APA awards

Recipients selected for 2013 APA Early Graduate Student Researcher Award

The American Psychological Association Science Student Council (APASSC) has selected three students to receive the 2013 APA Early Graduate Student Researcher Award. 

Each student receives a $1,000 award to be used towards research-related expenses.

More than 80 graduate students in their first two years of doctoral studies applied for the award, representing all areas of research within psychological science. The recipients were selected based on the quality of their research during their initial years of graduate study.

The recipients are:

Judith E. Fan, Princeton University

Judith E. FanFan's research is motivated by a desire to understand the active role individuals play in guiding their own learning — by choosing which information to pay attention to, or which actions to perform. As a case study, a major theme of her work concerns object learning — how people acquire knowledge about the diagnostic features of objects and adaptively exploit this knowledge to achieve their goals. Recently, she has found that selective retrieval of a feature of a recently seen object influences how it represented in visual long-term memory, by suppressing the accessibility of its other features (e.g., if the location of a red object was retrieved, its color was less likely to be remembered later). Moreover, retrieval of multiple features was more detrimental to long-term memory for unselected features than repeated retrieval of a single feature, suggesting that competing memories that are repeatedly passed over in multiple "retrieval contexts" are particularly susceptible to forgetting. Current experiments explore how the organization of visual long-term memory affects how objects are attended and perceived.

Fan is a third year graduate student in cognitive psychology at Princeton University, where she works with Nick Turk-Browne, Jordan Taylor and Betsy Levy Paluck. In reaction to receiving this award, Fan reports that "I'm deeply honored that the APA Science Student Council has elected to grant me this award. I am especially grateful to my advisors and colleagues for their support and enthusiasm as we work to discover basic principles that underlie humans' remarkable ability to rapidly learn in novel environments."

Joseph F. Lynch, III, Kent State University

Joseph F. Lynch, IIICurrently, Lynch is exploring the underlying mechanisms estrogens have on the enhanced fear generalization to neutral contextual cues in female rats. His previous work shows females generalize fear at faster rates than males and this process appears to be due to a genomic effect of estradiol on retrieval of the fear memory. Current projects are attempting to determine if the enhanced generalization is due to dendritic spine growth in hippocampal and cortical regions as a result of estrogen exposure. In addition, he is exploring the role of estrogen receptor subtypes to determine which need to be activated for faster generalization.

Lynch is a third-year graduate student in the behavioral neuroscience area of the department of psychology at Kent State University. He works with both David Riccio and Aaron Jasnow on several different lines of research, including estrogenic mechanisms in fear generalization, state-dependent memories, GABAergic mechanisms in fear generalization and mapping of fear circuitry via optogenetics. Lynch stated that “I was pleasantly surprised to find that I won this award. I had to double-check to make sure the committee did not confuse me with another applicant.”

Chadly D. Stern, New York University

Chadly D. SternStern's research broadly examines how an individual's political ideology impacts his or her perceptions and constructions of social reality. Specifically, he is interested in how ideological differences in perceptions of in-group consensus might help to explain why liberal and conservative social movements (e.g., Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party) often differ in their abilities to develop solidarity within their ranks. His current research is examining how inaccurate perceptions of in-group consensus can help or hurt the success of social movements.

Stern is a third-year graduate student in the social psychology doctoral program at New York University. He currently works with Tessa West and John Jost examining how political ideology shapes social perception processes. Stern said, “I am honored to have my research recognized with this award. The funds from this award will help support travel to international conferences where I will disseminate the findings of this research.”

More about the awards

The APASSC established the Early Graduate Student Researcher Award (formerly Early Researcher Award) in 2004 to recognize students who have demonstrated outstanding research ability early in their graduate careers. Recipients receive an award of $1,000. For more information, including application instructions and eligibility requirements, visit the  Early Graduate Student Researcher Award Web page.