The APA Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) awarded early-career psychologist Patrick Wilson, PhD, its 2005 Jeffrey S. Tanaka Memorial Dissertation Award in Psychology for his research on Latino gay men and sexual risk-taking. The award acknowledges outstanding research that benefits ethnic minorities.
Wilson is a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at the Yale University School of Medicine. For his dissertation, he conducted three studies that examined substance use and situational factors--substance use by sex partners, discussions about condoms with partners and heightened feelings of attraction toward partners--among Latino men who have sex with other men. Wilson found that substance use, especially methamphetamine use, combined with these situational factors predicted unprotected sex. He also found that situations that emphasized the men's minority status, such as those in which they were dependent upon partners for housing or financial assistance, were linked to increased substance use and sexual risk-taking.
His interest in working with minority populations began while he was an undergraduate at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
"I have seen HIV be the big disease of my lifetime," he says. "I wanted to figure out ways to create interventions."
While obtaining his master's degree and PhD in community psychology from New York University, Wilson worked with African-American, Asian and Pacific Islander men. He selected Latinos for his dissertation, he says, "to round myself out as a researcher studying problems affecting ethnic-minority populations."
Wilson is now studying ways to improve ethnic minorities' access to health care.
The runner-up for the award is Kira Hudson Banks, PhD, whose dissertation is titled "Racial Identity and the Association Between Racial Discrimination and Depressive Symptoms." Banks is an associate psychology professor at Illinois Wesleyan University who plans to also become a clinically licensed psychologist.