2019 Award Recipients
2020 Award Recipients
Christopher France PhD
Nominated by Tracey A. Revenson
It is a light in these dark times to introduce Dr. Christopher France, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Ohio University, who has received the Society for Health Psychology’s 2020 Award for Excellence in Health Psychology Research. I have known Chris since the 2003 APA meeting, when I was President Elect-Elect of Division 38 and he was Program Chair. Learning that he had compiled a massive “operating procedures” book for future program chairs, I introduced myself and said to him, “You’ll be President of the division in a few years.” (That happened a decade later.) I got to know him well when he was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Behavioral Medicine and then, the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Chris was always willing to mentor authors and editors, much as he mentors his students and post-docs, and turned journal editing from a factory line job into an intellectual experience, even if I never understood his ice hockey metaphors.
Dr. France is one of those scholars with a curriculum vita that is both weighty and rich in substance. Social psychologist Zick Rubin observed that “Professors are famous for measuring themselves by the quantity of their scholarly output, and they're often measured by others in the same way” (NY Times, 1985). I want to turn the large numbers of grants, publications, honors, and awards that Chris France has received on its side, because Chris deserves this award not because of those individual achievements, but because he shares his knowledge and passion for health psychology with others, gives of his time for others, and shares his successes with others. His career is also a lesson in “sticking with it” – continuity in research that pays off.
Within the field of health psychology, Dr. France has carved two distinctive niches, both of which expose the connections between basic physiological and psychological processes. First, his pain research ranges from lab-based studies of basic biopsychosocial influences on experimental pain to intervention studies on the treatment of chronic pain conditions. One of his early and important contributions to the field involved the study of physiological mechanisms that link decreased pain perception and risk for hypertension. More recently, Dr. France’s research has focused on the role of both vulnerability factors (such as pain-related fear, kinesiophobia, and catastrophizing) and resilience factors (e.g., pain resilience, self-efficacy, and positive affect) in the experience of acute pain in the laboratory as well as with chronic pain and its related disability in the real world. One example of his innovative and cross-disciplinary approach to research is Dr. France’s involvement in studying the use of virtual reality technology to aid in restoring normal spinal movement in individuals with chronic back pain.
Dr. France’s second major research focus is in the field of blood donation. He is a leading expert in the confluence of physiological and psychological factors involved in attracting and retaining the donors required to meet the on-going demand for blood products. His scope of work has included developing coping strategies and educational interventions to attenuate negative physical reactions to donation, identifying psychosocial and physiological predictors of donor return behavior, and implementing post-donation motivational interventions to enhance development of a donor identity and increase the likelihood of future donations. Some of his recent work has identified the central role of donation-related fear as a risk factor for vasovagal reactions and subsequent donor attrition, and has led to the development and assessment of on-site interventions for donor fear that can be implemented by blood collection staff. Dr. France’s work can be truly described as translational, taking basic physiological processes studied in the laboratory, testing them in real-world populations/situations, and then developing clinical interventions from them.
Three characteristics qualify Chris France for this award. The first is the strong theoretical and methodological foundations of his work just described. The second contribution has been to reshape the essential ways in which psychologists think about how biology and behavior mutually influence each other. Because his strategy always has been to bring the study of physiology together with basic principles of clinical and health psychology (rather than casting off one or the other), his influence is felt well beyond any one of these fields. And the third is his excitement collaborating and extending the science - whether that's working across constituencies, across disciplines, or across borders.
Chris’ scientific contributions to Health Psychology go way past the realm of his own research. He is no stranger to honors – He received the award for Outstanding Service to APA Division 38 in 2003 and the award for Exceptional Service in 2007. Not only has he directly influenced the careers of his students, postdocs, and national and international colleagues, but as Editor-in-Chief of multiple journals and Chair of the BMIO panel at NIH, he has indirectly influenced the course of health psychology research for two plus decades.
Well done, Chris!
Katie Ehrlich, Ph.D.
Nominated by: Andres De Los Reyes, Ph.D., University of Maryland at College Park
It is my honor to introduce my dear colleague and friend, Dr. Katie Ehrlich, as this year’s winner of the Society for Health Psychology’s award for Excellence in Health Psychology Research by an Early Career Professional. I want to thank the Society for recognizing Katie’s work, and seeing in her work what I have had the privilege of observing for over a decade. Put simply: In Katie I see the future of the social sciences. For those of us who call Psychology our “home discipline,” I think it’s easy to lose sight over the fact that so many of the questions that pique our curiosity also make scholars in other disciplines curious. How do our relationships impact our physical health? What aspects of our biological functioning impact our mental health? Might we arrive at insights into these kinds of questions, by not only drawing from research and theory in disciplines outside of Psychology, but also reaching out and collaborating with scholars in those disciplines? In Katie’s work, we see a model for how the social sciences can leverage the kinds of team scienceapproaches to inquiry that for years have led to revolutionary findings for scholars in Physics, Medicine, Engineering, and the Atmospheric Sciences. In Katie’s latest work, funded by a National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award, sheleverages a creative methodology—examination of vaccine responses in children—in order to test questions about the social determinants of health in childhood and adolescence. To address her aims, Katie assembled a team of collaborators at the University of Georgia that includes Drs. Ted Ross and Gene Brody. She also developed partnerships with multiple centers on her campus, including the Center for Vaccines and Immunology, the Clinical and Translational Research Unit, and the Center for Family Research. Katie’s the kind of scientist about whom you set Google Scholar alerts, to ensure that you stay on top of her lab’s latest findings.
But make no mistake, Katie’s success as a team scientist hasn’t come easy. You know who has had it relatively easy when it comes to living the life of a team scientist? Let’s start with the Physicists: at least they have a String Theory, a unifying framework and coordinated set of paradigms. We in Psychology do not. That lack of a baseline synergy or infrastructure to facilitate cross-talk among not only ourselves, but also scholars in disparate disciplines makes the work of a team scientist in Psychology particularly challenging.
And here’s where Katie shines. Of course, I can elaborate on all her accolades and productivity. Yes, she’s published over 40 peer-reviewed articles, with many in top journals like Health Psychology, Development and Psychopathology, and Child Development. Sure, this is not her first top honor from a major society. She has won, in consecutive years, the Association for Psychological Science’s Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions, and the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. Yet, team scientists like Katie don’t succeed on smarts and hard work alone. Katie does more. Katie is bold. She takes risks. There’s no quit in Katie. In recognizing Katie’s work now, I guarantee that you are catching her right at the ground floor of a transformative career.
I conclude by noting what I think is the most special element of Katie’s work thus far. Indeed, it’s the element that we should be most excited to see. In her lab, Katie’s raising the next generation of team scientists. I can readily tell from the outside that these scholars-in-training are in very capable hands. They don’t need a String Theory, because they have Katie. And under her mentorship, I am hopeful that this subset of the next generation of scientists will do what team scientists in Psychology can and should do: Help revolutionize our understanding of the intersections among psychosocial functioning and all that manifests underneath the skin.
Lisa Kearney, PhD, ABPP
Deputy Director- Suicide Prevention, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Acting Director of the Veterans Crisis Line
Nominated by: By Barbara Ward-Zimmerman, PhD, William B. Gunn, Jr., PhD, Barbara A. Cubic, PhD, Mark E. Vogel, PhD, ABPP, and Nancy B. Ruddy, PhD
We are delighted and honored to recognize our esteemed colleague, Lisa Kearney, PhD, ABPP, as the recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Clinical Health Psychology Award. Dr. Kearney’s extensive contributions to the advancement of the discipline of psychology, and health psychology in particular, make her exceptionally deserving of this distinction. Her leadership and advocacy have provided critical support to national health improvement initiatives resulting in positive societal outcomes. In addition to her many and varied accomplishments, Dr. Kearney is one of the most personable, unassuming individuals in the field of health psychology. She is universally respected as an innovator who models excellence and integrity in every aspect of her far-reaching and distinguished career. She leads with humility, valuing the power of teamwork and collaboration.
Dr. Kearney serves as the Deputy Director- Suicide Prevention at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Acting Director of the Veterans Crisis Line, and as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of Texas Health San Antonio. These positions capitalize on her subject matter expertise in primary care-mental health integration, interprofessional teamwork, evidence-based treatment, and measurement-based care. In each leadership position Dr. Kearney works tirelessly and successfully to advance the development and sustainability of large-scale, nationwide healthcare programs that produce tangible improvements in public health. She is also a champion for professional growth across all career stages and motivates and inspires fellow psychologists seeking board certification in health psychology.
Additionally, Dr. Kearney has expanded the knowledge base and skill sets of countless behavioral health providers through a variety of innovative training and educational venues. She orchestrates and conducts robust training programs for the VA, offers national workshops, and is a core developer of an integrated primary care graduate curriculum distributed both nationally and internationally by the SfHP.
Dr. Kearney has held leadership and governance positions in a variety of professional organizations, including the SfHP (current chair of the Clinical Health Services Council and liaison to the Interdivisional Healthcare Committee), the American Psychological Association (e.g., past chair of the Board of Professional Affairs), the American Academy of Clinical Health Psychology (current president), and the Bexar County Psychological Association (past president).
Dr. Kearney has also made significant contributions to the psychological science literature. In her nearly 40 publications she has focused on the betterment of health and healthcare and she currently serves as an Associate Editor for Psychological Services (APA Division 18) and Journal of Health Service Psychology (National Register of Health Service Psychologists) and as a Consulting Editor for Psychology of Men and Masculinity (Division 51).
Through Dr. Kearney’s substantial and long-term service to the SfHP, APA, VA, and local psychological organizations, she has significantly advanced healthcare policy and has had positive impacts on public health as well as the practice of psychologists across the nation. We are proud and grateful to call Dr. Kearney our colleague and friend.
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Lisa Kearney in receiving the Excellence in Clinical Health Psychology Award.
Stacy Ogbeide PsyD
Nominated by: Frank deGruy, MD, MSFM
I congratulate the selection committee on making an excellent choice. Dr. Ogbeide’s contributions to the field of Health Psychology are already notable, and she is just getting started. I predict that Stacy’s contributions will come to dominate the field of integrated behavioral-primary healthcare. Eventually we will all be working for her.
I think you can recognize a person who will become a world-class leader in their field, who will change the world—by five characteristics: talent, hard work, courage, an eagerness to learn, and luck. Stacy is about ten out of ten on all five of these criteria. She makes her own luck, and she’s so talented and so brave it scares me. Let’s map her accomplishments against these characteristics.
Talent. Stacy has the unusual capacity to simultaneously envision how a program could look and would work as a whole, from a high-level systems perspective, and at the same time see the tools and time and steps it will take to actually get the thing up and running. In other words, she’s a visionary who also can keep the trains running on time. For example, she has envisioned a training program across schools that borrow from each other for strength, stability, and sustainability—nobody could see that coming. She also makes sure the thing actually works.
Hard work. Stacy sets her baseline work commitment at just about where most people’s heart would burst from exhaustion. She’s not burning out—this woman is running a marathon, but my goodness, this is one productive woman. She’s written 28 papers, she’s on over 15 advisory boards, she teaches or has taught in 19 different programs, she has mentored 12 learners, she’s been on five editorial boards, and is a national conference co-chair.
Courage. A willingness to risk failure, or get hurt, for a good idea or a better way. This woman is brave! She will have that hard conversation, no matter how much it scares her; she will commit to a program she thinks she can pull off, even if all the pieces haven’t fallen into place yet. She will pick up and move across the country by herself if she sees a chance to do more good, for a longer time, somewhere else. Which she has done.
Teachability, or a learner’s heart. This might be Stacy’s most potent, and most endearing, talent. She pulls good lessons and advice out of her mentors. She makes me look good as a mentor, because she asks very hard questions, is prepared to think hard through the answers, does what she says she’s going to do, and moves on to the next hard problem.
Luck. Stacy makes her own luck. She runs to where the ball will be, and if it’s not there, she pulls it into position. This is a propitious time for integrated behavioral healthcare, and I have every reason to think that Stacy will open this field up and advance it at just the time we need this most.
So again—congratulations to the selection committee, and congratulations to Dr. Stacy Ogbeide. Well done.
Richard J. Contrada, PhD
Nominated by: Tanya Spruill, PhD, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
I am honored to introduce Dr. Richard Contrada, Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, as the 2020 recipient of the Excellence in Health Psychology Mentoring Award. I have known Richard for the past 23 years as a graduate advisor, mentor, colleague and friend. The impact he has had on my academic career is immeasurable and I am grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences, and those of other mentees, with the Society for Health Psychology community.
Richard is a social/health psychologist whose research over the past four decades has advanced our understanding of psychosocial and emotional factors involved in the development and course of cardiovascular disease. A major focus has been the psychophysiology of stress and emotion, including the role of anger-related and other personality traits in cardiovascular reactivity. His work on social-contextual factors that shape adaptation to chronic disease and its treatment, in particular recovery from open-heart surgery, has far-reaching theoretical and clinical implications.
The impact Richard has had on the field of health psychology is even greater when considering his role as a mentor.He has mentored more than 20 doctoral students, many of whom are now making significant contributions to health psychology research and practice. He also has a long history of mentoring undergraduate students who have gone on to pursue careers in health psychology and medicine.
As my colleagues and I reflected on our experiences with Richard, the stories that emerged revealed what an enormous influence he has had on each of us, personally and professionally. He is well known for his emphasis on approaching research questions from multiple theoretical perspectives, and his ability to help students connect theory, method and data interpretation. He is described as a generous and dedicated mentor whose focus on excellence and growth are accompanied by endless patience and unwavering support. Comments from past mentees highlight these qualities:
“It is hard to overstate how tremendously inspiring it is to have a fully engaged teacher who is willing to listen and challenge your thinking and push you to grow. I wish all students could have this type of mentorship.”
“The excitement that he displays for his field of study is contagious and, I believe, largely responsible for my own passion for psychology.”
“He shows a genuine interest in facilitating the professional development of all his mentees and ensuring that their research is scientifically rigorous and clinically relevant.”
“He is the reason I have a doctorate today despite an array of factors that easily could have knocked me off track.”
Richard embodies all that one could hope for in a mentor. Many of us continue to seek his advice and collaboration, and he continues to shape and support our careers. It is with immense enthusiasm, respect and gratitude that we congratulate Dr. Richard Contrada on the Excellence in Health Psychology Mentoring Award.
Traci Mann PhD
Nominated by: A. Janet Tomiyama, PhD
I’m thrilled to introduce Dr. Traci Mann, Professor of Social and Health Psychology at the University of Minnesota, recipient of the Cynthia D. Belar Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education and Training in Health Psychology. Traci is one of the master teachers of our time, and we in Health Psychology are lucky that she is one of us. She teaches in a way that makes students excited to learn—by using her inimitable humor, compelling examples, and innovative course structure that includes the students as active participants. As we know from sources such as the National Research Council report on the science of scientific teaching, this is precisely the type of pedagogy that is most effective, particularly for underrepresented minority students.
The reason that her excellent teaching deserves recognition at this national level is her extraordinary generosity in helping others become effective teachers of Health Psychology. She will share her teaching materials, wholesale with slides, slide notes, and readings, to anyone who asks. I know professors who have taught her exact course, word for word, swapping in the names of their own spouses and children for Traci’s when they get to those illustrative examples. I suppose that’s one way to benefit from Traci’s tremendous teaching talent, but most of us learned from Traci how to teach—how to present study designs in a way that show off their rigor, how to choose a real-world example to hit home the significance of a basic science finding, how to teach the Health Belief Model without putting anyone to sleep...
Traci’s teaching has impacted a vast number of individuals. I tried to quantify this by asking my colleagues to estimate the number of students they have taught using Traci’s materials. Just counting those that responded in the short time frame I gave, the grand total was well over 15,000 students! These students who have been touched by her teaching are at R1 universities, small liberal arts colleges, and everything in between.
Indeed, the following are just some of the accolades from the other faculty who lent their support for Traci’s nomination. David Creswell (Carnegie Mellon University) said, “Traci is a teacher who is funny, wise, thoughtful, analytical, and kind. Each day I try to be a teacher like her.” Lauren Ellman (Temple University) said, “Traci's lectures and her notes were truly inspirational to me. She not only made the material accessible and fun for the students, but she actually made ME more excited to teach.” Regan Gurung (University of Wisconsin, Green Bay) said, “I am impressed by how much Traci thinks about the best ways to teach Health Psychology. She famously made a significant change to teach the class without a textbook, instead compiling
primary sources and other materials. I salute this (even though the textbook she last used before the switch to no book was mine).” Maryhope Howland (formerly Trinity College) said, “She has that magic ability to impart understanding and wisdom without students even realizing it's happening. You just leave her presence somehow thinking about the world just a little differently,challenging one more assumption, and asking more questions.” Johanna Jarcho (Temple University) said, “My students are better equipped to navigate the world because of Traci, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.” David Sherman (University of California, Santa Barbara) said “Traci teaches like a great rabbi: knowledgeable, funny, impactful, and leaves you knowing more about yourself and what makes you tick.” John Updegraff (Kent State University) said, “Her take on the field, her enthusiasm for the work, and her support of her students and their ideas was infectious. …And now when I teach my own graduate course in Health Behavior Change, borrowing in many ways from the ways that Traci structured her course, I hope to create the same enthusiasm and opportunities for a new generation of researchers that Traci created for her class at UCLA."
Congratulations, Traci, and our deepest gratitude for your contributions.
Jerry Suls, PhD
Nominated by: Bill Klein
Jerry Suls recently retired from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he served as a Senior Scientist in the Behavioral Research Program. Prior to his tenure at NCI, Jerry held faculty positions in the psychology departments at University of Iowa, where he is now an Emeritus Professor, SUNY Albany, and Georgetown University. He received his PhD in social psychology at Temple University in 1973. Because Jerry is too energetic and productive to ever “really” retire, he is now working part-time as a researcher in the Center for Personalized Health in the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health.
As Jerry has demonstrated throughout a long and distinguished career, he is a truly interdisciplinary and “Renaissance” psychologist. Jerry is well-known in social psychology, health psychology, and behavioral medicine for his many empirical and theoretical contributions to our understanding of social and temporal comparisons (as illustrated by four edited volumes, the last of which appeared this year), self-evaluation, pluralistic ignorance, coronary-prone personality and behavior, chronic illness, and coping. Jerry has been a major leader in promoting a biopsychosocial approach to understanding health outcomes. He has well over 200 publications to his credit, a good many of them in the leading journals of our field. Jerry also secured ample funding from NSF and NIH throughout his career to support his superb research program. He has been elected a Fellow of APA Division 8, the Society for Health Psychology, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society of Experimental Social Psychology.
Yet his research contributions to the field are only part of the story. Jerry’s career is filled with many additional efforts designed to jumpstart budding new areas of science. During his time at the National Cancer Institute, he developed a great deal of momentum in research on cognitive impairment related to chemotherapy, including two new funding mechanisms. Jerry led or co-led a series of meetings and workgroups that integrated basic behavioral science with health research in areas such as palliative care decision making, “low-touch” health behavior interventions, and sun safety. He was also instrumental in NIH-wide efforts to elevate the dialogue about multiple morbidities and pragmatic trials. Jerry leveraged his influence at NIH to promote interest in new methodological approaches such as “n-of-1” trials, data pooling, and agent-based modeling, and was heavily involved in the NIH Common Fund Health Collaboratory program.
In addition to serving terms on editorial boards for many high-profile journals, Jerry was the founding editor of Social and Personality Psychology Compass, an innovative suite of journals developed to provide an outlet for fresh ideas in the field. Jerry also co-edited key special issues on psychological research related to cancer (in American Psychologist) and on multimorbidity in health psychology and behavioral medicine (in Health Psychology). He also served as editor of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin back in the day when submissions and reviewers were sent via US mail, there were no “boilerplate” editorial decision letters, and the editorial team was small. Jerry considered each and every submission very carefully and provided voluminous and spot-on feedback. Those who know Jerry well are keenly aware that he is one of the warmest, supportive colleagues one can ever have, while also being one who has no compunction about providing critical feedback. He has always been about promoting the best possible science, and does so from the heart.
Jerry has served in numerous important leadership positions including President of the Society for Health Psychology and President of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. He has also chaired many committees including the Society for Health Psychology’s Publications Committee, Awards Committee, and Nominations Committee, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research’s Planning Committee and Membership Committee. Jerry has been an outstanding mentor to many undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral students during his long career, a great benefit to the field. He has also completed more than his share of journal reviews and grant reviews, often as an appointed member of study sections at NSF and NIH.
In short, Jerry has given his all to our field. He is a consummate researcher, a selfless and tireless contributor to science and its development, and someone who has found ways to break through disciplinary and organizational barriers to help seed new areas of research at the intersection of social psychology, health psychology, and behavioral medicine. Many may not know that Jerry is an accomplished jazz pianist; his creativity, ability to improvise, and willingness to break new ground clearly carried over to his multiple efforts as a scientist and hardworking member of the scientific community. Jerry Suls is an exceptionally deserving recipient of this year’s Nathan W. Perry, Jr. Award for Career Service to Health Psychology.
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