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Presidential Message from Suniya S. Luthar

Div. 7 President Suniya S. Luthar discusses new award opportunities, major initiatives and the importance of using research to inform public policy.
By Suniya S. Luthar, PhD

Dear Div. 7 Members, 

Suniya Luthar A very happy new year to you and a warm welcome to those of you who are new members in our division.

In this newsletter, I am writing to share some good news about new awards to be granted by our division and to highlight a sampling of our major initiatives in which we’d love to have you involved.

First, the awards — recognizing gaps in existing Div. 7 awards, last year, the Executive Committee (EC) discussed the creation of two awards for mid-career scholars, both named for women who have been leaders in developmental psychology (our existing awards for distinguished contributions are named after men). EC members were enthusiastic; I requested suggestions for names for these new awards and the two most frequently cited were chosen. So now we have the Mavis Hetherington Award for Excellence in Applied Developmental Science and the Mary Ainsworth Award for Excellence in Developmental Science. Details of eligibility criteria and application process are listed on our website.

These new awards fit well with what has been an especially important aim of Div. 7, to recognize outstanding contributions from scholars across different career stages, through the presentation of awards and small grants. For students and folks in the early stages of their careers, we pay tribute to excellence in research through the Dissertation Award, Early Career Outstanding Paper Award, the Boyd McCandless Award, as well as dissertation and early career grants. For distinguished contributions by senior scholars, we have the G. Stanley Hall Award and the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award; in addition, we have the Maccoby Book Award and the Mentor Award.

And now to a sampling of major initiatives of Div. 7. Significant among our activities is the promotion of scientific knowledge in applied settings, informing public policy decisions relevant to optimal development across the lifespan. Because of our association with APA, located in Washington, D.C., and its offices dedicated to such advocacy, we have the ability to influence, at the national level, not only psychological science, but also grant priorities and social policy initiatives related to human development.

In addition to promoting research in developmental psychology across the entire lifespan, Div. 7 is committed to facilitating dissemination of cutting-edge work via our newsletter, website and APA’s convention program. We are also proactive in collaborative work with other divisions. In an effort to promote scientific knowledge in applied settings, for example, the leaders of seven divisions, including ours, formed a consortium to develop a web-based resource for behavioral information on children, youth and families. This resource serves as a gateway to a network of websites that provide evidence-based approaches to promote healthy development. In another important initiative, Div. 7, along with Div. 37 (Family Policy and Practice) led a Joint Task Force on Physical Punishment of Children to review research on spanking and its effects. Div. 7 also continues to play an active role in helping shape the policies and priorities of APA as an organization via our elected members to the Council of Representatives.   

In contemporary times – more than ever before – evidence-based, excellent scientific research must be communicated to policy-makers in our government.  It is for all these reasons that I am extending a personal invitation for you to become involved in the initiatives we are already pursuing and as or more importantly, to bring fresh thoughts and ideas to the table. The leadership of our division is especially keen to have a strong voice from students and early developmental scientists, so please do invite your students and colleagues to become members as well, and join us in helping to shape the directions that developmental science will take in the years to come.  

Looking forward to working with you, and sending all best wishes for a peaceful, happy and prosperous 2019.

— Suniya

Suniya S. Luthar
President, Div. 7

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