From the Science Directorate

The APA Meritorious Research Service Commendation recognizes the important contributions psychologists make by identifying funding streams, developing new directions, and fostering research opportunities.

Recipients of the APA Meritorious Research Service Commendation

The Meritorious Research Service Commendation is now in its second year. This award, with its uncharacteristically long name, was developed by the Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) to recognize those unsung but outstanding psychologists in the federal government who advance the discipline by their programmatic activities – typically by fostering the research of others. BSA members developed this commendation because they felt there needed to be a clear mechanism for highlighting the important contributions to the discipline that these psychologists make by identifying funding streams, developing new directions, and fostering research opportunities.

Psychologists in federal funding agencies can play a crucial role in the development of behavioral science -- in running the programs that fund psychological scientists, in working with the science community to identify new opportunities and directions and to turn these into programs and funding opportunities, in serving as a catalyst for promoting cutting edge work, and in shepherding behavioral research within their institutions.

The recipients for 2003, selected from nominations solicited through PSA, the Monitor and Division newsletters and listservs, are:

Steven J. Breckler (National Science Foundation--NSF)
Breckler is Program Director for Social Psychology at the National Science Foundation. He is being honored for his role in improving the stature of psychology at the National Science Foundation, increasing resources and respect for the field, and facilitating the development of new directions within the field.

“The job I do is not the kind for which research scientists are trained, so it is very gratifying to be recognized for doing a job that does not really fit the usual mold.” Breckler stated. For the next few years, Breckler plans to devote most of his attention to what he calls, “NSF-wide priority areas,” which cover the Science of Learning Centers and Human and Social Dynamics. One of his goals is to better connect Social Psychology with other fields of science.

Edgar M. Johnson (Army Research Institute--ARI)
Johnson recently retired from serving as the Director of the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences (ARI) and Chief Psychologist of the U.S. Army. He is being recognized for his leadership within ARI and for developing the Consortium Research Fellows Program, which provides professional development and financial support to graduate students who are completing their degrees.

Peter G. Kaufmann (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute--NHLBI)
Kaufmann is Chief of the Behavioral Medicine Branch of the NHLBI. He is being recognized for increasing the visibility of health psychology and behavioral medicine research at NHLBI, in particular, and at NIH, in general.

Lisa S. Onken (National Institute of Drug Abuse--NIDA)
Onken is Associate Director for Behavioral Treatment Research and Chief of the Behavioral Treatment Development Branch at NIDA. She is being recognized for developing NIDA’s behavioral therapies development research program and for her efforts in bridging basic and clinical research findings.

“I am honored to be recognized by the APA for developing NIDA's Behavioral Therapies Development Program and for my efforts to bridge basic and clinical research,” said Onken. “Over the past four decades, behavioral treatments have been developed that have had great impact upon many human problems. With strategic research aimed at not only developing better behavioral treatments, but also aimed at understanding how and why treatments work and how they can be transported and adapted to community settings, there is enormous potential for behavioral treatments to impact positively on the public health. I plan to continue to promote a comprehensive program of behavioral treatment research that fosters creativity and innovation and demands scientific rigor, but does not lose sight of its ultimate goal: to ease human suffering.”

Delores Parron (National Institutes of Health--NIH)
Parron is Scientific Advisor for Capacity Development in the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health. Some of her previous positions included Associate Director for Special Populations at the National Institute of Mental Health and Associate Director of the Division of Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine at the Institute of Medicine. She is being cited for her knowledge, research strategies, and career-long dedication to the development of new projects addressing ethnic minority groups and to efforts to develop funding opportunities for ethnic minority researchers.

“One of the reasons I stayed at NIMH for seventeen years was the pleasure of watching so many smart, creative people move along their chosen career path, producing superb work, gaining their academic promotions, receiving recognition for advancing the discipline of Psychology and helping others to understand the human condition a bit better,” Parron stated. “This Commendation is, for me, ‘icing on the cake’.”

The recipients of the 2003 citations will be honored at a luncheon at the Spring 2004 meeting of BSA.


House Defeats Attempt to De-Fund Selected NIH Grants

by Patricia Kobor, Public Policy Office

On July 10, 2003, during debate on the appropriations bill to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment offered by Rep. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) to defund five NIH grants on sexual behavior. The vote was 210-212.

APA and other behavioral science and public health organizations worked tirelessly to get out information about the amendment and persuade House members to vote no. The APA Public Policy Office sent out two electronic action alerts to let psychologists know about the dangerous amendment, and many responded by emailing or calling their member of Congress.

Appropriations LHHS Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH), Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) spoke against the amendment on the House floor. Ranking minority member David Obey (D-WI) and APA member Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) both eloquently defended the funded research and the peer review process.

PPO Director of Science Policy Geoff Mumford wrote in a message to psychologists, “It was wonderful to see so many of you take action on this issue and we hope this victory will stimulate you to remain active in the advocacy process when we put out a call for help next time.”

Information about the issue, including summaries of the targeted grants and how members of Congress voted, are on the APA Public Policy Office web site.