Early Career Impact Award Winners
The FABBS Foundation is pleased to announce the 2015 Early Career Impact Award winners. This award is presented to early career scientists of FABBS member societies during the first 10 years post-PhD and recognizes scientists who have made major contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior. The goal is to enhance public visibility of these sciences and the particular research through the dissemination efforts of the FABBS Foundation in collaboration with the member societies and award winners.
Li Cai, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Cai’s research focuses on the development, estimation, integration and evaluation of innovative latent variable models. He has developed an expansive framework for specifying and estimating nonlinear latent structure models with a comprehensive measurement model, allowing for a mix of scale types as well as missing data. He has developed effective and efficient new estimation methods for latent variable models and general item response theory (IRT) models. With regard to model evaluation, he has developed new methods for assessing fit of covariance structure models under missing data and for assessing fit of IRT models. He has been a key contributor in the development of new, state-of-the art IRT software in the form of IRTPRO and flexMIRT.
Dr. Cai has published extensively in outlets including Multivariate Behavioral Research, Psychological Methods, Psychometrika, the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology and Child Development. He has contributed 11 book chapters on quantitative topics.
During his graduate training, Dr. Cai received the Harold Gulliksen Psychometric Research Fellowship from the Educational Testing Service as well as several outstanding dissertation awards. He received the American Psychological Association’s Anne Anastasi Early Career Award in 2011 and the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology’s Raymond B. Cattell Award in 2013 for distinguished early career contributions in multivariate methodology.
Dr. Cai is a professor of quantitative methodology in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences and Department of Psychology, both at UCLA. He earned his doctorate in quantitative psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008.
Amy Criss, PhD
Dr. Criss’ research focuses on facilitating the development of a comprehensive and accurate model of memory. Her work spans experimental and mathematical psychology, gerontology, computational science and cognitive neuroscience thus laying the groundwork for a unified, mechanistic account of memory.
The most prominent area of Dr. Criss’ research has been the programmatic investigation of the mechanism of differentiation. The introduction in the 1990s of differentiation models was revolutionary and allowed such models to account for data that no existing model could explain—in particular mechanisms underlying how practice and repetition improve memory. Dr. Criss’ research has aimed to assess systematically the empirical validity of the theoretical mechanism of differentiation and to establish that differentiation is a viable mechanism underlying memory. She has conducted an extensive body of work comparing the empirical evidence for differentiation against a commonly accepted alternative, the criterion placement hypothesis. The mechanism of differentiation has stimulated an active area of research exploring a number of alternatives, where the work of Dr. Criss on differentiation mechanisms in memory has gained particular attention.
Dr. Criss also has sought to evaluate the sources of information that cause interference within and across memory tasks. Her research on the sources of interference in memory is funded by and NSF CAREER Award. She has been published in highly regarded journals, and she frequently presents at national and international conferences. She is the 2014-2015 president of the Society for Mathematical Psychology and active member of several organizations aimed at increasing the participation of women and underrepresented groups in STEM fields.
Dr. Criss is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Syracuse University in New York and earned her doctorate in cognitive psychology and cognitive science in 2004 from Indiana University. She also earned a certificate in mathematical modeling.
Brian M. D'Onofrio, PhD
University of Indiana, Bloomington
Dr. D’Onofrio explores the causes and treatments of psychological problems across the lifespan. The three general approaches he uses to study the processes underlying associations among risk factors for psychological problems are: quasi-experimental methods, longitudinal analyses, and intervention studies.
Quasi-experimental methods are approaches based on individuals who are not randomly assigned to conditions but that use design features to test alternative hypotheses that could explain the statistical relations between risk factors and outcomes. For example, by comparing differentially exposed siblings and cousins in large epidemiological studies, he has explored the consequences of smoking, preterm birth and other prenatal risk factors.
Dr. D’Onofrio uses longitudinal analyses to study sensitive periods of development and explore how risk factors influence and are influenced by individuals. He uses intervention studies, particularly randomized controlled studies, to explore interventions for divorcing and separating couples.
Dr. D’Onofrio’s research has been covered by major news outlets across the world, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, CBS News, the Economist, the Globe and Mail, National Public Radio, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He also has made numerous presentations to community groups, including judges and lawyers associated with family courts.
Dr. D’Onofrio is a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington, and he is director of clinical training. He earned his doctorate degree in clinical psychology in 2005 from the University of Virginia.
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, EdD
University of Southern California
Dr. Immordino-Yang’s research focuses on the neural, psychophysiological and psychological bases of social emotion, self-awareness and culture and their implications for children’s development and successful learning in school. She uses her research to assist educators and parents in supporting children’s healthy development and meaningful learning.
She was awarded the American Educational Research Association’s Early Career Award for 2014 as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 2013 Early Career Award for Public Engagement for Science and Technology. The Association for Psychological Science named her a Rising Star in 2011, and she has received numerous other awards including the Cozzarelli Prize, presented by the National Academy of Sciences. She also was the inaugural recipient of the Award for Transforming Education through Neuroscience.
Dr. Immordino-Yang has served as a content contributor to Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections, a course designed for K-12 teachers distributed through Annenberg Learner, an organization dedicated to excellence in teaching. She has been active in raising awareness of the role that storytelling and constructive internal reflection have on brain development, and delivered a 2011 TEDx talk on “Embodied Brains, Social Minds.” Her work has been mentioned in media outlets including National Public Radio and the Los Angeles Register.
Dr. Immordino-Yang is an assistant professor of education at the Rossier School of Education, an assistant professor of psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute and a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty, all at the University of Southern California. A former public school teacher, she earned her doctorate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2005, where she received grants from the Spencer Foundation and American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.
Dr. Kendeou is widely published in the areas of reading comprehension, reading development and conceptual change. She conducts cross-sectional and longitudinal studies with both children and adults, using methods that exhibit an impressive variety and sophistication, including the use of verbal protocols, reading time, and comprehension and cognitive measures.
In science education, Dr. Kendeou explored student misconceptions of basic science principles and how to use texts to correct those misconceptions and promote deeper understanding. Work in this area requires a thorough understanding of the issues and problems from an applied, educational perspective as well as a deep and thorough understanding of the theoretical processes involved in reading comprehension from a basic cognitive perspective.
Dr. Kendeou’s most significant contributions in science education have been the development of the co-activation hypothesis and Knowledge Revision Components framework (KreC). She has shown that a text effective at correcting a misconception of a basic science principle must be designed to promote the simultaneous activation of both the pre-held misconception as well as the correct concept; and further, the correct concept must be elaborated in a manner that provides sufficient competition to overcome previously-acquired-but-incorrect information. The findings from this work have advanced the principles of science education through reading.
Dr. Kendeou is on the editorial boards of several leading journals including Contemporary Educational Psychology, Scientific Studies of Reading and Reading Psychology. She is an associate editor for the Journal of Educational Psychology. She is an active member of several additional organizations including the American Educational Research Association and the Psychonomic Society.
Dr. Kendeou earned her doctorate in 2005 from the University of Minnesota, where she is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology.
Katherine Milkman, PhD
Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Milkman studies how people make consequential decisions with an emphasis on understanding when and why choices deviate from optimality. Her focus is on understanding the forces that shape conflicts between “should” choices that will bring delayed rewards (e.g., saving and exercising) and “want” choices that will produce instant gratification (e.g., spending frivolously and eating unhealthily). Her research shows that prompting people to commit privately to a plan increases follow-through on important “should” behaviors, even in the absence of social pressure. These effects appear particularly potent when the risk of forgetfulness is high. Additionally, her research introduces a new device that can help people commit to indulging in wants only when simultaneously engaging in “shoulds”– a technique she calls temptation bundling.
Dr. Milkman also investigates how and why incidental uncertainty, present bias and fatigue all reduce engagement in “should” behaviors. Her research on “the fresh start effect” demonstrates that interest and engagement in “should” behaviors increases following temporal landmarks that segregate our continuous lifetimes into distinct mental accounting periods (e.g., birthdays, holidays and new weeks, months or years). By psychologically separating us from our past failures, temporal landmarks make us feel more capable and motivated to achieve our goals.
A secondary research stream involves exploring the evolution of creative content. One of her co-authored findings was deemed by The New York Times as “the most important social science discovery of the past century.” Dr. Milkman has additionally received attention for her work examining forces that may contribute to a lack of race and gender diversity in many organizations.
Dr. Milkman is an assistant professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her doctorate in information, technology and management in 2009 from Harvard University’s joint program in computer science and business.
Tania L. Roth, PhD
University of Delaware
Dr. Roth’s research has been focused on understanding the neural basis of behavior. Her PhD research was funded by a NRSA training fellowship from NIDA and investigated the neurobehavioral basis of infant attachment to an abusive caregiver and the ontogeny of fear learning and memory (rodent model). Her work demonstrated the pivotal role of the endogenous opioid system in infant memory and was the first to assess the role of the piriform cortex in infant learning and memory. She also developed a semi-naturalistic paradigm of abusive caregiver attachment in the rat, and an adaptation of this paradigm is used in her current work at the University of Delaware.
Dr. Roth has also done work on the epigenetic mechanisms of memory formation. She showed that adult rats who had been maltreated as infants had significant deficits in expression of the Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) gene in their prefrontal cortex, an effect attributable to aberrant DNA methylation within the brain. Further, she demonstrated the heritable nature (i.e. in next-generation offspring) of these epigenetic alterations.
Her research efforts have led to the discoveries of long-term and sex-specific consequences of caregiver maltreatment within the developing and adult medial PFC, amygdala, and hippocampus. She has also shown an association between caregiver maltreatment and telomere length in brain tissue. Together her data provide novel evidence for mechanisms by which maltreatment could get “under the skin” to affect brain development and behavioral trajectories.
Dr. Roth has participated in brain awareness events and given lectures across the United States. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including The Scientist, Psychiatric News, Nature News Feature, and Science magazine.
Dr. Roth is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware. She earned her doctorate in zoology in 2004 from the University of Oklahoma.
Mari K. Swingle, PhD
Swingle Clinic, Vancouver BC, Canada
Dr. Swingle’s research focuses on the relationship between digital technology and a variety of disorders including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), written output disorder, dyslexia, anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, insomnia and anger management. In her 15 years of clinical practice, Dr. Swingle noticed a connection between excessive use of digital technologies and mental illness and learning disabilities in children.
For her dissertation, Dr. Swingle examined 19 site quantitative EEGs of adults with Internet Addiction and, when compared to a normative data base, found a deregulation pattern rather than a cluster pattern. Data collected on qualitative differences in Internet usage further suggested that the severity of neurological deregulation was associated with the perceived degree of immersion with the technology.
While examining the raw EEG signals, Dr. Swingle also noticed a distinct deregulation in the Alpha bandwidth. Further exploration revealed a correlation between Alpha bandwidth and the development and maintenance of specific forms of ADHD, emotional deregulation and the “hijacking of creativity” and innovative thinking in clinical populations. Dr. Swingle’s research also examines the connection between Internet technology and the increase in hyperarousal and anxiety in the general population, as well as the usage patterns that are associated with positive integration of technology – individuals who are are not negatively affected versus those who are.
Dr. Swingle will be a key speaker at the 2015 AAPB conference as well as presenting a webinar on Alterations in Encephalographic Patterns Associated with Excessive Usage of iTechnologies.
Dr. Swingle is a certified neurotherapist with the Swingle Clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia. She earned her doctorate degree in 2013 in clinical psychology from Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, Calif.