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Professor Named ‘Rising Star’ in Quantitative Psychology

January 8, 2016

Sarah DepaoliUC Merced Psychology Professor Sarah Depaoli has been recognized as a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science (APS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of scientific psychology and its representation at the national and international level.

According to the APS, the annual Rising Star designation recognizes “outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research career whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.”

Depaoli was nominated for the honor by UC Merced Professor Will Shadish, a founding faculty member who is head of the university’s Quantitative Psychology graduate program. Since she was hired in 2011, she has published 19 research papers — including 10 as lead author — with many appearing in top quantitative psychological journals.

The broader impact of Dr. Depaoli’s work has been in improving methodology within psychology and disseminating this work to applied researchers,” Shadish wrote in his nomination. “This results in substantive findings that are more accurate and applicable to applied fields.”

Quantitative psychology is a field in which mathematical modeling and statistical analysis are developed and then applied to psychological research. Depaoli’s research incorporates Bayesian statistical methods, which are insightful but require significant computational technology that has only recently become more widely available.

Bayesian statistics takes current sample data and incorporates previous knowledge about the phenomena being studied during the statistical analysis process. In psychology, this can lead to more accurate and informative insights into relationships among health outcomes, personality characteristics, behaviors, developmental processes and many other topics.

Shadish said Depaoli is on the “cutting edge” of this field of study.

I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the APS Rising Star award,” Depaoli said. “This recognition of my work on Bayesian statistics means a great deal to me, and it is a privilege to represent UC Merced with this award. The support of the university and my mentors at UC Merced has been incredibly valuable to the success of my program of research.”