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PAU Students to Receive Competitive Blue Ribbon Awards At 2018 American Psychological Association Convention

Friday, August 3, 2018

PAU graduate students Abigail Kramer and Elizabeth W.M. Choi will receive ‘Blue Ribbon’ awards for their research during the 2018 American Psychological Association (APA) convention, August 9-12 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The competitive awards will be presented August 10 during a ceremony in which the awardees will give a short presentation. They will also receive a $450 monetary award for their work.  

Abigail Kramer received her Blue Ribbon award from the Society of Clinical Psychology (Division 12) of the APA for her research entitled, “Cognitive Control and Memory Are Associated with a Change in Utilization of Coping Strategies in Older Adults.” Her research shows that lower performance on measures of delayed verbal memory and abstract reasoning is related to the less frequent use of effective coping strategies in older adults. The clinical implications pose that cognitive training as adjunctive treatment for older adults with these cognitive weaknesses may bolster benefit from coping skills training. The results also suggest that treatment protocols that minimize cognitive demand may be particularly effective in this group. 

Abigail is in her fifth year of the PhD program for clinical psychology with an emphasis in clinical neuropsychology. Her goal after completing the program is to work as a clinical neuropsychologist serving an older adult population and to address neuro-degenerative disease in seniors. 

Elizabeth W. M. Choi was awarded the Blue Ribbon for Best Student Cross-Cultural Neuropsychology Poster by the Society of Clinical Neuropsychology (Division 40) of the APA. Her research is titled, “Ethnicity Moderates Subjective Caregivers' Ratings of Cognition on Objective Performance in Dementia.” This study investigated the moderating effect of ethnicity on the association between subjective rating and patient's actual performance on objective tests. We found that African-Americans and Latinos caregivers' perception are less correlated with objective measures of cognitive functioning in comparison to Caucasians. This points to the potential influence of cultural factors such as reporting style and perception of dementia in subjective description of cognitive difficulties. The findings stress the importance of providing psychoeducation of dementia symptoms to caregivers in ethnic minority groups to overcome barriers of reporting and reduce stigma.

Elizabeth is an international student in her third-year of the Ph.D. program, with a focus in Neuropsychology. She is interested in studying the assessment and biological, psychological, and cognitive predictors of neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. dementia) and neurological conditions (e.g. epilepsy, neuro-oncology). She is also interested in looking at how culture shapes brain functioning. She plans on embarking on both research and clinical careers in medical/academic settings where she can serve people who are suffering from brain-related disease with great knowledge and care. She is currently a practicum student at the Palo Alto VA Health Care System Neuropsychological Assessment and Intervention Clinic, and also a research team member of the Brain Stimulation Lab at Stanford University.

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