ESI Paper Competition

The Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Honors

MWR Sociology SeminarMatilda White Riley’s legacy extended widely in academia and she was always concerned with creating opportunities for the development of future researchers and scientists.

To honor and further that legacy, in 2016 the National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) launched the Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Honors, a paper competition for Early Stage Investigators (ESI). The winners will present their research on the Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Honors Panel.

2017 Call for Articles

2016 Winners of the Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Honors

Stephanie H. Cook, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.Stephanie H. Cook, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.
New York University

Stephanie H. Cook, DrPH, MPH is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Human Development and Social Change, New York University. Dr. Cook is currently appointed to the position of Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the New York University Institute of Human Development and Social Change.  She is also affiliated with the Departments of Health Behavior & Health Education in the School of Public Health and The Department of Psychology in the College of Literature Science and Arts at the University of Michigan, where she recently completed a 2-year fellowship. Dr Cook's substantive areas of research are related to understanding how interpersonal features of close relationships influence ethnic and sexual minority health.  Her methodological interests include structured diary design, quasi-experimental design, community-based research, and bio-behavioral research designs. Dr. Cook utilizes a myriad of advanced analytical techniques to address her research questions including social network analysis, growth curve modeling, and structural equation modeling.  Dr. Cook seeks to understand how socio-emotional bond formation with peers and romantic partners contributes to mental and physical health and health behaviors across the life-span. She concentrates on young people transitioning to adulthood, especially young adult gay and bisexual Black men (YBGBM). Dr. Cook's program of research has two related goals. First, she plans to continue to develop her integrated theory of adult attachment (i.e. the development, or lack, of strong socio-emotional bonds) and minority stress (i.e. social stress experienced by individuals in minority social groups) as a means to better understand and address the health and HIV prevention needs of disadvantaged youth transitioning to adulthood (Cook, Calebs, Perry, & Hopkins, in press). Second, her goal is to utilize this theoretical framework of attachment and minority stress to inform the creation of effective multilevel racial health disparity prevention interventions for disadvantaged youth transitioning to adulthood. Professional Page


Christopher S. Marcum, Ph.D.Christopher S. Marcum, Ph.D.
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

Dr. Marcum received his Ph.D. in sociology from UC-Irvine before completing an NIA post-doctoral fellowship in aging at RAND.  His research focuses on the intersection of aging, health, and social networks with a particular emphasis on how health behaviors are associated with social structure. Dr. Marcum's approach is framed within a social network perspective; that is, one that treats the social context of health and disease as involving a set of individuals and the relationships between them. In practice, he develop methods for studying how social processes influence, and are shaped by, well-being and health behaviors.  His work is increasingly interdisciplinary, having published on topics as diverse as organizational collaboration during disaster response, influenza vaccination behavior, and age differences in personal social networks.  He is currently a staff-scientist and methodologist in the Social Network Methods Section at the National Human Genome Research Institute.


Ian M. McDonough, Ph.D.

Ian M. McDonough, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Associate of the Alabama Research Institute on Aging
The University of Alabama

Dr. Ian McDonough began studying the processes underlying learning and memory as an undergraduate at UCLA. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, he gained valuable experience testing basic mechanisms of memory, executive function, and aging using experimental, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging techniques. He received multiple dissertation awards, which supported his research. After obtaining his Ph.D. in 2011, he expanded this knowledge base as a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Vital Longevity. There, he gained experience working on an engagement-intervention program for older adults called the Synapse Project. Currently, as an Assistant Professor at The University of Alabama, he plans to investigate the mechanisms underlying age-related decline and develop interventions based on these newly discovered mechanisms to help maintain cognition and prevent the development of dementia. Professional Page


mooreSara Moorman, Ph.D.
Boston College

Dr. Sara Moorman's primary research interest is how relationships with family and friends shape older persons' physical health and psychological well-being. She has two major lines of research: One addresses the social and psychological aspects of end-of-life medical decision-making. She has written several papers examining the ways in which older adults' values, attitudes, beliefs, and personal relationships shape their propensity to complete advance directives and to communicate their treatment preferences to others. The second line of research concerns how the age composition of neighborhoods influences daily experiences and psychological well-being. Although theory suggests that age-diverse communities are best for persons of all ages, in practice, neighborhoods show a great deal of age segregation. Professional Page

Review Committee


The Matilda White Riley Early Stage Investigator Honors. Because Researchers Grow Up and Old in Changing Societies