Newsletter Article

Sharon Ramey: 2007 Distinguished Alumna Award

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Sharon Ramey

Sharon Ramey, a 1974 Ph.D. graduate of UW Psychology, was honored by the College of Arts & Sciences as the 2007 Distinguished Alumna for Natural Sciences. Sharon is Professor of Child and Family Studies at Georgetown University and founding director of the Georgetown Center on Health and Education.

Sharon began her lifelong commitment to disabled and disadvantaged people as a graduate student in the Developmental Area of UW Psychology, with Gene Sackett as her advisor. Her subsequent research has received international attention and provided scientific support for revamping service delivery systems to mentally retarded and disabled populations. For more than 30 years, she has been a pivotal figure in the study of child development, working on issues such as the sociology and economics of poverty, juvenile drug addiction, mental retardation and childhood disability as they impact health and human services. Her life has been dedicated to helping disadvantaged people realize their best possible intellectual, physical and personal lives.

A key pursuit of Sharon’s has been to “translate” the findings of psychological science into real-world applications and to shape public policy, mirroring UW Psychology’s present focus on Serving Individuals and Society.

“My own ‘last decade’ of research falls under the area of translational science,” explains Sharon. “I want to understand the principles that explain why we (from individuals to small and larger groups) are usually so poor at implementing what we know ‘works’; and conversely, why we continue to implement things that we know don’t work. It is amazing and disheartening to know that people could be so much better off than we are (based on scientific breakthroughs already) and yet we are not yet there! So congratulations to you for identifying a specialty in translational science within a psychology department!”

This was the second time in three years that UW Psychology has provided the Natural Sciences Distinguished Alumna: Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Linda Buck (B.S., 1975) was honored in 2005. n