2014 Award Recipients


2014 Award Recipients

Excellence in Health Psychology Research Award

Perry Halkitis, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H.

New York University

By Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., California State University Los Angeles

I am honored to have the opportunity to introduce the recipient of Division 38’s 2014 Excellence in Health Psychology Research Award. It is an honor because I have the opportunity now to introduce a mentor, a colleague, and most of all – a friend. Briefly – there is no doubt that Dr. Halkitis embodies the spirit of this award as a scholar, teacher, mentor, advocate, and leader, and because his work in the field of health psychology has been transformative.

Dr. Halkitis is presently Associate Dean for Research and Doctoral Studies, Professor of Applied Psychology and Public Health and Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. He is internationally renowned for his work examining the intersection between HIV, drug abuse, and mental health burden, and considered one of the nation’s leading experts on methamphetamine addiction and HIV behavioral research. His current program of research is focused on 2 primary areas: (a) the development of emerging adult gay and bisexual men with regard to risk and protective factors that predispose these young men to development of syndemics as well as resiliencies; and (b) the risk behaviors of older adult HIV-­‐ positive gay men and the association of aging, executive function, and mental health burden as antecedents of drug use and sexual risk taking. A current buzzword in our field is “intersectionality.” Dr. Halkitis has been working in intersectionality, an essential element to understanding the dynamics of HIV, before many of us began talking about it. His research has always been and remains focused on the complex intersectionalities that characterize HIV research, and integrates race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and social class within the larger context of service provision.

Dr. Halkitis has numerous programs of research at CHIBPS including Project Desire, Project Access, and Project VOCALL. These various projects and programs of research embrace cutting edge technologies, target populations at risk such as young men, work within community agencies and organizations such as Harlem United, as well as federal, state and local entities (e.g. CDC, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the United Way). Dr. Halkitis’ research on methamphetamine addressed an epidemic that has wide ranging health implications for the population of gay men, and he was on the front end of describing an epidemic within the context of HIV/AIDS that remains one of the key clinical and prevention challenges in the realm of HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Halkitis has published over 150 peer reviewed articles as well as 3 edited volumes that address wide ranging issues from HIV seropositive gay men’s relationships, sexual behavior, and methamphetamine addiction. However, it is his latest book that reveals Dr. Halkitis as a scholar, advocate, and person. His new book: The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience, examines the life experiences of gay men who are long term survivors of HIV/AIDS, and was published by Oxford University Press in Fall 2013. This book has received significant attention in the national media and tells a story with a unique poignancy and connection. Dr. Halkitis infuses the HIV epidemic with a humanity I have rarely seen in any other writings on the topic. In addition, Dr. Halkitis has been awarded nearly $20 million in research funding from a wide range of entities including NIH, CDC, New York Community Trust, and APF. Presently Dr. Halkitis is the Editor in Chief of Behavioral Medicine and serves on numerous other editorial boards.

Dr. Halkitis has been very active in service to APA. He has served as chair of the Commitee on Psychology and AIDS as well as CLGBTC, and as Chair of the “sexuality and health” SIG of APA Division 38. And his commitment to service and advocacy is far reaching – he gives back to the LGBT community in many ways by collaborating with community agencies such as Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Harlem United and is focused on supporting both clients as well as the health care providers working within these communities. He has served as Vice Chair of Body Positive of New York City and has worked closely with the NY LGBT Community Center.

As a mentor Dr. Halkitis has fostered the careers of innumerable students, post-­‐docs and faculty. He has supported student and early stage research through internship opportunities at CHIBPS, and has supported and cultivated the development of both graduate students and junior faculty members. And his recent achievement of an MPH has fostered his ability to reach across the aisle and build bridges between the complementary fields of psychology and public health.

Dr. Halkitis’ body of work thus far and the directions in which he is moving his research, advocacy and mentorship are an ideal example of the spirit of this award. His work is a model for health psychology – addressing disease, disparity, intersectionality, and behavior within a context of advocacy. I cannot think of a more deserving recipient of this award. The sheer volume of his scientific and academic work, and his recently released book reveals the man and his heartfelt connection to the individuals he reaches through his work. He was able to integrate science and imbue the stories of the HIV epidemic with humanity and hope. And that to me is one of the best manifestations of health psychology I have witnessed in my career.

Excellence in Health Psychology Research Award

Dawn K. Wilson, PhD

University of South Carolina

By Jeannine Monnier, Ph.D., Charleston, SC

I was thrilled to learn that Dr. Dawn Wilson, of the University of South Carolina, was awarded one of Division 38’s 2014 Excellence in Health Psychology Research Award.  I have had the honor of working with Dr. Wilson over the past several years through my involvement with the South Carolina Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association.  I have come to know Dr. Wilson as a personable, affable, and gracious woman who is able to join any conversation and bring enthusiasm to any topic.  In addition to these wonderful attributes, she is a brilliant leader, researcher and mentor, demonstrating inclusiveness, intellect, and vision in her work.

Dr. Wilson is a tremendous leader in her field.  She has been a fellow of Division 38 since 2000 and has served on the board of directors in a number of capacities and as an Associate Editor for the journal of Health Psychology.  Dr. Wilson is the current President of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and a fellow in the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research.  Additionally, Dr. Wilson served as a consultant for APA on the Stress in America Campaign 2013.  She has worked extensively over the last two years meeting with senators to protect NIH funding for behavioral and social sciences. Dr. Wilson has also been working with APA and Division 38 and a coalition of collaborating partners on important policy issues supporting psychology.

Dr. Wilson’s commitment and dedication to advancing the understanding of theory-based interventions to reduce health disparities have resulted in invaluable contributions to the field of Health Psychology.  In particular, her approach to balancing scientific rigor with the use of community participatory approaches has advanced the field in critical ways, especially in regard to the translational impact of her research. Her theoretical approach integrates bio-ecological models, family systems, motivation and behavioral approaches to health behavior change. Her recently funded work has been instrumental for the field in demonstrating, through randomized controlled-trials, the efficacy of innovative community-based approaches in increasing physical activity, healthy eating and disease prevention in African American youth, families, and communities. Dr. Wilson has an impressive history of federally funded grants to support her research program, amounting to more than $20 million in funding within the last 15 years alone. She has served as a primary investigator on more than 35 grants supported by the National Institutes of Health, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Kidney Foundation.  She has over 100 peer-reviewed articles published in high quality journals over the course of her career.

Dr. Wilson also serves as a role model for mentoring.   She is currently the Director of the Obesity Research Group at the University of South Carolina where she mentors more than 10 graduate and post-doctoral students, as well as 20 undergraduate students, in becoming the next generation of health psychologists who will be leaders in the field. She has also mentored numerous graduate students through minority supplement grants and through dissertation awards from NIH over the past 30 years. Her colleagues and students at the University of South Carolina have awarded her with the Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring Award, Department of Psychology, and the Outstanding Mentoring Award, Clinical Community Program, Department of Psychology two years in a row.

Dr. Wilson is also a proud mother of two and a devoted spouse, “practicing what she preaches” by having her family participate in the walking programs that are part of her research. I hope that you will join me in recognizing Dr. Wilson’s tremendous accomplishments and congratulating her on the honor of being commended by Division 38 for Excellence in Health Psychology Research.

Excellence in Health Psychology Research by an Early Career Professional Award

Sarah D. Pressman, Ph.D.

University of California, Irvine

By Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine

Sarah Pressman, recipient of the Division 38 Award for Excellence in Health Psychology Research by an Early Career Professional, is an outstanding young scholar who is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Starting with work she began as a graduate student, Dr. Pressman has conducted pioneering, thought-provoking research in which she is disentangling the mechanisms underlying the role of positive emotions and health. Her scholarship also combines biology and physiology with the study of human health and flourishing. Her in-depth knowledge of the cardiovascular and immunological systems, combined with her creative methods, allows her to explore the role of positive affect and health in innovative ways. Her research is path-breaking and has contributed to a paradigm shift in the field of health psychology. Prior to her research, the field focused primarily on the harmful effects of negative emotions and stressful experiences on health outcomes. Dr. Pressman’s work helped spark the current growing fascination with, and understanding of, factors that increase resilience and decrease vulnerability to a range of chronic diseases.

Early in her career, Dr. Pressman developed a theoretical model with Dr. Sheldon Cohen that described how positive psychosocial factors are related to physical health. This model outlined how positive affect is related to better health behavior, stronger and more frequent social ties, and enhanced immunological and decreased HPA axis activity. The seminal paper that introduced this model was published in Psychological Bulletin in 2005. Since it appeared, it has been one of the most-cited papers in Psychiatry and Psychology – indeed, it has already been cited over 850 times.

Over the past decade, Dr. Pressman has also conducted a series of rigorous and innovative scientific studies that document the benefits of positive psychosocial factors — such as positive affect and social relationships — on physiological outcomes such as cardiovascular and immunological functioning. For example, she has examined how trait positive affect is related to wound healing when people are experiencing acute stress, how the act of smiling is related to cardiovascular recovery after a stressful task, and how restorative activity is related to both psychological and physiological well-being. Her empirical work is noteworthy for its theory-driven, programmatic nature, as well as its use of diverse methodologies from large population-based samples to experimental lab designs. Of course, her work has also been published in some of the most prestigious journals in the field of psychology.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention that in addition to her important and innovative scholarship, Dr. Pressman is also an inspirational teacher and mentor who has begun to serve our community in a number of important ways, including serving on the editorial board of Health Psychology and as co-chair of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Health Psychology pre-conference for the past two years.

Division 38 is pleased to award the 2014 Award for Excellence in Health Psychology Research by an Early Career Professional to Dr. Pressman for her transformative and ground-breaking research and in recognition for her extraordinary body of work at this early stage in her career.

Excellence in Clinical Health Psychology Award

Barbara Cubic, PhD, ABPP

Eastern Virginia Medical School

By Kim Dixon, Ph.D. , Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center

It is my pleasure to present the 2014 Excellence in Clinical Health Psychology Award to Dr. Barbara Cubic. As you will hear, Dr. Cubic’s contributions to the field of Health Psychology, psychology training, and medical education are immeasurable.

Dr. Cubic received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Louisiana State University, completed a doctoral internship at the Boston VA Consortium, and postdoctoral training at the Center for Cognitive Therapy: Beck Institute. She is certified by the Academy of Cognitive Therapy as a CBT therapist and CBT supervisor and she is a Founding Fellow for the Academy of Cognitive Therapy (ACT).

Dr. Cubic has spent her entire career in academic medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School where she holds the rank of Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine.  She is a renowned expert in primary care psychology and integrated care, and has provided over 70 educational symposia and workshops  on such topics as “Competencies for Psychology Practice in Primary Care; Integrated Care: Models of Clinical Care Delivery and Education and Training; and, The Role of Interdisciplinary Training in Preparing Psychologists for Integrated Behavioral Health Services.”  She has authored myriad book chapters and journal articles related to psychology training competencies, integrated care, and medical education.

Dr. William Robiner, Professor in the Departments of Medicine & Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School wrote of his colleague: “Dr. Cubic has a sterling national reputation in the field of psychology for her work in integrated care and also is well known for her diligent efforts nationally on behalf of the discipline of psychology and its role in academic medicine.  She is a stellar example of an academic medical center psychologist and serves as a strong role model for psychologists nationwide who work in academic health institutions.”

Dr. Cubic is a born leader as evidenced by her many years of professional service. Examples include previously serving as president of the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers, Divisions 38’s representative on the APA Inter-Organizational Work Group on Competencies for Psychological Practice in Primary care, Chair of the Board of Educational Affairs Primary Care Training Task Force, and the 2007-2012 editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychology in Medical Settings.

Dr. Cynthia Belar, the now retired Executive Director of APA’s Education Directorate commented on Dr. Cubic’s service to APA as follows: Dr. Cubic was chair of BEA’s Task Force on Primary Care that set an agenda for a number of APA efforts in this area, including a survey of training programs, the development of a training directory, the articulation of practice competencies, and the delivery of training webinars provided for students and faculty.  She also made major contributions to the development of a portable curriculum for doctoral programs and Internships.  Dr. Cubic’s commitment to the scientific foundations of practice and interprofessional expertise has pervaded her work which has achieved recognition by other health professions as well.”

Dr. Cubic’s current service activities includes board member of the Council of Clinical Health Psychology Training Programs, Division 38 Integrated Primary Care Committee and the Integrated Primary Care Curriculum Development Subcommittee, Treasurer of Division 12, Society of Clinical Psychology, and she is a current Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers’ representative on the Association of American Medical Colleges Council of Academic Societies.

Dr. Cubic is the recipient of many university and professional awards including the 2010 American Psychological Foundation Cummings PSYCHE Prize for her work in integrated care, 2012 William R .Goldman Supervisor of the Year award, 2007 award for excellence in teaching for the EVMS Clinical Psychology Internship program, and she is a multi-year recipient of the Instructor of the Year award from EVMS Psychiatry Residency Program.

I closing, I would like to share comments from her colleague Dr. Robert Archer, the Frank Harrell Redwood Distinguished Professor at Dr. Cubic’s home institute, EVMS:  “Dr. Cubic has been an inspiration to students, interns, residents and faculty at EVMS in terms of her development and implementation of a model training program in Integrative Psychology that involves multiple departments and disciplines, with important implications for the development of similar programs across the United States. We are very proud of, and grateful for, her important accomplishments and contributions in health psychology.”

I am honored to confer this well-deserved award to my professional colleague and dear friend, Dr. Barbara Cubic.

Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology

Ronald H. Rozensky, Ph.D., ABPP

University of Florida

By Steven M. Tovian, Ph.D., ABPP, Northwestern University

Dr. Ronald H. Rozensky is honored as the 2014 recipient of the Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology for his scholarly, clinical, leadership, and policy contributions to health psychology. Dr. Rozensky’s most recent service to health psychology, and the members of Division 38, includes his appointment by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to the Advisory Council on Interdisciplinary Community Based Linkages in the Bureau of Health Professions. Elected chair of that Federal Advisory Committee by his peers from a range of healthcare professions, the first psychologist to be given that honor, Dr. Rozensky’s collegial, consensus-building leadership style brought a new level of recognition at the Federal level of the importance of the science and practice of health psychology to healthcare. He was a signatory on a letter from the chairs and vice chairs of the Bureau’s four professional advisory committees sent to the U.S. Congress during the recent healthcare reform debate. That letter advocated for the funding and utilization of “interprofessional” education, training, and services to improve the healthcare system. That term (interprofessional) is used now throughout the Affordable Care Act and reflects a focus on collaborative, integrated healthcare education and services and includes a role for health psychology in that evolving system.

During his year as chair of that Federal advisory committee, the committee’s annual report to Congress and the Secretary of HHS focused on the importance of addressing “health behavior change” as part of a truly comprehensive, integrated healthcare system – clearly assuring recognition of the importance of health psychology. Dr. Rozensky was selected by the Carter Center to participate in their Health Education Summit that promulgated recommendations for enhancing primary care services including that integrated care be taught to all healthcare professionals and that behavioral health should be a major component of that education and in primary care.

Dr. Rozensky’s contributions to our field include founding a scholarly journal, now in its 20th year, focused on health psychology. He has published five textbooks on health psychology, one of which was co-edited with Drs. Nathan Perry and Susan Bennett Johnson, and over 90 peer reviewed journal articles and chapters on health psychology and health policy. Dr. Rozensky chaired a well-respected academic department, the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida where he followed Dr. Perry as chair and built on the strong scientist practitioner tradition of that department and the work of Dr. Perry.

Any one of these academic contributions alone might well qualify Dr. Rozensky for this Award. But, he has gone well beyond the norm and has taken the lead on many key projects that have brought major changes to our field. These include co-chairing the APA Presidential initiate that added “health” to the APA Bylaws; a structural change to the accreditation process; changes to the study of workforce issues in psychology, recommendations to streamline APA governance, and new Guidelines offering a taxonomy to help more clearly describe the education & training sequence of specialties in professional psychology.

Because of his federal healthcare reform experiences, in recent years, Dr. Rozensky has been an invited keynote speaker contributing to many education and training conferences in professional psychology setting the tone for discussions of the future of health service psychology in the era of the Affordable Care Act. For his advocacy work regarding psychology and healthcare, the APA Board of Educational Affairs presented him with their Education Advocacy Distinguished Service Award (recently renamed the Belar Award recognizing the contributions of another distinguished health psychologist). The APA also awarded Dr. Rozensky their Award for Distinguished Contributions to Institutional Practice, once again reflecting his contributions to psychology across health care settings, as well as the APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training reflecting his many contributions to the education and training community. Finally, The Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers awarded Dr. Rozensky their first Joseph Matarazzo Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in Academic Health Center – named after a founder of Health Psychology and our Division.

From a personal point of view, Dr. Rozensky has been a valued colleague, co-author, mentor and trusted friend for over forty years. He has indeed made a substantial contribution to our field in so many, many ways…….Thank you and congratulations, Dr. Rozensky.