Nav: Home

NAS honors four for major contributions in neuroscience, psychology, and criminology

January 25, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Sciences will honor four individuals with awards in recognition of their extraordinary scientific achievements in neuroscience, psychology, and criminology.

Daniel S. Nagin, the Teresa and H. John Heinz III University Professor of Public Policy and Statistics at the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, will receive the 2017 NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing, presented this year in criminology.

A leader in criminology and related fields, Nagin has spent more than 30 years upending long-held beliefs about criminal justice. His reviews of the scientific literature, focusing on the crime-prevention effects of criminal and social sanctions, have shown that the crime-prevention benefits of lengthy prison sentences are not sufficient to justify their social and economic costs, incarceration appears to increase -- not decrease -- the likelihood of re-offending, and research on the deterrent effect of the death penalty is so flawed that it provides no useful information on its impact on homicide rates. He has also concluded that research evidence shows that increases in police numbers and also their strategic deployment can materially affect crime rates.

Throughout his career, Nagin's reviews have altered the course of criminological theory and empirical research and have greatly informed analysis of public policy, arguing that efforts should be shifted from corrections to policing in order to lower crime rates and reduce incarceration. He is the 2006 recipient of the American Society of Criminology's Edwin H. Sutherland Award and in 2014 was awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology. Nagin has also served on the Academies study committee that wrote the 2014 report The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences, and as committee chair for the 2012 Academies report Deterrence and the Death Penalty.

The NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing has been presented annually since 1979 to recognize authors whose reviews have synthesized extensive and difficult material, rendering a significant service to science and influencing the course of scientific thought. The field rotates among biological, physical, and social sciences and carries with it a $20,000 prize. The NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing was established in 1977 by the gift of Annual Reviews and the Institute for Scientific Information in honor of J. Murray Luck. The award is currently sponsored entirely by Annual Reviews.

Karel Svoboda, group leader, Janelia Research Campus at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will receive the 2017 Pradel Research Award.

A pioneer in the field of neurobiology, Svoboda developed technologies for visualizing both cellular and synaptic structure and activity in the brain. He used these imaging methods to obtain insight into how the brain represents and stores information about sensory stimuli and transforms that information through motivated behavior into action.

Svoboda was the first researcher to employ high-resolution two-photon microscopy to study synapses and dendrites in the intact brain, providing key insight into how synapses work while also setting the standard for use of this imaging technology. He expanded on this work by developing techniques to image biochemical signals inside of neurons, revealing how synaptic input causes changes in synaptic strength during learning.

Later, Svoboda turned his attention to how the brain's sensory cortex responds to stimuli, and how that stimulation produces learning and behavior. His work also identified the anterolateral motor cortex, the portion of the brain related to the relationship between stimulus and movement for a reward, providing insights into how the brain holds information in short-term memory and makes decisions.

More recently, Svoboda has continued to implement new microscopic methods applied to the brain, allowing multiple portions of the brain to be imaged at the same time.

The Pradel Research Award is presented annually to recognize mid-career neuroscientists whose work is making major contributions to our understanding of the nervous system. The recipient is presented with a $50,000 research award to an institution of their choice to support neuroscience research.

Tim Behrens, professor of computational neuroscience at the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, University of Oxford, and Sian Leah Beilock, the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago, will receive the 2017 Troland Research Awards.

Behrens' work combines the fields of computer engineering, neuroscience, and psychology to provide a better understanding of how the functions of various parts of the brain lead to behavior. He pioneered the use of non-invasive diffusion weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) in order to understand images of the movement of water molecules along axon nerve cells, providing insight into how the different parts of the brain communicate with each other. The software package he devised for analyzing DW-MRI data has since become the standard for human brain and behavior investigation.

Behrens has also advanced understanding of the mechanisms of decision-making and learning in the prefrontal cortex. His work has addressed questions such as how important new information is learned and irrelevant old information is forgotten at the appropriate rates; how neurons encode relationships between items in the world, allowing modeling of what will happen in the future; and how these models extend to complex situations such as social interactions.

With nearly 150 papers to his credit, Behrens' work has already been cited more than 33,000 times, an indication of his leadership in the field.

Beilock's research focuses on how even highly skilled individuals can "choke" under pressure. More specifically, her research focuses on the underlying psychological, physical, and neurological mechanisms that explain how anxiety and high-stress situations compromise our ability to learn and execute complex skills, such as mathematics during school tests or athletics on the field. This examination of performance anxiety has resulted in more than 100 scientific papers and two critically acclaimed books, "Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To" and "How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel." It also has tremendous implications for how to educate students, how athletes perform, and how businesses train their workforces. By increasing our understanding of how and why people become anxious, Beilock's research is developing pioneering techniques to help people perform better during complex and stressful tasks in every aspect of daily life.
-end-
Two Troland Research Awards of $75,000 are given annually to recognize unusual achievement by young investigators (defined as no older than 40) and to further empirical research within the broad spectrum of experimental psychology. The Troland Research Award was established by a trust created in 1931 by the bequest of Leonard T. Troland.

The winners will be honored in a ceremony on Sunday, April 30, during the National Academy of Sciences' 154th annual meeting.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and -- with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine -- provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Contact:

Molly Galvin, Senior Media Relations Officer
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail: awards@nas.edu
http://www.nasonline.org/
Twitter: @theNASciences
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theNASciences

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Related Neuroscience Articles:

Researchers rebuild the bridge between neuroscience and artificial intelligence
In an article in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers reveal that they have successfully rebuilt the bridge between experimental neuroscience and advanced artificial intelligence learning algorithms.
The evolution of neuroscience as a research
When the first issue of the JDR was published, the field of neuroscience did not exist but over subsequent decades neuroscience has emerged as a scientific field that has particular relevance to dentistry.
Diabetes-Alzheimer's link explored at Neuroscience 2019
Surprising links exist between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and researchers are beginning to unpack the pathology that connects the two.
Organoid research revealed at Neuroscience 2019
Mini-brains, also called organoids, may offer breakthroughs in clinical research by allowing scientists to study human brain cells without a human subject.
The neuroscience of autism: New clues for how condition begins
UNC School of Medicine scientists found that a gene mutation linked to autism normally works to organize the scaffolding of brain cells called radial progenitors necessary for the orderly formation of the brain.
Harnessing reliability for neuroscience research
Neuroscientists are amassing the large-scale datasets needed to study individual differences and identify biomarkers.
Blue Brain solves a century-old neuroscience problem
In a front-cover paper published in Cerebral Cortex, EPFL's Blue Brain Project, a Swiss Brain Research Initiative, explains how the shapes of neurons can be classified using mathematical methods from the field of algebraic topology.
Characterizing pig hippocampus could improve translational neuroscience
Researchers have taken further steps toward developing a superior animal model of neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury and epilepsy, according to a study of miniature pigs published in eNeuro.
The neuroscience of human vocal pitch
Among primates, humans are uniquely able to consciously control the pitch of their voices, making it possible to hit high notes in singing or stress a word in a sentence to convey meaning.
Study tackles neuroscience claims to have disproved 'free will'
For several decades, some researchers have argued that neuroscience studies prove human actions are driven by external stimuli -- that the brain is reactive and free will is an illusion.
More Neuroscience News and Neuroscience Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.