Director's Voice Blog

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15 Years of Recognizing Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Excellence at NIH

Since 2006, the OBSSR annually hosts an event to celebrate Dr. Matilda White Riley’s influence and contributions to the social and behavioral sciences. In its 15th year, the NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors will be held virtually on Friday, June 3, 2022, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. This half-day event features a keynote address from the 2022 Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. David R. Williams, and highlights innovative research from five Early-Stage Investigator (ESI) Honorees, who were selected out of more than 250 submissions to our ESI paper competition. I hope you will join us in learning from and celebrating the accomplishments of these excellent scholars. Register today: https://www.scgcorp.com/mwrhonors2022/

We are thrilled to honor David R. Williams, Ph.D., M.P.H., Harvard University, as the 2022 Distinguished Lecturer. His presentation titled “The Virus of Racism: Understanding its Threats, Mobilizing Defenses” will provide an overview of how socioeconomic, racial and ethnic status affect health. Dr. Williams will describe the added burden of race by outlining the multiple ways by which racism in the larger society adversely affects physical and mental health of racially and ethnically disadvantaged populations. He will also highlight evidence regarding promising interventions, at the individual and community level, that can enhance health and reduce racial and ethnic inequities in health. Dr. Williams is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has been ranked as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences and as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.

Prior to Dr. Williams’s lecture, five NIH Matilda White Riley ESI Paper Awardees will present behavioral and social sciences research findings from their recently published peer-reviewed articles. Each paper was reviewed and rated based on three guiding questions influenced by Dr. Matilda White Riley’s scientific legacy: 1) How well does the paper use sophisticated methodological approaches to address important empirical questions that are derived from or that inform theoretical frameworks? 2) How well does the paper integrate multiple levels of influence, and/or the dynamic, longitudinal, and bidirectional effects of social systems on individuals and vice versa? 3) How well does the paper integrate approaches from multiple disciplines to address the research question?

This was an extremely competitive year of submissions that resulted in the selection of these five ESI honorees:

Noli Brazil, Ph.D.
The multidimensional clustering of health and its ecological risk factors
Assistant Professor
Department of Human Ecology
University of California, Davis

N. Keita Christophe, Ph.D.
Shift-&-Persist and discrimination predicting depression across the life course: An accelerated longitudinal design using MIDUS I-III
Assistant Professor,
Wake Forest University
Incoming Assistant Professor,
McGill University

Patricia Homan, Ph.D.
Structural intersectionality as a new direction for health disparities research
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Associate Director, Public Health Program
Florida State University

John W. Jackson, Sc.D.
Meaningful causal decompositions in health equity research
Assistant Professor
Departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Mental Health
Johns Hopkins University

Alina I. Palimaru, Ph.D., M.P.P.
Mental health, family functioning, and sleep in cultural context among American Indian/Alaska Native urban youth: A mixed methods analysis
Associate Policy Researcher
AND Corporation

As you can see, this is an exciting slate of speakers and topics. Please join OBSSR and the NIH behavioral science community in honoring the 2022 NIH Matilda White Riley Distinguished Lecturer and ESI Paper Competition Awardees. This event is free and open to the public. Register today: https://www.scgcorp.com/mwrhonors2022/