2017 - E. Tory Higgins
Dr. E. Tory Higgins is the winner of the 2017 SPSP Ambady Award for Mentoring Excellence. This award recognizes Tory’s career-long commitment to fostering the professional and intellectual development of students and early career researchers. Tory has advised more than 60 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, including 35 former graduate students who are affiliated with academic institutions around the world and are prominent psychologists in their own right. However, it is not simply the volume of his mentees that makes Tory such a remarkable mentor; it is the manner in which he values each of his students. As one former student put it, Tory is “a model of how to treat others.” Tory’s mentoring style is marked by enthusiasm, support, and seemingly endless positivity. In summing up Tory’s mentoring style, another former student notes that “Tory will always put you and your best interests before all other considerations, and he will always be excited about your ideas and will infect you with enthusiasm.” Perhaps most illustrative of Tory’s mentoring success is the intergenerational network of Higgins lab family members – a productive network of scholars that is continually expanding Tory’s legacy. A former student describes the connection between lab members as so complete as to blur the lines between generations of scholars. All, it seems, share an appreciation of how lucky they are to have been mentored by Tory.
2016 - Tom Gilovich
The committee unanimously recommends that this award go to Tom Gilovich, of Cornell University. While having an impactful career as a productive and creative researcher, Dr. Gilovich has done a remarkable job training the next generation of researchers in social psychology. The list of people for whom Dr. Gilovich served as graduate advisor and mentor reads like a Who’s Who of both established and up-and-coming scholars in social psychology. It includes Victoria Medvec, Kenneth Savitsky, Leaf Van Boven, Justin Kruger, Nick Epley, Lisa Libby, Richard Eibach, Joyce Ehrlinger, Clayton Critcher, and many others. Dr. Gilovich’s former students emphasize the principles and values he instills in his advisees. His former students mention, first of all, that Tom cultivates an excitement and joy about conducting science, turning his students into “data junkies” who eagerly await the results of the next experiment. He also emphasizes the importance of “getting it right” rather than “getting it out,” setting high standards with regard to both the integrity of the research and its impact. Dr. Gilovich brings out the best in his students, from research design to writing up results. He treats his students as independent researchers to be nurtured, and encourages his students to pursue their own interests, to be first authors of articles, even declining authorship on some of the research conducted by his advisees. His former students consistently mention that while encouraging productivity, joy in research, and doing research with integrity and impact, he managed to guide from the back seat, so that they were often unaware of his influence on their thinking and research until after they left graduate school and tried to mentor their own students. The Ambady Award for mentoring is intended to recognize “exceptional and selfless efforts to shape our field through mentoring activities that promote research integrity, impact, and productivity.” There is no better way to describe Dr. Gilovich’s role as an advisor.
2015 - Mark P. Zanna, PhD
In honor of Mark Zanna’s life-long commitment to improving the lives and careers of graduate students and early-career faculty, the committee unanimously selected him to be the recipient of the 2015 Nalini Ambady Award for Mentoring Excellence. As can be seen in their passionately enthusiastic letters and anecdotes, Mark has been a role model and inspiration for generations of students, who themselves have gone on to become exceptional researchers and mentors. Furthermore, the breadth of his mentorship extends beyond his students to young scholars both inside and outside of his institution and thus cascades throughout the field. Finally, Mark has been the driving force behind a number of formal means of fostering the professional and intellectual development of burgeoning researchers. For example, he co-edited the Compleat Academic and wrote its chapter on graduate mentorship, developed the Ontario Symposium and concomitant book series, was a generous editor of the Advances in Experimental Social Psychology series, and is one of the founders of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, which allows students full participation in the profession of Social Psychology in a way that was not possible before. Mark’s dedication to the vocation of training future scholars will be felt for generations to come.
2014 - Phoebe C. Ellsworth, PhD
The recipient of the first annual Nalini Ambady Award for Mentoring Excellence is Phoebe Ellsworth. Dr. Ellsworth received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1970 and is currently the Frank Murphy Distinguished University Professor of Law and Psychology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Ellsworth was selected from an exceptionally impressive body of candidates for her profound impact on the development of a large number of successful and productive scholars. It was clear from reading her nomination materials and supporting letters from former students that Phoebe is a career- and life-changing mentor. She is a generous and tireless advocate for students in both their professional and personal lives. This generosity is well-illustrated by her mentorship of students outside of her lab, relationships from which she does not personally benefit. Indeed, her broad, altruistic support for students was a consistent theme throughout her nomination materials and has inspired generations of scholars, empowering them to pursue diverse research programs for which she receives no formal recognition or citation. Her mentorship is selfless, sincere, and natural. Dr. Ellsworth’s mentorship efforts have had not only had a tremendous impact on the lives of the individuals with whom she has worked but also on the field of social and personality psychology more broadly. Several researchers who have themselves left an indelible mark on the field’s present understanding of the mind and behavior testified that they would not have continued with careers in academia had it not been for Dr. Ellsworth’s mentorship. Notably, none of these were students formally or directly advised by Dr. Ellsworth. That Dr. Ellsworth is a pioneering scholar in multiple fields within the discipline—emotions, cross-cultural research, psychology and law—has only added to the breadth and depth of her mentoring impact on social and personality psychology. That her research and the research of her students has both advanced theoretical knowledge and addressed pressing social issues such as death penalty attitudes and jury decision-making has also meant that her mentoring efforts have had influence beyond the halls of academia. For all of these reasons, Dr. Phoebe Ellsworth stands as a shining example of one who has engaged in exceptional and selfless efforts to shape our field and society through a commitment to mentoring that embodies the legacy of Dr. Nalini Ambady.