Newsletter Section


Greetings from the Chair

Photo: Sheri Mizumori
Photo: Sheri Mizumori

In the past year, the Psychology Department made major progress toward a very exciting future, despite the recent economic challenges. This was made possible because of the adaptive and visionary actions on the part of our entire team of faculty, students, and staff.  Faculty have shown creative solutions in the laboratory and in the classroom when budget cuts were at their peak.  They continued to receive impressive grant support for research that has important impact on our community as well as the advancement of science and knowledge. The high quality and energy of our graduate and undergraduate students has not faltered; in fact some students have worked together with faculty to create new opportunities for advancement in the classroom and in research. The quality of our staff is beyond exceptional as they have continued to provide outstanding support for faculty and students. In fact our department administrator, Michele Jacobs, was nominated for the prestigious University of Washington Distinguished Staff Award. Thus, the strength and dedication of our entire Psychology family has resulted in the following notable advances this year.

We continue to develop new mechanisms that enable our research findings to quickly impact a broad range of issues of concern to the local community.  This year’s series of three Edwards Public Lectures on ‘Understanding Brains and Behavior’ described how brain science and behavioral analyses combine to provide new insight into the biological underpinnings of behavior - insights that can spawn new treatments for behavioral disorders.  These lectures are free to the public, and this year we experienced record breaking success in terms of audience attendance.   Psychology Professor Wendy Stone (Director of the Autism Center) brought autism research directly to the public for discussion.  Our Center for Child and Family Well Being launched a successful series of “Research to Real World” workshops that bring together community leaders and researchers to discuss solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing our children. Professor Yuichi Shoda continued to spearhead our department’s collaborative effort to bring world renown researchers of childhood learning in direct conversation with parents, teachers, and administrators of the Evergreen School.  A number of our faculty also demonstrated how psychological science is directly relevant to youth. Also featured in this issue is an example of how a long time supporter of our department  has helped to bring our research and professional expertise to bear on specific issues of concern to the Makah tribe.

Psychology is an inherently interdisciplinary science since multiple factors are known to impact behavior.  I am very excited to announce that we hired three fabulous new faculty who not only build on existing strengths of our current clinical and developmental areas, but they will also significantly enhance our ability to build new bridges to interested research groups across campus. Generally speaking, Drs. Shannon Dorsey and Katie McLaughlin are interested in issues related to child trauma from social, developmental, cognitive and neuroscience perspectives. Their work is expected to have direct impact at the local, national, and global levels. Dr. Kristina Olson studies social influences on cognitive development, especially as related to social attitudes as a function of social class.  Future newsletters will provide more details about each of our new faculty members as they arrive at the University of Washington. 

It is exciting that this year we were able to grow our undergraduate program. We enhanced the already wide array of courses available to both psychology majors and nonmajors, in part by hiring two award winning full time lecturers, Drs. Debra Chun and Ann Voorhies.  New courses were added and we were able to offer existing courses more often.  The Psychology Department Honors Program (led by Dr. Miriam Bassok) places students into active research settings, and the number of student in the Honors Program grew to an all time high! Psychology also continued to offer the largest number of research credit hours compared to any other departments on campus. It is thrilling to see our students put into practice knowledge gained in the classroom.  In this newsletter we feature some of the individual successes of our undergraduate students.

It has been a thrilling year, and I very much look forward to seeing continued growth next year. Until then, I hope you and yours have a wonderful summer!

Best wishes