Doctoral candidates win SPR Cup

A team of doctoral candidates representing the College of Health and Human Development and the College of the Liberal Arts won the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Cup at SPR’s annual meeting on May 28. They competed against teams representing several other universities, and were judged by a panel of prevention research experts and the audience at the meeting. This is the second year in a row that a Penn State team has taken home the SPR Cup.

Each team received the same set of data from a large study (the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, which followed a group of 15,000 children as they transitioned into and out of high school), and each team had the same challenge—they were given six weeks to find the most effective way to sort through, summarize, and present the data in a 10-minute block of time.

The group’s presentation focused on the fact that children with multiple motivating factors for attending high school were less likely to drop out than children who only had one motivating factor. For example, children who only went to high school for social purposes were more likely to drop out than children who went for social purposes and for career preparation.

“It was a unique experience,” said team member Beau Abar. “You don’t normally get to compete in academia, but this gave us a chance to creatively use our writing, presentation, and analytic skills.”

The team was commended for their implementation of educational theory and their ability to present the data in a practical, relevant way so that it could be used by prevention researchers.

“It was great to see the potential of other young professionals in the field,” said team member Melissa Lippold. “This competition also gave us a chance to work with people in our research centers [the Prevention Center and the Methodology Center] who we might not normally work with, and it also gave us a chance to receive recognition from a panel of experts in the field.”

Several of the team’s members are funded by predoctoral fellowships from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) or the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).  The team consisted of Caitlin Abar, NIDA prevention and methodology fellow, Human Development and Family Studies; Beau Abar, NIDA prevention and methodology fellow, Human Development and Family Studies; Melissa Lippold, NIDA prevention and methodology fellow, Human Development and Family Studies, Elizabeth Manning, doctoral candidate in Human Development and Family Studies, and CJ Powers, NIMH early childhood mental health fellow, Psychology.

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Last Updated June 22, 2009