For J. Bruce Overmier, PhD, psychology is obviously a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discipline.
“Experimental psychology is no different than experimental
chemistry,” says Overmier, a professor emeritus of psychology at
the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who was originally
trained as a chemist. Both disciplines attempt to discover the
natural laws governing the actions of “unobservables,” whether
electrons or human motivations, and study the effect of
manipulating them, he points out.
But the public doesn’t always see psychology as a hard
science, which is why one of APA’s strategic goals is to increase
recognition of psychology as a STEM discipline. To further that
goal, APA’s Board of Educational Affairs (BEA) launched the
BEA Outstanding Graduate Teaching of Psychology as a Core
STEM Discipline Award in 2014. The award, which will be given
every three years, recognizes the contributions of graduate-
level professors whose teaching and scholarship exemplify
psychology as a core science among the STEM disciplines.
“So often, the public forgets that psychology is a STEM
discipline,” says BEA Chair Jodie Ullman, PhD, a psychology
professor and special assistant to the provost at California State
University at San Bernardino. “We want to remind people that
psychology is a STEM discipline and to celebrate outstanding
faculty members who teach psychology as a STEM discipline.”
The response to the inaugural call for nominations was so
great that the expert panel tasked with choosing a winner had a
hard time selecting just one, even after members had winnowed
the nominees down to two, says Garth Fowler, PhD, associate
executive director of APA’s Office of Graduate and Postgraduate
Education and Training “They were both of such exceptional
quality, they couldn’t single out just one,” says Fowler. “They
decided, ‘Why not do two?’”
Overmier split the award, which includes a $2,500 honorarium,
with John “Jack” McArdle, PhD, a senior professor of psychology
at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
New award recognizes efforts to promote
psychology as a STEM discipline.
By Rebecca A. Clay