Graduate Student Awards
Department of Psychology Diversity Award
The Department of Psychology Diversity Award was established to recognize outstanding graduate students engaged in research that contributes to better understanding of psychological topics related to diversity, broadly defined. The criteria are: innovative research questions in the field of diversity science, innovative methods for studying diversity, efforts to broaden the impact of psychological science and theory to under-represented groups, integrating undergraduate researchers into diversity research, and efforts to improve the visibility of under-represented groups in Psychology, either at the University or national level.
Nickholas Grant is the 2020 recipient of the Psychology Department Diversity Award. Mr. Grant has engaged in outstanding research, teaching and service related to diversity in psychological science. He has demonstrated a sustained commitment to enhancing the well-being and structural conditions of marginalized communities through his interdisciplinary, participatory research, his teaching/mentorship and leadership and through his service experiences. Among his many research achievements, Mr. Grant has played a critical role in a youth participatory action research (YPAR) project called #Powerup that examines processes of resilience in African American communities. Mr. Grant takes mentoring and teaching as seriously has he takes his research and has actively mentored 18 undergraduates in his research endeavors. Throughout, Mr. Grant aims to foster students’ critical thinking, independent scholarship, and a sense of agency with his mentees. Mr. Grant has also contributed to the broader department by working to foster a diverse and inclusive climate; he played an important role in rekindling the department’s diversity committee and served as a coordinator of the Clinical-Community diversity seminar. Mr. Grant is heading for his Clinical-Community Psychology internship at Yale beginning this summer. Congratulations, Mr. Grant, on your research, teaching and service achievements in the area of diversity in psychological science.
Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
The Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by a Graduate Instructor Award was established by the department as a means to reward those graduate students in Psychology who have exhibited excellence as a teacher in the classroom. An application is also submitted to LAS for consideration in the campus-wide competition for this same award.
Randi is a natural leader and this characteristic shows when she lectures. She can project expertise and authority and be engaging and humorous at the same time. She explains carefully and is extremely mindful in her preparation of lectures, tests, and syllabi. She is a terrific lecturer and overall impressive instructor. Randi is also outstanding when it comes to organizational issues, and we are fortunate to have her as a graduate instructor!
Sarah C. Mangelsdorf Award
The Sarah C. Mangelsdorf Graduate Award in Psychology was established in 2008 to honor Mangelsdorf for her achievements and contributions to the University of Illinois. This award is designed to honor an outstanding female graduate student in Psychology. The award is given to a student who has exhibited excellence in research/scholarship and teaching, and shown the potential to be an academic leader.
Sara Westbrook is the 2020 recipient of the Sarah C. Mangelsdorf Award. Ms. Westbrook exemplifies these attributes. She has published five manuscripts, an exceptional publication rate in her field and all in leading journals in behavioral neuroscience. Ms. Westbrook’s teaching has been equally exemplary; she achieved an outstanding rating all four semesters she taught an undergraduate course. Ms. Westbrook commitment to teaching has extended beyond the classroom; she has mentored three students who pursued an honors thesis and supervised multiple students who participated in her adviser’s lab through the Student Research Opportunities Program (SROP) and the NSF-funded Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students (PRECS) program. Her mentorship was so exceptional in the PRECS program the PI of the project asked her to become the graduate student coordinator of the entire summer program for Summer 2019. Ms. Westbrook’s recommender summarized her leadership qualities with an anecdote; he noted that she has consistently supervised undergraduates who must come to the lab at 8 am on Saturdays and Sunday, a testament to her ability to organize, support, and motivate students. He summarizes saying, “Her students highly respect her and will go above and beyond the call of duty to help us get our studies completed successfully. They leave my lab with a full understanding of the scientific process and with hands-on experiences that better prepare them for their future challenges.” Ms. Westbrook will begin a post-doctoral position at the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan this summer. Congratulations, Ms. Westbrook, on your outstanding achievements in the areas of teaching, research and leadership.
Nancy Hirschberg Award
The Hirschberg Award is presented each year to a psychology graduate student who, during that year, has performed outstanding original research or scholarship in areas related to Professor Hirschberg’s interests. These areas include individual differences, personality, human judgment, and multivariate analysis.
Katie Kemp is the 2020 recipient of the Nancy Hirschberg Memorial Award for her manuscript entitled “Positive, Negative, and Disorganized Schizotypy Predict Differential Patterns of Interview-Rated Schizophrenia-Spectrum Symptoms and Impairment”. This paper was published in Assessment, a leading journal in the field of clinical psychological assessment. In this paper, Ms. Kemp simultaneously examined the association of positive, negative, and disorganized schizotypy with interview-rated symptoms and impairment. The focus of the study was on addressing the construct validity of positive, negative, and disorganized dimensions of schizotypy as assessed by the recently developed Multidimensional Schizotypy Scale. Importantly, the study demonstrated that positive, negative, and disorganized schizotypy were associated with differential hypothesized patterns of symptoms and impairment and predicted diagnoses of schizophrenia-spectrum personality disorders. Congratulations, Ms. Kemp, on your important study of individual differences in psychopathology.
Frederick & Ruby Kanfer Award
Professor Frederick H. Kanfer was a member of the Psychology Department from 1973 until 1995, and an emeritus professor still contributing to the department until his death in 2002. The Kanfer family has established the Frederick & Ruby Kanfer Award to honor his legacy as a pioneering scholar in clinical psychology. Professor Kanfer was committed to furthering the science of clinical-community psychology by emphasizing the close and reciprocal relationship between basic science and clinical practice. The Kanfer Award is presented each year to a graduate student whose work in the field of clinical-community psychology best exemplifies the ideals of Professor Kanfer: research, scholarship, and service aimed at improving the psychological lives of all individuals.
Nickholas Grant is an outstanding community-focused scholar who is certain to excel in his chosen field. Nick has a deep commitment to work with African American youth to develop a sense of agency in defining, analyzing and acting on their behalf to improve local communities. Nick’s accomplishments in research and practice are the reasons why we have chosen Nick to receive this award.
Ed Scheiderer Memorial Research Award
The Ed Scheiderer memorial fund was established in 1979 to recognize outstanding research or scholarship by a Clinical/ Community Psychology student. Ed was a clinical student in this program from 1969-1974. Upon his death, his family and friends set up the Ed Scheiderer Memorial Research Award.
Tina was nominated for the award for her first-authored paper, entitled “The breadth and potency of transdiagnostic cognitive risks for psychopathology in youth.” Taken together, Ms. Schweizer’s line of work represents an unusually advanced set of theoretical and empirical contributions that address long-standing, fundamental issues of vulnerability to psychopathology. These findings, especially those from the paper, make essentially important contributions to the field’s fundamental understanding of structure of etiological risk for psychopathology; this knowledge additionally has clear, signal translational import for evidence-based assessment and intervention.
Herman Eisen Award
This award is in honor of Herman Eisen who served as an adjunct professor in the Clinical/Community Program and who worked actively to develop the resources needed to meet the mental health needs of this community. The award was made possible by the trustees of the Herman Eisen Memorial Fund. It is given to a graduate student in Clinical/Community Psychology who exemplifies the spirit and values of Herman Eisen through commitment and contribution to the practice of psychology. Clinical skills, sensitivity, perception and optimism for change in individual and social lives are the criteria used to select the recipient of the award.
Brett was nominated because her clinical skills, her devotion to the community, and service to her colleagues and the institution embody the essence of the Eisen Award. Brett is an example of the heart behind relatable research.
Graduate Award for Excellence in Psychological Science
The Graduate Award for Excellence in Psychological Science is awarded to a Masters of Science in Psychological Science student who exhibits outstanding achievement in academics, demonstrated by performance in coursework; outstanding research collaboration and scholarship, demonstrated by the ability to generate innovative research or to significantly contribute to the development of research in a lab setting; and notable achievement in professional development through his/her ethics, scholarly writing, public speaking, and department citizenship.
Grace Goodwin is this year’s recipient of the Graduate Award for Excellence in Psychological Science for her outstanding performance in research, academics and professional development in the Master of Science in Psychological Science program. As her letter writer said, “Grace has distinguished herself in every domain of performance. She has performed remarkably well in the research domain and has not only juggled multiple demanding projects in different labs, but has gone above and beyond the call of duty in every one.” In collaboration with professors, post-docs, and doctoral students, Grace thoughtfully examined “individual differences in emotional, cognitive, and neural processing in neurotypical adolescents and adults as well as adults with mild traumatic brain injury.” Unusual for students at her stage of career, Ms. Goodwin was given the opportunity to engage in clinical work in the area of neuropsychological assessment because her work was so exemplary. Further, she engaged fully in not just one, but two research labs and excelled in every course in her heavy course load. In all domains, she was exceptional. Her letter writer summarized by saying, “Not content to coast on any level, Grace is exceptional in her energetic and proactive approach to her professional endeavors…Grace has already made a difference in the world, and will continue to do so in the future.” Ms. Goodwin will be going to UNLV Clinical Psychology PhD Program (Neuropsychology track) this coming fall. Congratulations, Ms. Goodwin, on your exemplary academic, research, and professional development performance!
Jeffrey Tanaka Memorial Award
Dr. Jeffrey Tanaka was a member of the Departments of Psychology and Educational Psychology at UIUC from 1990 until 1992. He was a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the American Psychological Society and was elected to the prestigious Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology. At UIUC he was recognized as a University Scholar and a College of Education Scholar. After his untimely death in November 1992, his friends and colleagues created a fund to establish the Jeffrey Tanaka Memorial Award presented each year to a graduate student studying quantitative psychology or personality psychology. The award alternates on a yearly basis between the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education. The award recognizes outstanding original research or scholarship in areas related to Dr. Tanaka’s interests in quantitative psychology and personality psychology.
Bo Zhang is the 2020 recipient of the Jeffrey Tanaka Memorial Award for his manuscript entitled “Using bifactor models to examine the predictive validity of hierarchical constructs: Pros, cons, and solutions”. This manuscript has been recently accepted by the journal Organizational Research Methods, a leading and prestigious journal in the area of industrial organizational psychology. Psychological assessments in many domains of study are multidimensional. These dimensions usually correlate with one another: for example, verbal, quantitative, and spatial relations abilities in the cognitive domain and conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability, openness, and extroversion in the personality domain. Psychologists have struggled to understand why the dimensions in these domains correlate and whether a latent variable explaining their correlations has substantive meaning. Various statistical approaches have been developed for this work, including the bifactor model. This model has received growing attention in recent years because it separates the general factor from orthogonal subdimension factors, which in principle allows researchers to determine where the predictive power for the domain arises. Unfortunately, attempts to use bifactor models to conduct such analyses often fail to converge or converge to improper solutions. Mr. Zhang’s paper explores this problem and offers a new approach that almost always enables SEM software to converge to proper solutions. Mr. Zhang will begin a position as an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Texas A&M this coming fall. Congratulations, Mr. Zhang, on this important advance in statistical modeling.
Sandra Goss Lucas Award
This award was created to honor an instructor who demonstrates excellence in teaching Introductory Psychology. The criteria for this award include: creating positive learning outcomes for undergraduate students, creativity in developing learning materials, mentoring of new graduate student instructors, and significant contributions to the course. The recipient is chosen annually by the course director.
Yifan is an outstanding teacher who shares her passion for psychology by developing creative new content, by projecting enthusiasm, and by getting to know her students and making her classroom a welcoming place to be. Over the past four semesters, she has made many valuable contributions to the entire course, by sharing materials and ideas and mentoring other instructors. During the COVID-19 crisis, she did an exceptional job of making the transition to online instruction as painless as possible for her students. She provided them with great materials, kept them informed and on track, and supported them with humor, good cheer and encouragement.
Undergraduate Student Awards
Janet Tritsch Award
The Janet Tritsch Memorial Award is a symbol of excellence for undergraduate psychology research at the University. The award was established in 1975 by the family and friends of Janet Tritsch who as an undergraduate was active in psychology research. The award is given to the undergraduate student majoring in psychology who submits the most outstanding research paper.
Zack Lively is the 2020 recipient of the Janet Tritsch Memorial Award. His research examined the question of how information that we attend to over a retention interval (i.e., while holding other information in working memory) impacts the representations in working memory. Zack’s carefully designed experiment clearly showed that merely processing color during the retention interval impacted the quality of the representation held in working memory and moreover, the depth of the attentional engagement increased the distortions of the representations held in working memory. After graduation, Zack is moving to California to start work at the Smith-Kettlewell eye research institute in the lab of Preeti Verghese.
Julie Sutton-Osgood Award
The Julie Sutton-Osgood Award in Psychology was established in 2008 by family and friends in memory of Sutton-Osgood whose career goal was to become a practicing physician. Sutton-Osgood trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and worked summers for an ambulance company while enrolled as a psychology student at Illinois. After graduation she completed a paramedic course and worked for Superior Ambulance Company and became their EMS coordinator through Christ Hospital and Hope Children’s Hospital. She attended physician assistant school while she continued to work full-time. Sutton-Osgood fulfilled her goal to become a licensed Physician’s Assistant. This award is intended to help students realize their dream of becoming either a physician or another type of medical practitioner.
Julia is an excellent student who has always gone above and beyond. Her drive, dedication, and determination is a display of the stellar work ethic she embodies on a daily basis. Julia is the perfect recipient of the Julie Sutton Osgood Award and we are happy she has been chosen to receive this award.
Program Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Attention and Perception
Yujie Shao, Charles Eriksen Award
Yujie Shao did her senior thesis in the Vision Lab, working with Simona Buetti and Alejandro Lleras. Yujie was a very active member of the lab and contributed to a number of projects besides her own. For her senior thesis, Yujie investigated how differences in color are processed by the visual system to guide attention in a scene. Her work was presented at an international conference in Vision Science and will provide important constraints to theories of visual processing and attention.
Mark Weber, Christopher Wickens Award
Mark Weber investigated mind wandering using a novel method to infer people’s mental states at any moment in time. The method involved periodic probing and self reports in two different perceptual judgment tasks to examine whether the performance on the judgement tasks confirm inferences from the subjective reports. The results showed that performance indeed differed during periods estimated to be a focused state compared to those estimated to be a mind wandering state. These findings make important contributions to the field by establishing and verifying a new paradigm to track people’s mental state over time, and have implications for the effects of mind wandering on real world tasks.
Zijun Gao, Donald O. Hebb Award
Zijun Gao persistently performed well in her psychology courses. She also did excellent work in the laboratory, and has been a co-author in a research article that reports the results of a project that she participated.
Wendy Yang, Karl Lashley Award
Wendy Yanyu Yang is extraordinary. She performed at the top of her behavioral neuroscience classes, and applied the knowledge to her research. She contributed to research in two animal laboratories within the psychology department. The faculty head of both laboratories praise her talent and dedication to research.
Ana Uribe, Community Action Award
Ana is an intelligent, dedicated researcher who has committed herself to engaging in research and applied work that will directly lead to improved well-being in vulnerable communities. Beyond many impressive feats (e.g., a comprehensive literature review, learning the principles of growth curve modeling) what will stay with me is Ana’s true drive to use research to change the lives of youth exposed to intimate partner violence. The awards committee agreed that Ana’s involvement with underserved populations and her genuine passion for community psychology research and action exemplify the principles of the Community Action Award.
Talia Farrell-Rosen, Outstanding Clinical-Community Science Undergraduate
Talia is a promising scholar who has demonstrated excellence in, and commitment to, contributing to high-quality science and applying that science to both clinical and community issues. She is enthusiastic, intelligent, thoughtful, and kind, and has truly impressed everyone she has worked with in the YEDI Lab. The awards committee agreed that Talia’s contributions to research and her outstanding record exemplify the principles of scholarship in Clinical-Community Psychology.
Grace Lucenti, Michael Coles Award
Grace has been working as a PSYC 290 research assistant in the Dolcos Lab for more than a year. During this time, she has contributed substantially to the progress of multiple research projects in this group, through her active involvement at different stages, from stimulus creation to behavioral data collection and analysis. Along with this, she also assisted with the collection of neuroimaging data. Overall, Grace has proven to be a very hard-working, thoughtful, and eager student, always happy to volunteer with various tasks. More recently, as a senior research assistant in our group, Grace has been stepping into a more leadership role, by preparing training materials for future members of the lab. Grace has also demonstrated maturity and critical thinking throughout a number of cognitive neuroscience courses that she has taken. Together with her research experience, this speaks highly of her abilities to understand and implement research ideas. Grace plans to continue her professional career by pursuing a PhD in psychology.
Zack Lively, Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award
Zack's research examined the question of how information that we attend to over a retention interval (i.e., while holding other information in working memory) impacts the representations in working memory. Zack’s carefully designed experiment clearly showed that merely processing color during the retention interval impacted the quality of the representation held in working memory and moreover, the depth of the attentional engagement increased the distortions of the representations held in working memory. After graduation, Zack is moving to California to start work at the Smith-Kettlewell eye research institute in the lab of Preeti Verghese.
Alexandrea Guiritan, Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award
We are delighted to present Alexandrea Guiritan with one of the Developmental Division's Outstanding Undergraduate Student Awards for her many contributions to the Infant Cognition Lab. When she joined the lab in January 2017, Alexandrea was trained to serve as an experimenter in our test sessions. She immediately demonstrated levels of competence, enthusiasm, focus, and judgment that made her an invaluable addition to our team. During her years in the lab, we have asked Alexandrea to take on more and more responsibilities; in particular, she now conducts individual test sessions with infants in our Action Lab, and she also helps with the detailed coding of infants’ responses. Alexandrea is a wonderful asset for the ICL and contributes significantly to creating a positive and friendly atmosphere for her coworkers as well as for the families who visit the lab. We feel extremely fortunate to have Alexandrea in the lab, she is an A+++ undergraduate research assistant, and we wish her the very best next year as she works while preparing her applications to pursue a Master’s in Public Health. Congratulations!
John Padanilam, Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award
We are delighted to present John Padanilam with one of the Developmental Division's Outstanding Undergraduate Student Awards for his many contributions to the Infant Cognition Lab. When he joined the lab his sophomore year, John was trained to serve as an observer in our test sessions. He quickly showed that he has a steadfast attitude, clear focus, and discerning judgment that make him a terrific observer. During his two years in the lab, we have asked John to take on more and more responsibilities, such as conducting individual test sessions with infants in our Action Lab and also helping with the detailed coding of infants’ responses. John is a wonderful asset for the ICL, both as an experienced observer who has helped train new students in that role, and as a positive, energetic leader who shows his entire shift how to prepare promptly and efficiently for test sessions while maintaining a fun, friendly atmosphere. We feel extremely fortunate to have John in the lab, he is an A+++ undergraduate research assistant, and he will be an amazing medical student. Congratulations!
Emily Schwefel, Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award
We are delighted to present Emily Schwefel with one of the Developmental Division's Outstanding Undergraduate Student Awards for her many contributions to the Infant Cognition Lab. When she joined the lab, Emily was trained to serve as the lead experimenter in our test sessions. She immediately demonstrated levels of competence, maturity, focus, and judgment that equaled or surpassed those of senior assistants. During her years in the lab, Emily has become an invaluable member of our team; not only does she assist with training new research assistants each semester, but she also acts as a "mini-supervisor" on her shifts. Emily is a wonderful asset for the ICL, both as a rock-star experimenter who carries out procedures perfectly and learns new studies quickly, and as a natural leader who shows her entire shift how to prepare promptly and efficiently for test sessions while still maintaining a fun, friendly atmosphere. We feel extremely fortunate to have Emily in the lab, she is an A+++ undergraduate research assistant, and she will be wonderful at taking care of children with developmental delays. Congratulations!
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award
Congratulations to Emilia!
Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award
Congratulations to Zoila!
Social, Personality and Organizational Psychology
Kolin Heck, Ed Diener Award
Kolin currently works in several psychology labs throughout the university (Helen Neville's lab and my lab). His contributions to research have primarily focused on understanding situational factors and belief systems that contribute to racial bias. For example, in one project in my lab, Kolin is examining how perspective taking and racial colorblindness impact the recognition of racial privilege among White individuals. He also works to translate psychological knowledge into the field through contributing to the Policing in a Multiracial Society project. This project works to reduce racially motivated police misconduct. Overall, Kolin displays a strong repertoire of research skills and demonstrates excellence in undergraduate research in social psychology.
Tianshu Yang, Harry Triandis Award
Tianshu Yang is an extremely talented undergraduate majoring in psychology who has worked in my lab for 3 years. During this time, she has operated like a doctoral candidate, becoming the “go to” person for advanced tasks and being sought after by every graduate student and postdoctoral researcher in my lab. She is a highly motivated student who manages to achieve excellence in every goal she pursues; she is thoughtful, curious, and deeply interested in psychology. Tianshu has participated in experimental and laboratory research and is headed to graduate school next year. She embodies the spirit of the Triandis Award.