Posted on September 5, 2023 by Amanda Cerreto

This summer has been anything but unproductive for members of the Department of Psychology in the College for Health, Community and Policy. James Bray, professor, Joe Houpt, associate professor and Monica Lawson, assistant professor, have earned prestigious awards and grants over the last few months.

James BrayAt the most recent American Psychological Association (APA) Convention, James Bray received the 2023 Distinguished Professional Contribution award from the Division of Psychologists in Independent Practice – Division 42. Bray has had a long involvement with the APA; in 2009, he was elected President, and has been elected as a Fellow in 14 APA divisions.

Bray’s main research focus is on substance abuse with special populations, including adolescents, pregnant and post-partum women, and prevention of opioid abuse. This is not his first award from APA; he has earned Family Psychologist of the Year and the Distinguished Service Award, among others.

“This award is an important recognition of my many contributions to professional practice of psychology,” Bray said. “As APA President one of my initiatives was on the future of psychology practice. This set the stage for psychologists contributing and practicing in integrated healthcare and advancing practice for treating people with mental and behavioral health problems.”


Joe HouptJoe Houpt and co-Primary Investigator Daniel Hughes, assistant professor at UT Health San Antonio, have been awarded $50,000 in support of their project, “Surviving is Not Enough: Enhancing Cognitive Function in Cancer Survivors through Movement and Introspection” from the Mays Cancer Center.

Houpt and his team will investigate the “whole person perspective” to working with cancer survivors. They will measure cognitive well-being and cancer-related cognitive impairment. Often referred to as “chemo brain,” this phenomenon is actually quite broader and not always associated with chemotherapy.

Houpt’s current research is very focused on measuring human cognitive performance, but it wasn’t until his current doctoral student arrived that it focused on cancer-related issues. Bryanna Scheuler has been the main driver of taking the research in this direction – and the team has plans for its future.

They are already looking at NIH funding to expand the project, working with a group in Laredo to recruit a wider pool of participants and to dive deeper into the relationship between inflammation and cognitive effects. 


Monica LawsonMonica Lawson was recently awarded the Karen Saywitz Early Career Award for Outstanding Contributions to Research in the Field of Child Maltreatment from Division 37 of APA during its annual convention. The Section on Child Maltreatment instituted an award to recognize researchers and practitioners who have made substantial contributions to the field within 10 years of receiving a terminal degree and who have demonstrated the potential to continue such contributions.

Lawson directs the GROWTH lab at UTSA, a research lab to advocate for children and families through research and community-engaged projects. Lawson and her fellow researchers work with local and national family-focused organizations to contribute to enhancing the well-being of youth in Bexar county.

“I am honored to receive this award, voted on by my peers, and to see my name next to long-standing experts in my field,” Lawson said.

— Amanda Cerreto