Also in this Issue

APA Meets with New NIMH Director; Stimulating Discussions on Research and Development with TSA; Convention Trifecta -- New Institute Directors to Present Jointly; Back to School at the FBI Academy; APA Invited to Discuss Scientific Advisory Appointments with NAS; Behind Every Good Workforce is a Psychologist; APA Reaches out to Members for Study Section Training at NIH; Susan Brandon Moves to NIMH;

APA Meets with New NIMH Director

On January 3, APA CEO Norman Anderson, PhD, began his tenure at APA with a meeting with NIMH Director Tom Insel, MD, to discuss how APA and NIMH can work together to increase support for behavioral research and to fulfill NIMH’s mission to reduce the public health burden of mental illnesses. Kurt Salzinger, PhD, Executive Director for Science, Merry Bullock, PhD, Associate Executive Director for Science, and science policy staff Karen Studwell, JD, also participated in the meeting. Insel began his tenure at NIMH in November 2002, and has yet to propose any major organizational changes to the institute, but indicated that he will seek to increase the pool of behavioral neuroscientists in the intramural program.

While FY03 funding remains uncertain and a proposed 2% increase for NIH in FY04 funding will require Insel to make some tough decisions about priorities, he is developing a research agenda and looking forward to leading the institute. Like the new NIH Director, Elias Zerhouni, MD, Insel is interested in improving NIMH’s ability to fund translational research that can bridge the gap between research and practice, thereby reducing the time for interventions to become adopted into practice. Insel also would like to see NIMH reduce the stigma of mental illness, as well as increase support for suicide research and animal research. Insel stated that current advances in animal research are providing answers to research questions for a range of conditions, from PTSD to the emotional memory of learning. Finally, Insel reiterated his interest in working with APA and its members during his tenure at NIMH.

Stimulating Discussions on Research and Development with TSA

On January 15th, Geoff Mumford, PhD, Director of Science Policy and Peter Hancock, PhD, Provost Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Psychology, Institute for Simulation and Training, University of Central Florida and Senior Scientist Susan Brandon, PhD, met with Paul Polski, the Chief of Staff of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Chief Technology Officer. The purpose of the meeting was to reassert the need to add additional expertise to the Transportation Security Administration’s Scientific Advisory Panel and to discuss the role of psychological and behavioral science within TSA’s R&D portfolio. Mumford arranged for Mr. Polski to meet with the National Research Council’s Committee on Human Factors (Chaired by APA member Raja Parasuraman) the following day to discuss opportunities for the Committee to help shape the TSA’s research portfolio. The discussion was fruitful and the Committee drafted a proposal, Integrating Human Factors and Ergonomics into Homeland Security Initiatives, which is under consideration by TSA.

Convention Trifecta -- New Institute Directors to Present Jointly

On January 16th Science Policy staff invited the new Directors of NIMH, NIAAA and NIDA to participate in a joint session at the annual APA Convention in Toronto and we were delighted that Drs. Insel, Li and Volkow all accepted. The session will provide an opportunity for the new Directors to describe the role psychological and behavioral sciences play within the programmatic mission of their Institutes. Those attending the program will qualify for Continuing Education credit and we are hoping to draw in both scientists interested in basic research as well as practitioners interested in learning about science-practice translation initiatives. The session is scheduled for Friday, August 8, from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Back to School at the FBI Academy

On January 21st, Senior Scientist, Susan Brandon, PhD, Director of Science Policy, Geoff Mumford, PhD, and the Director of the Crime Control and Prevention Research Division at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), Bryan Vila, PhD, met with several staff of the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI Academy. Our goal was to discuss a continuation of the "teach-ins" we initiated in November with leaders in law enforcement and to talk about future collaborations. Information on the November meeting is available from the December 2002 edition of SPIN.

In addition to the BSU Chief, Steve Band, PhD, and forensic psychologist, Tony Pinizzotto, PhD, we were joined by APA member Ellen Scrivner, PhD, who is a detailee from the Department of Justice working on the implementation of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force program. As a former Marine, South Central LA police officer, head of Micronesia's Bureau of Investigation, and an emergency preparedness coordinator for the Department of Interior, Dr. Vila has a unique perspective on law enforcement and first responder issues. He also has a doctorate in human ecology and worked as an academic at UC Irvine and the University of Wyoming before taking his present position at NIJ. Dr. Vila is interested in a range of research issues related to operational performance in the law enforcement environment and will be co-presenting with us on March 4 to students enrolled in a course entitled, "Violence Behavior: A Biopsychosocial Approach".

Dr. Band also informed us that FBI Director Mueller wants every law enforcement agent in the country to gain some uniform counter-terrorism training experience. Working through the Academy, they will soon be initiating a Train-the-Trainers program out of BSU. It will involve training several agents from each field office who will then return to the field to train local law enforcement officials. We've asked to review the training syllabus and also asked that the FBI incorporate a system to collect questions that arise from local law enforcement during training as an extension of what we're doing in the classroom setting.

APA Invited to Discuss Scientific Advisory Appointments with NAS

The Scientific Advisory Council appointment process continues to generate interest and press here in Washington and elsewhere, most recently from the Editor of Science (see Science 1/31/03). On January 22, APA CEO Norman Anderson, PhD, and Director of Science Policy, Geoff Mumford, PhD, received invitations to discuss the appointment process and related issues with the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), at the National Academy of Sciences at its next meeting on February 19.

The invitation states: "As you may be aware, a number of scientists have expressed concern about 'litmus tests' for the appointment of scientific experts to HHS advisory committees and the procedures and processes that are used as those committees provide advice. The NAS Council has requested that COSEPUP prepare a report on this general issue (not just for HHS but all such federal committees). At this meeting, COSEPUP would like your thoughts as part of a discussion with former White House Science advisors and disciplinary societies on the utility of this task and the questions that would be addressed in such a study."

The meeting will include former White House Science Advisors Neal Lane, PhD, and D. Allan Bromley, PhD, and high-level representatives of three other scientific organizations: the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), and the American Public Health Association (APHA). It's likely COSEPUP will use this input to frame a study that will identify the principles that should be used to guide such appointments.

We expect that this activity will complement an on-going Government Accounting Office (GAO) investigation on this issue. That investigation has been assigned to Ross Campbell, a Senior Analyst with the Natural Resources and Environment Team at GAO. According to Ross, GAO will be in the "design phase" for another month or so learning more about the issue and determining the scope and methodology they will use. They've defined 3 researchable questions that will guide the investigation:

  • What is the role of advisory councils government-wide in helping shape policies and regulations?

  • What policies and procedures are in place to ensure that advisory councils provide balanced advice?

  • Are there any improvements to be made in those policies and procedures?

If you or your colleagues have information that you think would aid this investigation please contact Ross Campbell.

Behind Every Good Workforce is a Psychologist

Everyone is probably aware that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been responsible for federalizing the airport screener workforce, but it's unlikely many know that APA member Elizabeth Kolmstetter, PhD, was in charge of the effort. On January 29th, Dianne Maranto, APA’s Director for Psychology in the Workplace, and Geoff Mumford, PhD, Director of Science Policy, met with Dr. Kolmstetter, an I/O psychologist who is now the Director of Standards, Testing & Accreditation for TSA. For the past year she has been responsible for establishing the selection, training and certification of airport security screeners and will be developing such systems in the future for air marshals, Federal Flight Deck Officers (armed pilots), and for security personnel in relation to other modes of transportation.

Dr. Kolmstetter’s office is within Training and Quality Performance but they apparently have a close working relationship with the human factors research group at what used to be the Howard Hughes Technical Center in NJ, (now in effect the intramural research laboratory for TSA). Its not clear at this point exactly how TSA will meld the research and development needs within Training and Quality Performance with the programs directed by the Office of Science and Technology. However, as noted in the January 15th, item above, APA and various human factors groups will be working to facilitate those connections because research is critical to the development of screening tests and integral to the job design and development of selection and training programs for the baggage screeners. While there are no immediate plans to establish a scientific advisory group to provide oversight for the Training & Performance area, there may be a future need to establish one in the area of certification.

APA Reaches out to Members for Study Section Training at NIH

The Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at NIH developed a model training program at the request of APA and other behavioral and social science organizations. The program is designed to help scientists develop a culture of service and interdisciplinary cooperation desirable in service on study sections. Pat Kobor, Senior Science Policy Analyst, worked with the Board of Scientific Affairs and several APA Divisions during the early part of February to develop a slate of nominees for this important training program. This effort complements a broader effort Pat has taken to solicit nominations for study section service at the Center for Scientific Review within NIH. The NIH Center for Scientific Review is eager to receive nominees for study section service who have prior funding from the NIH or National Science Foundation. For more information, see the announcement that went to division executive committees.

Susan Brandon Moves to NIMH

At the end of January, Senior Scientist, Susan Brandon left APA for greener pastures and a permanent position as Chief of the Emotional Processes Program in the Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science within the Behavioral Science Research Branch at the National Institute on Mental Health. Susan spearheaded much of our early outreach efforts on the counter-terrorism front. Shortly after 9/11, when we appealed to Division leaders to help us think about how psychological science could help counter terrorism, she took the lead on organizing the flood of response we received to compile a set of useful references. Drawing from that information, she compiled a series of vignettes related to counter-terrorism, constructed as research-based answers to provocative questions. The vignettes were circulated far and wide in an attempt to stimulate greater appreciation of the role of behavioral sciences, and did so. Susan organized a very successful counter-terrorism conference at the FBI Academy (in collaboration with our colleagues at UPenn and the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict) and served as lead author on the final report. She further championed our outreach to other government units/agencies including the CIA, Office of Homeland Security, and National Security Council among others. She did not, however, forget her roots and rallied several senior academic researchers in an important initiative to resucitate basic animal learning research at NSF. A proposal for a follow-on workshop is currently under review at NSF. In sum, Susan served as a a tremendously productive part of our Science/Science Policy team, has been a true colleague in every sense of the word, and her daily presence will be sorely missed. However, we look forward to continued collaboration with her on many fronts and wish her the very best in her new position at NIMH.