From the Presidents's Desk
President's summer column
By Ellen Walker, PhD
Summer greetings! I hope this newsletter finds the members and affiliates of Div. 28, Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse, healthy and enjoying the summer months. At this time, your division officers, liaisons and representatives are busy putting the last minute touches on events and programming to get ready for our annual national meeting of the APA in Washington, D.C. from Aug. 6-10. Our Program Chair, Richard Allen, PhD, from the University of Colorado Denver, has put together a great program for Div. 28. I am truly indebted to him for all the hard work that goes into planning a conference event especially when having to interface with such a large organization as APA. We are sponsoring or co-sponsoring many excellent research posters, paper sessions and symposia that span a range of behavioral and pharmacological topics including: Cannabis, Prescription Drugs, and Legal Highs - Research on Drugs of Evolving or Mixed Legal Status; Community Approaches to Assessing and Intervening on University Student Drinking; Making Pharmacology Accessible to Psychologists; Cognitive and Affective Factors in Substance Use in Men and Women; Evolving Role of Behavior in Science at the National Institute on Drug Abuse; and Delay Discounting and Risky Behaviors in Crowd Sourced Special Populations . Our first collaborative programming symposium through the Central Programming Group entitled “ Considering Cannabis? Potential Public Health Implications of Marijuana Legalization ” will be led by Div. 28 member and past President Alan Budney. This symposium is a collaborative effort between our Div. 28, Div. 50 (Addiction Psychology) and Div. 40 (Clinical Neuropsychology) and very nicely fits the theme of “ Controversies and Difficult Dialogues in Psychology .” Besides the science, there are plenty of opportunities to network with fellow behavioral scientists and psychologists at the Happy Science Hour on Wednesday, Aug. 6 and the Early Career Investigators Poster Session and Social Hour sponsored by NIDA/NIAAA and Divisions 28 and 50 on Friday, Aug. 8. For our students, please see Alexa Lopez's column later in the newsletter for student-centered programming at the annual meeting.
We have the opportunity to officially welcome our new Fellows to our division for the first time at the annual convention. This year we salute: Jesse Dallery, PhD from the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida; Suzanne Colby, PhD from the Departments of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University; Brian Hitsman, PhD from the Department of Preventative Medicine at Northwestern University; Miriam Mintzer, PhD from the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University; and Sharon Walsh, PhD from the Departments of Behavioral Science and Psychiatry at the University of Kentucky. All our new Fellows are accomplished scientists and we are happy to have them join our ranks and look forward to their further contributions to the division.
The July newsletter serves as an opportunity for a ‘mid-tenure' review to see where the division is currently and what still needs to be accomplished. The good news is that we have seven new members and twenty-nine new student affiliate members so far in 2014. Increasing membership has been a goal for each new division president for the past ten years so we celebrate each new member as they join our ranks. A number of initiatives have been implemented over the past decade to increase membership yet we have remained one of the smallest divisions of the APA. Recently, the Executive Committee voted to have Division Services take over managing our member services so we can better track the number of members joining on a monthly basis and see what kind of further initiatives are working to attract and retain fellow behavioral scientists and psychopharmacologists to Div. 28 and perhaps the APA at large. Members of the Executive Committee and especially Dustin Stairs, PhD, our Membership Chair, have worked to recruit members at other meetings such as the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the Mid-Western Psychological Association. Dustin has crafted a Div. 28 brochure for anyone interested in using it to promote our activities and membership wherever you may go. Just contact Dustin if you would like a copy. Our best recruitment tool is word of mouth so please pass the word! Importantly, some of our most active members are our Early Career Psychologists which bodes well for the future of the division yet this observation poses an additional question on why more of our mid-career or senior members are less active in the division. As president, I am eager to hear any member's frank assessments of what they think about Div. 28 and their current membership. Please feel free to share the “good, bad, and the ugly” or what you would like to see happen in Division 28 by contacting me.
An additional issue that may be of interest to some of our members is the progress of the Good Governance Project (GGP) — a multiyear effort to optimize the APA's governing system. As might be expected, the progress is fairly slow as a very large and cumbersome organization tries to streamline itself to become more timely and efficient. During the Council of Representatives meeting in Hawai'i at APA 2013, the council voted to approve eight motions for improved governance. These motions included enhancing the use of technology to engage members; broadening opportunities for leadership participation and development; developing a triage system based on level of significance to the organization, the public, the discipline and APA members; refocussing the work of the council to be more active and engaged in directing development of policy; separating fiduciary roles so that council focuses on policies related to the discipline, and the board focuses on running the organization and external relationships; increasing the board composition from 12 to 15 members to be more representative of the general membership; and changing council structure to increase its effectiveness in the future. Apparently, this last motion was most heatedly debated without a final decision on a detailed model for council structure. The choice to retain the same structure was voted down and basically two somewhat general structural models remained. One model reduces the size of the council somewhat while creating space for input from those who currently have no mechanism for governance engagement; reduces the size of the council to about 135; supports a more issue-focused process; and adds a leadership team to manage work flow. A second model incorporates a hybrid of the previous model with a ”pillar model” which moves partially away from organizational representation and instead is organized around the APA's core missions: science, education, practice, human welfare, health and advocacy with some type of a leadership team added to manage work flow. An Implementation Working Group was formed to flesh out further details and develop transition plans once a structure is actually chosen. Theoretically, any structural changes should benefit our smaller division to some degree as currently our single vote on the very large Council of Representatives is proportionally less influential.
Also, by this midpoint in the year, our division elections are completed and I am happy to announce our new officers. Please welcome Stacey Sigmon, PhD as our next president-elect in 2015 (president for the 2016 term). Her goals for her presidency are to continue strengthening our division's membership, fiscal foundations and convention programming as well as recruit and support Early Career Psychologists while expanding the visibility of our division and our members' science with NIH and other important agencies. Mark Smith, PhD is our new member-at-large serving for the next three years. Mark has already been serving Div. 28 in a variety of roles such as secretary, program chair, and liaison to the Science Directorate. His goals during his three year term are to increase the diversity of its membership, to attract students and young investigators, to advocate for science and evidence-based practices, and to nurture the professional development of our members. Our new divisional representative to APA's Council of Representatives is Anthony Liguori, PhD. Tony is leaving his previous post as Past-President of our division for this new position serving the division. This will be a very interesting three year term as APA pursues a new model of governance. I am sure Tony will have some interesting developments to report back to the division after he takes over for John Grabowski, PhD, in December 2015. In addition, I would like welcome John Roll, PhD, as the incoming Fellows Chair for our division.
In order to welcome new leadership, I also need to thank those that have completed their previous roles in Div. 28. First of all I would like to thank Stephen Heishman, PhD who served as Fellows Chair since 2006. He provided excellent guidance to a number of fellows as we joined the ranks. Ryan Vandrey, PhD, turned over his role as Membership Chair and guided us to the new membership system through Division Services. At the end of the 2013 membership year, there were a number of transitions. William Stoops, PhD, transitioned from secretary to president-elect and Kelly Dunn, PhD, transitioned from newsletter editor to secretary. Nothing would get done in the division without the dedication of these individuals and the current officers, liaisons, and representatives so I thank everyone for their important contributions to keeping Div. 28 alive and moving forward.
Cheers! And I hope to see you in Washington, D.C. at APA 2014!