Feature

From the president's desk

Summer convention and collaboration.

By William W. Stoops

Summer has arrived, and I am sure all of you are thinking about the upcoming convention in Toronto. Before I dive into that topic, I have a few news items to share. First, I want to acknowledge Carmela Reichel, PhD, who served as the division's liaison to the Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) for the past three years and stepped down this spring. Mary Cain, PhD, has graciously agreed to take on this role. Thank you, Carmela, for your service. Mary, we appreciate your willingness to join the division executive committee as our liaison to CWP. Second, our past council representative, John Grabowski, PhD, has agreed to serve on an ad hoc committee that will evaluate how APA life status membership affects divisions. Thank you, John. I know you will have a valuable impact on the committee's work on behalf of Div. 28. Finally, we have received support or commitments to support this year's convention from three corporate affiliates: Eli Lilly and Company, Indivior and PinneyAssociates. A fourth corporate affiliate, Med Associates, maintains its substantial support of the Med Associates Brady-Schuster Award. I want to thank each of these affiliates for helping to make convention a success.

Now, on to convention, which is our main opportunity to show the fantastic work we do as a division. The 2015 program chair, Matt Weaver, PhD, has done a tremendous job pulling together our program. We will have our traditional outstanding sessions, including three awards addresses, five new fellows addresses, the NIDA/NIAAA/Div. 28/Div. 50 early career investigators poster session, along with a number of symposia and two paper sessions. I also want to highlight the three collaborative sessions co-sponsored by the division, which are a new feature of the Div. 28 program. The APA Central Programming Group (CPG) reviews collaborative session proposals outside of the traditional divisional convention review structure. This process was developed as part of APA Council's plan to improve the convention experience by increasing collaboration among divisions to create programming. The CPG evaluates nearly 200 collaborative program applications for fit with convention themes, scientific content and potential interest to a broad APA audience (among other things). This application process is highly competitive, so it is a mark of distinction that three of our collaborative proposals were accepted. These sessions do not count against our division programming hours, so they allow us to make a broader contribution to convention than we normally would with the time allocated just to Div. 28 programming.

Our first collaborative proposal was submitted in partnership with Divs. 2, 25, 35, 44 and 45. That session will feature experts discussing best practices for mentoring diverse undergraduate students. It will promote the inclusion of underrepresented populations and viewpoints into psychology at an undergraduate level. The second session will present research with technologies that can be used to monitor behavior in real time, co-sponsored with Divs. 8, 16 and 25. This exciting session will be of interest to individuals who want to be able to track and study psychopharmacology or substance abuse in the natural ecology. The third session, co-sponsored with Div. 6, will feature national and international experts in reproductive behavior and psychopharmacology research. The main goal of that session is to present cutting edge science that informs our understanding of the links between sexual risk taking and drug use. It promises to be a fascinating session.

Our collaborative sessions particularly represent the best aspects of Div. 28 and its members. For nearly 50 years, we have been innovative educators and researchers who also have a dedication to serving our profession and working with those in other disciplines (information about how we will be celebrating 50 years of Div. 28 is forthcoming). In 1966, Div. 28 was created in response to the perceived need for an APA division dedicated to the scientific study of psychopharmacology, with “substance abuse” added to our name in 1986, because existing divisions lacked that multidisciplinary approach. The need for translational research that has become so popular today was apparent to our division leaders in the 1960s. Members of Div. 28 maintain a strong eye for the future today, as evidenced by presentations at this year's convention. We actively engage diverse viewpoints from undergraduates through to senior scientists. Our fundamental dedication to using rigorous behavioral and pharmacological research techniques to tackle scientific problems both old and new is clear. So, how do we ensure that these values are transmitted for the next 50 years of the division and beyond?

One of my presidential initiatives was to increase communication between senior and junior division members. We have much to learn from one another — sharing knowledge and building networks across generations is the best way for us to meet future challenges faced by Div. 28. In my last column, I asked you to communicate with the public about your work. In this column, I am making another communication request. I am willing to bet that we are all pretty comfortable talking to those in our peer group (i.e., those at the same career level). I do not think we talk to those at different career levels as much, especially people outside of our institutions or those who are not our mentors/mentees. So, if you are a senior Div. 28 member, seek out a junior member. If you are a junior member, seek out someone more senior. Convention is a great place to do this, because although APA is a large convention overall, we routinely have more intimate settings in which to meet as a division. Start a conversation and learn from each other. Help out a fellow member with a scientific quandary, talk to him or her about something innovative you are doing in the classroom or offer/accept an opportunity to engage in service if you are able. By building networks across generations and sharing our successes, we enrich one another and further strengthen our small (but mighty) division.