When planning a career path, it helps to have some ambitious goals to aim for. Winning recognition for outstanding research or field work can pay off in the form of new professional opportunities and even cash prizes. Below is a list of coveted awards that any prospective psychology student would be proud to hang on their wall.
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Psychology is all about helping people, so every year the APA recognizes individuals and teams of psychologists who provide humanitarian aid to under-served communities through their professional duties or volunteer work. Recipients of the International Humanitarian Award have helped communities cope with the psychological trauma that accompanies natural disasters, international conflicts, civil wars and other large-scale crises. Survivors of such traumatic events often deal with symptoms of post-traumatic stress even after their lives return to normal, which is why mental health professionals play an important role in disaster relief.
For young up-and-coming investigators, the Early Graduate Student Researcher Award acknowledges students who produce outstanding research during the first two years of their doctoral program. Candidates are judged on their overall experience and specific accomplishments that introduce novel implications to the field of psychological research. Aside from an impressive accolade to put on their resumes, winners also receive $1,000 to put toward research expenses or travel to conferences.
Each year, two lucky researchers under the age of 40 receive a Troland Research Award, which gives them $75,000 to further their own investigations in the realm of experimental psychology. The United States National Academy of Sciences has bestowed this honor annually since 1931 to encourage inquiry into how the brain interacts with the physical world. Prize money may be spent on research related to language, emotion, memory, learning, motivation, sensation, perception, cognition and more with preference given to projects with a quantitative element. For example, 2016 recipient David J. Freedman was recognized for creating computational models that illustrate the role neurons in the cerebral cortex play in supporting the representation of visual categories.
The Association for Psychological Sciences presents the Janet Taylor Spence Award to young researchers who make groundbreaking contributions to the field of psychology early in their career. Qualifying accomplishments may include developing new approaches, paradigms or research methods that benefit multiple disciplines. Five winners are chosen annually, and they are honored at the the APS Annual Convention.
The Association for Women in Psychology recognizes female psychologists who specialize in the fields of gender, immigration, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. Named after AWP member and feminist scholar Oliva Espin, the award honors outstanding practice, training or research in these areas. Winners receive $250 and are invited to present at the annual AWP Conference.
Most psychologists don't dedicate their lives to helping people in hopes of winning accolades, but these prestigious awards honor researchers and therapists who deserve it the most. No matter what stage of their career they are currently in, psychologists always have something new for which to aspire.