Jeffrey S. Tanaka Memorial Dissertation Award in Psychology

An award for the most outstanding dissertation in psychology which addresses concerns relevant to populations of color.

Deadline: May 15, 2015

Sponsor: APA Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs


The APA Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) continues to strive for increased research that will promote a better understanding of the complex issues facing communities of color (i.e., African-Americans/Blacks, Asian-Americans/Pacific Islanders, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Hispanics/Latino(a)s). To this end, CEMA sponsors an award for the most outstanding dissertation in psychology which addresses concerns relevant to populations of color.

The Jeffrey S. Tanaka Memorial Dissertation Award in Psychology is so designated in the memory of an outstanding scholar and psychologist of color whose career stressed the critical importance and relevance of the role of culture and ethnicity in the scientific understanding of behavior. Tanaka was actively involved in APA, where he was a fellow of Div. 5 (Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics), and member of the Div. 8 (Society for Personality and Social Psychology) and Div. 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues). He was chair-elect of the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs at the time of his death on Nov. 3, 1992.


CEMA welcomes applications from ethnic minorities — as well as non-ethnic minority individuals who are APA members/student affiliates — that have filed their dissertations in 2013 or 2014 on research involving one or more of the following areas:

  • Contribution which enhances the understanding of people of color.

  • Contribution to the enhancement of psychological service delivery systems to persons of color.

  • Development of new concepts and/or theories relevant to populations of color.

  • Development of new and creative methodological paradigms which promote more effective research on and for communities of color.

  • Creative approach in methodology sensitive to the unique values, beliefs and needs of communities of color.

Selection will be made by a CEMA-appointed Dissertation Award Selection Subcommittee, utilizing a masked review process. Evaluation of abstracts and dissertations submitted will be based on the following criteria:

  • Potential impact upon ethnic minority populations.

  • Completeness and clarity of abstract/dissertation.

  • Creativity of project.

  • Effectiveness of research design.

Semi-finalists will be chosen from an initial review of all abstracts submitted and requested to provide copies of their entire dissertation for the final selection process. The author of the dissertation determined to be the most outstanding shall win a $500 cash prize, $300 travel award and will be invited to the APA Annual Convention. Non-APA member/student affiliate applicants will be required to be an APA member/student affiliate prior to commencement of the competition review process.

How to Apply

Applications (PDF, 50KB)

To apply, please send a total of five (5) copies of a 1,000-word abstract — four (4) must be anonymous copies; only one copy should indicate author's name, current address and daytime telephone number.

In addition, please ensure that the title of the dissertation appears on all copies of abstracts submitted.

Applications must be postmarked by May 15, 2015.

American Psychological Association
Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Telephone: (202) 336-6029

Past Recipients
Stephanie Pituc, PhD 
"Foreigner Objectification, Bicultural Identity, and Psychological Adjustment in Asian American College Students" (University of Minnesota, 2013)

Cynthia J. Najdowski, PhD
“Stereotype Threat in Police Encounters: Why African Americans are at Risk of Being Targeted as Suspects” (University of Illinois at Chicago, 2012).


Le Ondra L. Clark, PhD
“Seeing through our clients' eyes: An assessment of cultural competence in a community mental health agency” (The University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010).


Aurelia Mok, PhD
“Identity Integration and Frame Switching: Evidence for a Nonconscious Motivated Process” (Columbia University, 2010).