as the Neal Miller Lecturer at the 2010 APA convention.

BSA Committees

The work of the committees constitutes a large part of science governance as summarized below:

The Committee on Scientific Awards continues to recognize important scientific achievement in psychology through prestigious national awards.  The Committee also serves as a resource for APA nominations for other scientific awards not conferred by APA for which members may be eligible.  The Committee on Animal Research and Ethics developed educational packages geared toward high school students that will be available via the web as well as by request through the Science Directorate.  In addition, CARE initiated a project to gauge the current status of nonhuman animal research in psychology.  The Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment continued to work on revising two position statements, “Disclosure of Test Data” and “Observers of Psychological Testing.”  The Science Student Council advises BSA and the Science Directorate on student-related issues, including awards and programming at the APA Convention. 

BSA members elected Drs. Leona Aiken and Jennifer Manly to serve as Co-Chairs for 2010.

The 2009 membership of BSA included one Asian American, two African Americans, and six white/Caucasian members.  There were six women and three men.   BSA solicited nominations from the ethnic minority psychological associations to enhance the ethnic diversity of the candidate pool for 2010.  BSA did not have board specific diversity training during 2009.

2009 BSA members: Toni C. Antonucci, PhD, (Chair), Leona S. Aiken, PhD, Robert L. Balster, PhD, Patricia M. Greenfield, PhD,  Frederick T.L. Leong, PhD, Jennifer Manly, PhD, Vickie M. Mays, PhD, Kevin R. Murphy, PhD, and Nora S. Newcombe, PhD.