Including a letter to voting members, Society awards and more.


A letter to voting members

WE, the Honorary Officers, are writing to you about two very important matters to do with the life of the Society and on which you will be asked to vote in the coming month.

Membership subscriptions for 2007
In response to member consultation, the Society has an exciting programme of work supporting academic and applied psychology and linked to the Strategic Plan. This includes contributions to public debate and vital contributions to government initiatives and policies. The Society is also committed to helping you – its members – to be ever more effective in your professional lives. The leaflet ‘Discussion into Deeds’ included with last month’s Psychologist illustrates the breadth and depth of work being undertaken during just a three-month period to achieve our objectives. Important work is also being done by your Divisions, Sections, Special Groups and Branches.
All of this work is supported – by the energy and commitment of members, the skills of our paid staff and from Society income. One of the key sources of income is member subscriptions, which had been kept low for several years by drawing on our level of reserves. Now, circumstances and priorities have moved on. Our sources of external income are under more pressure and there are uncertainties surrounding the statutory regulation of our profession. Running costs have increased, and we need to use our reserves to invest for tomorrow rather than pay for today. For example, the investment in
a new London building (purchased at no additional cost than income obtained from the sale price of John Street) gives us all a good-quality resource for Society meetings and events for the next 10 years.
We are therefore asking you to vote for an increase of the full graduate membership subscription by £12 to £92 (other subscription levels apply to other types of membership and payment by direct debit attracts a discount of £5). This represents an increase of only £1 per month, and still compares very favourably with many other professional bodies. It will, though, enable the Society to meet the commitments embedded in the Strategic Plan both now and longer term. Full details of the proposed subscription rates will appear on your voting paper. We do not propose to alter fees for registration or practising certificates, neither of which has changed since 1992.
We would also like to remind you (whether you are employed or self-employed) that in the UK your membership subscription and Register fees are approved by HM Revenue and Customs as a tax-deductible expense: see

Proposed rule change

Under charity law, the Trustees are accountable for the financial health of the Society. In fulfilling this function, we need to make decisions about the appropriate level of subscriptions, but we then need to gain your approval for that. It is worth noting that each vote costs several thousand pounds to administer!
We are therefore proposing a change of statute that will allow the Trustees to make firmer long-term financial plans while safeguarding the membership from surprise increases in subscriptions.
In common with many other professional bodies, we are seeking your support for a change to the Society’s Statutes to enable the Board of Trustees to set the level of membership subscriptions each year – but within certain limitations. The limitations we propose are:
1.    that the Trustees must consult with the Representative Council about changes to membership subscriptions (this would ensure that your elected representatives would contribute to the decision);
2.    that annual increases should be limited to a maximum
of the current retail price inflation figure plus 2 per cent (the reason for this
is that our major area of expenditure is employment costs and salary inflation runs ahead of price inflation).

If at any point the Trustees think it necessary to increase subscriptions by more than that maximum amount, a further limitation would be that this would have to be put to a vote of the Representative Council.
We have given this proposal considerable thought and believe that it is in the best interests of the Society as a whole:
l    It addresses the issues of inflation that we all have to face.
l    It will save us the cost of voting on it each time.
l    It will help the Trustees and the Representative Council to make longer-term financial plans to support the development of the Society, and psychology as a whole.

Again, full details of our proposal will appear with the voting paper that will be sent to you separately in the next two weeks. This second vote – because it is about a change to our statutes – requires a majority of two thirds of members voting before we can commend it to the Privy Council.
We hope you will support our two proposals and vote in favour of them.

Ray Miller, President;
Ann Colley, Honorary General Secretary;
Ken Brown, Treasurer;
Graham Powell, Vice President; Pam Maras, President Elect

Spearman medal winners

THE joint winners of this year’s Spearman Medal are Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a research fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Psychology at UCL, and Dr Richard Crisp, a Reader of Social Psychology at the University of Birmingham.
The award is made for their outstanding contribution to psychology in the first 10 years since becoming eligible for graduate membership, with emphasis on their research.
Dr Blakemore was nominated by Professor Jon Driver and Professor Uta Frith of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. They said that ‘Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is undoubtedly one of the brightest stars among the new generation of psychologists, both nationally and internationally.’
After graduating from the University of Oxford in 1996 with a Congratulatory First in experimental psychology, Dr Blakemore undertook a PhD in neuroscience at the Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, UCL. During that time she received the Society’s Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology for her work on self-monitoring of action in healthy individuals and people with schizophrenia using psychophysical, PET and fMRI techniques.
Since 2004, Dr Blakemore has been working as a research fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, funded by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. She has made significant contributions to the understanding of social cognition during adolescence, notably in the study of schizophrenia. Her work has been influential with government, specifically the Select Committee for Education.
On receiving the medal, Dr Blakemore said, ‘It is a privilege and an honour to be awarded the Spearman Medal.’
Dr Crisp was nominated by Professor Miles Hewstone of the University of Oxford, who described him as ‘an exceptionally talented social psychologist who is hugely deserving of the award’.
After graduating from St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford in 1995 with a BA (Hons) and MA in experimental psychology, Dr Crisp embarked on a PhD entitled Crossed categorisation and intergroup bias: Context, process and social consequences at the University of Cardiff. On completing his PhD, Dr Crisp stayed at Cardiff for a year as a Research Associate before taking up a post at the University of Birmingham in 1999.
Dr Crisp’s main work is on understanding the processes that can lead to prejudice, discrimination and social conflict. He has an impressive array of papers published in leading journals, including the International Journal of Psychology and the British Journal of Social Psychology, as well as editing a number of forthcoming books.
On accepting the award, Dr Crisp said: ‘The Spearman Medal has always been a tremendous inspiration for me; it provides a spotlight on new, exciting and critically important psychological research. I am delighted and honoured, to receive this award, and thrilled that my research has been chosen to illustrate the breadth of excellent work being carried out by early career psychologists.’

Fellowship citation

MARGARET Harris, Professor of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, is a developmental psychologist whose work on children’s language development is recognised internationally. Her monograph Language Experience and Early Language Development, published in 1992, is a seminal work in the field, laying out a theory of how the contexts in which children hear language shapes the language they themselves produce in similar contexts. She has also co-authored two important developmental textbooks with the late George Butterworth; these are models of scholarship and clarity and as well as being widely adopted on undergraduate courses, they have been translated into many other languages.
More recently, Professor Harris has turned her mind to the study of written language development where she has conducted research on reading development in typically developing children and in children with hearing impairments. She co-edited one of the first collections of readings on cross-linguistic aspects of reading acquisition and recently became an adviser on cochlear implants, having investigated their impact on the development of language and communication in deaf children.
Margaret Harris’s work has had an important influence on a generation of psychology students and on professionals in the field of hearing impairment she successfully supervised 10 PhD students, some of whom are now academics. The award of a Fellowship of the Society recognises her outstanding theoretical contribution to the field of developmental psychology and the influence of her work on professional practice in related fields.

Doctoral award

THE winner of the 2005 Award for Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology is Dr Danielle Turner.
Dr Turner, who was awarded her PhD from the University of Cambridge in February 2005, receives the award from the Society’s Scientific Affairs Board in recognition of her outstanding published contributions to psychology based on doctoral research.
Dr Turner’s research focused on the psychopharmacology of cognitive enhancement. The research showed that by administering stimulant drugs, including modafinil and methylphenidate (Ritalin), it is possible to enhance cognitive performance in both clinical and healthy populations with minimal side-effects.
Her PhD work has already been awarded special recognition by the Royal Institution as part of the Science Graduate of the Year competition and it also helped Dr Turner to land the first-ever fellowship in cognitive enhancement at the Centre for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics in California.
Her study on the cognitive-enhancing effects of modafinil was the most highly cited research paper in 2003 in the journal Psychopharmacology and her work also attracted widespread public interest, including being featured in The Guardian, the Today programme, and BBC  World Service.
She was nominated by Professor Barbara Sahakian, who said: ‘Danielle is an innovative and original researcher with an exceptional scientific career ahead of her, as indicated by her many excellent first-authored publications. Indeed, she was selected as one of five young British scientists to participate in the Celebrating British Science event co-hosted by The Royal Society and the Department of Trade and Industry in March of this year.’
Dr Turner studied for a BSc in pharmacy at Aston University, gaining a first class honours degree in 1999, before taking up a year’s internship as a pre-registration pharmacist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.
She progressed to be a resident pharmacist before moving to the University of Cambridge. She was a postdoctoral research fellow at the university until recently; she is now extending her PhD work by exploring the ethical implications of developments in neuroscience and plans to train in neuroethics.
On receiving the award, Dr Turner said: ‘This is a wonderful honour. I would especially like to thank Barbara Sahakian and my colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry for their support, and also all the volunteers who helped so much in this research.’

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