Executive Director's Column

A Good Year

Steven Breckler reflects on his first full year at APA.

By Steven Breckler, PhD

This is the time of year when many of us reflect on the past 12 months, and look ahead to the next. 2005 was my first full year at APA, and it was a good year for us in the APA Science Directorate. Our new initiative - Psychological Science for the 21st Century (PSY21) - got off to a good start. The first ever APA Science Leadership Conference was a great success. And we are building momentum for an even better 2006.


The PSY21initiative provides the foundation on which APA will help to advance the science of psychology. Funding for the initiative was built into the 2005 budget, and will grow in 2006. PSY21 is built around three interlocking areas of emphasis: responsible conduct of research, infrastructure, and culture of service.

In the area of responsible conduct of research, APA is taking an active role in addressing current concerns with IRBs. For example, in the Spring of this year, APA convened a workshop bringing together experts from research ethics, IRBs, and federal agencies to build some consensus on how to guide IRBs in defining "minimal risk." The result will be a procedure that IRBs can use in making "minimal risk" determinations.

In the area of infrastructure, we devoted a significant portion of the Science Leadership Conference to the prospects of developing new infrastructure for the science of psychology.

To recognize those who devote themselves to improving our science, we developed a new Culture of Service Award. The first recipients of the award were Robert Bjork and Bruce Overmier - two scientists who stand as role models when it comes to service to the discipline. In 2006, these awards will expand to also include Departments that instill a culture of service in their training of students and mentoring of faculty.

Science Leadership Conference

The crown jewel of PSY21 is the Science Leadership Conference (SciLC). The first of these annual conferences took place December 2-4, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. The theme was The Public Face of Psychological Science. Media experts shared their insights in working with public audiences, and NPR's Science Friday broadcast its December 2 show live from the conference.

By all accounts, the first APA SciLC was a huge success. My only regret was the inevitable limit on size - we could only accommodate about 150 participants. We will host the Science Leadership Conference every year, and pledge to spread inclusion so that others will have the opportunity to participate in the future. Until then, look for coverage of the first SciLC in this issue of PSA, on our website, and in the February issue of the Monitor.

Goodbye, Hello

The Science Directorate staff had significant changes over the past year. Merry Bullock, long-time Associate Executive Director, left to take over the APA International Programs Office. Amena Hassan, who brought us PSA every month, left for a new opportunity in the policy office. Dianne Maranto, who managed our office on psychology in the workplace, left to pursue a great opportunity in the federal sector. We also said goodbye to Jessica Bryant who managed the Decade of Behavior, Frank Beylotte who assisted in many of our projects in scientific affairs, Jonathon Tin who handled some of our student-oriented programs, and our webmaster Jason Bennett. We miss them all.

With the many departures have come many new faces to the Science Directorate. I hope everyone will join us in welcoming Amy Test who is handling our programs in the areas of testing and assessment, research ethics, and governance; Stephanie Cox who is working as our outreach and development coordinator; Jennifer Webb who manages many of our student-oriented programs and awards; and Claire Porac who is spending the year with us as the visiting Senior Scientist.

The Science Directorate is growing, and we have many new exciting opportunities for employment. I hope that some in the science community of psychology will be interested in joining our team as we prepare for a new century of science at APA.

From all of us in the APA Science Directorate, we wish you a happy, healthy, and productive new year.