Strange times we are in. I imagine most of have been expressing something similar in emails, into a webcam, and through the fabric of a mask at the grocery store. As I write this many of us are wrapping up the academic year or are heading in that direction. And this is happening in a way that I presume most of us have never experienced: from home, online, via Zoom meeting, and anxiously awaiting our return to campus, laboratories, and the physical space and social environment that we require to do much of our work. Those of you in clinical practice are likely navigating new challenges with telehealth platforms and procedures. Regardless of how each of us is affected individually, we all share the experience of uncertainty. Sharing this experience with my colleagues, unpleasant as it may be, brings into sharp focus the importance of the people I work with at all levels; from my faculty colleagues down the hall, and extending to the Div. 6 (Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology) (SBNCP) membership.
The pandemic has exposed many things, some of which we were already aware but are now much harder to turn away from or avoid. Opinions on matters of science (e.g., climate change, now pandemics), fertilized by reading others’ social media feeds, are somehow given the same regard as statements made by the devoted scientists doing the actual work. Inequity is, to say the least, a major problem laid painfully bare among those with limited or zero access to basic needs and services. Tuition-driven universities in particular, already walking a tightrope, are flailing. Our students face the dual burden of a major commitment they have made to education and economic and employment uncertainty. The dynamics of domestic life, especially for working families, have undergone significant rearrangement. And of course, the pandemic can hit close to home. A former student of mine lost her mother to the novel coronavirus. I am sure that for some readers it has hit even closer, and I extend my condolences.
I want to express my gratitude to the Div. 6 Executive Committee and to the contributors to the spring 2020 newsletter. Don’t forget to vote by June 12 for our next president, Council Representative, and member-at-large. Many thanks to Jeremy Bailoo, SBNCP secretary, for organizing the election process (and the numerous other important tasks that Jeremy manages). David Washburn has provided a delightful summary of the winter Council of Representatives meeting. His report is second only to livestreaming in terms of informativeness. Reading it made me nostalgic for my time on Council. I am so grateful for David’s service on Council and to our division in general. As some may already be aware, David recently retired from Georgia State University and joined the faculty of his undergraduate alma matter, Covenant College in Georgia. SBNCP student representative Brielle James has written yet another wonderful article about goal setting. As usual Brielle’s article, though written in the context of her role as student representative, is helpful for folks at anystage of their career. Amanda Dettmer provides us with an update on her work with the Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education.
The APA is going virtual for the 2020 convention. Details on how this format will actually look will be announced in June. Before the pandemic, I regularly heard colleagues comment on how there are more conferences than time or money allow and that some online options might be a solution. Perhaps the pandemic will put us at a tipping point toward an enduring change in convention organization and delivery. However, I would not want all conventions to go this route and look forward to returning to the “normal” way of doing things once we have recovered. I will dearly miss the time with my colleagues, attending sessions, and the division social. Reggie Gazes and Erik Garcia did a fantastic job as program co-chairs. I cannot thank them enough for their hard work. They assembled a packed schedule full of cutting-edge topics and amazing speakers. Although we will not assemble in person, I do very much look forward to hearing people’s talks.
A hearty congratulations to our 2020 award winners. Thank you Lauren Highfill and Jennifer Vonk for co-chairing the committee.
Finally, many thanks to Michael Beran and Jonathon Crystal, my presidential trio colleagues, for consulting with me over this past year.
I wish you all the best, and a healthy return to whatever our next “normal” looks like.