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2007 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Awardees Named

The Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) and the Committee on Scientific Awards selected recipients of the 2007 APA scientific awards in recognition of their outstanding theoretical or empirical contributions to basic or applied research in psychology.

By Suzanne Wandersman

The Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) and the Committee on Scientific Awards selected the following individuals to receive the 2007 APA scientific awards in recognition of their outstanding theoretical or empirical contributions to basic or applied research in psychology. They will be honored at the APA awards ceremony that will take place during the APA Convention in San Francisco, CA, on Saturday, August 18, 2007.

The Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award was granted to the following individuals:

Marilynn B. Brewer, Eminent Scholar and Professor of Social Psychology at the Ohio State University, is being honored for her contributions to our understanding of social identity and intergroup relations. Over her career, Dr. Brewer has studied how our identities and social behavior are shaped by our group memberships. Her work changed the way scientists around the world think about issues of prejudice and discrimination. Her groundbreaking research has shown that intergroup bias is often driven not by the perception that other groups are bad, but rather by the belief that our own groups are good. Further, her Optimal Distinctiveness Theory has shown how people reconcile a need to belong with a need to be unique. Currently, she is working to unravel the complex web of multiple social identities—that is, how do people who identify with multiple groups define their in-group and how does this affect their attitudes toward diversity and social change.

Jean M. Mandler, Distinguished Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego is being honored for her contributions to our understanding of the mind of infants and early cognitive development. Dr. Mandler is well know for her work in the 1970s on children and adults perception of and memory for scenes and her program of research on story representation and memory. Her work on story grammars and on the content and structure of knowledge representations was productive for both cognitive and developmental psychology. Her work on event schemas led her to study how infants organize their experience. She discovered that infants can recall events considerably earlier than Piaget had assumed. This implied that infants begin to form an accessible conceptual system at an early age, contrary to established Piagetian wisdom that infants are solely sensorimotor creatures with no concepts that enable them to recall the past or to engage in conceptual thought. This work in turn led to her research on preverbal concept formation.

Paul Rozin, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor for Faculty Excellence and Associate Director of the Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at the University of Pennsylvania is being honored for his research contributions to our understanding of the interplay among biological mechanisms, psychological processes and socio-cultural factors in food regulation, reading and memory, the emotion of disgust, and social and cultural psychology.

Early in his career, Dr. Rozin studied specific hungers and taste aversion in rats. Through his studies, he showed that although the negative effects of dietary selection (illness) were felt hours after ingesting the food, the rats consistently and easily learned to avoid food that made them ill. His work on dietary selection in rats led to Dr. Rozins interest in food selection in humans. Dr. Rozin showed how dietary selection developed from infancy to childhood and he showed why dietary preferences and dislikes are difficult to alter. He also showed that social factors, such as size of the portion we are served, the amount that is socially acceptable to eat, and memory of what, and how long ago, weve eaten, play as important a role in regulation as biological factors. His studies on attitudes to food in different countries and on portion sizes have been influential in research on eating and obesity. His research has contributed to the idea that one of the keys to understanding and controlling obesity is social as much as biological.

The Distinguished Scientific Award for Applications of Psychology was granted to two individuals:

Karl G. Jöreskog, Emeritus Professor of Multivariate Statistical Analysis, at Uppsala University, Sweden, and Peter M. Bentler, Professor of Psychology and Statistics, at the University of California, Los Angeles, are being honored for their contributions in the field of psychometrics, particularly in the area of structural equation modeling (SEM).

In the 1960s and 70s, Dr. Jöreskog developed models, procedures and computer programs (LISREL) for using observational data to test psychological theories. These developments included confirmatory factor analysis and path analysis with latent variables. These methods, using the same computer program (LISREL) became known as structural equation modeling (SEM). With SEM, theory was specified a priori by specifying models that were hypothesized to account for the patterns of covariances and correlations in the data. Dr. Jöreskog included many illustrative models for varying hypotheses, statistical developments and estimation methods and defined a new approach. However, Dr. Jöreskogs developments were available to the most quantitatively inclined psychologists and many statistical issues in modeling testing and development had yet to be developed.

Dr. Bentler made SEM available to the broader audience in psychology. His developments included models, statistical procedures and a new computer program, EQS. With Dr. Bentlers developments, hypotheses could be stated by simple regression-relationships that included both latent and observed variables. In collaboration with his students, Dr. Bentler developed statistics and procedures that were needed for model testing, model comparison and model development. These developments included model fit indices, multivariate methods for model testing and development. He also developed methods to assess power to detect differences between alternative models. He developed methods to handle data that did not fit the assumed multivariate normal distribution.

Both Drs. Jöreskog and Bentler continue to teach psychologists and other social scientists how to apply SEM to their data, which continues to make their developments widely available. Their contributions are outstanding due to their influence on the way psychologists make inferences from their data.

The recipients of the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology are:

Applied Psychology
Robert D. Gray, Department of Applied Psychology, at Arizona State University is recognized for his research contributions in the area of applied psychology. He conducts research in the area of perception and action in the context of real-world performance. In contrast with researchers who find research topics in the laboratory or in the literature, Dr. Gray finds problems to investigate by observing people functioning in some actual task such as playing sports, driving automobiles, or flying airplanes. He then finds ways of studying these issues carefully in controlled laboratory situations, while keeping the original motivation for the research in mind. His approach produces research that is both fundamentally rigorous and relevant to application. Dr. Gray earned his Ph.D. at York University in 1998.

Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience
Patrik O. Vuilleumier,
Department of Neurosciences and Clinic of Neurology, at the University of Geneva, University Medical Center, Switzerland is recognized for his research on the understanding of emotional modulation of perception and memory, and its breakdown following temporal-lobe sclerosis; on attentional influences upon perception and memory; on the attentional deficits that can follow parietal or frontal lesions; and also on the neural basis of awareness. He uses a wide variety of approaches to study the influences of attention and emotion on perception and behavior in humans, and the neural bases of these in both health and disease. He brings together clinical insight, decisive behavioral studies, and state-of-the-art functional neuroimaging, in both basic and applied research settings. His fMRI work has applications to lesioned patients, to study the remote effects of damage in one area upon functional activity in structurally intact, remote but interconnected regions. Dr. Vuilleumier earned his M.D. at Geneva University in Switzerland.

Individual Differences
R. Chris Fraley,
Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is recognized for his innovative work on individual differences in adult attachment dynamics. Dr. Fraleys research has played a pivotal role in shaping the way scholars conceptualize individual differences in attachment, the dynamics of stability and change, and the psychological processes underlying the regulation of attachment-related thoughts, feelings, and behavior. His research provides insights into the basic processes through which people regulate their thoughts and feelings and the developmental roots of individual differences in cognitive and affective functioning. Dr. Fraleys work has helped advance the way in which individual differences in attachment security are conceptualized and measured, the way researchers think about the continuity of attachment security over time, and the evolutionary functions of attachment in adult romantic relationships. Dr. Fraley earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in 1999.

Perception, Motor Performance
Jörn Diedrichsen,
School of Psychology at the University of Wales is recognized for his contributions in the field of computational motor control and cognitive neuroscience. His work has helped promote a radical reconceptualization about the nature of bimanual coupling, shifting the theoretical analysis from abstract descriptions of the phenomenon to the development of explicit psychological process models in which component operations can be linked to neural substrates. Another example of his outstanding work is the development of a virtual reality system for the MR environment that would allow the precise measurement of kinematics and forces. This system allows for the precise measurement of the participants movement while giving the experimenter the opportunity to impose external forces. He also came up with an innovative method for detecting and adjusting for artifacts in fMRI time series data. Dr. Diedrichsen earned his Ph.D. from the University of Göttingen, Germany in 1998.

Social Psychology
Matthew D. Lieberman,
Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles is recognized for his work using cognitive neuroscience to do social psychology. One could say he was a pioneer in the field of social cognitive neuroscience. He examines the relation among processes operating at the social/affective/experiential levels, the cognitive computational level, and the neural level of analysis and studies them in ways that are mutually interactive or constraining. Some of Dr. Liebermans research includes an exploration of the neural bases of the dual processing distinction and his research on social rejection that illustrates how the neurocircuitries for social and physical pain overlap. Dr. Lieberman earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1999.