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Psychological scientists honored at White House

Recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards include researchers in addiction, visual perception and quantitative methods.

Ninety-six early career researchers were honored by President Obama at a White House ceremony on July 31, 2012.  These latest winners of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) include four psychological scientists. Honorees are nominated by science agencies of the U.S. federal government.  

Li Cai, PhD Krista M. Lisdahl, PhD Pawan Sinha, PhD Brendan M. Walker, PhD

Recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards (from left to right) Li Cai, Krista M. Lisdahl, Pawan Sinha and Brendan M. Walker


Psychologist Li Cai was nominated by the Department of Education, which has supported his work through the Institute of Education Sciences. Dr. Cai is an associate professor at UCLA, where he holds appointments in both the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and the Department of Psychology. His expertise is in quantitative methods, particularly latent variable models, item response theory and statistical computing. Cai received his PhD from the University of North Carolina.

The other three psychological scientists who received PECASE honors were nominated by the Department of Health & Human Services, which has supported their work through the National Institutes of Health.

Krista M. Lisdahl is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.  Using behavioral and brain imaging techniques, she investigates the effects of chronic drug use in adolescents and young adults, including determinants of individual differences. Her PhD is from the University of Cincinnati.

Trained as a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pawan Sinha is currently on the faculty of MIT’s Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences. His research utilizes behavioral, neuroscientific and computational approaches to examine processes of object recognition in visual perception and their development. 

Brendan M. Walker is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Washington State University. He received his PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research is focused on the neural mechanisms underlying alcohol and drug abuse and on the development of pharmacotherapies for addiction.

The American Psychological Association congratulates all the PECASE honorees.

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