Personalities

• The American Psychiatric Association has honored Ken Pargament, PhD, of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, with its Oskar Pfister Award, which recognizes contributions made to psychiatry and religion. While previous research often looked at spirituality in terms of church attendance and prayer, Pargament has expanded the definition of spirituality to include how religion becomes a source of help or trouble for people grappling with major life crises.

• Psychologist Ronald H. Rozensky, PhD, has been elected vice chair of the committee that advises Congress on funding priorities for the education and training of health professionals. The 21-member Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary, Community-Based Linkages within the Bureau of Health Professions also guides the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Congress on ways to cultivate tomorrow’s health-care work force.

Rozensky, a University of Florida clinical and health psychology professor, was appointed to the interdisciplinary committee last year by then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt. As vice chair — an elected position within the committee — Rozensky is in line to chair the committee next year and further strengthen psychology’s voice in HHS, notes Cynthia Belar, PhD, APA’s executive director for education.

“Having Ron on this group enhances the federal recognition of psychology as fundamental to health and health-care reform,” says Belar.

Last year, the committee recommended that Congress and HHS authorize funding to train psychologists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medications to reach rural and other underserved populations, says Rozensky. The group is also advising HHS on ways to encourage collaboration among all health professionals to improve the delivery of comprehensive, cost-effective care.

“Right now, there is no overarching health-care work force development and training policy for the whole nation,” says Rozensky. “Our committee is looking at the best interdisciplinary training models and at how we can all work together to build tomorrow’s health-care work force.”

Paul T.P. Wong, PhD, professor of psychology at Tyndale University College in Toronto, has received the 12th Annual Global Love of Lives Award from the Ta-Kuan Chow Cultural and Educational Foundation, which provides services for children with cancer and people with mental illness or rare, terminal diseases. Wong, a cancer survivor himself, was honored for his contributions in teaching and research on the protective and curative roles of personal meaning.

• Stanford’s Philip G. zimbardo, PhD, has earned a spot on the ChristianColleges.com “Top 100 Theology Blogs” for his blog “The Lucifer Effect.” Zimbardo’s site examines why good people do evil things and features articles on such topics as genocide, corporate responsibility, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

—J. Clark and J. Chamberlin

• Every second Sunday at the First African Methodist Episcopal church in South Central Los Angeles, a dancing troupe known as the Living World Dance Ministry crowds the aisles, waving flags and streamers in a routine that combines jazz, ballet, modern, African and hip-hop dance moves.

The monthly celebration is the creation of Pepperdine University psychology assistant professor Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD, who founded the troupe in 2005 to help fellow parishioners cope with such stressors as trauma, poverty and obesity through dance. The group began with women and has grown to include men, teenagers and children.

Between performances, dancers meet for weekly “praise dance” lessons with Bryant-Davis, who has taught dance since she was a psychology graduate student at Duke University 15 years ago. Her classes provide opportunities for spiritual and emotional expression, an intense workout and a unique social connection. At the end of each class, Bryant-Davis asks attendees to share good news or challenges as a way to share in each others’ blessings or help other members overcome difficulties.

“Someone may be worried about money because of a recent job loss, and when they share this concern, they learn that another member knows about a new position opening where they work,” says Bryant-Davis.