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The Benefits of Winning an APF-COGDOP Award

The scholarships embody APF's continuing commitment to promoting awards and other activities to advance the science and practice of psychology for understanding behavior and its benefits to human welfare.

By Amena Hassan

Since 1996, the American Psychological Foundation (APF), in association with the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP), has sponsored scholarship funding for outstanding research by a graduate student in psychology. The scholarships embody APF's continuing commitment to promoting awards and other activities to advance the science and practice of psychology for understanding behavior and its benefits to human welfare.

Two of the major awards within the program are the $3,000 Ruth G. and Joseph D. Matarazzo Scholarship and the $2,000 Clarence J. Rosecrans Scholarship. In addition to this, the foundation also gives out several $1,000 awards and has given out 92 awards, in total, since its inception.

As the winner of the 2003 Matarazzo award, Dana Byrd (University of Florida) felt the scholarship was vital for the completion of her dissertation study. "Because of this funding I was able to recruit and test an understudied, but theoretically important group for my dissertation: adults currently diagnosed with ADD/ADHD," said Byrd. "The inclusion of this group allows for the examination of the brain basis of ADD/ADHD within a developmental context. I can now compare children who have ADD/ADHD, a proportion of which will outgrow some of the symptoms and are still developing neurologically, to adults who still maintained a clinically significant proportion of their symptoms even after the majority of the neurological development is complete."

Byrd hopes the study of the developmental disorder will spur more longitudinal examinations of the interaction between neurological development and dysfunction in ADD/ADHD. She will join the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology with a postdoctoral position, after graduating in August 2004.

Stewart Shankman (State University of New York at Stony Brook) was the 2003 winner of the Clarence J. Rosecrans Scholarship. "Receiving any kind of recognition for your research feels good but this feels particularly great because it is from an organization made up of chairs and heads of psychology departments," stated Shankman, whose dissertation on depression required a large recruitment of human participants. Although he received funds from other sources he felt the $2,000 sum from his Rosecrans Scholarship was essential in helping him cover the total expenses for his research, which included paying participants for their time.

Jessica Tracy (University of California, Davis) used one of the APF/COGDOP awards to help pay for a research trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. Along with her advisor Rick Robins, and several assistants, the group arrived in December 2003 to meet with African collaborators and begin a series of studies testing the universality of the pride expression.

"It was an amazing experience to meet these people, get an insider's view to their lives, and do experimental research in that setting," said Tracy. "I was very excited to win the award because it was a huge help to my continued research on the nonverbal expression of pride." The studies examined whether non-literate individuals who lived in villages in Burkina, with almost no exposure to the Western world, could recognize the pride expression. Tracy is presently writing a grant proposal to fund more studies in Burkina Faso and will soon complete her dissertation.

Another recipient of the COGDOP award, Elizabeth Podniesinski (Boston University), used the funds in her research on children. Currently a psychology intern at the NYU/Bellevue Hospital Clinical Psychology Internship, she works with children, adolescents and adults providing therapy and clinical evaluations for individuals seeking political asylum through the NYU-Bellevue Survivors of Torture Program.

"When I heard about the award I felt honored that APF and COGDOP acknowledged my dissertation research on the effects September 11th had on children in New York City," Podniesinski stated. "The men who hijacked airplanes and drove them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania wanted Americans to feel scared, helpless, and alone. The work that has come out of this project, with the help of the APF/COGDOP Award, is a testament to their inability to achieve this goal."

In her studies on body image disturbance, Sherrie Selwyn Delinsky (Rutgers, State University of New Jersey) used her award funds to reimburse 45 women for their participation in her treatment outcome study. The APF/COGDOP award facilitated the completion of Delinsky's project, and she recently presented her findings in Orlando, FL at the 2004 International Conference on Eating Disorders. The study will be also submitted for publication after she defends her dissertation in May.

"I was thrilled to hear I had won an APF/COGDOP award," Delinsky commented. "My study evaluated the effectiveness of Mirror Exposure (ME) therapy in comparison with a non-directive (ND) body image therapy for women with extreme weight and shape concerns. As hypothesized, Mirror Exposure therapy was significantly better than the ND on many of the outcome measures, although the ND group showed a number of improvements, suggesting that it was a relatively strong comparison treatment." Delinsky hopes to conduct a larger scale study of Mirror Exposure therapy, in the near future, especially in the context of Bulimia Nervosa.

The APF/COGDOP awards are administered by the APA Science Directorate. This year's deadline is May 28, 2004. For further information or to submit applications, please contact the APA Science Directorate, 750 First Street, NE, Washington, D.C., 20002-4242 (via phone: 202-336-6000 or via email).