2012 Faculty Award Recipients

On June 5, 2012, faculty and fellows gathered for the annual commencement ceremony. This event is an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of both the predoctoral fellows and the faculty within the Psychology Section. Four faculty members were honored with awards at this most recent graduation. Below are the award citations as delivered by Dr. Michael Hoge, Director of Clinical Training in Psychology.

Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching

Donna LaPaglia, Psy.D.

This year’s recipient of the faculty award for outstanding contributions as a teacher goes to an individual who joined the voluntary faculty in 1998 and the full time faculty in 2007. She has dedicated her career to providing prevention and treatment to individuals suffering from problems with addictions and co-occurring mental and substance use conditions. Within our department, she oversees the provision of services to over a thousand such clients each year.

This faculty member has excelled in many areas, but we recognize her today for her exceptional skills as a teacher. Within her clinical unit she trains predoctoral psychology fellows, as well as psychology practicum students and postdoctoral fellows, medical students, psychiatric residents, social work interns, and community addiction professionals. She devotes an enormous amount of time to providing trainees with an education about evidence-based approaches to substance abuse treatment, innovative approaches such as acupuncture, specialized approaches to meeting the health needs of women, and essential skills in inter-professional and interdisciplinary collaboration. Her contributions as a teacher are all the more important given the extent to which, historically, training about the devastating problem of addictions has been overlooked in health professions education.

As a faculty member, she has made enormous contributions to the formal teaching programs within the Department, the Psychology Section, the Division of Substance Abuse, and the institution within which she works. She has created, managed, and contributed to courses on psychotherapy for substance use disorders; co-occurring treatment approaches; and core addiction training for third and fourth year psychiatric residents. She has played a major role in developing a curriculum for psychiatric residents on alcohol use disorders, which received a Model Curriculum Award in 2010 from the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training. Last June, with only a moment’s notice, she willingly agreed to an 8-month commitment to co-lead our Psychology Section’s Interventions Seminar. Throughout this past year she has made substantial contributions to the redesign of the psychology core curriculum.

Her peers around the country have recognized her contributions and her future promise. She was among a select group of faculty chosen by the American Association of Medical Colleges to explore early career development among women in the health professions. Most recently, she was selected to join the Board of Directors of The Association for Psychologists in Academic Health Centers and to serve as one of it officers.

Please join me in congratulating this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award given in Recognition of Outstanding Contributions as a Teacher – Dr. Donna LaPaglia.

Distinguished Faculty Award for Supervision

Allison Ponce, Ph.D.

This year’s recipient of the faculty award for outstanding contributions as a supervisor completed a post-doctoral fellowship within our department in 2004 and has been a member of the full time faculty since 2005. With the Psychology Section she has been extensively involved in developing training rotations and in supervising and mentoring both predoctoral and postdoctoral psychology fellows. Her clinical expertise focuses on the community based treatment of persons with severe mental illness and she has provided trainees with exceptional experiences centered on clinical and rehabilitative approaches to promoting the health and recovery of the most vulnerable among the populations we serve here at Yale. She has special interests in and has worked nationally to improve the care of persons who are homeless and mentally ill and has created unique educational opportunities centered on this population for psychologists training within our department.

Across the years, her students consistently have given high marks for her commitment to their training experience and professional development, her insights about the clinical work, her constant availability, and her compassion as they struggled with professional and personal challenges. Those who know her well speak of her continually upbeat attitude, no matter how difficult the situation, and her willingness to help, taking on yet more responsibility, no matter how large the task or short the deadline.

In the relatively brief span of her career, her talents have been recognized nationally by those within the highest ranks of our profession. She was selected to chair the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Early Career Psychologists. The APA Committee on Accreditation has entrusted her with responsibility for leading accreditation site visit teams across the country. And just weeks ago she was elected by internship training directors nationally to serve on the Board of Directors of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, know as APPIC, within which she will work to ensure that the national match for pre and postdoctoral fellowships is effective, efficient, and equitable.

In recognition of her passion for professional training and her dedication to her students, please join me in congratulating this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award for Outstanding Contributions as a Supervisor – Dr. Allison Ponce.

Voluntary Faculty Member

Debra Nudel, Ph.D.

The strength of our training program is derived in large part from a group of psychologists who serve as voluntary clinical faculty members, providing courses, lectures, supervision, and mentoring to our students.

This year’s honoree from the ranks of the voluntary faculty has been a psychologist in New Haven for 25 years. She was a predoctoral and postdoctoral fellow in our training programs, based at the Yale Psychiatric Institute, and then joined the faculty as the chief psychologist on the Institute’s adolescent unit. A graduate of the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis, she has been in private practice for the past 23 years, specializing in the provision of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. In terms of teaching, she has supervised a large number of predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows. She teaches a four-month orientation seminar each year to the Yale-New Haven Hospital fellows and also teaches at The Child Study Center in the neuroscience and psychoanalysis Masters program, which is part of the Anna Freud Center. This past year she played a significant role in the strategic planning process for our internship program, working to organize a dialogue with the psychodynamically oriented members of our faculty.

She is passionate about her practice and deeply committed to teaching new psychologists about the value of psychodynamic theory and interventions within any treatment approach.

From the over 100 psychologists who serve as members of our voluntary clinical faculty, please join me in congratulating this year’s recipient of the Distinguish Faculty Award for Contributions to Psychology Training - Dr. Debra Nudel.

Sidney J. Blatt Award

Thomas J. McMahon, Ph.D.

Last year at this time we honored Professor Sidney J. Blatt as he retired after 50 years of service, leading our section as its Chief and directing our predoctoral internship program. On that occasion, we announced that the Psychology Section would create a faculty award in his honor. It is my great privilege today to bestow the first award in his name.

Dr. Blatt is known to many as a Renaissance Man; knowledgeable and skilled as a clinician, educator, and scholar. He maintained an active practice of psychotherapy; trained hundreds of psychologists and physicians; and pursued an active course of empirical research on psychodynamic theories and interventions. In crafting an award befitting of his great name, we sought to acknowledge a faculty member who similarly has excelled across all of these domains: caring for clients, mentoring students, and generating new knowledge through his research.

This year’s honoree graduated from Temple University with a Bachelors degree and obtained his masters and doctorate from New York University. After interning at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Hartford, he became a Research Associate here at Yale and joined the ranks of the faculty in 1996, holding appointments not only in our Department, but also in the Yale Child Study Center and the Yale School of Nursing.

As a clinician, this faculty member has been a leader in our Department’s efforts to provide mental health and substance use services to children, adolescents, and their families. Immediately after joining the faculty he assumed responsibility for managing a program for children and adolescents and soon thereafter became director of a full service clinic that cares for both children and adults. Within this past decade he orchestrated a major initiative in Greater New Haven to implement an integrated and developmentally informed system of services for severely impaired, high-risk young adults transitioning out of the child welfare system. Historically, these young men and women had fallen through the large divide between the child and adult service sectors. He has made it his mission, and the mission of his staff and trainees, to bridge that divide.

This faculty member’s scholarly activity has been tightly tied to his clinical interests. He has studied intensively the adjustment of substance abusing individuals when they become parents and the impact of parental substance abuse on child development. He is most noted in this area for his focus on substance abusing fathers, who have been largely overlooked in the research on families impacted by addiction. His research and his efforts to develop innovative addiction treatments for adolescents and young adults have been supported by over 30 research grants and service contracts. The findings from this body of work have been documented in over 50 peer-reviewed publications.

His clinical and research talents serve as the foundation for his exceptional contributions as a teacher within two schools of the University and two departments with the School of Medicine. He trains a diverse group of students, drawn from the disciplines of psychology, psychiatry, social work, and nursing, offering them a wealth of knowledge and perspectives on topics such as: human, family, and systems development; the integration of clinical, residential, and vocational treatments; clinical and research methods; and the science and art of program management and systems leadership. He teaches through supervision, mentoring, and extensive lecturing. His soft-spoken words convey his wisdom and his deep compassion for his clients, his staff, and his students.

Recognition by his peers has occurred across the span of his career, including: the Gimbel Child and Family Scholars Award, the Weltner Fellowship, and the very first Psychology Section Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching. Last year he was honored by the Department of Psychiatry with the Stephen Fleck Award, which is given to a faculty member deemed to be a model humanitarian and conscientious clinician.

To the Psychology Fellows in the room today, I encourage you to draw inspiration from this individual who, in the finest tradition of psychology at Yale and of our profession in general, exemplifies the types of contributions that you can make as you embark on your career.

And to the Fellows, the faculty, and our guests, I ask for a deafening round of applause to honor this year’s recipient of the Sidney J. Blatt Award given in Recognition of Exceptional Achievement as a Clinician, Educator, and Scholar – Dr. Thomas J. McMahon.