Newsletter Article

Recent Major Grant Awards

The UW Psychology Department is one of the most successful in the country at securing grant awards – a testament to the high quality research programs of our faculty. Our most recent awards include:

Photo of Sean O'DonnellAssociate Professor Sean O’Donnell was awarded a three year, $230,000 grant from the National Science Foundation entitled, “Comparative-Developmental Analysis of Brain Architecture in Social Wasps.” Sean’s research examines how brain architecture changes in response to social complexity in insects. Wasps, in particular, have a wide range of social behaviors and provide a window on the co-evolution of brain architecture and social interactions.

In addition to the grant from the NSF, Sean was also recently elected vice-chair for research for the Organization for Tropical Studies. The organization provides leadership in education, research and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics. It conducts graduate and undergraduate education, facilitates research, participates in tropical forest conservation, maintains three biological stations in Costa Rica and conducts environmental education programs.

Photo of Lynn Fainsilber katzResearch Associate Professor Lynn Fainsilber Katz was recently awarded a five year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute entitled, “Pediatric Cancer, Family Conflict and Child Adjustment.” The overall goal of the research is to improve the quality of life of child cancer survivors and their family members. Recent evidence suggests that children with cancer have higher levels of conflict with their parents. The aim of this research is to understand why and to identify techniques to minimize the impact of the stress and family conflict associated with a cancer diagnosis.

Photo of Lori ZoellnerAssociate Professor Lori Zoellner has received a five year, $1.8 million dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University, entitled, “Optimizing PTSD Treatments.” Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. Though both drug-based and counseling-based approaches are known to help with PTSD, how the two approaches can be most effectively combined remains unknown and is a major aim of this research.

Photo of Jaime OlavarriaAssociate Professor Jaime Olavarria is Co-Investigator with a team of researchers at the Oregon Health Sciences University that received a five year, $1.3 million dollar grant. The grant is from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and is entitled, “Structural Determinants of Diffusion Tensor Imaging Observations in Developing Cortex and White Matter.” Diffusion Tensor Imaging uses MRI to measure white matter connectivity patterns. In humans it has been successful at revealing problems in brain connectivity in a variety of deficits such as autism and schizophrenia. However, the nature of these structural differences at the cellular level remains unknown. This grant supports research that compares DTI and cellular staining techniques. The results could eventually help develop therapies for neurodevelopmental disorders of the cerebral cortex and white matter.