APA's Capitol Hill Exhibit Showcases NSF-Funded Research

APA researcher gets rave reviews on Capitol Hill for his studies of digital media and children

By Heather O'Beirne Kelly

Each year the American Psychological Association hosts a psychological scientist as a presenter at the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Capitol Hill Exhibit and Reception, a Washington, D.C. event that showcases the broad range of research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  On April 14, Dan Anderson, an NSF-supported researcher from the University of Massachusetts and APA member, found a receptive congressional audience for his studies of digital media and their effects on very young children.  A record number of Members of Congress and more than 200 congressional and federal agency staff were on hand to talk with Anderson about the research he and his collaborators have conducted.  Their work analyzes the ways in which digital media (including television shows and videos), either aimed at children younger than two years old or playing in the background in their homes, affect cognitive development, forms of play, learning behaviors, and engagement with parents. 

Members of Congress attending the event included House Science and Technology Subcommittee Chairmen Brian Baird (psychologist and D-WA) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL), as well as Reps. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Walter Jones (R-NC), Howard Coble (R-NC), and Mike Honda (D-CA).  Arden Bement, Director of NSF, also spent time at the exhibit talking with Anderson about the implications of his research.  Earlier in the day, APA staff accompanied Anderson to the office of his U.S. Representative, John Olver (D-MA), to talk with his staff about NSF funding.

“I was most impressed by how carefully the members of Congress read my poster and by their thoughtful questions.  I was particularly impressed by the fact that my presentation and answers to their questions seemed to influence their thinking – not only about my problem area but also about appropriations for social and behavioral science at NSF.” remarked Anderson.

This annual event is one component of a large, ongoing APA advocacy effort to ensure continued investment in NSF and its social and behavioral sciences in particular.  Anderson noted his appreciation for APA’s work on behalf of psychological science, which heats up in the coming months as a bill reauthorizing NSF moves forward in the House and bills funding NSF for Fiscal Year 2011 are drafted and begin to move in both the House and Senate.


From left to right, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), Chairman, House Science
Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, and Dan Anderson, PhD


From left to right Rep Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Chairman, House Science
Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, and Dan Anderson PhD


 From left to right, Cora Marrett, PhD, Acting Deputy Director, NSF,
and Dan Anderson, PhD

Heather O’Beirne Kelly, PhD, is Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer in the APA Science Government Relations Office.  She advocates for psychological research at the National Science Foundation.