Magazine Feature / People

Psychology award recognizes DU prof’s research on adolescent depression

Benjamin Hankin, associate professor of psychology at DU, has received the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Distinguished Scientific Award for early career contribution to psychology.

The association gives out one award in each field of psychology every two years. Hankin received the award for contributing to field of psychopathology.

“I’m extremely excited and also surprised and humbled by the whole thing,” Hankin says.

Hankin has been studying depression for almost 15 years and has made significant findings. From the research he and his colleagues have completed, they’ve found that depression increases during adolescence six fold in the high school years and this is when twice as many girls as boys become depressed.

“Depression is a significant public health concern,” Hankin says. “It affects all areas of your life: school, family, friends, work and happiness.”

Rob Roberts, chair of the DU’s psychology department, says Hankin has been a wonderful addition to the program since he arrived in 2008. The department has a strong focus on developmental psychopathology.

“Depression is a pervasive and serious mental health issue, so Ben’s work could have significant impact on many,” Roberts says. “He’s also a great collaborator. In the short time he’s been here, he’s started collaborative research projects with many of our faculty.”

Hankin has also collaborated with John Abela, professor of psychology at Rutgers University. The two are trying to find out why more girls, become depressed in adolescence.

“Ben is a superb researcher and theoretician who has emerged in recent years as a real leader in the field of developmental psychopathology,” Abela says. “His work is conceptually rich and methodologically sophisticated, and he has boundless energy.”

Hankin will accept the award at the American Psychological Assoication convention in San Diego Aug. 13.


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