Assistant Professor of Psychology Deemed as “Rising Star” by APS

By Laila Rashid, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
April 23, 2013

Dr. Kate Sweeny, assistant professor of the psychology department, was recently designated as a “Rising Star” by the Association for Psychological Science. Her line of research examines threat management—how people give news of, prepare for, and respond to negative life events—and focuses on uncertainty navigation and health communication. According to the APS, “Rising Stars” are considered to be “exemplars of today’s young psychological scientists.”

In addition to this honor, Dr. Sweeny has received a National Institute of Mental Health Predoctoral National Research Service Award, a UC Regents’ Fellowship, Faculty Mentor of the Year Award from the UCR University Honors Program, and Faculty of the Year from the UCR psychology department. Just a few months ago, she received an NSF grant to be used over three years and includes almost $400,000. She has contributed to nearly thirty publications, her most prized being a meta-analysis titled “Sobering up: A quantitative review of temporal declines in expectations” in Psychological Bulletin. Dr. Sweeny is collaborating both with the Department of Surgery at the Riverside County Regional Medical Center and with a local allergy and asthma clinic. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Furman University in South Carolina in 2002 and went on to the University of Florida, where she received a Masters of Science in 2003 and a Ph.D. in social psychology in 2008.

Dr. Sweeny is both “incredibly honored and humbled” to receive such an award and feels fortunate to be able to spend her life “doing research on interesting topics, teaching students who are just developing their interest in the field, and mentoring graduate students who are on their way to becoming the next rising stars.” She credits her knowledge of becoming “a good researcher, colleague, mentor, and professor” to her graduate advisor James Sheppard. She aspires to “get a better handle on why the experience of waiting for uncertain news is so difficult, figure out the best ways to ‘wait well’, and contribute to our understanding of successful approaches to (and pitfalls in) the psychological aspects of health care.”

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