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Psychologists receive Presidential Early Career Awards

Awardees recognized for their scientific achievements and promise.

Presented annually since 1996, the Presidential Early Career Awards for Science and Engineering (PECASE) recognize and support outstanding scientists and engineers who show exceptional potential for leadership in scientific research at early stages of their careers.  The White House makes the awards (which include up to five years of research funding) following recommendations from ten federal science agencies. 

In November, 2010, President Obama honored the latest group of PECASE winners at a White House reception.  The 85 winners included six psychologists.

Mauricio DelgadoAmong the 20 awardees nominated by the National Institutes of Health were two psychologists: Mauricio Delgado, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, and Ana P. Martinez-Donate, Assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Delgado investigates the interaction of emotion and cognition in the human brain during learning and decision-making.  His award recognized his research on the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques to better understand reinforcement mechanisms and avoidance responses associated with drug addiction.

Ana P. Martinez-DonateWith degrees in health psychology and epidemiology, Dr. Martinez-Donate focuses on HIV prevention and tobacco control, with an emphasis on Latino populations and health disparities.  Her research on the use of innovative cross-sectional probability surveys and sampling designs to elucidate social, cultural, and policy factors that influence HIV prevalence at the Mexico-US border is supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Two of the 19 winners nominated by the National Science Foundation conduct research in psychology: David M. Amodio, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York David M. AmodioUniversity, and Laura E. Schulz, Professor of Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Dr. Amodio was nominated for his research on the cognitive and neural mechanisms of implicit racial bias, as well as for educating the public on how prejudice operates in society and for engaging members of underrepresented groups in basic science and discovery.  His research approach is interdisciplinary, integrating theory and methodology from social psychology, cognitive/affective neuroscience, and psychophysiology.

Laura E. SchulzDr. Schulz was recognized for her research on children's exploratory play and scientific reasoning and for her work with science museums on improving exhibit design.  Her research involves on-site laboratories at the Boston Children’s Museum and the Discovery Center at the Museum of Science, Boston, where a variety of approaches is utilized, including infant-looking time methods and free-play paradigms.

Both of the awardees nominated by the Department of Education are psychologists:  Catherine Bradshaw, Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Jennifer Cromley, Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology in Temple University’s College of Education.

Catherine BradshawDr. Bradshaw is a developmental psychologist and youth violence prevention researcher. Her primary research interests focus on the development of aggressive behavior and school-based prevention. She collaborates on research projects examining bullying and school climate; the development of aggressive and problem behaviors; effects of exposure to violence, peer victimization, and environmental stress on children; and the design, evaluation, and implementation of evidence-based prevention programs in schools.

Jennifer CromleyDr. Cromley, whose work is supported by the National Science Foundation as well as the Department of Education, is currently involved in three large research projects that involve middle school, high school, and undergraduate college students. The projects are measuring the impact of modifications to middle school science curricula, developing workbook-and-discussion-based teaching methods to assist high school students better understand biology, and assessing why undergraduate students stay in or opt out of biology and chemistry majors.

The full list of winners can be found in the White House press release.