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James McKeen Cattell Award

Recognizing Outstanding Doctoral Dissertations in Psychology

In a continuing effort to encourage and recognize high standards of dissertation research, the Psychology Section of the New York Academy of Sciences biennially recognizes an outstanding doctoral dissertation in psychology through the James McKeen Cattell Award. The competition is limited to students of doctoral programs in regionally accredited institutions who have either attained doctoral degrees or successfully defended their dissertations. Mentors for the Awardees’ dissertations are also recognized with a Citation Certificate.  Dissertations are judged by the Steering Committee of the Psychology Section, in consultation with specialists in the area of the dissertation.

James McKeen Cattell Award

2014-2017 Winners Announced

On October 16th, 2017, the Academy’s Psychology Section announced the winners of the prestigious 2014 - 2017 James McKeen Cattell Award for "Outstanding Dissertation in Psychology." The award, in its 46th year, drew a distinguished pool of candidates from the United States.

Gold Medalist

Cynthia Diane Fast, Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Dissertation: Engage Your Hippocampus: Experience with Ambiguous Events Influences Imagination and Decision-Making during Novel Ambiguous Situations. Mentor: Dr. Aaron P. Blaisdell

Silver Medalists

Nicole Zillmer, Department of Human Development, Teachers College, Columbia University.  Dissertation: Metacognitive Dimensions of Adolescents’ Intellectual Collaboration. Mentor: Dr. Deanna Kuhn

Philip Kreniske, Developmental Psychology Graduate program, City University of New York. Dissertation: This CollegeStory/com: How Interactive Writing Media Influenced the Way First-Year Students Made Sense of their College Transition. Mentor: Dr. Colette Daiute

Bronze Medalist

William Aue, Department of Psychology, Syracuse University. Dissertation: Understanding Proactive Facilitation in Cued Recall. Mentor: Dr. Amy Criss

Dissertation Award Committee

Ting Lei, PhD, chaired the Dissertation Award Committee; Helen Rozelman, PhD, chaired the Steering Committee; Uwe Gielen, PhD., Frank LeFever, PhD., Henry Solomon, PhD., Linda Solomon, PhD, Richard Velayo, PhD, and Joanne Williams, PhD served as reviewers.

Information concerning the 2014-2017 James McKeen Cattell Award may be obtained by contacting Ting Lei at


Dr. Natalie Brito, Georgetown University: Influence of Early Environmental Variation on Memory Development: Examining Bilingualism during Infancy.  Mentor: Dr. Rachel Barr

Honorable Mentions

Dr. Braden Purcell, Vanderbilt University: Neural Mechanisms of Perceptual Decision Making.  Mentors:  Dr.Thomas J. Palmeri & Dr.Jeffrey D. Schall

Dr. Jacqueline Barker, Yale University: The Formation and Expression of Addiction-related Behaviors: Cortico-limbic-striatal Circuitry in Flexible Reward Seeking.  Mentor: Dr. Jane Taylor

Dr. Lauren Richmond, Washington University in St. Louis: Combining Working Memory Training and Non-invasive Brain Stimulation to Enhance the Effects of Training and Transfer.  Mentor: Dr. Ingrid Olson


Dr. Gloria Luong, University of California, at Irvine: The Role of Goals and Emotion Regulation: Age Differences in Affective Responses to a Negative Social Interaction. Mentor: Dr. Susan Charles.

Dr. Moriel Zelikowsky, UCLA: A Dynamic Circuit: Interactions between the Amygdala, Hippocampus and Prefrontal Cortex Control Context-Sensitive Fear and Extinction. Mentor: Dr. Michael S. Fanselow.

Honorable Mentions

Dr. Joelle LeMoult, University of Miami: The Effects of Rumination on Psychological and Biological Responses to Stress. Mentor: Dr. Jutta Joormann.

Dr. Michael Scullin, Washington University: Sleep, Memory and Aging. Mentor: Dr. Mark McDaniel.


Joonkoo Park, University of Michigan, Dissertation: Experiential Effects on the Neural Substrates of Visual Word and Number Processing; Mentor: Thad Polk.

Jennifer Marie Tomlinson, Stony Brook University, Dissertation: Perceived Partner Idealization: Is there an Optimal Level? Mentor: Arthur Aron

Honorable Mentions

Jeri Little, University of California, Los Angeles, Dissertation: Optimizing Multiple-Choice Tests as Learning Events; Mentors: Elizabeth Bjork, Robert Bjork

Catherine Hartley, New York University, Dissertation: Individual Differences in the Expression and Control of Conditioned Fear; Mentor: Elizabeth Phelps


Lisa R. Starr, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Dissertation: Mechanisms of Anxiety-Depression Co-Occurrence; Mentor: Joanne Davila.

Honorable Mentions

Amanda C. Brandone, University of Michigan, Dissertation: The Development of Intention Understanding in the First Year of Life: An Exploration of Infants' Understanding of Successful vs. Failed Intentional Actions; Mentors: Susan A. Gelman and Henry M. Wellman.

Brenda J. Salley, Virginia Tech, Dissertation: Relating Infants' Social Attention to their Emerging Language Skills; Mentor: Robin Panneton.


David M. Frost, Graduate Center, City University of New York. Dissertation: Stigma, Intimacy, and Well-being: A Personality and Social Structures Approach. Mentor: Suzanne Ouellette.

Shannon Gourley, Yale University. Dissertation: Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of a Glucocorticoid-Induced Animal Model of Chronic Depression. Mentor: Jane Taylor.

Christopher Honey, Indiana University. Dissertation: Fluctuations and Flows in Large-Scale Brain Networks. Mentor: Olaf Sporns.

Tarika Daftary Kapur, John Jay College, City University of New York. Dissertation: The Effects of Pre- and Post-Venire Publicity on Juror Decision-Making. Mentor: Maureen O'Connor.

Honorable Mentions

Hyein Chang, University of Michigan. Dissertation: Children's Attentional and Behavioral Persistance and the Development of Externalizing Behavior Problems. Mentor: Sheryl Olson.

Edward Orehek, University of Maryland. Dissertation: The Role of Epistemic Motivation in the Link Between Arousal and Focus of Attention. Mentor: Arie W. Kruglanski.


Vicente Martinez, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Dissertation: A Repeated Amphetamine Model of Impaired Attention in Schizophrenia; Mentor: Dr. Martin Friedrich Sarter

Tatiana Pollo, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.; Dissertation: The Nature of Young Children’s Spellings; Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Treiman

Jason Reiss, University of Delaware, Newark, Del.; Dissertation: Object Substitution Masking: What is the Neural Fate of the Unreportable Target? Mentor: Jim Hoffman


Emily Amanatullah
"Negotiating Gender Role Stereotypes: The Influence of Gender Role Stereotypes on Perceivers' Evaluations and Target's Behaviors in Value Claiming Negotiations and Situation Moderation by Representation Role"
Mentor: Michael Morris
Columbia Business School

Katherine H. Karlsgodt
"Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Verbal Working Memory in Schizophrenia"
Mentor: Tyrone D. Cannon
University of California, Los Angeles


Christopher Summerfield
"Cognitive Control During Episodic Memory Encoding"
Mentor: Jennifer Mangels, Columbia University

Nicole Avena (Honorable Mention)
"Evidence of Sugar Addiction in Rats: Links to Drug Abuse and Eating Disorders"
Mentor: Bart Hoebel, Princeton University


Jennifer Quinn
"Dorsal Hippocampus Involvement in Fear Conditioning to Discrete Auditory Stimuli"
Mentor: Michael Fanselow
University of California, Los Angeles

Anne-Noel Samaha
"Effects of Rate of Drug Delivery on Brain and Behavior: Implications for Addiction"
Mentor: Terry Robinson
University of Michigan

Jessica Tracy
"Is There a Universally Recognized Pride Expression?"
Mentor: Richard Robins
University of California, Davis


Adam Brickman
"Neuropsychological Functioning and Neuromorphometry in Non-Kraepelinian and Kraepelinian Schizophrenia"
Mentor: Joan Borod
Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Neuropsychology Subprogram at Queens College

Shayna Rosenbaum
"Investigations of Remote Memory for Topographical and Autobiographical Information: Evidence from Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Amnesic Patients"
Mentor: Morris Moscovitch
University of Toronto


Evan Palmer
"Spatiotemporal Relatability in the Perception of Dynamically Occluded Objects"
Mentor: Philip Kellman
University of California, Los Angeles

Reginald B. Adams, Jr. (Honorable Mention)
"The Function of Perceived Gaze Direction in Emotion and Person Perception"
Mentor: Robert E. Kleck
Dartmouth College


Laura Louise Eldridge
"The Role of the Medial Temporal Lobe in Human Memory"
Mentor: Michelle Craske
University of California, Los Angeles

Steven Most
"Sustained Intentional Blindness: What You See Is What You See"
Mentor: Daniel Simons
Harvard University