Newman Award Winners' Biographies (1997-99)
1999 Newman Award Winner
(right) Allison M. Ryan, winner of the 1999 Newman Award, with APA President Richard Suinn at the 1999 APF/APA Awards Ceremony.
Allison M. Ryan was named the winner of the 1999 Psi Chi/APA Edwin B. Newman Graduate Research Award. The abstract of her winning paper, "Why Do Some Students Avoid Asking For Help? An Examination of the Interplay Among Students' Academic Efficacy, Teachers' Social-Emotional Role, and the Classroom Goal Structure," can be read here. Allison Ryan's paper was published in the September 1998 issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology. Allison's coauthors on the paper were Carol Midgley and Margaret Gheen.
The research and writing of the paper were conducted when she was a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ryan received her PhD in the summer of 1998 and joined the faculty in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in September 1998. Her research focuses on students' motivation and engagement in school. She is concerned with how the classroom and peer group contexts influence students' motivation and engagement in their schoolwork, and particularly how this unfolds during the adolescent years.
Under the mentorship of Paul Pintrich and Carol Midgley, her research thus far has investigated why many students decide not to seek help with their academic work when they need it. Their initial research in this area found that students' personal motivational characteristics (perceptions of competence, achievement goals, and social goals) play an important role in students' help-seeking attitudes and behaviors. One interesting finding from these studies that they have continued to explore is that students with low academic efficacy are more likely to feel threatened and avoid asking for help. This finding is particularly troubling because it indicates that the very students who need help the most seek it the least. In the study that garnered the Newman Award, Ryan and her colleagues found that it is also important to consider how the classroom context influences help seeking. Teachers create environments that vary greatly in regards to fostering or discouraging students' help seeking. Further, the classroom context interacts with students' personal characteristics to predict help-seeking behavior.
Another area of research interest for Ryan is how the peer group serves as a context for the socialization of adolescent motivation and engagement in school. Schools and classrooms are inherently social places, and it seems likely that peers are an important influence on adolescent achievement beliefs and behaviors. Her dissertation research found support for this idea.
Ryan's future goals are to continue to develop her research to enrich current theory about adolescent achievement beliefs and behaviors as well as provide useful information for practitioners to create conducive learning environments for adolescents.
1998 Newman Award Winner
Holly Hazlett-Stevens was named the winner of the 1998 Psi Chi/APA Edwin B. Newman Graduate Research Award. The abstract of her winning paper, "The Role of Relaxation and Worry in the Reduction of Fear," may be read here. Ms. Hazlett-Stevens presented this paper at the national convention of the Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy in November 1997. Thomas D. Borkovec, PhD, served as research advisor for this paper.
Ms. Hazlett-Stevens is a clinical psychology doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests center around the nature and treatment of anxiety and stem from a fundamental research interest in the emotional processing of fear. Under the mentorship of Dr. Tom Borkovec at Penn Stateâ€™s Stress and Anxiety Disorders Institute, her research thus far has investigated the role of cognitive, affective, and physiological variables in both anxiety reduction and generalized anxiety disorder. Combining her background in psychophysiology with her fundamental interest in the process of anxiety reduction, she has examined factors related to the experience of anxiety, worry, and relaxation across psychological and physiological response systems. Her recent theoretical and empirical work addresses retical and empirical work addresses the role that deficits in flexibility and adaptability to current environmental situations may play in the maintenance of generalized anxiety disorder and empirical topic with significant implications for treatment.
Ms. Hazlett-Stevensâ€™ graduate research began with preliminary investigations of anxiety and relaxation that were programmatic extensions of Dr. Borkovecâ€™s psychotherapy outcome research for generalized anxiety disorder. As her appreciation for the historic underpinnings of behavioral theories and therapies developed, she designed a study for her masterâ€™s thesis to investigate further an unresolved empirical issue from previous decades as well as from more contemporary research questions. This study, for which she won the Newman Award, examined whether relaxation facilitates fear reduction process occurring during live repeated exposure to feared stimuli and whether worry interferes with such fear reduction. The notion that relaxation may provide therapeutic benefits by facilitating cognitive, affective, and physiological changes led Hazlett-Stevens to conduct a series of literature reviews covering both basic experimental and clinical effects of relaxation. With the help of her minor project advisor, Dr. Karen Quigley, and Dr. Borkovec, she also conducted an empirical investigation of both clinical and theoretical significance. Findings from her masterâ€™s study regarding the impact of worry on fear reduction have led to the development of her dissertation research. This current project focuses on the cognitive effects of excessive worry by investigating differences in information processing and cognitive flexibility among generalized anxiety disorder and nonanxious control populations.
Through her work as a research assistant on a large-scale psychotherapy outcome study, Hazlett-Stevens has also developed an interest in the methodology used in intervention research. Her knowledge in this area led to a recent book chapter written with Dr. Borkovec in which they argue that therapy research should pursue potential mechanisms of change for the sake of promoting future therapy development. This particular project reflects Hazlett-Stevensâ€™ interest in eventually developing a psychotherapy research program.
Ms. Hazlett-Stevens has also devoted a large portion of her graduate training to her development as a psychotherapist. Her clinical training has included cognitive-behavioral treatments for anxiety and stress-related problems, and she has also received extensive training in psychotherapy approaches from psychodynamic interpersonal and experiential orientations. This has resulted in a breadth of clinical experiences involving assessment and treatment of various Axis I and Axis II disorders and reflects her strong belief in the scientist-practitioner model of training. She will begin her clinical internship this fall at the Long Beach VA Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif., where she plans to broaden her clinical training across a continuum of stress-related problems, with health psychology applications on one end and severe reactions to traumatic stress on the other.
Career plans for Ms. Hazlett-Stevens are to continue her research program by exploring cognitive and emotional characteristics which lead to difficulties with stress and anxiety and how such characteristics can inform therapy to maximize effective change. She plans to pursue an academic position as a professor of clinical psychology to study further how anxiety and stress may motivate individuals in the avoidance of emotional material and how such material can be processed effectively. In general, she hopes for a career as a clinical researcher with the eventual goal of developing theoretical models and psychotherapy techniques for anxiety and stress-related problems that extend beyond traditional cognitive-behavioral approaches.
1997 Newman Award Winner
Jack B. Nitschke was named the winner of the 1997 Psi Chi/APA Edwin B. Newman Graduate Research Award. The abstract of his winning paper, "Distinguishing Subtypes of Anxiety and Depression: Further Construct Development and Neuropsychological Implications," can be read here. Mr. Nitschke presented this paper at the national convention of the Society for Research in Psychopathology in Atlanta, Ga., in September 1996. Wendy Heller, PhD, and Gregory A. Miller, PhD, served as research advisors for this paper.
Nitschke is a doctoral student in the Clinical/Community Division of the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His general research area is the physiology and psychology of depression and anxiety, with a primary focus on regional brain activity. In collaborative psychophysiological methodologies, he has examined factors that might account for some of the inconsistent findings reported in the literature and that might advance current understanding of depression and anxiety. His recent theoretical and empirical work has focused on dimensions and subtypes of depression and anxiety, their covariation and comorbidity, and interactions with life stress.
Mr. Nitschke's primary research in graduate school began as an extension to a federally funded collaborative project with Drs. Heller and Miller examining depression and anxiety using psychophysiological and neuropsychological techniques. The first phase of this study provided compelling support that different types of anxiety are associated with unique patterns of regional brain activity (Heller, Nitschke, Etienne, & Miller, in press). Using the same data set, Mr. Nitschke's master's thesis reported on the moderating effects of extraversion on regional brain activity in anxiety. The second phase of the study, which resulted in the winning Newman Award paper, provided psychometric evidence that anhedonic depression, anxious apprehension, and anxious arousal are distinct dimensions of depression and anxiety. His dissertation examines whether these dimensions are also physiologically distinct and tests whether life stress moderates or mediates the relationship between brain activity and these types of depression and anxiety.
His strong interest in depression and anxiety has led him to develop expertise in several related fields that are very pertinent to his research. A strong familiarity with the emotion literature has been crucial for his work with Drs. Heller and Miller on the psychophysiology and neuropsychology of depression and anxiety. Not only does the project discussed above include an emotional narrative task, but Mr. Nitschke has also become very involved in the further development of Dr. Heller's neuropsychological model of emotion. To this end, Dr. Heller and Mr. Nitschke have a manuscript in press that argues for the importance of subtypes and comorbidity in explaining patterns of regional brain activity in depression and anxiety using their model as a guide. Their data paper reporting a strong association between a neuropsychological task and the arousal dimension of self-reported emotion is also in press.
Mr. Nitschke's master's project encouraged him to peruse the vast physiological and behavioral literatures on extraversion, resulting in a lengthy review written for publication with Drs. Heller and Miller. Furthermore, he has recently been working with Dr. Heller to expand their work from the emotional components of depression and anxiety to the area of cognitive deficits; they have a review article addressing regional brain activity and cognition in depression that is in press. Finally, because of Mr. Nitschke's background and interest in clinical work with adolescents, he has pursued advanced course work on adolescence and practica involving that age group and further developed his research ideas for examining regional brain activity in adolescent anxiety and depression.
His research experience during the past three years has also encompassed a significant amount of work on methodological issues. He has become proficient in the use of FORTRAN, as he had to write the computer code for the vast amount of data processing that is required in psychophysiological research. In addition, he has successful adapted the Fast Hartley Transform (FHT; a relative of the Fast Fourier Transform), which is a procedure for extracting different frequency bands of EEG activity, to his research group's data reduction procedures. Dr. Miller, Ed Cook, and Mr. Nitschke are currently writing an invited paper on digital filtering (the method of EEG analysis traditionally used in their lab) and FHT. Mr. Nitschke is also very interested in determining the physiological mechanisms that underlie the individual differences in hemispatial bias that emerge so consistently on the Chimeric Faces Test (CFT), the neuropsychological task that has been so frequently used in Dr. Heller's and others' work. Using EEG data collected for his dissertation, they plan to examine the relationship between regional brain activity and the CFT.
Mr. Nitschke's career plans are to continue the research program that he has outlined above by pursuing an academic position as a professor of clinical psychology at a major research-oriented university. He wants to continue his intense involvement in neuropsychological and psychophysiological research on depression and anxiety. In addition, he hopes to continue in the area of program development for depressed and suicidal adolescents--the Adolescent Mentoring Program that he founded is now finishing its second year of operation--as a primary avenue for his clinical and teaching responsibilities.