2016 Award Recipients


2016 Award Recipients

Excellence in Health Psychology Research Award

Timothy W. Smith, PhD

University of Utah

By Bert N. Uchino, PhD, University of Utah

Professor Timothy Smith is a very deserving recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Health Psychology Research Award from the Division of Health Psychology. He has a remarkable record of research, service, and teaching befitting of this award and the distinguished list of prior recipients. This award highlights the amazing consistency of Tim’s scholarship having previously been awarded the Early Career Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology. This honor also adds to the list of his accomplishments which include being a state high school champion in wrestling, as well as a club champion in golf.

To start, Tim’s program of research on psychosocial risk factors has had a significant impact on theory and method. He has been a leader in challenging the field to take more integrative approaches by utilizing broader frameworks like the interpersonal circumplex as a means to unify psychosocial risk factor modeling. His broad but systematic conceptual approach linking traits and social processes to health has been a model on how to understand complex psychosocial risk factors across levels of analysis.

Not only has the quality of Tim’s work been exceptional but his productivity is phenomenal. He has published 267 articles / chapters in the very best outlets in the field. Tim has been awarded a number of prestigious awards including early career awards from the division as well as the American Psychosomatic Society; the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society of Behavioral Medicine; and the Patricia R. Barchas Award in Sociophysiology from the American Psychosomatic Society. He was also elected President of the Division of Health Psychology as well as the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. Tim has unselfishly served the division and broader discipline as well by chairing numerous committees and being an associate editor for major journals including Health Psychology and American Psychologist.

Tim has also made strong contributions to the teaching and training missions of the discipline. He is a co-author on a best-selling introductory Health Psychology textbook and one of the founders of the Health Psychology program at the University of Utah which was one of the first national programs of its kind. Tim is also an outstanding educator having won several prestigious awards for teaching and mentoring at the University of Utah. The quality of his mentoring is also evident in the fact that two of his past graduate students have been awarded distinguished early career awards from APA. Tim cares deeply about mentoring and has been an unselfish mentor to countless undergraduates, graduates, and junior faculty.

Tim’s achievements in any one area would be a good career for most. However, it is the combination of excellence across every domain of scholarship and its consistency over time that makes Tim truly deserving of this award. His footprint on the field is obvious and he has the deep appreciation and respect of his colleagues and those fortunate enough to also call him a friend.

Excellence in Health Psychology Research by an Early Career Professional Award

Richard B. Slatcher, PhD

Wayne State University

By Mark A. Lumley, PhD, Wayne State University

I am delighted to present Dr. Richard Slatcher the SfHP’s 2016 award for Excellence in Health Psychology Research by an Early Career Professional. As my colleague in the Department of Psychology at Wayne State University in Detroit, Dr. Slatcher is highly deserving of this award. He obtained his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of Texas at Austin, completed a 2-year post-doc at UCLA, and then joined our department in 2009. He has been a “superstar” and was promoted and tenured early, reflecting his great productivity.

Dr. Slatcher’s research, which is grounded in basic relationship science, seeks to answer the question of how social relationships affect health, with an eye toward the biological mechanisms of these associations. He and his trainees have been investigating the links between self-disclosure, partner responsiveness, and health using daily diary methods and ecological momentary assessment. He has found that work stress negatively affects women’s stress biology among those who are either unhappy in their marriage or low in self-disclosure to their spouses. In a national prospective sample of couples, he found that partner responsiveness predicted healthier diurnal cortisol slopes after 10 years. Dr. Slatcher also co-authored a highly cited meta-analysis in Psychological Bulletin on the links between marital quality and health, and he has published the “Strength and Strain” model to clarify how marital quality can impact health.

Dr. Slatcher has also examined how marital relationships can impact the family environment and children’s health and well-being. Supported by an R01 grant from the NIH, he has studied the effects of family social environments on childhood asthma among youth in Detroit. He found that partner responsiveness positively impacts children’s health and well-being, and does so, in part, through better parenting. Dr. Slatcher also uses the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR), which is an acoustic event-sampling device, and which permits actually hearing what goes on when people are at home together. He has shown that conflict at home, as measured with the EAR, is linked to less healthy diurnal cortisol patterns in young children and to greater asthma wheezing. This research with families has led him to develop and test the “Thriving Families” theoretical model for understanding how positive social relationships at home lead to healthy outcomes in childhood and beyond.

Dr. Slatcher is very prolific, having published 46 articles and chapters, many in our leading journals. For example, he has 7 articles in our own Health Psychology. He also is on the editorial boards of six journals. But Dr. Slatcher has also made substantial contributions at home. He pulled together over 50 behavioral health researchers from across our university and secured nearly $1,000,000 in internal funding to form Wayne State’s RoBUST organization (Researchers of Biobehavioral Health in Urban Settings Today). RoBUST stimulates cross-disciplinary urban health research and will help our university become a leader in urban health psychology and related fields.

For these contributions both internationally and locally, I’m very pleased to make this award to Dr. Richard Slatcher.

Excellence in Health Psychology Research by an Early Career Professional Award

A. Janet Tomiyama, PhD

University of California, Los Angeles

By Annette Stanton, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama is the 2016 recipient of the Society for Health Psychology’s Award for Excellence in Health Psychology Research by an Early Career Professional. An Assistant Professor in the Health Psychology Area of the Department of Psychology at UCLA, Dr. Tomiyama is a rising star in the science of health psychology. Beginning with an influential paper in the American Psychologist written in graduate school (Mann, Tomiyama et al., 2007), Dr. Tomiyama has built a program of research investigating why the health behavior of dieting is often ineffective as a “cure” for obesity. In a particularly rigorous paper that exemplifies Dr. Tomiyama’s careful mechanistic work, she hypothesized that dieting is stressful and triggers a cortisol response which could undermine weight loss, given cortisol’s role in abdominal fat deposition and appetite. In a randomized, controlled experiment, she found that dieting is psychologically stressful and promotes higher daily cortisol secretion (Tomiyama et al., 2010).

Dr. Tomiyama is a leader in the field of stress, eating behavior, and obesity. She has identified stress as a risk factor for the longitudinal development of obesity in a sample of nearly 2,500 Black and White girls (Tomiyama et al., 2013). In addition, the relationship between stress and BMI gain was stronger in Black girls than white girls, illuminating a mechanism for the large racial disparity in obesity rates. A fascinating series of studies demonstrated that stress-induced eating, a more proximal mechanism for the stress-obesity link, actually might be effective in dampening stress responses. For example, she found that highly stressed individuals tended to engage in more comfort eating, which in turn was related to lower diurnal cortisol and lower cortisol reactivity to experimentally-induced stress (Tomiyama, Dallman, & Epel, 2011). Individuals who engaged in more comfort eating also reported lower psychological reactivity in response to stressful life events (Finch & Tomiyama, 2015). Dr. Tomiyama has parlayed these findings into an intervention, recently funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which replaces unhealthy comfort-related food with fruits and vegetables.

A social health psychologist by training, Dr. Tomiyama is deeply interested in the effects of social stigma on health. Specifically, she has developed a programmatic research arc in the area of obesity stigma, which some evidence places on par with stigma based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. Tomiyama has posited one of the now dominant theoretical models for how obesity stigma can harm health. In her 2014 theoretical review, she proposed that experiencing obesity stigma is stressful, which in turn causes increases in cortisol, which triggers fat deposition and drives appetite. Over time, weight gain ensues, placing individuals at ever more risk for experiencing obesity stigma and poor health. Based on work amassing evidence for each step of her model, the National Science Foundation awarded Dr. Tomiyama a prestigious CAREER grant.

Additional evidence of the impact of Dr. Tomiyama’s research is her 2013 Society of Behavioral Medicine Early Career Investigator Award and selection as a “Rising Star” by the Association for Psychological Science (2013). Her work is widely cited in scientific and public media. For example, a 2016 paper was covered by the New York Times, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, the Los Angeles Times, and other outlets. Tomiyama’s dedication to research mentoring also is notable, particularly for under-represented minority students. For example, she has developed a summer research internship targeted to under-represented students, funded by her NSF CAREER grant.

In light of these outstanding theoretical and empirical contributions, which carry clear implications for application and public policy, Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama is highly deserving of the Society for Health Psychology Award. We have full confidence that she will continue her exceptional trajectory of research to advance the science and evidence-based application of health psychology.

Excellence in Clinical Health Psychology Award

Lloyd Berg, PhD, ABPP

The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School Psychiatry Residency Program at the Seton Healthcare Family

By Jared L. Skillings, PhD, ABPP, Spectrum Health System, Grand Rapids, MI

It is an honor to announce that the 2016 recipient of the Excellence in Clinical Health Psychology Award is Dr. Lloyd Berg. This award recognizes outstanding commitment to clinical health psychology by a full-time provider of clinical services. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Berg has championed clinical health psychology throughout the Austin, Texas medical community, from primary to tertiary care. He is not only a top-notch clinical health psychologist, but also a collaborative colleague, and accomplished leader.

Dr. Berg’s career in clinical health psychology began in 1995 as the first full-time Behavioral Science Director for the Austin Medical Education Programs Family Practice Residency. He designed and implemented their behavioral science curriculum and received the Weinberg Award for Excellence in Family Practice Education. In 1998 he co-founded Austin’s first health psychology specialty group, Behavioral Health Consultants, PLLC. Over the next several years, Dr. Berg and his business partner, Dr. Clif Moore, successfully collaborated with hospital administrators to eliminate physician supervision requirements for psychology privileging in all Austin acute care hospitals. Behavioral Health Consultants now employs ten psychologists and provides clinical services to over 5,000 patients annually in 24 Austin area medical facilities, including six acute care hospitals.

In 2010, Dr. Berg accepted an invitation to become an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and the first psychology faculty member of The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School Psychiatry Residency. Dr. Berg is board certified in clinical health psychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). He played a crucial role in the rejuvenation of the American Academy of Clinical Health Psychology and he became President in 2015. He also serves on the American Board of Clinical Health Psychology and was elected Secretary for the Council of Presidents of Psychology Specialty Academies.

Dr. Berg has not only devoted himself to clinical service and leadership, but also giving back to others. He has trained and mentored many early career health psychologists and devoted his leadership skills to strengthen nonprofits in the community. His career is a prototype for younger professionals who hope to influence their community and profession through clinical health psychology practice.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Lloyd Berg, the recipient of the Society for Health Psychology’s 2016 Excellence in Clinical Health Psychology Award.

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

Robert D. Kerns, PhD

Yale University

By Beverly Thorn, PhD, ABBP, The University of Alabama

I am most pleased to write these introductory remarks about Bob Kerns as he receives the 2016 Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology. This award will add to the many awards he has received throughout his career — but a special one since it is a “career capper,” and because it is in honor of Nate Perry, who Bob both knew well and worked closely with on Division 38. If you look at Bob’s CV, one thing about his awards becomes clear – he has been recognized by many organizations and entities for his service, including the APA Division of Public Service, our own Division 38, The Veteran’s Administration, The American Academy of Pain Medicine, and The American Pain Society. Service may not be sexy, but service gets things done, and Bob epitomizes getting things done!

Bob and I have known each other since we were pups in graduate school at Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale, Ill. Bob received his Ph.D. in bio-clinical psychology in 1980 following his internship at The Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in West Haven, CT. (The bioclinical psychology program was a dual degree Ph.D. program in clinical and physiological psychology, an early fore-runner of today’s clinical health psychology programs.)

Bob remained with the V.A. for his entire “first” career, spanning from 1980 to 2016, progressing from Intern, to Director of the Pain Management Center, to Chief of Psychology. He also took on a 7-year role as the National Program Director of Pain Management at the V.A. Central Office in Washington, D.C., where he shaped a new direction in pain management at the V.A. that mandated biopsychosocial treatment of veterans with pain, and paved the way for integrated care in the entire U.S. Healthcare system.

Since his retirement from the V.A. this year, Bob has relaxed into the position of Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry & Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine and the Department of Psychology at Yale University.

Bob’s CV contains pages and pages of empirical publications, book chapters, and books, as well as many, many scientific presentations nationally and internationally. He has been continuously funded by the V.A. since 1981 (thru 2019), and, not content with winding up his career with “only” V.A. grants, merit awards, and program awards, he applied for, and received an NIH R01, funded from 2014-2019.

Bob recently told me he had a serious disorder called F.O.M.A. — “Fear of Missing Out,” and he is clearly not planning to rest on his laurels anytime soon! (By the way, Bob is famous for making up acronyms for stuff, but most of them are not fit for print – you will have to ask him about his others).

In terms of service to Division 38, Bob has served on the Council of Representatives (twice), as member-at-large on the executive board (twice), as D 38 President (only once!), and as a founding member of the interdivision Health Services Council. Clearly, this man has FOMA disorder, and we are the beneficiaries. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Robert D. Kerns as the 2016 Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology.