From the Science Student Council

Looking back on past Early Graduate Student Researcher award winners: Where are they now?

Previous winners have made impressive contributions to research and its applications.

By Evgeniya Pavlova

Each year the Science Student Council (SSC) of the American Psychological Association makes its Early Graduate Student Researcher (EGSR) award to several exceptional new scientists. The award recognizes students who demonstrate outstanding research abilities early in their graduate training.

Every so often, SSC likes to look back at past winners to see what they have been doing since receiving their awards. In 2008, we reviewed the impressive accomplishments of the 2004-2006 winners. The 2007-2009 winners are equally remarkable. Here is a brief update on some of their accomplishments since winning the EGSR award.

Note: Until 2009 the Early Graduate Student Researcher (EGSR) award was referred to as the Early Research Award (ERA).  


Joshua Buckholtz, PhD, is currently an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University. His research interests focus on the neural bases of individual differences in self-control as well as the genetic and epigenetic modulation of neural circuitry for emotion, motivation and decision-making. In addition to the Early Researcher Award, he has received the inaugural Vanderbilt Law and Neuroscience Research Prize as well as the Founders Medal awarded by Vanderbilt University among others. He has authored publications in Journal of Neuroscience, Science, Trends in Neuroscience and other journals.    

Karienn Montgomery received the Susan M. Arseven Memorial Award for Women in Science and Engineering in 2008. In 2008 she moved with her lab to the University of Florida, McKnight Brain Institute. She was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) from NIH in 2010 and was selected to attend the NIH Graduate Student Conference a year later. Her research has been published in top journals such as Neuroscience and Journal of Neuroscience. In August, Karienn will be defending her dissertation and moving to Houston, where she will be taking a postdoctoral position with Dr. Daoyun Ji, in the department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, at Baylor College of Medicine.

Edward Vul, PhD, is currently an assistant professor of psychology at University of California, San Diego. His research uses computational and algorithmic descriptions to reconcile models of human behavior as statistically optimal computations with the findings of cognitive psychology. He has published numerous articles in prestigious outlets such as Psychological Science, Memory and Cognition and Journal of Experimental Psychology: General among many others.     


Faith Brozovich, PhD, completed her degree in clinical psychology at Temple University. Currently she is a researcher at the Stanford Psychophysiology Laboratory and a postdoctoral fellow at the Palo Alto VA. She specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her research focuses on examining the neural, cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes that cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction cause in socially anxious individuals.   

Zhicheng Lin is finishing up his doctoral degree at the University of Minnesota. His current research investigates how spatial and temporal structures regulate visual attention, perception, and cognition. Since receiving the Early Researcher Award, he has received travel awards and fellowships from the Vision Sciences Society and other organizations. He has published in refereed journals such as Psychological Science and Progress in Neurobiology.


Pooja K. Agarwal, PhD, is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work is dedicated to bridging the gap between education, teaching, research and policy. Since winning the ERA, she has received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship as well as an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She has authored numerous publications in Memory and Cognition, Journal of Educational Psychology and other journals. 

Jacqueline Chen, PhD, won the ERA for her research with Dr. David Hamilton examining multiracial person perception. This work was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Beginning in summer 2012, Jacqueline will be a Chancellor's Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of California, Davis where she will continue to investigate the psychological processes related to racial and cultural diversity with Dr. Jeffrey Sherman in the Department of Psychology.

Joseph Franklin is about to begin his last year at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Clinical Psychology PhD program. Since winning the ERA, he has published in journals such as Journal of Abnormal Psychology and Psychiatry Research. In addition to his scholarship, his excellent mentorship of young scientists was acknowledged with the UNC Psychology Mentor of the Year award (2010 and 2012).  He completed an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and recently received UNC's Baughman Dissertation Award.

Jonathan Freeman, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychological & brain Sciences at Dartmouth College. Since receiving the ERA, he received an NRSA predoctoral fellowship from the NIH, an NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute fellowship, and other support. His current research examines the cognitive and neural basis of person perception, including the mechanisms through which the brain extracts information from facial, vocal and bodily cues. This work was published in a number of journals including Psychological Review, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and Cerebral Cortex.

Matthew D. Lerner is currently the James H. & Elizabeth W. Wright Endowed Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia and the Child Psychology/Pediatric Neuropsychology intern at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on uncovering novel mechanisms of social dysfunction in youth and designing interventions based on these mechanisms. He has published in leading journals such as Psychological Bulletin and Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Since receiving the ERA, he has received several grants and awards for this research from APA and the American Psychological Foundation among others.    
Eric Pedersen, PhD, recently completed his degree in clinical psychology from the University of Washington. Upon completing his clinical internship at the San Diego VA Healthcare System, where he focused in areas of dual diagnoses and combat-related PTSD, he will start a position as an Associate Behavioral/Social Scientist at the RAND Corporation. There he will be transitioning to health policy related work. 
The Early Graduate Student Research Award is offered annually with up to three awards granted in the areas of basic science, applied science, and interdisciplinary science. At the time of application, students must be within the first two years of their doctoral program or the first semester of their third year. Applications for this year’s award are due by Sept. 17, 2012. For more information on the award and to apply, please refer to the EGSR award website.

Evgeniya “Jenny” Pavlova is the Industrial/Organizational Psychology representative on the APA Science Student Council. She is currently a doctoral student in I/O Psychology at the University of South Florida.