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The 2008 APA Dissertation Research Award Recipients

Please join us in congratulating these outstanding students and APA Dissertation Research Award recipients.

The 2008 APA Dissertation Research Award Recipients
by Nicolle Singer

Each year since 1988, the Science Directorate has made awards to promising graduate students to assist with the costs of their dissertation research. Please join us in congratulating these outstanding students and APA Dissertation Research Award recipients. For more information about this funding opportunity for advanced graduate students, visit APA awards

Frances S. Chen
Stanford University
Individual Differences in Attention to Faces: Genetic Precursors and Consequences for Social Functioning

This project investigates social gaze processes like eye contact and their relationship to autism. A non-clinical sample of adults and infants will provide a combination of self-report, behavioral, and genetic data in order to help elucidate the relationship between personality, social gaze, and genes. This research will have implications for developmental health problems such as autism, social anxiety, and attachment disorders.

Frances reports that “it's a great honor to be recognized by the APA Science Directorate, and I'm very grateful to have funding that will allow me to genotype a set of subjects for my dissertation research.”

Nuwan Jayawickreme
University of Pennsylvania
The Development of a Culturally-Validated Measure of Psychological Distress in War-Affected Communities in North-Eastern Sri Lanka

This research centers on the impact of culture on the presentation of traumatic stress. In order to construct a culturally sensitive questionnaire, Nuwan has already analyzed data from interviews with individuals who live in war-affected North-Eastern Sri Lanka. The final stage of the dissertation involves constructing and then pilot-testing the questionnaire in a sample of war survivors. Following validation of the new measure, it will be distributed to Sri Lankan psychosocial agencies to use in their work.

The award funds will be used for incentives to study participants and to the coordinators who collect data in Sri Lanka, as well as to cover the cost of postage to mail survey packets to Columbo and then to deliver them to each site in the nearby war-torn region.

Brian Keane
University of California, Los Angeles

Beyond Phenomenological Connectedness: Functional Consequences of Filling-In During Contour Interpolation

This research investigates basic questions in object perception by studying the mechanisms by which people fill-in missing regions in objects that they see, and reasons for this interpolation. Using variations of a shape discrimination paradigm, this dissertation investigates interpolation regions of the mind to inform the processes that people use to represent objects in cluttered visual environments when most objects are partly obscured from view.

Brian reports that “the first thing I did after being notified of the award was that I shared the news with two people who have been very supportive over the last few years (although in very different ways): my fiancé and my academic advisor.” The award funds will be used for participant incentives.

Leisha J. Smith
University of Arizona

The Influence of Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia and Time of Day on Decision Making and Risk Taking

The relationship between time of day and decision making is examined in this innovative research. Sleep deprivation has widely been shown to lead to impaired decision making, however the relationship between sleep/wake rhythms and decision making has been less well-explored. This research explores the effect on decision making of factors such as time of day and measures of respiratory sinus arrhythmia, sleepiness, and mood. In this research, participants will complete sleep diaries and engage in computerized decision making tasks at regular intervals each day for a week.

Award funds will be used for participant payment, and results of the study can be applied to help people who must make decisions late at night such as on-call doctors and people suffering from insomnia.

Bernhard P. Staresina
New York University

Neural and Cognitive Mechanisms Underlying Episodic Memory Formation in Humans

This research investigates the formation of memories for everyday experiences from a behavioral neuroscience perspective. In order to identify the building blocks of episodic memory and to understand how they are assembled in the medial temporal lobe during memory formation, Bernard has conducted fMRI research and will continue that line of research by collecting data from a group of pre-surgical epilepsy patients using intracranial Electroencephalography (iEEG). This approach should allow elucidation of the progression of activation through different regions of the brain.

Bernard reports that “the final project of my dissertation involves iEEG in epilepsy patients, an extremely rare method that requires high mobility for data acquisition and strong computational power for data analysis. With the help of the APA support, I can afford the equipment needed to successfully conduct that project.”

Ayako Janet Tomiyama
University of California, Los Angeles

Dieting as a Chronic Stressor: An Experimental Manipulation

This dissertation project examines the impact of caloric restrictions (dieting) on stress levels. Specifically, it examines the differential impacts of calorie restriction/non-restriction compared to calorie monitoring/non-monitoring. Because half of women and a third of men in the US diet, and most diets are unsuccessful in the long-term, this research has broad implications.

Janet reports that “having this kind of support is so critical, particularly for interdisciplinary health psychology that requires so much in terms of research costs. Every dime of my award will go towards assay costs for salivary cortisol and salivary alpha amylase samples. I really, truly, appreciate APA's generosity.”

Additional recipients of APA Dissertation Research Awards in 2008, in alphabetical order, are:

Daniel Acheson, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Behavioral and Neural Mechanisms Underlying Language Production and Verbal Working Memory

Sunayana B. Banerjee, Cornell University
Neurochemical and Developmental Influences on Pair Formation and Stress Physiology Using a New Animal Model

Jessica L. Barnack, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Psychological Adjustment, Disclosure and Transmission Prevention Behaviors Among Women Living With Genital Herpes

Robin A. Barry, University of Iowa
Romantic Disengagement as a Developmental Process that Contributes to Marital Distress and Decline

Ethan H. Beckley, Oregon Health & Science University
Neuroanatomical and Behavioral Correlates of Progesterone Withdrawal

Whitney E. Botsford, George Mason University
Psychological Contracts of Mothers: Does Breach Explain Intent to Leave?

Angela W. Chiu, University of California, Los Angeles
Modular CBT for Youth Anxiety Disorders: A Partial Effectiveness Test in Schools

Elise M. Clerkin, University of Virginia
Training Implicit Social Anxiety Associations: An Experimental Intervention

Kristen M. Culbert, Michigan State University
Prenatal Testosterone and Risk for Disordered Eating during Puberty

Natalie D. Dautovich, University of Florida
The Mediation of the Relationship between Social Rhythmicity and Sleep by Light, Arousal, and Affect in Both Younger and Older Adults

Cirleen DeBlaere, University of Florida
Perceived Discrimination Experiences and Mental Health of Asian American Women

Ilana T. Z. Dew, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cognitive and Neural Correlates of Implicit Relational Memory in Young and Older Adults

Caitlin M. Fausey, Stanford University
Integrated Causal Cognition: Contributions of Language to Causal Representation, Memory, Learning and Attribution

Lisa K. Fazio, Duke University
Understanding the Hypercorrection Effect: Why High Confidence Errors and More Likely to be Corrected

Kimberly P. Foley, West Virginia University
A Comparison of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and Treatment as Usual with Families with a History of Co-Morbid Child Abuse and Neglect and Intimate Partner Violence

Diann E. Gaalema, Georgia Institute of Technology
Sexual Conditioning in the Dyeing Dart Frog

Kenneth W. Hailston, Georgia Institute of Technology
The Effects of Multiple Feature Priming on Identifying and Localizing Visual Targets

Eve Atchariya Isham, Claremont Graduate University
Causality and Perception of Time

Sarah E. Johnson, Northwestern University
Middle Class and Marginal? The Influence of Socioeconomic Status on Self-Regulation at an Elite University

Christine A. Limbers, Texas A&M University
An Internet-Based Problem-Solving Intervention to Improve Asthma Self-Management in Families of Children with Asthma

Diane E. Logan, University of Washington
Alcohol Interventions for Mandated Students (Project AIMS)

Rachel H. Lucas-Thompson, University of California, Irvine
Interparental Conflict and Adolescent Physiological Functioning, Health, and Adjustment

Kerry F. Milch, Columbia University
Perceived Closeness to Future Selves and Intertemporal Allocation Decisions

Amber M. Muelmann, University of Florida
Vulnerability for Self-Injurious Behavior: Neurobiological Mechanisms

Jennifer E. Murray, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Nicotine Competition with Light Control of Conditioned Responding

Elizabeth J. Parks-Stamm, New York University
Exclusion as Self-Protection: The Function of Subtypes for Ingroup Members

Heather M. Prayor-Patterson, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Communication Program to Activate Cancer Survivors

Angela M. Railey, George Mason University
The Role of ApoE Genotype, Metals, and Hypercholesterolemia in the Etiology of Alzheimer’s Disease

Chaitra Rao, Texas A&M University
Dissociating Morphological and Visual Form-Based Influences on Word Recognition: Evidence from Hindi and Urdu

Sarah D. Sahni, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Beyond Labels: How Semantic and Sound Density Affect Word Learning

Lori N. Scott, Pennsylvania State University
Stress and Mood Reactivity in Borderline Personality Disorder

Katherine E. Shannon, University of Washington
Neural Bases of ADHD: Linking Hypodopaminergic Function to Error Monitoring

Loan C. Vuong, Rice University
The Role of Inhibitory Control in Sentence Comprehension

Laura M. Widman, University of Tennessee
Inside the Minds of Sex Offenders: Illuminating the Role of Implicit Attitudes in Sexual Offending

Ellen H. Williams, University of Tennessee
How Does Personality Affect Social Interactions and the Complexity of Communicative Behavior?

Suzanne C. Wood, University of California, San Diego
Neural Correlate of Associative Memory Following Amphetamine Administration