Free cookie consent management tool by TermsFeed

ISTSS Highlights Innovations in Trauma Research and Treatment

November 5, 2021

Every year the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) recognizes the achievements of members and trauma experts working to advance the field of trauma. The awards, presented at the ISTSS 37th Annual Meeting, honor ISTSS members and other dedicated professionals for their service to the field of trauma and its survivors.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor given to an individual who has made great lifetime contributions to the field of traumatic stress.

Winner: Barbara O. Rothbaum, PhD

Dr. Rothbaum has been studying PTSD treatments since 1986 and has developed, tested and shared innovative and effective treatments for PTSD. She led the development of the field of virtual reality exposure therapy, which continues to inspire academic and clinical productivity among labs globally. Dr. Rothbaum ‎is professor of psychiatry, director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and holds ‎the Paul A. Janssen Chair in Neuropsychopharmcology at Emory University.

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 and advocacy. 

Winner: Amy L. Ai, MS, MA, MSW, PhD

Dr. Ai has made contributions to the innovative interdisciplinary approaches that address racially and culturally diverse populations, existential issues, health disparities and collective trauma. Her interdisciplinary research resulted in a U.S. presidential nomination as a member of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Dr. Ai ‎ is a professor at Florida State University.

The Underrepresented Scholars Membership Award is a new award being given out by ISTSS for the first time. It provides an avenue for membership and organizational involvement for early-career trauma professionals from around the world who identify as Black and/or Indigenous. Awardees receive one full year of ISTSS membership as well as complimentary registration and the opportunity to review abstracts for the ISTSS Annual Meeting.


  • Cynthia “Nicole” White, PhD
  • Stephanie Hargrove, PhD
  • Nathaniel Harnett, PhD
  • Maria Christina Crouch, PhD
  • Stacey McMullen, Clin PsyD

Dr. White is a graduate of the University of South Carolina’s doctoral program in clinical-community psychology and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s psychology internship program. She hopes to narrow the gap between research and practice by developing community partnerships that lead to systems-level changes in mental health services for BIPOC communities.

Dr. Hargrove recently received her PhD in clinical psychology from George Mason University and started as a postdoctoral fellow and clinical associate at Duke University Medical Center. She describes her life as a “constant pursuit of purpose.” In her career, she hopes to become well-versed in trauma treatment, provide meaningful interventions for underserved populations and conduct research that will help improve the lives of those in need.

Dr. Harnett is an assistant neuroscientist at McLean Hospital and instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate susceptibility to trauma and stress-related disorders. By investigating both the brain basis of PTSD susceptibility and potential race-related disparities in trauma and ‎stress, Dr. Harnett hopes to develop generalizable neurobiological models‎.

Dr. Crouch is a postdoctoral psychology fellow at Yale School of Medicine. Her current research focuses on understanding the social, community, cultural and individual factors that contribute to the health and wellbeing of Alaska Native people by investigating cultural protective factors and examining trauma and problematic alcohol and substance use from a strengths-based perspective.

Dr. McMullen completed her doctorate of clinical psychology at the University of Newcastle. Throughout her career, she has worked consistently with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She hopes to add to the ever-growing knowledge base for trauma interventions by way of explorations into the effects of Indigenous trauma and interventions, with a focus on cultural adaptions of EMDR practices.

The ISTSS Outstanding Service Award recognizes an ISTSS member who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the Society that has enhanced it and helped it achieve its goals.

Winner: Nancy Kassam Adams, PhD

Dr. Kassam-Adams has been an active member of ISTSS since 1994 and served as ISTSS president from 2013 to 2014. She leads the FAIR Data theme for the Global Collaboration on Traumatic Stress, in which ISTSS is a founding partner. Dr. Kassam-Adams is research professor at the University of Pennsylvania and 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. ‎

The Robert S. Laufer, PhD, Memorial Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement recognizes an individual or group that has made an outstanding contribution to research in the field of traumatic stress.

Winner: Tom Neylan, MD

Dr. Neylan’s use of quantitative analysis of the sleep electroencephalogram led to one of the very first detailed analyses of sleep in people with PTSD and the discovery that PTSD is characterized by decreased delta sleep. He has since revealed the associated underlying physiology of sleep disturbance. He is a professor, in residence, at the University of ‎California, San Francisco, and the director of the Stress and Health Research Program at the ‎San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.‎

The Sarah Haley Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence honors a clinician or group of clinicians in direct service to traumatized individuals.

Winner: Janine Shelby, PhD

Dr. Shelby has been on the forefront of disseminating developmentally sensitive, evidence-based trauma treatments for decades. After founding the Child Trauma Clinic at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, she initiated a hospital-based child trauma consultation and liaison service. Dr. Shelby ‎is an associate professor at UCLA and the director of the Child Trauma Clinic. ‎

The Chaim and Bela Danieli Young Professional Award recognizes excellence in the traumatic stress field by an individual who has completed their training within the last five years (or up to eight years for people with primary child care responsibilities).

Winner: Sheri Madigan, PhD, RPsych

Dr. Madigan’s work has identified the need for prevention and intervention strategies to reduce the transmission of childhood adversity. Her ability to both produce academics outputs and create innovative projects that bridge the knowledge-to-practice gap set her apart as an emerging scientist. Dr. Madigan is a clinical psychologist, associate professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) at the University of Calgary.