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Committee on Scientific Awards Names Recipients

The Committee on Scientific Awards selected individuals to receive the 2006 APA scientific awards in recognition of their outstanding theoretical or empirical contributions to basic or applied research in psychology.

By Jennifer Webb

Committee on Scientific Awards Names Recipients

The Committee on Scientific Awards selected the following individuals to receive the 2006 APA scientific awards in recognition of their outstanding theoretical or empirical contributions to basic or applied research in psychology. These outstanding researchers will be honored at APA's 2006 Annual Convention in New Orleans at an awards ceremony that will be held on Friday, Aug. 11, at 4 p.m.

Awards for Distinguished Scientific Contributions

Michael Davis, PhD, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences and Psychology at the Emory University School of Medicine, is being honored for his major discoveries about the brain circuits underlying basic aspects of behavioral plasticity and learning. Michael Davis was the first to identify the entire brain circuitry for the startle response and its habituation. He applied this analysis to learned fear, using conditioned potentiation of the startle response. He localized the site of potentiation and identified N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors on neurons in the amygdala as critical for the learning of fear. He applied this elegant analysis to achieve a much greater understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.

Davis began his career working with Allan Wagner at Yale, where they focused on habituation and sensitization. Recently, he found that a growth factor called BDNF is critical for both fear conditioning and fear extinction. Davis has demonstrated that the N-methyl-D-aspartate partial agonist, d-cycloserine, can improve the effectiveness of psychotherapy in people suffering from anxiety-related disorders. As a result of his research, Davis developed and refined a behavioral tool (the startle reflex) that has proven remarkably fruitful in analyzing important questions about the neural circuitry and the neuropharmacological mechanisms behind fear and anxiety.

Marcia K. Johnson, PhD, the Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Psychology at Yale University, is being honored for raising and illuminating fundamental questions about the cognitive and neural processes that constitute the subjective experience of mental life. Johnson's reality/source monitoring framework addresses foundational questions: how people make attributions about the origins of mental experience and the mechanisms by which memories are constructed and distorted. Her Multiple-Entry, Modular Memory System (MEM) model ambitiously proposes a finite set of component processes that could account for the range of human cognition, and her functional magnetic resonance imaging work explores the link between those processes and neural activity. Both have increased psychologists' understanding of cognitive aging. She is a valued mentor and colleague, with infectious enthusiasm, warmth, generosity, and humor.

Johnson began her career collaborating with John Bransford on research in comprehension and memory. Their studies helped create the focus on constructive and reconstructive mental processes that now guides much theory and empirical work in human cognition. Throughout her research, Johnson's multiple-entry modular memory system model has guided and integrated her work. She developed the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire approach for assessing the subjective experience of remembering, which she used along with objective measures such as accuracy or response time, to study healthy young adults, children, older adults and amnesic patients. She later began using fMRI and found evidence that prefrontal cortex regions, associated with the "refresh" process involved in thinking about an item that was just experienced, can be impaired by aging, potentially accounting for a variety of cognitive deficits in the elderly. Her work has influenced research in areas of social cognition, psychopathology, forensic psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD, the Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, is being honored for a career spent charging creatively ahead of his field and then pulling his colleagues along. As a student of basic learning processes, Seligman showed that learning is both more biological and more cognitive than researchers had thought. This led to the development of an understanding of learned helplessness and its relation to depression. He has recently nurtured the creation of a new field-positive psychology-that addresses the sources of psychological strength rather than frailty, and this may be his most influential contribution of all. He has done all of this work with a style that is bold, courageous, and unafraid of being wrong.

Seligman began his career by investigating the phenomenon of learned helplessness and prepared learning, or associative learning predisposed by evolution. Later, Seligman reformulated the theory of learned helplessness to incorporate the causal attributions made by people for the range of responses that individuals showed in response to uncontrollable events and proposed that someone's habitual tendency to explain bad events with stable, global, and internal causes could be a risk factor for depression. He then used these findings to demonstrate that cognitive therapy for depression works because it targets an individual's pessimistic explanatory style, changing it to a more optimistic direction. Seligman initiated research showing that pessimistic explanatory style was a risk factor for failure in school, for poor vocational performance, for disappointing athletic outcome and for physical illness and even early death. Recently, he began focusing on optimism or positive outcomes, now called positive psychology. This approach represents an attempt to refocus the attention of the field on the processes leading to growth and development and opens up new areas of inquiry.

Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology

John P. Campbell, PhD, professor and chair of the psychology department at the University of Minnesota, is being honored for his many different contributions to the field of industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology. Campbell has been a major force in the conceptualization and measurement of job performance and still provides a guiding light for scholars in the field. His book on managerial behavior, performance, and effectiveness is considered one of the classics. He has made considerable contributions in the general domain of training and development, providing comprehensive reviews and insights about this subspecialty in I/O psychology. His methodological work to develop a system of measuring and predicting job performance among military personnel was monumental in scope and impact. Additionally, he has made considerable contributions to general research methodology and psychometrics, providing instructional insight among researchers across many fields of psychology. As a fantastic teacher and instructor, he has helped lead the way for scholars in both I/O psychology and other disciplines.

Campbell's realization that one needs multidimensional measures of job performance has led to a change in our understanding of individual differences and work behavior, and to further realizations that psychologists could not develop personnel selection systems for organizations unless the organization could specify the value it applied to each facet of performance. One of his most important empirical contributions was his work as principal scientist for the U.S. Army Project A from 1982 to1989. Project A broke new ground conceptually and empirically in the areas of test development, construction of performance criterion measures, training assessment and validity generalization. Campbell then followed up on project A as principal scientist for the Career Force Project, and he currently serves as principal scientist on a series of related projects dealing with the prediction of future demands on the U.S. Army. He also served as a consultant for the Department of Labor's O*NET Project, which has mapped out all the knowledge and skill requirements for every major job in the United States economy.

Awards for Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contribution to Psychology

Animal Learning and Behavior, Comparative
Mark G. Baxter, PhD, of the experimental psychology department at Oxford University, is recognized for insightful and incisive contributions in studies of learning, memory, attentional processing, executive function, and goal-directed behavior in work that has translated across species. Baxter has used behavioral paradigms to probe the roles of neural systems, drawing on concepts from learning theory rarely applied in neuropsychological research. In a comparative approach, he has shown how certain neuropsychological processes can be studied in both rodents and nonhuman primates, and how related circuits are involved, rendering a setting for powerful experimental approaches in the further study of brain and behavior relationships.
Baxter earned his PhD at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1997.

Cognition and Human Learning (tie)
Brian J. Scholl, PhD, of the Yale University psychology department, is recognized for his brilliantly creative and sweepingly broad research program that addresses the hard questions in cognitive science. Drawing on insights from psychophysics and developmental work, Scholl has advanced psychologists' understanding of what counts as a visual object and what rules are used to compute object persistence. To study the nature of visual consciousness and processing without awareness, he has developed ingenious visual tasks as freely as a painter mixing colors on a palette. His imaginative studies on causal perception have revived the elegant traditions of Gestalt psychology. He has set a breathtaking agenda that inspires junior and senior researchers alike. Scholl earned his PhD from Rutgers University in 1999.

Anthony D. Wagner, PhD, of the Stanford University psychology department, is recognized for outstanding and innovative research on the neural basis of memory and executive control. Wagner's innovative studies using neuroimaging have elucidated how prefrontal and medial temporal lobe systems are involved in the creation and retrieval of episodic memories and have provided novel insights into the functional organization of memory processes within each of these regions. His studies of executive control have demonstrated fundamental anatomical dissociations between different control processes in the prefrontal cortex. This body of work has shown how neuroimaging can provide insights into the organization of both cognitive processes and brain systems. Wagner earned his PhD from Stanford University in 1997.

Developmental Psychology
Seth D. Pollak, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin - Madison psychology department. How does a child develop emotionally? How do biology and social environment interact in emotional development? Pollack's research answers these important questions about the mechanisms of emotional development through an innovative combination of methods from psychophysics, neuroscience, and behavioral endocrinology. Through his studies comparing children who have experienced neglect, stress, or abuse early in life with children who have developed typically, he has documented how early experience sculpts the brain to create the emotional lives of children. He has made significant contributions to developmental theory while helping psychologists understand the important changes wrought by child abuse and deprivation. Pollak earned his PhD from the University of Rochester in 1997.

Health Psychology
Angela D. Bryan, PhD, of the University of Colorado psychology department, is recognized for her outstanding theoretical and applied research on health behavior change. Bryan's work as a social and health psychologist, methodologist, and statistician has produced numerous advances. She has used social psychology theory to understand dynamics of unhealthy behavior and has used that knowledge to design, implement, and evaluate effective, theory-based interventions to change unhealthy behavior. As a statistician and methodologist, she has used the most sophisticated techniques and has been extremely skilled at answering important theoretical and applied questions. She has attracted major external grant funding for her work and is an extraordinary mentor to many, as well as a fabulous teacher. Bryan earned her PhD from Arizona State University in 1997.

Psychopathology
Theodore P. Beauchaine, PhD
, of the University of Washington psychology department, is recognized for core contributions in developmental psychopathology, especially related to the biological underpinnings of various mental disorders among children, sophisticated and elegant quantitative approaches to these issues, and exemplary work on the prevention of such conditions. The breadth of Beauchaine's interests is enormous, spanning attachment, taxometrics, vagal tone, emotion regulation, and moderator-mediator processes. In each area, however, his depth, sophistication, and thoughtfulness are clearly evident. His integrative models and careful methods are exemplary. His work is transdiagnostic, spanning attention problems, aggression, depression, self-injurious behavior, and personality disorders. He will be a paragon of interdisciplinary work in the field for years to come. Beauchaine earned his PhD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2000.