Spring 2018 Newsletter | Awards and Honors

We congratulate the recipients of recent Master's and Doctoral degrees!

MS: Xingjie Chen, Andrea Craft​, Abby Helm​, and Sarah McCormick

PhD: Chaia Flegenheimer, Matthew LaClair, Charisse Pickron, and Jana Rosewarne.

Student Awards and Honors:

2018 Senior Award WinnersRead more

Graduate Student Diversity Committee receives 2018 Campus Climate Improvement Grant. Read more

Alice Coyne and Brien Goodwin, fourth year graduate students in the Psychotherapy Research Lab, were​ ​awarded North American Society for Psychotherapy Research (NASPR) Student Travel Awards for their forthcoming paper presentations at the September 2018 NASPR meetin​g. 

Molly Mather and Albert Lo are the 2018 recipients of the Clinical Program's Jamie's Smile Award, which honors students who provide outstanding service to the program.  

Nic​holas​ Morrison was competitively awarded a 2017-18 Psi Chi Graduate Research Grant. This $1,500 award will support Nick's dissertation, "Consensual qualitative research: Experience of training and replicability of results."

Sumi Sato (NSB PhD Student) won the Early Career Award, which recognizes a 1st or 2nd year PhD student who demonstrates excellence in academics and/or outreach. The awardee was selected by the NSB Graduate Operating committee.

Dan Vahaba (NSB PhD Candidate) received the Golden Neuron Award, which celebrates an exciting finding from any PhD or MA student in the NSB program within the past year. 

Sarah Winokur (NSB PhD Candidate) received the Vincent Dethier Award, which pays tribute to an NSB graduate student, honoring academic performance, research performance, and contributions that enhance the quality of the NSB Program.

Hadiya Williams, a psychology and anthropology major, is one of ten members of the graduating class to be honored as a 21st Century Leader at Undergraduate Commencement. She completed an honors thesis on inequalities in black health. 

Faculty Awards and Honors:

Linda Isbell awarded the Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Read more

Jeffrey Blaustein honored with Lifetime Achievement Award by Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology. Read more

Susan Whitbourne receives the Distinguished Membership Award from Psi Chi. Read more

Lori Astheimer named 2018 College of Natural Sciences Outstanding Advisor.

Linda Tropp Selected as Recipient of the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. Read more

Jennifer McDermott and Lisa Sanders win inaugural seed grants from the new Institute for Diversity Sciences. Read more

As of January 1st, Michael Constantino began his term as President of Division 29 (Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy) of the American Psychological Association.

Lisa Harvey and Tamara Rahhal are two of twelve winners of the 2018-19 Teaching for Inclusiveness, Diversity and Equity (TIDE) Faculty Fellowship Award presented by the Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development (TEFD). Throughout the program year, participants will explore how they can enhance students’ learning and academic success across cultural, social and learning differences by adopting a strength-based, inclusive and equitable approach to teaching and learning grounded in the value of diversity.

Youngbin Kwak has been named a 2018-19 Family Research Scholar by the Center for Research on Families. Kwak will investigate how behaviors and neural signals change with advancing age in patients with Parkinson's disease. Her research will contribute to the understanding of motor disabilities with advancing age and disease conditions, which will inform the design of brain-based rehabilitation regimens.

Ashley Woodman, received the Lecturer’s Professional Development Fund Award to support her attendance at the International Society for Autism Researchers Conference in the Netherlands. The six recipients were awarded funding through this highly competitive process for activities to help them to develop their effectiveness as teachers and mentors. This award is granted based on the relevance of the lecturer’s proposal to further develop their professional career as well as the potential to contribute to the University’s mission of teaching and research. This is the first year that this award program has been available for lecturers in the College of Natural Sciences.


2018 Senior Award Winners

senior award recipients

Top row: Yaeeun Ji, Shirley Plucinski, Jenna Arturi, Iliana Marentes, Kathryn Luo, and Melisa Joseph.
Bottom row: Erika Markarian, Kimberly Whitney, Department Chair Caren Rotello, Amy Higgins, and Krystal Leger.

Senior Psychological and Brain Sciences majors were honored at the Senior Award Celebration held on April 28th at the University Club. Award recipients and their faculty sponsors, Department Chair Caren Rotello, and members of the Advising office were in attendance. These students were honored for their academic excellence, contributions to research, and scholarship.

Mary Carney Rockwell Award
L-r: Kimberly Whitney, Yaeeun Ji, and Iliana Marentes
In recognition of exemplary achievement as a Psychology Major

Richard S. Milestone Scholarship
Erika Markarian
In recognition of exemplary achievement as a Psychology Major
​Faculty sponsor: Lori Astheimer

Joanne Daughdrill Memorial Award 
Kathryn Luo
In recognition of exceptional contributions to the Psychology Department
​​Faculty sponsor: Erik Cheries

Outstanding Honors Thesis Award
Krystal Leger
In recognition of exemplary research and scholarship
Faculty sponsor: Rosie Cowell

Senior Service Award
Melisa Joseph
In recognition of exceptional service to the Department
​Faculty sponsor: Christina Metevier

Senior Research Assistant Award
Amy Higgins
In recognition of e xceptional contributions to research
Faculty sponsor: Linda Isbell

Outstanding Internship Award
Jenna Arturi
In recognition of exceptional contributions to an internship
​​Faculty sponsor: Ashley Woodman

Academic Excellence Award
Shirley Plucinski
In recognition of exemplary academic achievement

View more photos on Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmh6KxTg

Linda Tropp Selected as Recipient of the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology

linda troppLinda Tropp has been selected as a recipient of the 2018 Scientific Impact Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP), which "honors the author(s) of a specific article or chapter offering a theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological contribution that has proven highly influential over the last 25 years."  

The award will be presented at the 2018 SESP conference Oct. 4-6 in Seattle.

Tropp will receive this award in recognition of the 2006 article she coauthored entitled "A meta-analytic test of intergroup contact theory." This theory maintains that contact, under certain conditions, between two or more social groups can promote tolerance. If groups are allowed to communicate with one another, they may start to appreciate each other's viewpoints. Findings from Tropp's meta-analysis shows that intergroup contact typically reduces intergroup prejudice. This result suggests that contact theory, devised originally for racial and ethnic encounters, can be extended to other groups.

As summarized by the selection committee chair: “The committee's decision was unanimous and reflects the tremendous importance of Tropp’s meta-analysis and broader body of work, both theoretical and methodological, that has emerged before and since this particular publication.”

Tropp has also examined how groups of different status and power interact and experience contact. She is interested in studying legacies of inequality and conflict that form a group's perspectives and motivations. She strives to identify mechanisms that could be used to strengthen positive relations and social justice.

Tropp received the 2012 Distinguished Academic Outreach Award from UMass Amherst for excellence in the application of scientific knowledge to advance the public good. She has also received the Erikson Early Career Award from the International Society of Political Psychology, the McKeachie Early Career Award from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, and the Allport Intergroup Relations Prize from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

Tropp is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.


Institute for Diversity Sciences Awards Inaugural Seed Grants

​Nilanjana  Dasgupta, director of the campus's new Institute of Diversity Sciences, also College of Natural Sciences director of faculty equity and inclusion, and the institute steering committee have announced the first six multidisciplinary teams that have won seed grants of up to $12,000 to conduct preliminary studies investigating new research questions about the causes or consequences of group disparities or diversity from multiple scientific angles. 

​The institute brings together faculty and graduate students across colleges and schools whose research focuses on these topics, Dasgupta says, to foster innovative transdisciplinary research and education. She adds, “The long game is to advance each project to the next stage of seeking larger, competitive external grants.”

The teams of UMass researchers are uniting to solve complex problems that require attention from several different angles. Collaborators will combine their expertise, using each others strengths to reach a common goal. The institute will also facilitate two monthly working groups where faculty can present their findings, share ideas, and meet potential collaborators. 

The winning teams from PBS include:

“Discerning Risk and Individual Variation in Driving Behavior among Young Adults with and without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)” Jennifer M. McDermott, psychological and brain sciences, and Shannon C. Roberts, mechanical and industrial engineering.

“Processing Non-native Speech in Noisy Classrooms,” Lisa D. Sanders, psychological and brain sciences, Meghan Armstrong-Abrami, Hispanic linguistics, Kristine M. Yu, linguistics, and Anne Gilman, visiting assistant professor of psychology.



UMass Amherst News & Media Relations. (2018, April 24). New Institute for Diversity Sciences Awards Inaugural Seed Grants. http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/new-institute-diversity-sciences-awards?_ga=2.19795248.926151006.1525100816-1384228424.1513099826

Jeffrey Blaustein Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award by Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Jeffrey Blaustein, professor emeritus of psychological and brain sciences, has been selected for the Daniel S. Lehrman Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology. This society provides a welcoming climate during it's meetings and programs, helping students and professionals to develop networks, discuss scientific research, and meet potential mentors.

Blaustein has achieved “a career of eminent scholarship in behavioral neuroendocrinology and a record of outstanding mentorship of future scientists.” His career as a professor, mentor, and senior researcher in our Behavioral Neuroscience Program has also included membership in the Center for Neuroendocrine Studies, and the Neuroscience and Behavior Program at UMass Amherst. His research involves exploring the relationships among steroid hormones, the brain, physiology, and behavior. He has also investigated how environmental and pubertal influences can affect these relationships.

Currently, he is writing to educate breast cancer survivors and oncologists about the importance of ovarian hormones on the brain and their impact on mental health and quality of life following breast-cancer surgery. 

“After women have surgery for breast cancer, oncologists typically prescribe drugs to halt the production or effects of the sex hormones, estrogens, in order to decrease the risk of the cancer returning. However, because estrogens have many positive effects on the brain—such as improving mood, thinking, and sexual desire and slowing the effects of aging—interfering with these effects may significantly reduce a woman’s quality of life after surgery. Unfortunately, oncologists typically do not educate women about these negative side effects, and they may prescribe the drugs regardless of the risk of the tumor returning—which sometimes is very small—and without explaining the negative impacts of these drugs. Physicians must better educate women on the benefits and risks of particular decisions that they make regarding the use of hormone therapy after surgery, and women should better understand the potential side effects of these powerful drugs.”

Blaustein has also served as president of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, associate editor and editor-in-chief of Endocrinology, and associate editor of Hormones and Behavior. At UMass Amherst, he is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal, a Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship, a Convocation Research and Creativity Award, and a Distinguished Alumni Award. He was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014.


Linda Isbell Awarded the Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Linda IsbellLinda Isbell, professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, has received the 2018 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Presented by the UMass Amherst Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development, this award honors one outstanding faculty member from each of the five campuses of the University of Massachusetts. This competitive prize is presented to faculty members who demonstrate sustained evidence of excellence in teaching along with exemplary dedication to students and the campus community.  

Since her arrival at UMass in 1999, Professor Isbell has excelled in her approach to teaching and leadership, inspiring many students and colleagues within the University and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She is a practiced researcher of teaching methods, exploring how active-learning classroom activities affect students and enhance their learning experience. Her concentration in social psychology, taught in both large lecture courses and small seminars, engages students through experiences linked to the real world in meaningful ways. For example, in her political psychology course students analyze political campaigns, hold discussions with politicians and researchers, and are required to take a deep look into a relevant research topic of their choice. Undergraduates participate in questionnaires and reaction papers as the course progresses, collecting observations about how their political knowledge and interests may have changed over the course of the semester.

Professor Isbell is passionate in her search for finding techniques which will motivate students to stay connected, to increase their drive to succeed, and continue learning. She is a committed mentor and advisor to many outstanding students. She has served as a member of numerous doctoral dissertation, masters, and undergraduate honors committees as well as advising independent research projects, internships, and research assistantships. She offers her expertise to journals and federal granting agencies, reviewing articles and proposals, and has recently been named associate editor of the scientific journal Emotion.

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences congratulates Linda Isbell on receiving this award, which recognizes her devotion to the advancement of teaching and mentorship.

Graduate Student Diversity Committee Receives 2018 Campus Climate Improvement Grant

Krystal Cashen, PBS Graduate Student Diversity Committee Co-Chair (pictured right), has secured a spring 2018 Campus Climate Improvement Grant! These grants, ranging from $250 to $2,500, are intended to support projects that help build community and create a more inclusive campus.

The PBS Graduate Student Diversity Committee will use this grant to hold a series of discussion events for PBS graduate students. These events will allow students to initiate further dialogue on diversity stemming from previously attended events. Each month, meetings organized by the committee will include a new focus such as reviewing articles of interest, awareness and self-care, and an educational speaker.

Susan Whitbourne Receives the Distinguished Membership Award from Psi Chi

psi chi awardSusan Krauss Whitbourne, professor emerita of psychological and brain sciences, has received the Distinguished Membership Award from Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology. Individuals selected for this honor "have national or international reputations because of contributions made to psychology and Psi Chi" in the disciplines of research, service, and/or teaching. Whitbourne was presented with this award at the Keynote Psi Chi address at the Eastern Psychological Association Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, on March 1, 2018. She is the 37th person to receive this distinction; other notable recipients include B.F. Skinner, Albert Bandura, and Florence Denmark.

Whitbourne was the faculty advisor to the UMass Psi Chi chapter for 25 years, receiving university awards for this service, as well as the National Psi Chi Advisor and Eastern Regional Psi Chi Advisor awards. She has been a remarkably energetic and effective classroom teacher, teaching thousands of students over the course of her tenure, and winning numerous teaching and mentoring awards. Among dozens of national professional service positions, Whitbourne served as President of the Division 20 in the American Psychological Association and President of the Society for the Study of Human Development, and is President of the Eastern Psychological Association.

Whitbourne remarks, "Serving as Psi Chi advisor was one of the most enjoyable aspects of my time at UMass. As I reflect on the many great students I worked with, I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to be a part of their lives. Not only did we accomplish a lot, but we also had a lot of fun!"

Pictured left to right: Martha Zlokovich, Executive Director of Psi Chi, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Vincent Prohaska of Lehman College and former Psi Chi President, and Marianne Fallon of Central Connecticut State University and current Eastern Region Psi Chi Vice President.

Psi Chi. (2018, March). Distinguished Members. https://www.psichi.org/?Dist_Members#.Wp8AcGrwaUk