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Prestigious Awards in Psychology

Prestigious Awards in Psychology

The New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS), the largest membership association for psychologists in New Zealand, offers awards for excellence in practice and research related to psychology and social justice issues.

Three prestigious awards were conferred on this year’s recipients at the recent New Zealand Psychological Society Conference held in Christchurch These were the:

Karahipi Tumuaki- President’s Scholarship

Miriama Ketu-McKenzie

The Society offers the Karahipi Tumuaki President’s Scholarship which recognises research that is Māori centred and of value to the Māori community.

This scholarship was awarded to Miriama Ketu-McKenzie.

Miriama is enrolled in a PhD degree and is a registered psychologist, working at Dunedin hospital. Miriama's research is focussed on exploring the applicability of a mindfulness- based intervention on the cortisol levels of Māori women who experience chronic stress and have had adverse life events in childhood. Her aim is to explore the relationship between childhood trauma and health problems in adulthood.

Miriama's research offers a unique opportunity to consider how a culturally adapted mindfulness-based stress reduction programme can be used to alleviate chronic health problems. It is noted that Māori experience high levels of health problems, and this research could assist in providing an alternative to cognitive behavioural therapies.

Postgraduate Psychology Student Social Justice Research Scholarship offered for the first time

The NZPsS has, for the first time, awarded the social justice scholarship for postgraduate psychology students. This scholarship was established to support the research of NZPsS student subscribers on a significant social justice issue e.g. poverty, social inequality, discrimination etc. as part of a recognized post-graduate degree in psychology at a New Zealand university.

The scholarship was jointly awarded to Gloria Fraser and Rebekah Graham

Gloria Fraser

The first phase of Gloria Fraser’s PhD research involves exploring the experiences of queer and trans young adults who have accessed mental health support in Aotearoa. The next phase will be to conduct an online survey, to find out if the experiences of queer and trans young adults across New Zealand reflect those of the group she is currently interviewing. After she has analysed her data Gloria intends to use the findings from these first two studies to create a resource for use by current and future mental health professionals.

In awarding the scholarship to Gloria Fraser the New Zealand Psychological Society is recognising the significance of this research and the impact it may have to reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by LGBTQIA+ New Zealanders (lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual), as well as other New Zealanders of diverse genders and sexualities.

Rebekah Graham

Rebekah Graham’s PhD research considers the lived experience of food insecurity within the context of poverty in Hamilton. As part of her research, Rebekah attended a local community meal for 15 months. During that period, she talked and ate with meal attendees, and from there she engaged in a series of in-depth interviews with seven families. Rebekah has taken an ethnographic emplaced approach while working with vulnerable groups in the context of the welfare state. Rebekah has recently submitted her PhD.

In awarding this scholarship to Rebekah Graham the New Zealand Psychological Society recognises the significance of Rebekah’s research, which highlights access to food in socially appropriate ways as a human right. Food insecurity is a product of inequity and injustices and Rebekah’s research contributes to the social justice arena by challenging neoliberal narratives of blame embedded within penal welfare.

Goddard Award, Research and Scholarship

Dr Damian Scarf

The G V Goddard Early Career Award commemorates the contributions made by Professor Graham V Goddard, Head of Department of Psychology, University of Otago, to psychology. Professor Goddard had an international reputation for his research in behavioural neuroscience, notably in the brain phenomenon of kindling. This award was made to Dr Damian Scarf.

The award recognises early career achievement and excellence in research and scholarship in basic psychological science the judgement being based on the originality, independence, relevance, impact and quality of published work from the nominee’s postgraduate research. In support of his nomination Dr Damian Scarf presented three articles from the more than thirty he already has to his name.

The journals in which these articles have been published are held in high regard by our discipline speaking to the quality and originality of these articles. Two articles report studies of neural processing in a non-human species, while the third examines causal relationships between social identity and enhanced resilience of adolescents who successfully completed an adventure education programme. Together they hint at the breadth of Dr Scarf’s research interests and expertise. As first and corresponding or co-corresponding author of each article Damian wrote the first draft, made major contributions to design, data collection and analysis of the reported studies.

In making this award the Society concurs with those who nominated Damian that has achieved and displays excellence in his early career research and scholarship.

Background to the New Zealand Psychological Society

The New Zealand Psychological Society is the largest professional association for psychologists in New Zealand. It has over 1200 members and 600 student subscribers and aims to improve individual and community wellbeing by representing, promoting and advancing the scientific discipline and practice of psychology.


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