Psychologist Derek Isaacowitz wins Gerontology Society of America award

Baltes Foundation Award recognizes early achievement in gerontology

Derek M. Isaacowitz

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation's largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen Brandeis University Professor Derek M. Isaacowitz, as the 2009 recipient of the Margret M. & Paul B. Baltes Foundation Award in Behavioral and Social Gerontology. This distinguished honor, given annually, recognizes outstanding early career contributions in behavioral and social gerontology.

Isaacowitz is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Volen National Center for Complex Systems at Brandeis. His research focuses on emotion in adulthood and old age. He heads the university's Emotion Laboratory, which investigates how people of different ages manage their emotions, and what role attention plays in emotion regulation and maintenance of well-being. The facility uses eye tracking to investigate ways individuals process emotional material from their environment while viewing different types of stimuli.

“I try to understand the sources of older adults’ affective resilience by investigating processes that do (and do not) lead older adults to feel good,” said Isaacowitz. “Lately, rather than just describing differences between age groups that could lead to well-being, I’ve tried to make direct links between attention on the one hand and mood on the other. This work is challenging but, I think, ultimately will be important to understanding how and why older adults experience well-being.

Isaacowitz received a PhD in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001. He is the recipient of several grants from the National Institutes of Health, and has previously won The American Psychological Association's Division 20 Springer Early Career Achievement Award and the Brandeis University Michael Laban Walzer ’56 Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The Baltes award is given to a person from any discipline in the social sciences. Only individuals who have received their doctorate within the last ten years are eligible. The winner traditionally presents a lecture at the Annual Scientific Meeting the following year. The award is given by GSA in conjunction with the Margret M. & Paul B. Baltes Foundation.

“What is especially meaningful to me about this award is that I was lucky enough to know both Margret and Paul Baltes, and Paul Baltes mentored me at several points in my development as a researcher,” said Isaacowitz. “I have tried in my own work to incorporate his strong belief in the power of experimentation to bring out key aspects of life-span development.”

The award presentation will take place at GSA's 62nd Annual Meeting, which will be held from November 18 to 22, 2009, in Atlanta, GA. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process.

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