Cynthia D. Belar Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education & Training in Health Psychology

Christine Dunkel Schetter, PhD

Christine Dunkel Schetter, PhD

Christine Dunkel Schetter, PhD , University of California, Los Angeles

Professor Chris Dunkel Schetter is the recipient of the Society for Health Psychology Cynthia Belar Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education and Training in Health Psychology.  Since joining the Department of Psychology in 1982, Dr. Dunkel Schetter has championed the students, early-career faculty, and health psychology within and outside UCLA. Having served as director of the department’s health psychology program since 1995, Professor Dunkel Schetter spearheaded the transition of the graduate minor program into a departmental Ph.D. major, which admitted its first cohort in 2008 and has grown to 18 in 2015.  Accomplishing this task was an enormous undertaking, and Chris was at the helm each step of the way, including steering the new major through official departmental and university channels, creating a robust curriculum, publicizing the area, and reviewing and attracting applicants.  She also advocated strongly and successfully for the recruitment of both Professors Julie Bower and Ted Robles in 2006 in order to provide grounding in biopsychosocial methods, as well as a critical mass of faculty for mounting the graduate major. Since the inception cohort completed the Ph.D. in 2014, all graduates have gone on to strong postdoctoral fellowships or research/academic positions.

Since 1995, Professor Dunkel Schetter has served as the PI on our long-standing T32 training grant, “Biobehavioral Aspects of Mental and Physical Health.” The T32 provides critical academic and financial support for graduate students across our department and postdoctoral fellows from universities across the nation.  Dr. Dunkel Schetter plays an essential role in maintaining the funding and high quality of the NIMH training grant, particularly the emphasis on biopsychosocial models of physical and psychological health.  She has been extremely thoughtful, skillful, and proactive in focusing our training program to align with changing NIMH priorities.  Graduate students across our department, and particularly in health psychology, clinical psychology, and social psychology, benefit from the T32.  It is important to note that the NIMH training program and health psychology area have produced some of the top scientists in health psychology. This group includes Drs. Greg Miller, Edith Chen, and David Creswell, each of whom received the APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early-Career Contributions to Health Psychology.

Several qualities make Dr. Dunkel Schetter an exceptional leader in education and training: her ability to see beyond traditional boundaries and forge novel collaborations; her willingness to seize opportunities that support students, faculty, and science; and her boundless energy. Chris brings the same energy to promoting the personal and professional development of faculty and students as she does to advancing and improving the health psychology program. At a micro-level, she frequently announces to the area and the department students and faculty who have had notable achievements, such as overseeing or producing a successful NSF application.

These are small acts, but significant in their impact on faculty and student morale. At a higher level, she tirelessly writes letters and initiates nominations to support students and early-career faculty in obtaining professional honors and awards.  These activities create a wonderfully encouraging atmosphere within the health psychology area.  Dr. Dunkel Schetter also is a generous mentor; the substantial majority of her many publications are with students. Chris has served as a primary research mentor for more than 30 predoctoral and postdoctoral students, many of whom have advanced to their own meritorious research careers in health psychology.

Professor Dunkel Schetter’s superb leadership skills, facility in creating a vision and implementing it, and ability to work with and extract the best efforts of others contribute to her extraordinary record of education and training in the science of health psychology. We are delighted to honor Professor Chris Dunkel Schetter with the Cynthia Belar Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education and Training in Health Psychology.

Annette Stanton, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles