The APS confers a range of awards and prizes each year to honour outstanding achievements in psychology. The recipients of the 2015 APS awards are profiled below.

President’s Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in Australia

The Award recognises distinguished contributions to Australian psychology by psychologists at later career stage.

Justin Kenardy

Professor Justin Kenardy FAPS is the Deputy Director of the Recovery Injury Research Centre and Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland. Justin is best known for his work on the psychological aspects of traumatic stress especially in relation to injury and illness. His interdisciplinary work is situated at the intersection of psychology, mental health, and physical health including the development and application of preventative, integrative and novel intervention approaches. Justin is a pioneer in the development and evaluation of novel hybrid models of care for psychology utilising e-mental health, and in integrating psychological principles into the management of physical disease especially in endocrine and musculoskeletal disorders. Justin also pioneered the use of e-mental health approaches in the prevention of mental health problems. This work has led to research and impact in diverse areas including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, pain and musculoskeletal disease and injury, burn injury, traumatic brain injury, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, and posttraumatic stress across a broad age range from infants to older adults.

Justin serves or has served as consulting editor on a number of prestigious international journals and is a past Editor of Clinical Psychologist. He is a co-author for both the current NHMRC approved National Stroke Guidelines and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Guidelines. Justin has obtained research funding in excess of $50 million, and has published over 250 research publications.

Across his more than 30 years as a member of the APS, Justin has held a number of executive positions, and is a current member of the APS College of Clinical Psychologists. He was awarded the Ian Campbell Memorial Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Clinical Psychology in Australia in 2008 and was elected Fellow of the APS in 2007.

Distinguished Contribution to Psychological Science Award

The Award recognises distinguished theoretical or empirical contributions to psychology at mid- or later career stage.

David Kavanagh

Professor David Kavanagh FAPS is a highly cited clinical psychologist and research professor at Queensland University of Technology, who has extensive experience as a practitioner and researcher. He has led a community health service, an academic department and research across a university faculty. David’s current research is split between the evaluation and national use of ePsychology tools and resources, and the testing of an imagery-based motivational intervention—an application of his theoretical and empirical work on cognitive processes underpinning desires. Previous awards for his research have included the APS Ian Campbell Prize in Clinical Psychology, the Distinguished Career Award from the Australian Association of Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, and the Senior Scientist Award from the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.

Across David’s almost 35 years as a member of the APS, he has held a number of leadership roles including serving on the APS Board, on the Division of Psychological Research, Education and Training, and convening the ePsychology Interest Group. David was elected to Fellow of the APS in 1993.

Distinguished Contribution to Psychological Education Award

The Award recognises outstanding contribution to the education of psychologists in Australia over an extended period.

Shirley Morrissey

Associate Professor Shirley Morrissey FAPS is an academic and clinical and health psychologist in the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith University, Queensland. Shirley has substantial experience as a psychology educator, contributing to teaching and learning in both psychology and in cross-disciplinary (interprofessional) education. Shirley recently published the 2nd edition of the co-edited book, Ethics and Professional Practice for Psychologists which is used across many courses and institutions in Australia. She was the project leader for a successful ALTC National Competitive Leadership Grant (Enhancing Leadership in the Cross-disciplinary Education and Preparation of Mental Health Practitioners for the Multi-disciplinary Mental Health Workforce). This project involved nursing, social work, psychiatry, occupational therapy and psychology staff at both Griffith University and at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and has led to innovative teaching and learning resources which are being used across the country at many institutions. Shirley has been passionate about improving the value of the undergraduate program for those psychology students who do not go onto study psychology after their Bachelor’s degrees. She was instrumental in developing work integrated learning (WIL) opportunities for 3rd year students at Griffith University, she embraced the Griffith University Student Lifecycle Framework (Lizzio, 2011) and helped integrate the notion of Psychological Literacy (Cranney, 2012) into Griffith’s undergraduate programs. Shirley was invited as a panel member for the International Congress of Psychology Education in Arizona and will be presenting Griffith’s WIL approach at the International Congress of Psychology in Japan in 2016.

Early Career Research Award

The Award recognises excellence in scientific achievement in psychology among psychologists at early career stage.

Melissa Day

Dr Melissa Day MAPS received her MA(Clin) and PhD training at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, U.S.A. with a research focus on pain. She completed her clinical residency at the University of Washington, Seattle, U.S.A. Melissa then undertook a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Washington that provided further specialty training in pain psychology. Melissa has been recognised with a number of awards, most notably the Outstanding Research Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Alabama, the Award of Outstanding Achievement from the University of Washington, the Junior Investigator Award from the American Pain Society, and the Spain Hickman Scholarship from Rotary International.

Melissa’s research has focused on implementing randomised controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy and mechanisms of cognitive-behavioural and mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain. Her research has consistently been published in top tier journals, including Nature Reviews Neurology, Pain, Journal of Pain, and the Clinical Journal of Pain. Melissa has a history of successful grant funding with her USA-based collaborators, Professors Beverly Thorn, Mark Jensen, and Dawn Ehde, and together they have been awarded over $3.5million (USD) for completed and ongoing projects. Most recently Melissa was awarded an Early Career Fellowship grant by the NHMRC, which she is completing at The University of Queensland.

Emma Sciberras

Dr Emma Sciberras MAPS was awarded a Doctor of Clinical Psychology (Child Specialisation) through the University of Melbourne in 2010, completing her post-doctoral training at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (2010-15). Emma is currently employed as a Lecturer in Psychology at Deakin University and as a clinical psychologist at The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

Emma has been awarded two competitive NHMRC fellowships which has assisted her to build her research program (Early Career Research Fellowship: 2012-15; Career Development Fellowship, Level 1: 2016-19). Emma’s research examines the developmental trajectories for children with ADHD including modifiable predictors of outcomes. Her work also focuses on the development and rigorous testing of interventions to improve outcomes for children with ADHD. She has attracted approximately six million in competitive grant funding and currently leads two NHMRC-funded Project Grants in the area of ADHD.

Emma has received multiple awards including the Junior European Network for Hyperkinetic Disorders Award in 2014 and the Paediatric Research Society of Australia and New Zealand Research Award in 2010. She has approximately 50 published/accepted peer reviewed publications, has been a member of the NHMRC project grant panel since 2014, and is on the editorial board for two journals.

Early Career Teaching Award

The Award recognises teachers of psychology in Australian universities in early career stage who show potential for excellence.

Elissa Pearson

Dr Elissa Pearson MAPS is a lecturer in psychology at the University of South Australia (UniSA), where she specialises in teaching and learning in psychology, as well as educating and engaging the public with environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation issues through her conservation psychology research. She is passionate about applying psychology to real-world issues and facilitating students to develop and display psychological literacy in their own personal and professional lives. She has consistently achieved high student and course evaluations across diverse psychology teaching experiences, which span 10 courses. Furthermore, she has worked extensively on projects and courses (including a first-year professional development course and capstone work placement) to enhance the professional identity, transferable skills, and work-readiness of undergraduate psychology students.

Elissa’s scholarly approach to teaching is reflected by her commitment to ongoing evaluation and enhancement of her teaching practices and by contributions to numerous publications and conference presentations regarding psychology education. Elissa has previously been awarded a UniSA Divisional Early Career Teacher Award and was part of a team which received a UniSA and Office of Learning and Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning. She is currently the Program Director for UniSA's Offshore Bachelor of Psychological Science program offered in partnership with Hong Kong Baptist University.

Award for Excellent PhD Thesis in Psychology

The Award recognises outstanding research in psychology by students who have recently completed a PhD at an Australian university.

Michael Bowen

University of Sydney
Thesis title – Defensive aggregation to predatory threat in the laboratory rat: behavioural, neural, pharmacological and epigenetic correlates

Dr Michael Bowen MAPS has contributed a number of important work pieces to date including developing the first laboratory rodent model of social responding to threat, and co-inventing a novel drug treatment for alcohol-use disorders and a novel series of compounds targeting social deficits in psychological disorders. In recent years, Michael’s preclinical research has led to clinical trials, patents, highly-cited papers, competitive funding, a prestigious NHMRC Peter Doherty Biomedical Research Fellowship, high-profile national and international research awards, invited talks at national and international conferences and public forums, and worldwide media coverage. Michael was awarded the 2015 NSW Premier’s Prize for Early Career Researcher of the Year.

Amy Dawel

Australian National University
Thesis title – Face emotion processing and attention to eye-gaze: Typical development and associations with psychopathic traits and callous unemotional (CU) traits.

Results of this thesis argue that psychopathy-related deficits in processing social information are not specific to emotional expressions that signal distress, nor to the eyes of faces, but may instead derive from abnormalities in general attentional mechanisms. Results also highlight the importance of considering contextual information and emotion authenticity in face processing research. Dr Amy Dawel MAPS was the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding publication award of the Excellence Research Student Awards from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders.

Ben Grafton

University of Western Australia (UWA)
Thesis title – Always look on the bright side of life: The attentional basis of positive emotional disposition.

The aim of this PhD research program was to establish the attentional basis of variability in positive emotional disposition. The studies carried out demonstrated that biased attentional responding to positive information can make a causal contribution to elevated levels of this disposition. It is hoped this research will stimulate further work into the patterns of biased information processing underpinning emotional resilience. This thesis was awarded the 2014 Robert Street Prize for most outstanding PhD thesis at UWA.

InPsych February 2016


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Vol 38 | Issue 1