APS William James Fellow Award

The APS Mentor Award recognizes psychology researchers and educators who have shaped the future directions of science by fostering the careers of students and colleagues.

A mentor can be many things: That professor or advisor who made a special effort, transforming our career paths; that inspirational researcher who influenced a larger group of scientists through broader efforts, such as leading an organization or laboratory, or through lecturing and conducting seminars and workshops. There may be other models as well, including for undergraduate institutions and applied settings.

The APS Mentor Award honors the importance of mentoring in our field as well as the dedication and impact of individuals with a distinguished record of teaching, advising, and encouraging students and colleagues.

The Mentor Award committee seeks nominations for the APS Mentor Award. The nominee must be a member of APS to be considered for this award. Nominations should describe the nominee’s mentoring process as well as the impact of the mentor’s influence on the careers of students and/or colleagues. The APS Mentor Awards are presented each year at the APS Annual Convention.

Submit an APS Mentor Award Nomination

View a list of Mentor Award Recipients

APS Mentor Award Committee

Susan Fiske (Chair),
Princeton University
Edna Foa,
University of Pennsylvania
Maryanne Garry,
University of Waikato, New Zealand
Paul Harris,
Harvard University
Ann Kring,
University of California, Berkeley
Charo Rueda,
University of Granada, Spain

2021 Award Winners

BJ Casey

Yale University

APS Fellow BJ Casey is internationally renowned for her groundbreaking contributions to developmental neuroscience, including the first-ever fMRI study on the healthy developing brain. Among her many accomplishments is a stunning number of incredibly successful trainees who have gone on to hold faculty positions at prestigious institutions and establish highly productive research programs.

She is known for her exceptional generosity, mentoring not only those in her own lab but many others from her institution and elsewhere, finding time for each of her mentees despite her busy schedule. Casey has also made it a priority to support women and those of underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds, including as an enthusiastic participant in programs that target training diverse scientists, such as The ACCESS Summer Internship Program at Weill Cornell Graduate School and Yale’s Justice Collaboratory and Pathways to Science programs.

Casey’s students credit her with having a unique understanding of their needs. She strikes the perfect balance between offering guidance and promoting independence, allowing students to mature into thoughtful scientists. In addition to offering her knowledge and connections, Casey is beloved for her moral support and enthusiastic celebration of every success, no matter how small—and she doesn’t stop championing her mentees after they leave her lab.

There is no doubt that the field of developmental neuroscience has been significantly expanded thanks to Casey and her tireless mentorship of the next generation of psychological scientists.

Harald L.G.J. Merckelbach

Maastricht University

APS Fellow Harald Merckelbach is known for his study of memory distortions, including amnesia and confabulation and has published numerous articles in top journals. As his work has important implications for the legal system, he has served as a member of the Dutch Advisory Committee on Closed Criminal Cases. He also is an extraordinary mentor, continually going above and beyond to help his mentees think critically about important issues and build successful careers.   

Merckelbach’s enthusiasm inspires his mentees not only to produce high-quality research but also to enjoy the process. He is appreciated for his impressive erudition, which allows him to connect seemingly unrelated literatures and thereby generate new interdisciplinary perspectives and research questions. His students frequently find that his timely and detailed feedback elevates their work beyond their initial expectations, broadening their experience as scientists in the process—a quality that former students cherish and strive to emulate for their own mentees years later.  

Rather than using his position of authority to dominate conversations, Merckelbach treats his students as colleagues. By defending strong opinions while remaining open to other ideas, he constantly engages his students in intellectual debate that pushes them to grow as scholars. Merckelbach also has a keen eye for opportunities suited for his mentees, whether research, co-authorship of articles or book chapters, or networking experiences, such as conferences. He stays in touch with each of his mentees, often becoming a lifelong collaborator.

Miguel Moya

University of Granada

When APS Fellow Miguel Moya began his career, he had few Spanish colleagues in social psychology. Further, in the shadow of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, prejudice in particular was an understudied topic in the country. Over the following decades, Moya worked tirelessly to establish social psychology as a respected academic discipline in Spain and embraced the study of prejudice and marginalization.

Moya advocates for scientists producing high-quality social psychology research to be recognized and rewarded, and he reaches across international and disciplinary lines to form highly productive networks of collaboration. As a result of these values, his students are instilled with a deep appreciation for the importance of teamwork and collaboration. He makes frequent introductions and encourages students to share their ideas, prioritize attendance at conferences, and form professional relationships that often lead to fruitful collaborations in the future.

Moya is a professor in the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Granada. He continues to enthusiastically promote the study of social psychology in every way possible. 

Elizabeth S. Spelke

Harvard University

APS William James Fellow Elizabeth Spelke is known for her incisive analysis of foundational questions about the origins and growth of human knowledge, and she eagerly shares her rich intellectual life with her mentees. Her enthusiasm for science is infectious, and she helps her students to stay motivated by always being ready to engage them in thoughtful conversation. Spelke expertly tailors her approach for each mentee, helping those who already have ideas to formulate concrete research plans while giving others the time and resources needed to spark inspiration.   

Spelke teaches her students to develop strict experimental designs that pinpoint important variables. She avidly seeks out opportunities for her mentees to lead and travel, willingly stepping aside when doing so is in her protégés’ best interest. At every turn, Spelke gives of herself to ensure the success of her mentees, whether that means staying awake late into the night to perfect a mentee’s conference poster or making time to serve as the inaugural speaker for a former student’s talk series.   

Spelke inspires her mentees to believe in and advocate for themselves, leading them to secure prestigious positions and make significant advances in cognitive and developmental psychology. She maintains contact with each of her mentees, ensuring that they continue to benefit from her support while also creating a network of similarly trained scientists poised for collaboration. Spelke’s remarkable generosity with her mentees sets her apart as a scientist truly dedicated to fostering the next generation of innovative researchers.