From the Science Directorate

Murphy focused on how our knowledge about organizational climate and cultural factors, end-accountability, collective corruption, leadership, training, and whistle-blowing can be effectively transferred into military contexts to impact prevention of further incidents and intervention following events such as Abu Ghraib.

2004 APA Meritorious Research Service Commendations Awarded

Five psychologists were awarded the Meritorious Research Service Commendation. This award, developed by the Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) recognizes outstanding psychologists who help foster the discipline through their programmatic activities in support of psychological science. BSA members developed this award to provide a clear mechanism for recognizing the important ways that programmatic contributions can advance the discipline.

Psychologists in funding agencies can play a crucial role in the development of the discipline -- in running the programs that fund psychological scientists, in identifying new opportunities and directions, in working with the science community to chart needs and challenges, in serving as a catalyst for promoting cutting edge opportunities, and in shepherding behavioral research within their institutions.

Nominations were solicited during the winter of 2003 and 2004 and the recipients are:

Ronald P. Abeles, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Abeles is Special Assistant to the Director, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), in the Office of the Director, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is being recognized for raising the standards of psychological science, increasing the skill levels of researchers, and introducing psychologists to cutting edge interdisciplinary research through his leadership roles at the National Institute on Aging, the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and the Health and Behavior Coordinating Committee at NIH.

Israel I. Lederhendler, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Dr. Lederhendler is Chief of the Basic Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM). He is also serving as Interim Director of the Electronic Research Administration at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He is being recognized for his advocacy of outstanding psychological research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and for his dedication to the interests and needs of psychological researchers.

G. Reid Lyon, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Dr. Lyon is Chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the NICHD. He is being recognized for his leadership of the Child Development and Behavior Branch of NICHD and for enhancing the understanding and appreciation of psychological science to members of Congress, the President of the United States, and the educational community. In addition, his direction of the program on reading and learning disabilities has had a major impact on the shaping of education research and public policy decisions.

Willo Pequegnat, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Dr. Pequegnat is Associate Director for Prevention, Translation and International Research and NIMH Senior Prevention Scientist at the Center for Mental Health Research on AIDS in the Division of Mental Disorder, Behavioral Research and AIDS, NIMH. She is being recognized for her leadership role in HIV prevention research initiatives sponsored by NIMH and for her mentoring of young behavioral scientists entering the field of AIDS behavioral research.

Anita M. Sostek, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Sostek is Director, Division of Clinical and Population-Based Studies, Center for Scientific Review at the NIH. She is being recognized for her leadership at the Center for Scientific Review for ensuring that reviews are fair, equitable, and maintain the highest of scientific standards. In addition, she has served as an outstanding mentor and source of information to scientists in the field.

The recipients of the 2004 commendations will be honored at the December 2004 APA Board of Directors meeting and at a luncheon at the Spring, 2005 meeting of BSA.

The recipients of the Meritorious Research Service Commendation for the last two years were:

2003: Steven J. Breckler (National Science Foundation)
Edgar M. Johnson (Army Research Institute)
Peter G. Kaufmann (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH)
Lisa S. Onken (National Institute of Drug Abuse, NIH)
Delores Parron (National Institutes of Health)

2002: Rodney Cocking (awarded posthumously) (National Science Foundation)
Robert Croyle (National Cancer Institute, NIH)
Sarah Friedman (National Institutes of Child Health & Human Development, NIH)
David Shurtleff (National Institute of Drug Abuse, NIH)
Joseph Young (National Science Foundation)



Abu Ghraib: Informing Congress About the Science

One of the goals of APA’s Public Policy Office is to bring relevant psychological science to bear on issues of national concern. On Thursday, June 10th, science policy staff organized an APA Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill to educate a target audience of congressional staff and federal agency personnel about psychological research related to the recent incidents in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Two distinguished psychological scientists spoke at the briefing: social psychologist Steve Breckler (APA’s Executive Director for Science) and I/O psychologist Kevin Murphy (Head of the Department of Psychology at the Pennsylvania State University). In his talk, “How can the Science of Human Behavior Help us Understand Abu Ghraib?”, Breckler gave an overview of the social psychological principles relevant to the prisoner abuse situation. Drawing on decades of research on the power of the situation to influence and shape behavior and on the stability of individual personalities, Breckler discussed the relevance of findings on social conformity, compliance, obedience to authority, individual differences, and factors that mitigate responses to social influence.

Murphy’s presentation, “How can Psychological Research in Military Contexts Help us Prevent Another Abu Ghraib?”, highlighted the study of organizations, and the military in particular. Murphy focused on how our knowledge about organizational climate and cultural factors, end-accountability, collective corruption, leadership, training, and whistle-blowing can be effectively transferred into military contexts to impact prevention of further incidents and intervention following such events.

The briefing drew a large crowd of more than 100 people, even in the midst of unusual week in Washington during which former President Reagan lay in state in the U.S. Capitol. APA has since received a request from the US Army’s Materiel Command to provide information from the briefing that might inform the official investigation of the incidents at Abu Ghraib. More information can be found at www.apa.org/ppo/issues/abughraibbrief04.html.


BSA Begins New Initiative to Support Science in the 21st Century

The Board of Scientific Affairs is making plans for a new initiative for 2005 and beyond. Psychological Science for the 21st Century, or Psy21, will help psychological science meet the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century. Psy21 creates a solid foundation on which the Science Directorate will build an ambitious and effective agenda to support and promote the science of psychology.

Psy21 is organized around three interlocking areas of emphasis: Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), Culture of Service to the Discipline, and Infrastructure for the Science of Psychology. Training workshops, awards, a Science Leadership Conference, an ad hoc Committee on Research Issues, advocacy, and disciplinary development are among the activities currently planned.

For more information, please visit www.apa.org/science/psy21.html.