A Visionary Leader : Dr. Michael Alessandri recognized for community service by local chamber

Dr. Michael Alessandri, executive director of UM-NSU CARD (University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities) and clinical professor of psychology in the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences, was presented with the “Visionary Leader of the Year” award by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

“Surrounded by the undeniable love of family, friends, and the best colleagues in the world, it was an absolute honor to accept this award,” said Alessandri.

The recognition from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is awarded to top community leaders for their work in advancing the South Florida community.

In his speech at the Salute to Miami Leaders Awards Luncheon, Alessandri used the opportunity to remind attendees that the special needs community needs their assistance in creating sustainable employment opportunities for those adults with disabilities who remain underemployed or unemployed in our community

Under his leadership, UM-NSU CARD was named Autism Society of America’s National Autism Program of the Year in 1999. Alessandri, who has received numerous research and service grants totaling more than $25 million for autism research and initiatives, has worked with individuals with autism and their families for nearly 30 years.

Recently, he was awarded a $515,000 multi-year grant from The Taft Foundation for his proposal to help promote entrepreneurship in the autism community that will allow for sustainable employment for adults with autism. In 2012, The Children’s Trust awarded Alessandri with its David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award for his lifetime achievement and dedication to children, one of South Florida’s highest honors for community service.

Dr. Simpson & colleagues show mother-infant face-to-face interaction have long-lasting benefits

Infant macaque monkeys (Macaca mulatta) that receive more face-to-face interaction from their mothers become more sociable later in life, reports a paper published online this week in Nature Communications. This study suggests that, in non-human primates, experiences during infancy have a long lasting effect on social behaviours.

One of the mechanisms proposed to support early social development in humans is face-to-face interaction between caregivers and infants. Previous studies showed that, in rhesus macaques, mothers engage in face-to-face interactions (including lip-smacking and mutual gazing) with their infants.

Amanda Dettmer and colleagues show that the benefits of this kind of mother-infant communication are long-lasting. They monitored natural variations in face-to-face interactions in 10 rhesus monkey mother-infant pairs living in a large, open air enclosure and found that infant monkeys that received more face-to-face interaction from their mothers during the first three months of life became more social — in terms of levels of social play, close proximity to other monkeys, and grooming behaviour — later in life (at two to five months). The authors also examined separate groups of 48 monkeys that received nursery care from human caregivers. Monkeys randomly assigned to receive additional neonatal face-to-face interactions — measured in terms of mutual gaze and intermittent lip-smacking — from human caregivers displayed increased social interest at two months, compared to monkeys who received only additional handling or no extra interactions.

This study of infant monkeys’ social development can aid understanding of human development because macaque monkeys and humans share similar child rearing behaviours and trajectories of social development. Read More ...

Daniel Messinger receives Cooper Award

Daniel Messinger receives Cooper AwardPsychology Professor Daniel Messinger is an active member of the Developmental Area of his department’s Child Division. He is engaged in a comprehensive program of research on social communication and development. Funded by NIH and NSF, among others, he is a local and national leader in autism research. Currently an associate editor of Developmental Science and a member of the Editorial Board of Infancy, he is actively pursuing multi-disciplinary research with computer scientists, music engineers and physicists. Messinger is also an innovative teacher at the graduate and undergraduate levels and generous in his service to UM and the community.

Neil Schneiderman recognized by the American Psychosomatic Society

Neil Schneiderman

Neil Schneiderman, Ph.D., James L. Knight Professor of Psychology, received the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Psychosomatic Society at their annual meeting held in San Francisco March 12-15, 2014.  The Society's Distinguished Scientist Award annually recognizes a senior scientist or physician who has made important and protracted contributions in any research field within the Society's sphere of interest.  The biobehavioral bases of Cardioavascular Heart Disease (CHD) risk and management requires integration among basic science, clinical investigation and population based research approaches.  In a research career spanning more than 50 year Dr. Schneiderman has attempted to achieve this integration in his work, using animal models and diverse human populations, including CHD patients, to examine the role of behavioral, biological, psychosocial and sociocultural factors influencing the development and amelioration of atherosclerosis and CHD.

Soccer Clinic Brings Benefits of Sport to Autistic YouthSoccer Clinic

Legendary college basketball coach John Woode said, 'Sports do not build character. They reveal it.' A growing body of research shows that participating in sports plays a positive role in youth development, including improved school achievement, higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems, and stronger relationships with both peers and family. These social and developmental aspects are even more important for youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a neurological condition that affects the way the brain develops and processes information. ... read more

UM Neuroscientist Discusses her Work on Autism with Local Community Supporters

UM NeuroscientistIndividuals who have pledged their support for the upcoming Tropical Nights fundraiser for the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) heard from one of UM’s newest and most notable faculty members at a special reception last week. About 60 CARD event sponsors gathered at the Riviera Country Club on March 20 for an evening of information and celebration. The reception was generously hosted by Tom and Marie-Ilene Whitehurst and the Whitehurst Advisory Group. ... read more

The UROSE Program is hosting a free screening of HBO's "Weight of the Nation"UROSE

The UROSE Program is hosting a free screening of HBO's "Weight of the Nation" health documentary at the Cosford Theater on April 10th at 6:30PM. It is open to the community so bring your friends! There will be a panel discussion with faculty immediately following the movie. The Weight of the Nation

Health Division Faculty Probe Why Hispanics Live Longer

Healthy probeThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the Hispanic Community Health Study Data Book, based on the largest, most comprehensive study ever conducted on Hispanic health in the U.S. Among the questions being addressed by the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (SOL) are why Hispanics in the U.S. live longer than non-Hispanic whites (83 vs. 79 years) and whether this trend will continue. The NIH in conjunction with the National Alliance for Hispanic Health is also releasing a report, About Our Health, that will be distributed to the 16,415 men and women who participated in SOL, including 4,087 participants from Miami-Dade County ... read more

Professor Emeritus Theodore Millon RememberedTheodore Million

The Department of Psychology is saddened to report the passing of Professor Emeritus Theodore Millon, Ph.D., D.Sc., at his home in Greenville Township, New York, January 29, 2014. He was 85. Professor Millon was Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami from 1977 to 1987 and retired from UM in 2001. He held visiting professorships at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School (Psychiatry). He continued to serve as Dean and Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Personology and Psychopathology, an organization that he founded while in Miami and ultimately moved to Port Jervis, N.Y. Professor Millon wrote more than 25 books and was awarded the Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement by the American Psychological Association in 2008. To read a tribute to Professor Millon written by Professor Michael Antoni please click here

Kiara Timpano Receives Early Career Award

Kiara tiampanoKiara Timpano was the recipient of the 2013 Early Career Award from the ABCT (Association for Behavioral Cognitive Therapies) Anxiety Disorders Special Interest Group.  The Award was presented at the Annual Convention held in Nashville Tennessee Nov 21-24, 2013.  Dr. Timpano's research involves integrative risk models that play a role in the etiology, comorbidity, and maintenance of anxiety and obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders, with a particular focus on hoarding.  She uses multiple methods to study individual differences linked with these conditions.  Dr. Timpano has published and presented widely in the areas of OCD, hoarding, and CBT for anxiety disorders.  Her research has received support from the National Institute of Mental Health and the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation.  She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Obsessive compulsive and Related Disorders, and is a reviewer for numerous professional journals.

Annette La Greca named Distinguished ProfessorAnnette Le graco

Dr. Annette La Greca has been awarded the title of UM "Distinguished Professor of Psychology" by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Provost of the University of Miami and a Committee of current Distingui‌shed Professors. This represents a high honor recognizing Dr. La Greca's many scientific and professional contributions to psychology, the department and the university. Dr. La Greca was also the recipient of a prestigious 2013 Distinguished Women Scholars Award from her graduate alma mater, Purdue University. ‌

fMRI Scanner Delivered to Neuroscience Annex

FRMI Today marked a major milestone for the College of Arts and Sciences, the Psychology Department and for the UM Coral Gables Campus with the delivery of the University's first 100% research dedicated fMRI magnet for human brain imaging.  The GE 750 3T magnet was delivered to the construction site of the newly built Neuroscience Annex adjacent to the Cox Science Building.  On hand were Drs. Jennifer Britton, Fred Pattany, Amishi Jha and Rod Wellens, Chair of the Psychology Department.  Within a few hours the 26,000 pound 3 Telsa active shield magnet was hoisted into place and positioned within a specially shielded room on the first level of the Neuroscience building.  Construction of the Neuroscience Annex was made possible through a National Institutes of Health (NIH) $14.8 million grant funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and is scheduled to be operational later this summer.

Psychology welcomes new faculty membernew member

The Department of Psychology is pleased to announce that Dr. Lucina Q. Uddin will be joining our faculty as an Assistant Professor beginning in January, 2014. Dr. Uddin is interested in the relationship between brain connectivity and cognition in typical and atypical development. Within a cognitive neuroscience framework, her research combines functional connectivity analyses of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data and structural connectivity analyses of diffusion tensor imaging data to examine the organization of large-scale brain networks supporting attention and social cognition. Her current projects focus on understanding dynamic network interactions underlying social information processing in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. ‌

Michael Alessandri Wins Champion for Children Award

Michael Alessandri Dr. Michael Alessandri is the 2012 recipient of the Children's Trust, David Lawrence Jr. Champion for Children Award for a lifetime of achievement and dedication to children.  Dr. Alessandri has worked with individuals with autism and their families for nearly 30 years.  In addition to his role as executive director of the University of Miami - Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD), he leads the Division of Community Outreach and Engagement at the University of Miami's Department of Psychology, where he is a clinical professor of Psychology.  Under his direction, CARD was named National Autism Program of the Year in 1999 by the Autism Society of America.

Helping Children Cope after Hurricaneshelping children

Children are a vulnerable population in the aftermath of hurricanes and other natural disasters.  Dr. Annette La Greca and her colleagues have studied children's reactions to natural disasters and the factors that put children at risk for stress reactions.  La Greca and colleagues also developed materials to help children cope with the stressors associated with disasters and their aftermath.  These include a manual for parents and children and a professional book for researchers and clinicians.  After the Storm is a guide for parents to help their children cope with the aftermath of disasters. ‌

Neil Schneiderman wins ISBM Lifetime Achievement Award

isbm The International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM) awards the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Neil Schneiderman.  As one of the founders of the field of Behavioral Medicine and a founding member of the ISBM, Dr. Schneiderman has served on its Board since 1990 (currently Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee), was twice Program Chair of the ICBM (1994, 2004), served as founding Editor of the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine (1994-1998), was President of the ISBM (1998-2000), and wrote the initial Program Guidelines for the ICBM (2004).  In 1996 he co-edited a volume with Kristina Orth-Gomér titled Behavioral Medicine Approaches to Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, based on an ISBM educational seminar held in Högberga, Sweden.  His scholarly collaborations continue until this day.

Michael McCullough wins Cooper FellowshipMichael mccullough

On May 1 Prof. Michael McCullough was awarded a Cooper Fellowship by the College of Arts & Sciences in recognition of his scholarly productivity and achievements. McCullough has been a faculty member at UM since 2002; he is currently Professor of Psychology and Religious studies, and he coordinates the Evolution & Behavior emphasis within the psychology department's PhD Health Division and directs the department's Evolution and Human Behavior Laboratory. So far in his career he has produced over 100 scholarly journal articles and book chapters plus a series of scholarly volumes and trade books based on his research interests. He has had consistent research support for more than 15 years and has received recognition for his research nationally. ‌

Rita Goldstein wins Psychology Alumna of the Year

rita goldsteinDr. Goldstein is a Scientist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and Affiliate, Psychology and Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stonybrook.  Her primary research interest lies in studying the interplay between the cognitive-emotional-behavioral and neurobiological changes that accompany cocaine addiction with the goal of understanding the mechanisms that underlie the recurring nature of addiction to drugs.  Her research embraces a multidisciplinary approach, translating into patient-oriented clinical research settings the principles of non-invasive techniques to measure brain function such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), event-related potential (ERP) recordings, and neuropsychology.

Neuroscience Building Groundbreaking

Nearly 100 administrators, faculty, students, and alumni gathered at a ceremonial groundbreaking on April 26 to celebrate the construction of a facility that will launch a new er‌a for collaborative neuroscience research at the University of Miami.  The new 37,700-square-foot neuroscience building will create an interactive hub for interdisciplinary research based on neurological imaging and health research adjacent to the Cox Science Center on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus. ‌

Alexandra Quittner wins Provost Award for Scholarly Activity

alexandra quitnerAlexandra Quittner is among this year's recipients of the Provost's Award for Scholarly Activity.  This award is given to a select few each year from across all schools and colleges at the university.

Quittner is a pioneer in the application of psychological science to the care of children with cystic fibrosis and asthma, including research on the conceptualization, definition, and measurement of treatment adherence.  A recipient of several multimillion-dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Quittner also conducts research on the impact of deafness on child development.  She is a co-principal investigator on a multisite NIH study evaluating the effects of cochlear implants on deaf children's cognitive, behavioral, and linguistic outcomes.  Her recent co-authored publication in JAMA showed that severely and profoundly deaf children benefit more from a cochlear implant if the surgery is performed by 18 months of age.

Charles S. Carver receives Jack Block Awardcharles s carver

Charles S. Carver, Distinguished professor of psychology at the University of Miami, received the Jack Block award given by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), the largest organization of social and personality psychologists in the world.  The honor is in recognition of his research accomplishments over the past thirty years which have shaped modern personality psychology.  The award was presented to Carver at the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology on January 26, 2012, in San Diego, California. ‌

Psychology Grad Student Represents Clinical Science

psychology gradHallie Bregman, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology's Child Division working in Dr. Kristin Lindahl's lab, was elected as the national representative for Clinical Science for the American Psychological Association's Science Student Council (2010-2012) and was then elected to serve as the Chair of the SSC for a one-year term, 2011-2012. Hallie and the SSC participated in a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill, where each SSC representative met with staff members of their local Senators and Representatives to lobby for National Institute of Health (NIH) funding. Additionally, Hallie chaired two of the six symposia offered by the SSC at the 2011 APA Convention, including a program on nontraditional career options for science-oriented students and a program on the role of advocacy in the dissemination of research findings. Hallie attends two SSC meetings each year in Washington, D.C. to discuss ideas and implement plans.

Graduate Student Wins NSF Fellowshipnsf fellowship

Eric J. Pedersen, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology's Evolution and Behavior emphasis and a researcher in Professor Michael McCullough's Evolution and Human Behavior Laboratory, has won a highly competitive Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) from the National Science Foundation.  According to the NSF, Pedersen's selection for the NSF Fellowship was based on his outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as his potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the US science and engineering enterprise.  The stipend for the 2011-2012 Fellowship Year is $30,000.‌

Becky Espinosa selected as White House Agente de Cambio

becky espinosaPsychology senior Becky Espinosa was selected as a White House Agente de Cambio (Agent of Change) to participate in a roundtable discussion with senior Obama Administration officials this past fall.  Said Ms. Espinosa, "Each Agente de Cambio has his or her own story and interests, but we are all working together toward one goal- educating and preparing students for a better and brighter future."

Psychology Welcomes New Faculty

Jennifer Britton, Ph.D.jennife rbriton
We are pleased to announce that Jennifer Britton, Ph.D., will be joining the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Psychology beginning this August.  Jennifer Britton, Ph.D., comes to us from her position as a Research Fellow at NIMH, in the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience.  In 2005, she received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan (her bachelor's degree is from Vanderbilt in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering).  This was followed by research and teaching positions at Massachusetts General Hospital and McClean Psychiatric Hospital, and then a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship in the NIMH intramural program.  She has been in her current position since 2010.
Dr. Britton's research deals with behavioral and neural correlates of anxiety in pediatric populations, and more specifically she examines threat/safety discrimination using fear learning and extinction paradigms, and threat biases across development in healthy and anxious individuals.  Her research uses fMRI, and she has taught imaging methodology and analysis at both Mass General and NIMH.  In 2010, she was awarded a 5-year K99/R00 grant from NIMH entitled "Neuroimaging of extinction recall in development and adolescent social anxiety", and she received a 2-year NARSAD young investigator award entitled "Novel treatment strategy in adolescent anxiety: implications for depression." ‌

2012 Graduate Student Awards

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award:
Kayla Gurak and Adam Smith
Kirk R. Danhour Memorial Award:
Catherine D'Avanzato, Elizabeth Bell, and Katie Chipungu
Dr. Carol Alson-Finement Award:
Alex Queen
Bertha Weber Award:
Crystal Noller
Peter Mundy CARD Award for Clinical Research in Autism:
Christine Ghilain
Keith Scott CARD Award for Developmental Research in Autism:
Devon Gangi
S.T. Calvin Award:
Veronica Fernandez