Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA): 2008 Annual Report

Alice M. Young Ph.D., Chair

The Board of Scientific Affairs held two meetings in 2008, on March 28-30 and October 23-26.  The following report summarizes the major issues that were of concern to the Board over the past year. 

PSY21 – Psychological Science for the 21st Century

BSA and the Science Directorate are working together to develop PSY21-Psychological Science for the 21st Century.  This initiative will create a foundation to build an agenda to support and promote the science of psychology.  The goals of this initiative are to advance the science of psychology, provide value to its membership, and attract new members.  PSY21 is organized around three areas of emphasis: (1) facilitating the responsible conduct of research (RCR), (2) promoting a culture of service to the discipline, and (3) identifying and addressing infrastructure needs for the science of psychology.  

Science Leadership Conference (SciLC)

BSA worked with Science Directorate staff in planning for the fourth annual Science Leadership Conference that took place October 2008.  The goal of the annual conference is to bring together key leaders to develop a common agenda that will advance psychological science and help secure its future.  The theme of this year’s conference focused on exploring the changing landscape of publication and sharing of scientific information and the opportunities that arise for psychology.   To this end, the 2008 SciLC attendees included members of BSA, members of the Publications and Communications Board, and scientists from established and emerging domains of psychological research.

Culture of Service Awards

These awards presented at the Science Leadership Conference, and established by BSA, honor both individuals and Departments of Psychology. 

  • The Departmental Award for Culture of Service in the Psychological Sciences was presented to the Psychology Department at James Madison University and the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami. 

  • The Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science was presented to Janet Shibley Hyde who is at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Wilbert McKeachie who is at the University of Michigan. 

These awards, established by BSA, recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to psychological science through their commitment to a culture of service and recognize departments of psychology who instill a culture of service in their training of students and mentoring of faculty. 

Ad Hoc Committee to Advance Responsible Research (CARR)

CARR proposed and BSA approved the sunsetting of the Ad Hoc Committee and the establishment of a continuing Committee on Human Research.  The agenda item proposing the new committee was placed on the cross cutting agenda for comment and sent to the Board of Directors and Council of Representatives for approval. 

Office for Applied Psychological Science (OAPS)

OAPS worked on Dr. Alan Kazdin’s presidential initiative on  “Grand Challenges”.  The initiative involved developing three specific societal challenges that psychological science can help to address.  The three challenges included: Global Climate Change, Prolonging Vitality, and Diversity in Healthcare.  Three separate booklets have been developed that highlight psychology’s contributions to these challenges. 

Task Force for Increasing the Number of Quantitative Psychologists

The Task Force completed their report and it was reviewed by all boards and committees.  Comments were collected and reviewed and the final report was submitted to the Board of Directors.  A website devoted to the delivery of information about training opportunities in quantitative psychology is supported by the Task Force.   

Task Force on Recommending Changes to the APA Convention That Would Appeal to Scientists

The Task Force completed its report and shared it with the Board of Convention Affairs and BSA.  In addition, the report was shared with division leaders at the Division Leadership Conference and with the Board of Directors.  The report was shared with the Council Caucus on Academic, Scientific, and Applied Psychology.  It also was part of the reference material shared with the Council of Representatives as they discussed possible changes to the APA Convention.

Advanced Training Institutes (ATI)

BSA continues to oversee the implementation and expansion of training opportunities for researchers.  During 2008, five ATI’s were held.  These include:

  • Structural Equation Modeling in Longitudinal Research, at the University of Virginia, June 9-13, 2008.  John McArdle, a University of Southern California faculty member, and John Nesselroade of the University of Virginia, led this course, which featured a series of lectures and hands on computer workshops on longitudinal methods, modeling, and measurement in contemporary psychological research using SEM.  

  • Non-Linear Methods for Psychological Science, at the University of Cincinnati, June 9-13, 2008.  Organized by Guy Van Orden, this ATI provided a thorough introduction to a variety of non-linear and dynamical methods.  Specific topics included time series analysis, recurrence quantification analysis, fractal analysis, and dispersion analysis.  

  • A new ATI, Research Methods with Diverse Racial & Ethnic Groups, took place at Michigan State University from June 23-27, 2008.  Fred Leong led this ATI, which began with a discussion of methods for investigating treatment outcomes in diverse populations.  Sessions followed during the week on topics such as quantitative and qualitative methods, the why’s and why-not’s of web-based data collection, measurement equivalence and invariance across diverse groups, and methods for work in areas ranging from genomics to HIV prevention.  

  • Geographic Information Systems for Behavioral Research, took place at the University of California, Santa Barbara, July 16-18, 2008.  This ATI was an expanded version of a one-day course offered in conjunction with the APA Convention in 2007.  It introduced GIS and its use in psychological research, with examples from psychologists with active research programs using GIS.  The ATI  featured coverage of GIS usage in the health sciences, cognitive science, counseling, criminology, and education. 

  • Using Large-Scale Databases: The NICHD’s Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, August 4-8, 2008.  The goal of this course, organized in collaboration with the Research Triangle Institute, was to equip researchers with the skills to access, use, and analyze data from large-scale databases for original research.  The ATI has been funded since 2003 by a grant from NIH and is the last time that this ATI will be offered in its current format. 

Meritorious Research Service Commendation

BSA developed the Meritorious Research Service Commendation to recognize outstanding psychologists in the federal government who help foster research by their programmatic activities.  Psychologists in federal funding agencies play a crucial role in the development of the discipline -- in running the programs that fund psychological scientists, in identifying new opportunities and directions, in working with the science community to develop programs and funding opportunities, in serving as catalyst for promoting cutting edge opportunities, and in shepherding behavioral research within their institutions.  2008 is the seventh year in which the citation was given.  BSA chose  Robert B. Huebner (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), Jack D. Maser, University of California, San Diego, formerly National Institute of Mental Health, and Robert S. Ruskin, Consortium Research Fellows Program to each receive a commendation for 2008.

Summer Science Fellowship

The Summer Science Fellowship is a modification of the Summer Science Institute.  Twelve students, all rising seniors in college, were selected to take part in this 6-week intensive research experience.  Faculty members from Washington, DC/Baltimore area universities agreed to mentor the SSF students over the summer.  In some cases, the students were able to propose research studies, have it approved by the university IRB, and complete the study in the summer.  Others were able to make substantive contributions to ongoing research projects in the labs.  The SSF students also spent a number of days at the APA headquarters building, learning about careers in psychological science, the importance of science advocacy, and how to gain entrance to graduate school.   

Advanced Statistical Training in Psychology (ASTP)

Seventeen students were selected for the 5th annual ASTP, held at the University of Maryland.  The ASTP program is an intensive 9-day hands-on seminar in which advanced undergraduate students who are planning to pursue a graduate degree in psychology learn about statistics and research methods in a dynamic setting that emphasizes hands-on computer skills.  The ASTP targets students from traditionally underrepresented groups in psychology.  The definition of underrepresented groups for this program is broad, including students who are members of ethnic minority groups as well as first generation college students and students who have had to overcome other kinds of social or economic barriers on the road to academic excellence. 

Decade of Behavior

The Science Directorate continues to coordinate Decade of Behavior activities.  The activities of the Decade of Behavior for 2008 included:  (1) Decade of Behavior Congressional Briefings that feature the recipients of Decade of Behavior Research Awards presenting material with high policy relevance; and (2) Behavior Matters Booklet Series – a publication that offers a sampling of behavioral research that has led to innovations and improvements in our lives. 

Science at the APA Convention

The 2008 Convention was organized into plenary sessions, substantive division programming, topical track programming, board/committee programs, awards addresses, and an opening and closing session.  The science programs sponsored by BSA included the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award addresses, the Neal Miller Lecture, the Master Lectures, and BSA, CPTA, CARE, and Science Student Council programs.  Of note, the 2008 convention program included two sessions co-sponsored by BSA and BPA that focused on evidence-based practice and vulnerable populations.

Lecture Programs:

Master Lecture Program:  BSA selected the following speakers to participate in the 2009 Master Lecture Program at the 2009 convention:  Eduardo Salas, PhD, applied psychology; Ronald Melzak, PhD, biopsychology; Howard Eichenbaum, PhD, cognition and perception;  Christine Dunkel-Schetter, PhD, health psychology and behavioral medicine; and Dean Simonton, PhD, personality and individual differences. 

Distinguished Scientist Lecturer Program: BSA selected the following speakers to deliver Distinguished Lectures at regional psychology conferences: Susan Goldin-Meadow, PhD, James Jackson, PhD, and Alice Eagly, PhD.

Neal Miller Lecture: BSA selected Michael Meaney, PhD as the Neal Miller Lecturer at the 2009 APA convention.

BSA Committees

The work of the committees constitutes a large part of science governance as summarized below:

The Committee on Scientific Awards continues to recognize important scientific achievement in psychology through prestigious national awards.  The Committee also serves as a resource for APA nominations for other scientific awards not conferred by APA for which members may be eligible. 

The Committee on Animal Research and Ethics developed educational packages geared toward high school students that will be available via the web as well as by request through the Science Directorate.  In addition, CARE initiated a project to gauge the current status of nonhuman animal research in psychology. 

The Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment continued to work on revising two position statements, “Disclosure of Test Data” and “Observers of Psychological Testing.” 

The Science Student Council advises BSA and the Science Directorate on student-related issues, including awards and programming at the APA Convention. 

Membership

At its November meeting, BSA members elected Toni C. Antonucci PhD, as Chair for 2009.

The 2008 membership of BSA included one Asian American, two African Americans, and six white/Caucasian members.  There were eight women and one man.   BSA solicited nominations from the ethnic minority psychological associations to enhance the ethnic diversity of the candidate pool for 2009.  BSA did not have board specific diversity training during 2008.

2008 BSA members: Alice M. Young, PhD, (Chair), Leona S. Aiken, PhD, Toni C. Antonucci, PhD, Patricia M. Greenfield, PhD, Barbara Landau, PhD, Frederick T.L. Leong, PhD, Jennifer Manly, PhD, Vickie M. Mays, PhD, and Lois E. Tetrick, PhD.