The Cattell Fund: ‘An Amazing Gift to the Field of Psychology’

The James McKeen Cattell Fund has supported “the science and the application of psychology” since its establishment in 1942. APS shares these goals and for the last several years has partnered with the Fund in support of the Supplemental Sabbatical Awards, a program that provides financial support for academic psychologists to extend their sabbatical leave time in order to further develop their research. This program has had “an enormously positive impact on the careers of psychological scientists over the years,” according to UC Berkeley’s Robert Levenson, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Fund and Past APS President. Because the Fund allows academicians time to focus solely on research, says Levenson, “individual careers have benefitted and stellar science has been produced.”

Christina L. Williams, Trustee and Secretary-Treasurer of the Cattell Fund, points out that “the fund particularly likes to support mid-career researchers because this group of faculty usually juggles teaching and increasing administrative responsibilities along with their research. We feel that a year’s leave to recharge greatly benefits these faculty.” But, the fund also recognizes outstanding young tenured faculty and more senior investigators and encourages all to apply, said Williams, a professor at Duke University.

APS Fellow and 2007 recipient Susan Gelman, University of Michigan, used the time supported by her Cattell Sabbatical award to write articles on psychological essentialism in children and to submit two grant proposals, both of which received funding. “These activities were important in setting the stage for my research going forward,” she reported, and “it would not have been possible for me to accomplish these important goals without the extra time afforded by the Cattell funds.” Gelman also felt that “the process of applying [for the Cattell Fund Award] was valuable in and of itself” because it helped her think carefully about what she wanted to accomplish during her sabbatical.

Last year, the James McKeen Cattell Fund awarded Sharon Thompson-Schill support to spend more time studying the development of the prefrontal cortex in children during her sabbatical from the University of Pennsylvania. “The Cattell Fund enabled me to take a step back and pursue ideas that will hopefully steer my research program for the next decade,” reports Thompson-Schill, who is a member of the APS Board.

Providing psychologists with more time to accomplish their goals and develop their research not only benefits individual careers, but the entire science of psychology. As Thompson-Schill states,  “there are so few sources of external funding to support sabbatical leave, but arguably the ideas that are born from the time afforded by a sabbatical are among the most important for seeding new, innovative, creative research…[The] Cattell Fund is an amazing gift to the field of psychology.”

Please see http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/members/awards-and-honors/cattell-fund for more information about applying for the Fund.

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