The 2017 VIPBG Excellence Awards Announced

The Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics pre- and post-doc awards were announced on December 7, 2017 and presented by Drs. Roxann Roberson-Nay, Ph.D., and Michael Neale, Ph.D.

Ashlee Moore was presented with the Kenneth S. Kendler Award for Excellence in Pre-Doctoral Research, and Lance Rappaport, Ph.D. received the Lindon Eaves Post-Doctoral Award. These awards are given annually by VIPBG faculty to one outstanding pre- and post-doctoral trainee who have demonstrated excellence. The recipient must be a current student and nominated by a faculty member. The faculty vote after a group discussion of the nominations merits. These awards have been given since 2007 and each recipient receives a certificate of recognition and a $500.00 gift. Below please find information about each awardee and how these awards will impact them.

Ms. Moore’s current research focuses on the psychometric properties of the Inventory of Callous-Unemotional Traits (ICU), which measures traits in children that are akin to psychopathic traits in adults. She plans to incorporate this research into future work that will examine structural brain abnormalities in children who have high callous-unemotional traits. Her work on the ICU significantly contributes to the field and will set her up for a post-doctoral position in neuroimaging and/or psychopathy research. After that, she plans to incorporate her skills in psychology, genetics, and neuroimaging to develop her own research program at a university. Thus, it means a lot to her to be recognized for her accomplishments at the pre-doctoral level because it is a small yet important step along her journey. Humble as ever, Ms. Moore stated that “Every student at VIPBG is extremely talented. At times, these other students have served as friends, teachers, mentors, and support systems. To be given this award among this distinguished group of students is a true honor, but I couldn’t have made it this far in my graduate training without the help of each and everyone of them!

When asked what advice she would give an undergraduate student, Ms. Moore relayed some advice that she received while finishing her bachelor’s degree: Always plan for the next stage of your career. “As an undergraduate, you need to be concerned about activities that will make you a successful graduate school applicant. As a graduate student, you need to be focused on opportunities that will make you successful in your future job search. As a faculty member, you should be thinking about what it will take to be a successful tenure candidate. Basically, you need to be two-steps ahead in terms of what will be expected of you in the future.” Ms. Moore has also received similar advice from the namesake of her award, Dr. Kenneth Kendler, M.D. Dr. Kendler serves as inspiration to Ms. Moore, as well as everyone at VIPBG, due to his prolific career, leadership status in the field of behavioral genetics, and endless curiosity.

Dr. Rappaport’s work focuses on affective and behavioral mechanisms and the etiology of internalizing disorders. He draws on genetic and developmental perspectives while utilizing advanced research methodology. The recognition associated with award means a great deal to him, leaving Dr. Rappaport both surprised and honored to receive it. The award will allow him to continue moving forward toward an independently-funded research program. Citing the namesake of the award, Dr. Rappaport noted Dr. Lindon Eaves, D.Sc.‘s “enduring impact in the work of everyone here at VIPBG.

When asked what advice he would give a Ph.D. student interested in a post-doctoral position in behavioral genetics, Dr. Rappaport recommended learning as much as possible. “Find a post-doc where you can do a lot and have access to a lot of data and lots of different research.” This, coupled with working with as many different people (and data) as possible, allows a fellow to extend their research while contributing to the field.


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