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It has been an honor to chair the ISTSS Awards Committee again this year and my sincere thanks go to fellow committee members Drs. Kathy Magruder, Dawne Vogt and Christin Ogle for sharing the challenge. The ISTSS Awards showcase the breadth and depth of talent that exists within the field of traumatic stress and this year’s award winners are no exception. Each has made an enormous contribution to advancing the trauma field and, most importantly, improving outcomes for people affected by trauma. It is my pleasure to introduce to you the 2021 ISTSS Award winners.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Barbara Rothbaum

This award is the highest honor given to an individual who has made a significant lifetime contribution to the field of traumatic stress. Congratulations to the 2021 winner, Dr. Barbara Rothbaum.

Barbara Olasov Rothbaum, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry and director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, and she holds the Paul A. Janssen Chair in Neuropsychopharmacology. She has been studying PTSD treatments since 1986 and has developed, tested and disseminated some of the most innovative and effective treatments available for PTSD. She is an inventor of virtual reality exposure therapy and was a pioneer in applying it in the treatment of PTSD in veterans. She has authored over 400 scientific papers and chapters, 11 books on PTSD and edited four others on anxiety. She is a past president of ISTSS and a fellow of ACNP, the National Academy of Inventors, ABCT and APA Division 56. She was also awarded the 2010 “Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Practice of Trauma Psychology” from APA Division 56 and the Robert S. Laufer Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement from ISTSS. Her recent book on PTSD: PTSD: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Outstanding Service Award

Dr. Nancy Kassam-Adams

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. Nancy Kassam-Adams.

Nancy Kassam-Adams, PhD is a research professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She is based at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where her research focuses on understanding and addressing child and family responses to potentially traumatic events. Dr. Kassam-Adams heads the Child Trauma Data Archives project—an international collaborative effort that is enabling data sharing, harmonization and integrative cross-study analyses. She also leads the FAIR Data theme for the Global Collaboration on Traumatic Stress. She has been an active member of ISTSS since 1994 and is a Past ISTSS President. 

Chaim and Bela Danieli Young Professional Award

Dr. Sheri Madigan

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. Sheri Madigan.

Sheri Madigan, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, associate professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) at the University of Calgary. Her research is primarily focused on the intergenerational transmission of risk and adversity. She is particularly interested in identifying the mechanisms that contribute to intergenerational risks, as well as resiliency factors that break cycles of risk. Dr. Madigan engages in extensive knowledge translation to the public by routinely writing opinion-editorials on child health and development and by regularly giving presentations to parents, caregivers, educators, clinicians and health practitioners on child maltreatment, adversity and resilience.

Robert S. Laufer Memorial Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement

Dr. Thomas C. Neylan

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. Thomas C. Neylan.

Thomas Neylan, MD, is a professor in residence in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the director of the Stress and Health Research Program at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. His current projects are focused on the role of sleep in risk for developing PTSD in the AURORA study, a trial examining effects of exercise for PTSD, a human-animal translational study examining the role of maladaptive myelination as a mechanism underpinning the brain abnormalities associated with PTSD, and joint clinical and brain bank studies of sleep/wake regulation in neurodegenerative disorders.

Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence

Dr. Janine Shelby

This award is given to a clinician or group of clinicians in direct service to traumatized individuals. Congratulations to this year’s winner, Dr. Janine Shelby.

Janine Shelby, PhD, is a clinical associate professor in the School of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She founded the Child Trauma Clinic at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in 1996, and then transitioned to serve as clinical director of the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center. In 2016, she received a Distinguished Fellowship and Visiting Professor appointment at Kobe College, Japan, where she trained graduate students in evidence-based practices for trauma treatment. Since returning to the U.S., she has been working as a forensic expert. Currently, Dr. Shelby also provides clinical supervision for the Long Beach Trauma Recovery Center as well as the Stress Trauma and Resilience Program at UCLA. Dr. Shelby has contributed significant professional service, including humanitarian aid and training in more than a dozen countries, serving as president of the Association for Play Therapy Foundation and as chair of the Membership Committee for ISTSS. Her decades of dedication to serving trauma survivors, clinically focused scholarly work, and training and supervision of mental health professionals in evidence-based practices have been invaluable.

Innovation Award

Dr. Amy L. Ai

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 2021 winner of this award, Dr. Amy L. Ai.

Amy L. Ai, PhD, is a professor at Florida State University. Her innovative interdisciplinary research focuses on trauma/resilience, existential crises and positive psychology, using mixed-methods and covering diverse populations and events (e.g., open-heart surgery, war, 9/11, disasters, and childhood abuse in Latinx). Dr. Ai is a Fellow of the AASWSW, APS, APA, and GSA, John-Hartford Scholar, and Senior Fulbright Specialist. She is PI/Co-PI on multiple grant-funded studies and serves as reviewer for national, international and private funding agencies (e.g., US DOS/DOD/DHHS/PCORI/NIH and other Western countries). Dr. Ai has authored 150+ research articles, and a seminal tool book, Assessing Spirituality in a Diversified World (2021/peer-reviewed). She has earned multiple awards for her work.

NEW: Underrepresented Scholars Membership Award

ISTSS introduced an exciting new award this year, the Underrepresented Scholars Membership Award. The intent of this award is to provide an avenue for membership and organizational involvement for talented young trauma professionals from around the world who identify as Black and/or Indigenous. The award was judged by a sub-committee comprising members of the Diversity and Awards Committees that was co-chaired by Dr. Maureen Allwood and myself. Other sub-committee members were Dr. Bita Ghafoori and Dr. Kathy Magruder. There were several outstanding candidates, making our job of selecting five winners an inspiring challenge. On behalf of the Diversity and Awards Committees, it is my great pleasure to introduce the inaugural winners of the ISTSS Underrepresented Scholars Membership Award.

Underrepresented Scholars Membership Award Winners 2021

Dr. Maria Crouch is of the Deg Hit'an (Athbascan) tribe from Anvik, Alaska and the Coahuiltecan (Mexican) tribe of Texas. Her research aims to understand the social, community, cultural and individual factors that contribute to the health and wellbeing of Alaska Native (AN) people by investigating cultural protective factors and examining trauma and problematic alcohol and substance use from a strengths-based perspective.

My career trajectory is to serve American Indian (AI) and AN people across rural and urban settings as a clinical psychologist and alcohol, drug, and trauma researcher.”

Dr. Stephanie Hargrove is a Black American woman. Her research interests are focused on implementing liberatory and trauma-informed practices at the system, interpersonal and individual levels using critical, participatory and action-based research methods such as community-based participatory research (CBPR). Her clinical interests are to promote healing from trauma, including the impact of various forms of oppression, using evidence-based practices.

I developed a love for service, a drive to fight for social justice, and a desire to uplift marginalized communities.”

Dr. Nathaniel G. Harnett is a Black American. His research focus is the neurobiology of trauma and stress-related disorders including the potential impact of racial disparities in early life stress that may augment later brain and behavioral responses to trauma.

Ultimately, my ambition is to leave behind a legacy of research and mentorship … to increase knowledge of the neurobiology that underlies trauma and stress-related disorders, and have inspired others to continue work that will have a lasting benefit to people with trauma and stress-related disorders.

Dr. Stacey McMullen is a descendant of the Kooma people of Queensland and grew up on Awabakal land. Dr. McMullen has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout her psychology career, collaborating with local Aboriginal Health Workers to help shape culturally safe and responsive services.

I joined the world of academia to explore ways that I can give back to my people by focusing on Indigenous research and improving the evidence base for interventions for our people.

Dr. Cynthia (Nicole) White is a Black woman, who was raised by parents from the segregated U.S. South. Dr. White is passionate about psychological recovery and resilience in the context of trauma, particularly among communities of color. She hopes to develop community partnerships that lead to systems-level changes in mental health services for Black and Indigenous people of color communities.

I hope to have a career that combines both research and clinical work related to psychological recovery and resilience in the context of trauma for underserved communities.