From the Science Directorate

Learning and research were stimulating components of this summer for 44 talented undergraduate students who participated in APA’s summer programs.

Students Blaze New Paths of Learning

by Jennifer Webb

Learning and research were stimulating components of this summer for 44 talented undergraduate students who participated in APA’s summer programs.

Vanderbilt University hosted the 10th annual Summer Science Institute in friendly music city, Nashville, TN where 32 undergraduate students were welcomed by Camilla Benbow (Dean of Psychology and Human Development at Peabody College), Randoph Blake (Chair of Department of Psychology), Kathleen Hoover-Dempsey, (Chair of Psychology and Human Development at Peabody College), and Richarvd McCarty (Dean, College of Arts & Sciences). The remarkable students gained knowledge and research experience in scientific psychology under the wing of eleven distinguished faculty members, Joanne Bachorowski, Bruce Compas, Joe Lappin, Dan Levin, Timothy McNamara, Julia Noland, Andrew Rossi, Meg Saylor, Jeff Schall, Adriane Seiffert, and Georgene Troseth whose labs and lectures ranged from selection and control of action to laughter. The students were assigned to labs where they conducted research, giving presentations of their experiments and results at the end of the week.

They were guided through their nine day learning journey by APA institute leaders Virginia Holt, Brett Pelham, and Jennifer Webb, as well as two intrepid Vanderbilt graduate students, Kerstin Blomquist and Matthew Morris, who served as friends and mentors. These leaders not only assisted through research and discussion but also challenged them to games of Texas Hold’em, Apples to Apples and dancing on the General Jackson Showboat cruise.

One month later and one time zone east, University of Maryland – College Park was the home of ASTP 2005 where fifteen gifted students were led through an exciting nine days of psychological statistics and research methods by Brett Pelham (SUNY-Buffalo), Keith Maddox (Tufts University), and Maurico Carvallo, (SUNY-Buffalo). The students were stimulated with lectures, SPSS activities, hands-on activities, and discussions of grad school. After a day of t-tests, multiple regression, linear correlation, ANOVA, and repeated measures design, the students had blackjack/juggling workshops, played Charades, Texas Hold’em, and took a twilight tour of Washington DC.

2005 SSI students were: Callie Beck, Bringham Young University; Sarah Bhagat, Franklin & Marshall College; Marina Bontkowski, Harvard University; Drew Bromfield, University of Puget Sound; Lauren Burch, Harverford College; Shannon Calhoun, Bradley University; Lynne Clure, Rockhurst University; Roberto Colon, University of Miami; Nathan DeYoung, Hope College; Gus Diggs, Christopher Newport University; Pat Doyle, Rhode Island College; Jenna Farmer, University of Notre Dame; Samantha Feldman, Colgate University; Steven Frankland, College of Wooster; Allison Gioia, Dickinson College; Ryan Griffin, Bates College; Katie Jankowski, University of Virginia; Erin Jones, University of Richmond; Claire Keultijes, Hillside College; Sarah Konfirst, Augusta College; Susanne Long, Southwest Missouri State University; Kimberly Mathis, University of Tennessee – Chattanooga; Laura Morena, Kennesaw State University; Maria Muniz, Penn State; Ikechukwu Onyewuenyi, Howard University; Katrina Ramos, University of Miami; Goali Saedi, Portland State University; Giulia Suro, University of Southern California; John Thurston, University of Miami; Carrie Wheeler, Providence College; Deron Wirt, Gettysburg College; Vincent Woo, University of California – Los Angeles

ASTP 2005 students included: Maria Barth, Harvard University; Karla Batres, Saint Peters College; Candice Beckner, Providence College; Danielle Burchett, Cal Poly; Shamell Brandon, Albright College; Jeremiah Ford, University of North Florida; Robyn Grimes, Wesleyan College; Meredith Hope, John Hopkins University; Jackie Nguyen, George Mason University; Itzel Ramos, University of North Florida; Dominique Scali, College of Mount Saint Vincent; Leroy Scott, Livingstone College; Sokhan Sdoeung, University of Rhode Island, Jorge Urbina, San Diego State University; Brett Wells, Augustana College.

Planning has begun for SSI and ASTP 2006. Announcements and program information will be available on the Science Directorate Website in November.

Summer Research is a Hit!

by Amy Test

During the month of June, the Science Directorate offered three different Advanced Training Institutes, the first of which was held from June 7-10 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Through a grant from NICHD and in affiliation with the Research Triangle Institute, the course centered on longitudinal data from the NICHD's Study of Early Child Care (SECC), and instructors were SECC investigators and data managers. Topics included the conceptual framework of the study, its methodological design, description and psychometric properties of a large subset of variables included in the analytical data sets, and introduction to the raw data sets. Workshops included lecture, discussion, and hands-on computer sessions.

Due to the continued success of the program, APA's Science Directorate again sponsored a weeklong series of lectures and computer workshops on longitudinal methods, modeling, and measurement in contemporary psychological research. Held from June 13–17, 2005 at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, faculty members John McArdle, Karen Schmidt, and John Nesselroade led the course.

Through a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), the Science Directorate again offered an ATI on functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), from June 19-24, 2005 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The course provides training and hands-on experience in experimental design and data analysis, and also covers some of the necessary background in physics, biology, and biophysics. Directed by Robert L. Savoy, head of fMRI Education at Massachusetts General Hospital, the course is designed for active researchers who are new to the field of fMRI.

The Science Directorate is also pleased to be offering a new course on Performing Web-Based Experiments from July 19-23 at California State University, Fullerton. Led by Michael Birnbaum, this ATI will prepare participants to design, execute, and analyze on-line experiments. In addition, there will be instruction on methods of recruitment, ethics reviews, methodological problems and issues such as drop out and multiple submission, recruitment and retention of Online Panels, and techniques for implementation and control of Web surveys and experiments. Opportunities to interact with the instructors and receive individual attention will be provided.

The Science Directorate will continue to expand ATI offerings, and welcomes suggestions for topic areas. Please send a message to the ATI Mailbox with your comments.

Amendment Targets NIMH Research Again

by Karen Studwell

For the second year in a row, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) has succeeded in his efforts to pass an amendment that would rescind funding for peer-reviewed behavioral research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The amendment was attached to the FY 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill that the House of Representatives passed on June 24th. The amendment would prevent the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from continuing to fund two psychological scientists working on quite different areas of behavioral research.

Ed Wasserman, from the University of Iowa, conducts research that seeks to increase understanding of vision and perception using pigeons as models. Sandra Murray, from the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, is investigating factors that contribute to successful marriages and how personal feelings of self-esteem influence the capacity to sustain satisfying close relationships. They now join the ranks of other esteemed scientists who have been targeted in recent years by policymakers concerned about how the NIH is prioritizing its research portfolio after its budget nearly doubled in the past five years.

While being singled out among the tens of thousands of other scientists would be alarming for any scientist, leaders in the administration and Congress offered their support for scientific integrity. Calling the amendment a form of “unjustified scientific censorship,” NIH Director Elias Zerhouni further stated that “it undermines the historical strength of American science which based on our world renowned, apolitical and transparent peer review process."

Speaking on the House floor against the amendment, Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) said that “the Neugebauer amendment…. represents a philosophical assault on the peer review process that serves as a hallowed barrier to scientific censorship… This is a slippery slope that I hope conferees will not slide down.”

In a letter to each member of the House of Representatives, APA CEO Norman Anderson also stated, “For Congress to defund any grants in violation of NIH’s exacting process is a blow to science, to scientists, and ultimately, to public health.”

The result in the House debate illustrates the uphill battle that scientists and organizations like APA face in educating policymakers about the importance of preserving the integrity of the peer review process. Since 2003, Karen Studwell of APA’s science policy office has co-chaired the Coalition to Protect Research (CPR) with Angela Sharpe of the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). The coalition was formed after a similar amendment was narrowly defeated in 2003. CPR’s sixty member organizations alerted their members days before the Neugebauer amendment was introduced urging their members to contact their Representatives and request that they vote no on the Neugebauer amendment. Unfortunately, the amendment was accepted with minimal debate and without a recorded vote as part of a group of amendments, so no members had a chance to record a vote. The funding bill was later approved by a vote of 250-151.

Not all hope is lost, however, as the Senate will begin marking up its version of the appropriations bill this week. Once the Senate approves its bill, likely without a similar amendment attached, it will be sent to a conference committee where any differences with the House bill will be reconciled. It is in that process where the Neugebauer amendment language is expected to be removed by those Members of Congress who have more experience with the scientific peer review system.

On July 20th, APA has arranged for Wasserman and Murray to meet with the New York and Iowa delegations to discuss how this amendment has affected their own research projects and the importance of protecting the peer review process from political interference. It is expected that the conference committee may complete its work on the FY06 funding bill before Congress breaks for the month-long August recess.

To read APA’s letter to the House: