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Editor’s note: The ISTSS Strategic Plan calls for ISTSS to promote innovation. In service of this goal, ISTSS has added the Innovation Award. Candidates for this award are evaluated on their scientifically informed approach to innovation and on the reach and impact of their research, treatment or knowledge translation activities. Applications are especially encouraged for innovative approaches that address diverse populations and health disparities.

Each year ISTSS recognizes the achievements of its members and others dedicated to the field of traumatic stress studies. It has been my honor this year to chair the Awards Committee and I would like to take the opportunity to warmly thank my fellow committee members—Drs. Kathy Magruder, Christin Ogle and Dawne Vogt—for their dedication to the task. There were several outstanding nominees for each award, making the task of selecting a winner very difficult for the committee. Our winners truly represent the tip of the iceberg of talent that exists within the ISTSS community. It is my pleasure to introduce the award winners with a brief overview of their achievements. 

Lifetime Achievement Award 

This award is the highest honor given to an individual who has made great lifetime contributions to the field of traumatic stress.  Congratulations to this year’s winner, Dr. Benjamin E. Saunders.

Dr. Saunders, a clinical social worker, is professor and associate director of the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). He is also associate director for the National Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center. During his 36-year career, Dr. Saunders has published more than 150 articles and book chapters on understanding the scope and impact of violence against children and the most effective ways to extend the reach of trauma-focused, evidence-based practices to all children and families. Dr. Saunders served as associate editor of the Journal of Traumatic Stress for several years and as a member of the editorial board for several trauma-focused journals including Child Maltreatment; Trauma, Violence and Abuse; and the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Dr. Saunders has worked with child trauma experts and organizations internationally—including low-resource communities— to improve the lives of children impacted by trauma and violence. He has had a pioneering role in the development of online training (TF-CBTWeb and TF-CBTWEB 2.0) which has revolutionized professional training and promoted worldwide dissemination of evidence-based practice. He has also led innovative training/implementation models through Project BEST (Bringing Evidence-Supported Treatments to Children and Families), using Community Based Learning Collaboratives involving more than 1,700 child abuse professionals across the state of South Carolina.

Outstanding Service Award

The Award for Outstanding Service to ISTSS is designed to recognize a member of ISTSS who has made a significant and sustained contribution to ISTSS that has enhanced the Society and helped it achieve its goals. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Dr. Dean Kilpatrick.

Dr. Kilpatrick is distinguished university professor of clinical psychology, director of the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, and director of the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Kilpatrick served three terms on the ISTSS Board of Directors and as treasurer, president-elect, president and past-president of ISTSS, as well as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Traumatic Stress. His primary research interests include the prevalence and mental health impacts of sexual violence, other violent crimes, mass violence and other types of potentially traumatic events. Dr. Kilpatrick and colleagues have conducted numerous studies using national household probability samples of adults and adolescents. He has more than 300 peer-reviewed publications, more than 60 book chapters and monographs, and more than 700 presentations at scientific and professional meetings. Dr. Kilpatrick has received numerous awards for his work including the 2007 Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Allied Professional Award; the 1990 U.S. Presidential Award for Outstanding Contributions to Victims of Crime; the 2017 South Carolina Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research; the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award in 2020; and ISTSS’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Chaim and Bela Danieli Young Professional Award

This award recognizes excellence in the traumatic stress field by an individual who has completed his or her training within the last five years. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Dr. Kathryn Humphreys.

Dr. Humphreys is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Humphreys received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology and has expertise in infant and early childhood mental health. Her research focuses on understanding how early caregiving experiences, including abuse and neglect, may affect later life outcomes. In addition, she conducts basic and applied research with the aim of improving children’s early life. In these early years of her career, Dr. Humphreys has already made a substantial contribution to the traumatic stress field as a scientist, clinician and educator. She has published 98 peer-reviewed scientific articles and has begun taking on greater advocacy through media interviews on childhood stress, trauma and maltreatment.

Dr. Humphreys has received several awards including a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the UCLA Chancellor’s Prize (the top honor for incoming graduate students at UCLA), the Michael J. Goldstein Distinguished Dissertation Award in Clinical Psychology, a Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Foundation, a Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation Fellowship, a Jacobs Foundation Early Career Fellow, an Association for Psychological Science (APS) “Rising Star” and the Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions.

Robert S. Laufer, PhD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement

This award is given to an individual or group who has made an outstanding contribution to research in the field of traumatic stress. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Dr. Martin H. Teicher.

Dr. Teicher is director of the Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program at McLean Hospital and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The primary mission of Dr. Teicher’s research programs is to improve the life of children, adolescents and adults by exploring the etiology and treatment of psychiatric disorders that arise during development. He has pioneered research on the effects of childhood maltreatment on brain development; identified sensitive exposure periods when brain regions are most vulnerable; helped bring into focus the importance of emotional abuse; advanced the argument that maltreated and non-maltreated individuals with the same primary psychiatric diagnosis are clinically, neurobiologically and genetically distinct; and developed a brain network model of susceptibility and resilience. Dr. Teicher has more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and holds 19 U.S. patents for diagnostic technology and pharmaceutical agents.

Dr. Teicher received a PhD in experimental psychology from The Johns Hopkins University and an MD from Yale University School of Medicine, followed by residency training in psychiatry and postdoctoral training in neuropharmacology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Teicher is currently a member of the editorial boards of BMC Medicine, the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Adversity and Resilience.

Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence

This award is given to a clinician or group of clinicians in direct service to traumatized individuals. Congratulations to this year’s winner, the clinical team at the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC), led by Clinical Manager Larraine Lynch, MSW; Deputy Executive Director DeAnn Yamamoto, MA; and Executive Director Mary Ellen Stone, MS. The clinical team includes Agustina Colombo Eiff, MSW; Emily Gassert, MA; Alexandra Henry, BA; Dr. Jeannie Hu, MD; Alex Iani, MSW; Chris Johnson, MSW; Adriana Lopez-Esteban, MSW; Larraine Lynch, MSW; Carolina Perez, MSW; and Johanna Wender, MA.

KCSARC’s clinical program is part of an interdisciplinary sexual assault program providing comprehensive resources for victims of sexual violence. In 2019 alone, KCSARC clinicians provided trauma-specific, evidence-based assessment and therapy for 462 survivors; almost 50% of those survivors were children under eighteen. The clinical team provides linguistically and culturally responsive therapy, specifically through their specialized Dando Voz program which serves Spanish-speaking clients. The team of clinicians is a highly dedicated group committed to providing excellent quality and research-supported treatments for their clients.

Innovation Award

The Innovation Award is given to an individual or group who has used innovative methods to advance the field of traumatic stress in the areas of prevention, research, treatment, teaching, policy or advocacy. Congratulations to the inaugural winner of this award, Dr. AlbertSkip’ Rizzo.

Dr. Rizzo received his PhD in clinical psychology from SUNY-Binghamton. He is the director for medical virtual reality at the University of Southern California (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies and has research professor appointments with the USC Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences as well as the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Dr. Rizzo conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of virtual reality (VR) systems targeting clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation across psychological, cognitive and motor functioning domains. In the psychological domain, he has created a VR prolonged exposure therapy application for combat and military sexual trauma-related PTSD with OIF/OEF service members and veterans and a stress resilience/coping strategy-training application for use prior to a combat deployment. This work is now extending to address the needs of police officers, first responders, disadvantaged youth who have suffered from adverse childhood experiences, and patients and health care professionals who are experiencing residual mental health impacts from the current COVID-19 crisis. His cognitive work has used VR applications to test and train attention, memory, visuospatial abilities and executive function. In the motor domain, he has developed VR game systems to enhance rehabilitation post-stroke and -traumatic brain injury. He is also involved in the creation of artificially intelligent virtual human patients that clinicians can use to practice clinical and diagnostic skills.