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Release: Oct. 3, 2002

UI psychology professor wins third award for distinguished early-career research

The psychology department in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has added yet another award for distinguished research by a young faculty member to its list of accolades. Steven J. Luck is the recipient of the first ever Frank J. McGuigan Young Research Investigator Prize from the American Psychological Foundation.

It is Luck's third award for early-career distinction and raises the department's early-career award total to more than a dozen in the last seven years. This latest award carries a $25,000 prize to support Luck's ongoing research in cognitive neuroscience.

"Steve Luck epitomizes our remarkable group of outstanding young faculty," said Gregg Oden, psychology department chairman. "There is no psychology department in the country that has a stronger set of scholars at this stage of their careers. As a result, this is a very exciting time for our department."

Luck's research examines how the human brain overcomes information overload by using attention to focus mental resources on a subset of the incoming sensory information. Previous research on attention assumed that the brain uses the same mechanism to manage all forms of attention. Luck has broken new ground by demonstrating that brain function changes based on whether attention is being used for decision-making, perception, memory, or action. In collaboration with researchers at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Luck is now extending this research to study impairments of attention in patients suffering from schizophrenia.

Luck joined the UI faculty in 1994 and was promoted to full professor in July. His research has been funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Human Frontier Science Program, and the McDonnell-Pew Program in Cognitive Neuroscience. In 1999, he won the American Psychological Association Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the Area of Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. In 2001 he won the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences, an award that recognizes significant achievement by a young investigator.

The current prize is named for Frank Joseph McGuigan, a distinguished research psychologist who died in 1998. He served as director of the Institute for Stress Management at United States International University and wrote extensively about stress and tension control and covert language behavior. He was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in physiology. The award was established in his honor to "support research to explicate the concept of the human mind."

The American Psychological Foundation is a non-profit fund raising organization affiliated with the American Psychological Association. It was established in 1953 to promote psychology and to help extend its benefits to the public.