2020 Psychology Graduate Student Awards

Fri, 06/05/2020

2020 Graduate Student Awards for The Department of Psychology, Cornell University

Universities gain national recognition for research and teaching. The quality of an institution’s graduate program and the strength of its research and development capabilities are closely associated. Public recognition of the teaching activities and the research conducted by the institution’s most talented graduate students is an explicit way to reward excellence, build confidence, and to contribute to the creation of a supportive professional environment. We value our graduate students, who are among the best in the world. We honor them each year with the following awards

The Graduate Student Teaching Award: This award recognizes excellence in teaching and is intended to highlight these skills. The award honors graduate students serving as teachers or teaching assistants who go above and beyond the typical TA duties to keep a class running smoothly, help students, and assist the professor of record.


  • Rajan Anderson (S&P)
  • Steven Elmlinger (PCD)
  • Katerina Faust (BEN)


Mentorship Award:  This award is given to a graduate student that has shown great commitment to the mentorship of undergraduate or high school students. The recipient is someone that is making a difference in the lives of their students and are effective advisers and/or mentors, either through a formal advising role (e.g., research mentoring) or through other substantial interactions with individual undergraduates outside of the laboratory (e.g., though courses they TA, or other campus activities).

Awardee: Randy T. Lee (S&P)


Graduate Student Ambassador for Outreach and/or Science Communication Award:  Cornell was founded on the principle that higher education must be interconnected with the community. We can satisfy this goal by inviting the public to engage with our research programs, providing them with research experiences, exposing them to the science we conduct, and opening minds to create societal change in how psychological research is perceived and valued. This award recognizes a graduate student in the department who effectively communicates science to the public, is involved in outreach activities and/or programs, or otherwise engages with the community to improve public participation in science.

Awardee: Caitlyn Finton (BEN)


Outstanding Student Leader in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Advocacy Award: This award recognizes a graduate student who has made outstanding contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion in the graduate school community. Their service, programming endeavors, and activities demonstrate their commitment to and record of effectively engaging with individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, groups that are underrepresented in STEM, and/or works to promote inclusiveness, social justice, or demonstrates leadership in areas to advocate for those that are underserved.


  • Rachel King (S&P)
  • Marissa Rice (BEN)


Exceptional Departmental Service Award:

This award recognizes a graduate student who has volunteered their time and effort to the Psychology Department community. Graduate students are regularly called upon to set up and clean up after departmental events, organize activities (e.g., at Picnic by the Lake), organize recruitment weekend and host prospective students, etc. These tasks help keep our department functioning and require effort and time. This award serves to recognize those who give selflessly to the department.


  • Rajen Anderson (S&P)
  • Caitlyn Finton (BEN)
  • Hamid Turker (PCD)


Significant Paper: This award acknowledges an outstanding publication (or other written work) first authored by a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at Cornell University. Papers eligible for consideration for this award include peer-reviewed publications or book chapters. Popular press articles can also be considered. Such papers should ideally have the potential to make a strong impact on the field, or represent significant progress in the field.


  • Carmen Sanchez (S&P) - Sanchez C, Dunning D. (2018). Overconfidence among beginners: Is a little learning a dangerous thing? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114, 10-28.
  • Sam Carouso-Peck (BEN) - Carouso-Peck S, Goldstein MH (2019). Female social feedback reveals non-imitative mechanisms of vocal learning in zebra finches. Current Biology. 29, 631-636
  • Erin Isbilen (PCD) - Isbilen ES, McCauley SM, Kidd E, Christiansen MH (2020). Statistically-induced chunking recall: A memory-based approach to statistical learning. Cognitive Science. in press


Exceptional / Outstanding Graduate Student Award: This award recognizes PhD Graduate Students who demonstrate a high level of excellence and expertise in their field. This can include academic and research achievements, excellence beyond course work, and commitment to their area of study. 

Awardee: Lisa Hiura (BEN)


Keystone PhD Student: A Keystone is the center stone at the apex of a masonry arch that locks all other pieces in place to bear the weight after the scaffolding has been removed. A keystone individual is a person that draws others together, that inspires them to be their best, and promotes a sense of community and encouragement. They embrace the principles of mindfulness, expectancy, adaptability, respect for feedback, and excellence in all forms. They are models for their profession and natural leaders in their community and department.

Awardee: Marissa Rice (BEN)


Psychology Staff Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Service:   This award recognizes PhD Graduate Students who demonstrates a superior level of dedication to the department and to the staff. This individual can be counted on to go the extra mile to assist with department functions, special events and other requests when needed and always volunteers to assist the department staff.

Awardee: Steven Elmlinger (PCD)

Klarman Hall at sunset