From the President's Desk

Div. 28 president’s column

Incoming Div. 28 president outlines his initiatives for 2019.
By Matthew Johnson, PhD

Matthew Johnson I’m a few months into my Div. 28 presidential year, and this is my first newsletter entry. Thanks for trusting me at the helm of this great ship. It’s an honor to be the 50th president of the historic Div. 28. Our success is supported by a stellar crew on the Executive Committee. I’ve been leaning heavily on the experience and guidance of my predecessor Mark Smith, who has led us on a successful voyage during the past year. We are a stronger organization because of his leadership, and we thank him for his continued service.

I also thank a number of folks who have taken on new positions in Div. 28. We are lucky to have Wendy Lynch as our president-elect. We’ll be in great hands with her at the helm for 2020. Justin Strickland, who has been serving as archivist, will be our 2020 convention program chair. Richard Yi will be taking over as awards chair from Cathy Stanger in the fall. Ryan Lacy will be our second early career psychologist (ECP) representative, joining existing ECP representative Elizabeth Holly. Gaylen Fronk has taken the role of second student representative, joining our existing student representative Amy Stamates. Martin Iguchi has agreed to serve as a liaison between Div. 28 and the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, of which he is a member. We are fortunate to also have the following active folks remain in their existing roles: Micky Koffarnus as secretary, Will Aklin as treasurer, Erin McClure as newsletter editor, Bill Stoops as council representative, Dustin Stairs as membership chair, Adam Leventhal as fellows chair, Ron Wood as electronic information officer and Mary Cain, Ryan Vandrey and Kelly Dunn as members-at-large.

Meredith Berry has done a superb job as program chair in organizing the Div. 28 program for the 2019 APA convention in Chicago. She shares more details in her column in this newsletter. Briefly, our division has had two collaborative programming sessions accepted. One is about the psychedelic drug psilocybin and research on its therapeutic potential. The other collaborative programming session is on MDMA, including basic and therapeutic research. Both sessions will include speakers who have volunteered as participants in clinical research. Best-selling author Michael Pollan, who recently published the book "How to Change Your Mind," focused on psychedelic research, will be the discussant for the psilocybin collaborative session. Thanks to help from Bill Stoops, APA has also arranged for Michael to provide a “Thought Leader” (keynote) presentation at the convention.

Congratulations to this year’s Div. 28 award winners. Alan Budney won the Med Associates Brady-Schuster Award, Allison Kurti won the Young Psychopharmacologist Award and Jacob Borodovsky won the Outstanding Dissertation Award. Their outstanding scholarship adds to the historic legacy of our division. Although the division has yet to determine the winner, this year we’ve received a record number of 12 applicants for the Undergraduate Student Travel Award. The award covers one year of APA membership and APA convention registration. Former President Stacey Sigmon conceived of this award back in 2015 and made it a reality. The record number of submissions this year is a credit to her vision.

I provided APA with the following formal presidential initiatives: 

  1. Promote Div. 28 within APA.
  2. Promote the historical legacy of Div. 28 and its members.
  3. Continue to recruit and retain members. 

Informally, my hope was to at least not screw up our great organization and maybe make progress where I could. However, at the Division Leadership Conference in January, I found some inspiration for an initial practical effort in accomplishing these formal initiatives. Specifically, I’ve decided to make substantial progress in expanding our division’s social media presence. Div. 28 focuses on topics that are often at the forefront of public interest, e.g., the opioid crisis, cannabis, e-cigarettes and FDA regulation of tobacco. Social media provides a mechanism to promote the work of our division members and their legacy in these and other areas, both within and outside of APA. Moreover, it provides an ideal mechanism for attracting the next generation of research leaders. In addition to reinvigorating our Twitter and Facebook presence, we have decided to explore a division podcast with the title “Scientists on Drugs,” with the clearly stated and humorous caveat that scientists will be talking about psychoactive drugs; caffeine would be the only potential psychoactive on-board during interviews. I’ve appointed a social media committee consisting of Bill Stoops, Elizabeth Holly, Ryan Lacy, Justin Strickland, Gaylen Fronk and myself. We recognize potential synergy between these efforts, and:

  1. Bill’s dissemination efforts in his role as editor of Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology®.
  2. Justin’s ongoing efforts as division archivist.
  3. Elizabeth’s recent efforts to reinitiate Scientist Spotlight interviews. 

Stay tuned for updates.

I’m looking forward to working with you on this year’s voyage. As you can see from our candidates and their statements in this newsletter, the division is poised to have great leadership moving into future years, regardless of election outcomes. Please plan early to join us at the APA convention in Chicago, Aug. 8-11, 2019. Registration opens April 15.