From the President's Desk

President's summary of the past year's activities

2013 activities included the inaugural Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction conference and fostering membership growth.

By Anthony Liguori, PhD

Anthony LiguoriAs we approach the end of each year, many of us take the opportunity to alternate reminiscing and looking ahead. We re-evaluate the events and accomplishments of the past 12 months, and we also make tentative plans for the future. My goals for the division this year were twofold. First, in collaboration with 2012-13 Div. 50 President Sara Jo Nixon, I sought to establish novel opportunities for scientific collaborations and discussions between Divs. 28 and 50 with the inaugural Collaborative Perspectives on Addiction (CPA) conference. My second goal was to foster a growth in divisional membership, particularly among early career psychologists. Thanks to a continuously diligent, collegial and driven executive committee, a highly innovative CPA planning committee, and your interactions with colleagues and students, both goals have been accomplished.

While we as a division should be proud of these two indices of progress, as scientists we know there is always more work to be done. Fortunately, the 2014 CPA planning committee is doing that work and then some! Several members of that committee — Katie Witkiewitz, Jen Buckman and 2013-14 Div. 50 President John Kelly — were instrumental in the development of the 2013 conference. This experience has given them first-hand exposure to the foundational strengths of the inaugural conference. Consequently, the "sophomore" conference in 2014 will continue to build on the essence of what makes CPA unique — an intimate, highly interactive, translational, mentoring-focused, thematically connected two-day meeting — with an anticipated increase in posters, sponsors, and attendees! As you'll see elsewhere in the newsletter, the meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28-March 1 in Atlanta at the W Hotel. If you haven't yet registered for it, do so today and be a part of the "Bench to Bedside and Back Again" conversation.

The final 2013 membership totals will not be known for a few more weeks, but I am happy to report that our current member total — 517 — is the highest it's been in three years, and a 6 percent increase from 2012. (This represents a continuation of the 3 percent growth in membership that occurred during the 2012 presidency of Rick Bevins.) This increase in commitment to the mission of our division is a very exciting development, especially in an era when support for research seems inexorably difficult to obtain. This growth is sure to continue as our division enters the Presidencies of Ellen Walker in 2014 and Bill Stoops in 2015, two outstanding scientists with strong progressive visions.

My challenge to you as I end my presidency is not only to keep contributing to the progress of the division, but also to seek the under-represented individuals who can bring a fresh perspective to the fields of psychopharmacology and substance abuse. Consider that over the past four years:

  • Less than 30 percent of Div. 28 members are women.
  • Less than 15 percent of Div. 28 members are non-Caucasian.
  • Less than 40 percent of Div. 28 members are below 60 years of age.

We have chosen a field that impacts millions of lives, and our research and teaching have and will continue to help society understand and, some day, control or even conquer the scourge of substance abuse. In 2014 and beyond, let's identify, educate and encourage the next generation of researchers and teachers.