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Mark E. Faust
Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte
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University of Vermont
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Mount Holyoke College
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Washington University, St. Louis
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Graduate Student Representative
University of Iowa
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Emanuel Donchin (1/08-10)
University of South Florida
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University of Kentucky
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Southern Illinois University
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University of Iowa
Jeremy Wolfe (Program)
Charles L. Brewer
Early Career Psychologist
California State U. at Fullerton
Science Directorate Update
Howard Kurtzman, Deputy Executive Director
APA Science Directorate
It is an honor and pleasure to report to the Division 3 membership on recent activities of the APA Science Directorate. I came to know many members of Division 3 in my previous position as a program officer at the National Institute of Mental Health, and I look forward to continuing to work with you toward common goals. Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions about APA’s efforts on behalf of the research community.
Here are some projects and issues that the Science Directorate has been working on over the last few months:
Science Leadership Conference. The APA Board of Scientific Affairs and Science Directorate sponsored the third annual Science Leadership Conference on October 13-15, 2007, in Washington, DC. The theme was “Adventures in Advocacy: Training the Civic Scientist.” Over 100 psychological scientists, representing a wide variety of research areas, as well as states, attended the conference. They learned about how Congress handles appropriations and oversight for the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, and received practical training on how to advocate for support of science to members of Congress and their staffs. The conference concluded with participants making advocacy visits to the offices of their local Representatives and Senators. Their primary messages were, first, that behavioral research provides important benefits to the nation that warrant increased funding for NIH and NSF, and, second, that peer review should be preserved as the basis for grant funding decisions.
Another highlight of the conference was an award ceremony and reception for Rep. Brian Baird of Washington state, chair of the House Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. Rep. Baird, who is also a psychologist, received the APA Champion of Science Award for his efforts both to prevent defunding of NSF grants that had previously undergone full peer review and to ensure that the behavioral and social sciences were included in the America Competes Act aimed at strengthening federal funding for scientific research and training.
For more information on the 2007 Science Leadership Conference, see: http://www.apa.org/science/psa/nov07slc.html. Planning for the 2008 conference, to be held in October, is currently underway.
NIH and NIMH priorities. The Science Directorate has communicated concerns to the National Institutes of Health about the status of the behavioral and social sciences at NIH. In response to a request for input on NIH-wide priorities for funding of basic behavioral and social sciences research, we urged NIH to maintain a comprehensive grant portfolio and to renew funding for research areas that have lost support in recent years (e.g., animal behavior, motor control, adult language, social psychology). For the Directorate’s full response, see: http://www.apa.org/ppo/science/1107nih.html.
The Directorate has also submitted comments on the draft strategic plan of the National Institute of Mental Health. Concerned that the plan seemed to leave out any important role for behavioral and social science research, we argued for the relevance of such research (both basic and translational) for understanding mental health and disorders and for developing effective interventions. The full comments can be read at: http://www.apa.org/ppo/issues/1207CommentsonNIMH.pdf.
Written statements such as these are one component of the Directorate’s ongoing advocacy effort targeted at NIH. We will continue to work for increases in the overall budget of NIH and for enhanced support for all relevant areas of behavioral and social science research. This effort is carried out through such means as: formal and informal communications with members of Congress and agency leaders; testimony, briefings, and exhibits; collaborations with other scientific and professional organizations; communications through the news media; nominating psychological scientists to serve on governing and advisory boards; and training scientists to advocate on their own behalf.
Advanced Training Institutes. The Directorate sponsors Advanced Training Institutes (ATIs) each summer at institutions around the country. They provide advanced graduate students, post-docs, and faculty-level researchers with exposure to current and emerging research methods and technologies. Five ATIs will be offered in 2008:
Nonlinear Methods for Psychological Science
Structural Equation Modeling in Longitudinal Research
Research Methods with Diverse Racial and Ethnic Groups
For further information about ATIs and application materials, see: http://www.apa.org/science/ati.html.
Meeting on vulnerability and risk in human research. The Science Directorate and Columbia University co-sponsored a meeting on Defining Vulnerability in Minimal Risk Behavioral and Psychological Research, held in New York City on November 9-10, 2007. The purpose of the meeting was to explore what constitutes a vulnerable population for various types of behavioral research, how vulnerable research participants can best be protected, and the criteria by which Institutional Review Boards should evaluate vulnerability and risk in reviewing research protocols. For an initial report on the meeting, see: http://www.apa.org/science/psa/jan08risk.html. This effort supplements that of the recent APA Presidential Task Force on IRBs, which will issue its report later this year.
Ethical guidelines for animal research. The APA Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE), which is managed by the Science Directorate, is undertaking a revision of its Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Animals. CARE invites suggestions for changes in the document, which was last revised in 1996. Comments should be sent to Dr. Sangy Panicker by June 1, 2008. For additional background, see: http://www.apa.org/science/rcr/guide-comments08.html.
Impact of Farm Bill amendments on animal research. The “Farm Bill” (H.R. 2419) that is making its way through the House and Senate contains two amendments that may adversely affect non-human animal research. One amendment would limit the use of animals in demonstrations of surgical and medical devices. Another would limit sales of dogs and cats by Class “B” dealers. The APA Committee on Animal Research and Ethics (CARE) and Science Directorate have expressed opposition to both amendments, on the grounds that they would compromise scientific research without actually providing any additional protections to animals. The Science Directorate is working with other scientific organizations to monitor and respond to further developments related to this legislation. For more information, see: http://www.apa.org/science/psa/jan08farm.html.
Nonacademic careers publication. The Directorate is currently updating its popular booklet Nonacademic Careers for Scientific Psychologists, which had its origins in a series of essays in Psychological Science Agenda titled “Interesting Careers in Psychology.” Each essay profiles a psychologist who was trained as a researcher and eventually pursued a career outside of academia that calls upon their research skills. These psychologists work in many different fields, including corporate research, management, government, law, advocacy, journalism, and entertainment. For a sampling of the essays, see: http://www.apa.org/science/nonacad_careers.html.
We are seeking new psychologists to profile in the next edition of the booklet. If you know of any psychologists who have taken an interesting career path outside of academia, please send us their names. We would like to include people at all career stages, including recent Ph.D’s. You may send your suggestions to either Dr. Stephanie Johnson or me.
New Behavior Matters booklet. A new booklet for lay audiences, Behavior Matters: How Research Improves Our Lives – Health, has been released. The Behavior Matters series is published as part of the Decade of Behavior initiative. You may access the booklet online or order printed copies (up to 25) free from the Science Directorate.
Award deadlines approaching. The deadlines for submitting nominations for major awards administered by the Science Directorate are coming up soon:
Recognizes individuals who have made major research contributions, in three categories:
Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award
Distinguished Scientific Award for the
Applications of Psychology
Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology
Deadline: June 2, 2008
For information on all APA science awards, including those for students, see: http://www.apa.org/science/awards.html.
That’s some of what the Science Directorate has been working on in recent months. To stay current, check back at the Directorate’s website. You may also subscribe to the Directorate’s monthly newsletter, Psychological Science Agenda (PSA), and science policy newsletter, Science Policy Insider News (SPIN).
Have a great spring and summer. I hope to catch up with many of you at the APA Convention in Boston (August 14-17).