Duke Psychology & Neuroscience

October 12, 2020

Cook Center Faculty Affiliate, Sarah Gaither, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience has received the prestigious 2020 Sage Young Scholar Award.

The Sage Young Scholar Awards recognize outstanding achievements by young scholars who are early in their research careers. The awards are intended to provide these scholars with funds that can be flexibly applied in extending their work in new and exciting directions. Previous recipients of this award have gone on to positions of intellectual leadership in the field. Because these awards are highly sought after, receiving a Sage Young Scholar Award is recognition of both accomplishment and potential.

Gaither was nominated by others for this award and composed a supplemental statement once she learned of her nomination:

“Diversity science should be seen as science.” I wrote this in a Psychology Today blog this year which captures the motivation for the work that I do. Growing up in an interracial family, I became hyper aware of the power our visible and invisible identities play in our lives. Now as an assistant professor, my team of 27 students include racial/ethnic and sexual minorities, first-generation college students, limited-income students, international students, and student-athletes. They all continuously push me to consider the generalizability of psychological science by questioning which demographics are given a voice. Guest editing my own special issue on non-traditional identities made it apparent to me how many scholars do not have an outlet nor support from the field to make psychology an inclusive space. I hope to solidify my reputation not only as a diversity scholar, but also as someone who trains future diverse scientists. Publishing diversity work can be difficult in mainstream journals due to underrepresented populations often seeming too niche which negatively impacts junior scholars of color such as myself. This recognition would shift that narrative and give me and others the needed confidence to continue this important work to improve our science.

2020 is the first year since the award’s inception in 2008 that Black-identified recipients have won. In addition to Gaither, Sylvia Perry (Northwestern), Neil Lewis (Cornell), and Steven Roberts (Stanford) are all 2020 award recipients and are all bi-racial/Black- identified individuals. The complete list of all eight winners is forthcoming from SPSP.

The SAGE Young Scholars Award includes a $5k honorarium, a one-year SPSP membership, and a recognition honor at the 2021 annual convention.