2015 IPPA Awards Program Winners

Christopher Peterson Gold Medal

The Christopher Peterson Gold Medal is conferred to the member who exemplifies the best of positive psychology at the personal, professional, and academic levels.

This award is named after Christopher Peterson, a beloved professor, scholar and pioneer in the field of positive psychology. Peterson’s many scholarly contributions include his work on the character strengths and values classification and assessment with Martin Seligman, and more than 350 scholarly publications and books including A Primer in Positive Psychology, and Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology. On a personal level, Peterson was known for his sincerity, humility, integrity, sense of humor and generosity. One of his favorite sayings was, “Other people matter,” and that is precisely how he made people feel.

The 2015 Christopher Peterson Gold Medal has been awarded to Nansook Park, Ph.D.

Pictured: Nansook Park, Ph.D., Carmelo Vazquez, Ph.D., James Pawelski, Ph.D.

 Nansook Park, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Psychology Department and the Director of the Michigan Positive Psychology Center at the University of Michigan. Her main research reflects a psychology of human strengths. Her research topics include character strengths, moral excellence, positive relationships, life meaning, positive experiences, and strength-based practice, and their role in resiliency, well-being, health, family, work, and education. She has taken the lead in developing ways to assess character strengths among children and youth and in conducting cross-cultural investigations. She played a major role for US Army-Soldier resilience and psychological fitness project and Positive Education project in Australia. She is a fellow at the Association of Psychological Science and International Positive Psychology Association, and a former Templeton Research Fellow at the Positive Psychology Center of the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) steering committee, a Consulting Editor for the Journal of Positive Psychology, and a former Associate Editor for the Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being.


2015 IPPA Fellows 

The title of Fellow is conferred on IPPA members who have contributed most significantly to the scientific advancement of knowledge in their specific field of research or practice within the domain of positive psychology, and to the development of the International Positive Psychology Association.

Congratulations to this year’s IPPA Fellows:


Antonella Delle Fave, MD
University of Milan, Italy

Antonella Delle Fave, MD specialized in Clinical Psychology, is professor of Psychology at the Medical School, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy. Her research work is centered on the study of psychological indicators of well-being, daily experience fluctuation, and the process of psychological selection across cultures and among individuals experiencing conditions of diversity and adversity. She developed intervention projects in the domains of health and education. Together with international partners she launched and implemented the project “Eudaimonic and Hedonic Happiness Investigation”, aimed at identifying well-being components across cultures. She is currently conducting research and clinical studies aimed at integrating the bio-psycho-social perspective of Western medicine and the Indian traditional view of health and disease.She contributed to the development of positive psychology, as founding member and President of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA), the European Network of Positive Psychology (ENPP) and the Società Italiana di Psicologia Positiva (SIPP). Author of over 150 scientific articles and books, since 2010 she is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Jane Dutton, Ph.D.
University of Michigan, USA

Jane E. Dutton is the Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration and Psychology at the, University of Michigan and Professor of Psychology. She does research, teaches and works with organizations on issues related to how to bring out the best in employees and in organizations. She studies and writes about how people build high quality connections, how people craft their jobs, compassion at work (http://www.thecompassionlab.com/)  and how they construct self-identities that are strengthening. She is a co-founder of the Center for Positive Organizations (http://www.centerforpos.org/) at the Ross School of Business.

She has won research and teaching awards and has written more than 100 research papers and monographs(http://webuser.bus.umich.edu/janedut/). She leads workshops, builds intervention tools for bringing out the best in people (http://positiveorgs.bus.umich.edu/tools/), teaches in executive programs on positive leadership, and loves doing research, teaching and change around the general topic of positive leadership.

Scott Huebner, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina, USA

Scott Huebner, a graduate of Indiana  University, is a professor and former Director of the School Psychology Program in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina. He is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association (Div. 16) and International Society for Quality of Life Studies and an elected member of the Society for the Study of School Psychology. His scholarly interests focus on the conceptualization, measurement, and application of positive psychology constructs in children. He is the author of more than 200 publications on child well-being and several youth well-being measures. He is also a co-editor of the Handbook of Positive Psychology in Schools.

Willibald F. Ruch, Ph.D.
Zurich University, Switzerland

Willibald RUCH, born in Carinthia, Austria, received his PhD from the University of Graz, Austria, and later worked at a number of universities in Germany and the UK. Between 1992 and 1998 he held a Heisenberg Fellowship, awarded by theGerman Research Foundation-DFG, and since 2002 he has been chair and full professor of personality and assessment in the Department of Psychology at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. He has served on the boards of several international societies (including the International Positive Psychology Association-IPPA, the European Association of Psychological Assessment-EAPA, and International Society of Humor Studies-ISHS) and was president of the ISHS twice. He was a member of the editorial board of a dozen scientific journals, co-editor of two book series, and co-authored about 250 journal articles and 5 books. He actively contributed to the development of positive psychology, as participant of the Akumal think tanks, leader of a pod, contributor to the “character strengths and virtues”-handbook, presenter at the Gallup Washington positive psychology summits, invited keynote speaker at international conferences, and founder and first president of the Swiss Positive Psychology Association (SWIPPA). His more recent interest in positive psychology is in character strengths and virtues and their role in the life of children and youth as well as adults. He and his team also work on training of character strengths, assessment of positive emotions, humor, laughter and cheerfulness. 

Carol Ryff, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin, USA

Carol D. Ryff, Ph.D., is Director of the Institute on Aging and Marie Jahoda Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research centers on the study of psychological well-being, an area in which she has developed multidimensional assessment scales that have been translated to more than 30 different languages and are used in research across diverse scientific fields. Investigations by Dr. Ryff and colleagues have addressed how psychological well-being varies by age, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnic/minority status, and cultural context as well as by the experiences, challenges, and transitions individuals confront as they age. Whether psychological well-being is protective of good physical health is also a major interest, with ongoing longitudinal investigations linking positive psychosocial factors to a wide array of biomarkers (neuroendocrine, immune, cardiovascular) as well as to neural circuitry. A guiding theme in much of this inquiry is human resilience – i.e., how some individuals are able to maintain, or regain, their well-being in the face of significant life challenge and what neurobiology underlies this capacity.Dr. Ryff has generated over 180 publications in the areas described above, and she currently directs the MIDUS (Midlife in the U.S.) longitudinal study, which is based on a large national sample of Americans, including twins. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, MIDUS II has become a major forum for studying health as an integrated biopsychosocial process. She is also Principal Investigator of MIDJA (Midlife in Japan), a parallel to the MIDUS investigation, for which she received an NIH Merit Award.

Lea Waters, Ph.D.,
University of Melbourne, Australia

Professor Lea Waters (PhD) holds the Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology and is the Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne. Lea a registered psychologist (AHPRA), a full member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and a full member of the APS College of Organisational Psychologist. Lea holds an Affiliate position with Cambridge University’s Wellbeing Institute in the United Kingdom and the Centre for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan in the United Kingdom. She is the Chair of the Scientific Committee for the 4th World Congress of Positive Psychology.

Lea is internationally recognised for her research and has published and presented in the United Kingdom, Canada, U.S.A., Asia and Europe. She has published over 70 scientific articles and book chapter as well as speaking at over 100 academic conferences. She is a regular contributor to the Journal of Positive Psychology.

Lea was named the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Educator of the Year in 2004, received an Australian University Individual Teaching Excellence Award from the Prime Minister in 2007 as well as team Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the Australian Government’s Office for Teaching and Learning in 2013.

2015 Dissertation Award

This award is conferred on the author of a Ph.D. dissertation on a topic in the domain of positive psychology that has been officially passed between  March 1, 2013 and February 28, 2015.  Many of the applications received this year were characterized by impressively high levels of  originality and methodological complexity: a very promising perspective for the future of positive psychology.


First Place:

Covadonga Chaves
Complutense University of Madrid, Spain

“Well-Being in Children with a Life-Threatening Illness”

Honorable Mention:  

Linda Bolier Trimbos-instituut

Linda Bolier
University of Twente and Trimbos Institute, Netherlands

“Online Positive Psychology – Using the Internet to Improve Flourishing on a Large Scale”


Picture_MF-1Marie Forgeard
University of Pennsylvania, United States

“When, How, and for Whom Does Creativity Predict Well-Being?”

CorinaCorinna Peifer
University of Trier, Germany

“The Relation of Flow-Experience and Stress from a Psychophysiological Perspective”

Student scholarships

IPPA is committed to nurturing the next generation of positive psychology scholars and practitioners.

IPPA’s Student Scholarship Program helps students who would otherwise not be able to attend the Fourth World Congress on Positive Psychology take advantage of this unique career and learning opportunity. These scholarships help offset registration and/or travel costs for students who have been accepted to present a poster or presentation. 

Thanks to the generosity of donors, twenty-four students were awarded a scholarship to attend and present their research at the Fourth World Congress.  Congratulations to the 2015  scholarship winners:

Kathryn Adair, UNC Chapel Hill
Nadav Antebi-Gruszka, Columbia University
Naomi Arbit, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University
Lydia Brown, University of Melbourne
Elif Cankaya, Texas A&M University
John Coffey, Claremont Graduate University
Richard Douglass, University of Florida
Vivien Forner, University of Wollongong
Bijay Gyawali, International University of Health and Welfare
Gregory Hennessy, Claremont Graduate University
Lysa-Marie Hontoy, Universite de Montreal
Heejin Kim, Claremont Graduate University
Shuang Liu, Peking University
Brenda O’Connell, University of Limerick, Ireland
Holli-Anne Passmore, University of British Columbia
Corinna Peifer, University of Trier
Meghana Rao, Claremont Graduate University
Natalie Shefer, Tel Aviv University
Joshua Steinfeldt, University of Pennsylvania
Francesca Vescovell, University of Bologna
Lisa Wagner, University of Zurich
Dana Wanze, Claremont Graduate University
Michael Warren, Claremont Graduate University
Laura Weiss, University of Twente
Ying Yang, Institute of Developmental Psychology, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University