The Clemson University Department of Psychology recently honored outstanding alumni for 2020. A ceremony originally slated for Spring 2020 to honor the recipients was postponed due the COVID-19 pandemic, but the award recipients have been recognized online and via the department’s newsletter.
Ruth P. Saunders, Ph.D., is the recipient of the Psychology Department Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award, which the department uses to recognize outstanding lifetime career accomplishments. Saunders graduated from the department with a bachelor’s degree in 1974 and went on to enjoy a 30-plus-year career defined by exemplary research and practice.
Saunders retired in 2015 as Professor Emerita from the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. Over the course of her career, Saunders authored or co-authored more than 100 publications based on her research and practice experience in conducting program, policy and practice change in organizational settings including preschools, schools, after-school settings, children’s group homes and faith-based settings.
Dr. Pat Raymark, chair of the Department of Psychology, noted that Saunders’ career accomplishments are especially impressive because of how she was able to effectively balance a scientific and scholarly approach to research while remaining grounded in trying to solve the practical problems faced by individuals.
“Dr. Saunders work in the context of school settings is particularly impactful and impressive,” Raymark said. “It is very inspiring to know that one of the initial graduates of our program has had such a profound impact on the lives of so many of the youth in our state.”
In addition to celebrating outstanding lifetime career accomplishments, the department also recognizes an alumni who has enjoyed early career success. Lauren Haack, Ph.D., is the 2020 recipient of the Psychology Department Distinguished Early Career Achievement Award.
Haack, a 2007 alumni of the psychology department, is currently an assistant professor and attending psychologist in the University of California San Francisco Psychiatry Department Division of Child and Adolescent Services. Haack was a recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual Postdoctoral Fellows funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Haack’s current research, teaching and clinical practice focus on cultural influences on mental health conceptualization, assessment and treatment. She also maintains a focus on accessible and culturally appropriate evidence-based services for vulnerable youth and families.
Raymark said Haack’s highly impressive list of early career accomplishments is a source of considerable pride for the department. Raymark noted that a long-standing focus of the Psychology department has been to provide high-quality research experiences for its undergraduate majors.
“It is exceptionally rewarding to see how Lauren effectively leveraged those early research experiences at Clemson to carve out a career path that is having such a positive impact on vulnerable communities,” Raymark said.
The Department of Psychology is part of the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS). Established in July 2016, CBSHS is a 21st-century, land-grant college that combines work in seven disciplines – communication; nursing; parks, recreation and tourism management; political science; psychology; public health sciences; sociology, anthropology and criminal justice – to further its mission of “building people and communities” in South Carolina and beyond.
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