2017 IPPA Awards Program Winners

Christopher Peterson Gold Medal – Robert J. Vallerand, Ph.D. 

The Christopher Peterson Gold Medal honors an IPPA member who exemplifies the best of positive psychology at the personal, professional, and academic levels. This award is named after Christopher Peterson, a beloved IPPA Fellow, 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. On a personal level, Peterson was known for his sincerity, humility, integrity, sense of humor and generosity.

The 2017 Christopher Peterson Gold Medal has been awarded to Robert J. Vallerand, Ph.D.


Robert J. Vallerand, Ph.D. Professor Robert J. Vallerand is Full Professor of Social Psychology and Director of the Laboratoire de Recherche sur le Comportement Social at the Université du Québec à Montréal where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Motivational Processes and Optimal Functioning. He is also a Fellow at the Australian Catholic University. Bob has published 7 books and well over 300 scientific articles and book chapters, mainly on motivational processes. Over 20 of his former students are university professors across Canada and Europe. He has served as President of the Quebec Society for Research in Psychology, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the International Positive Psychology Association(IPPA). Bob has been elected a Fellow of over a dozen learned societies including the American Psychological Association (APA, as well as Fellow of Divisions 8, 9, 15, 20, and 47), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the Society for Social Psychology and Personality Psychology (SPSP), and several others. He has also received the Donald O. Hebb Career Award from the Canadian Psychological Association for his contribution to the science of psychologyas well as the Sport Science Award from the International Olympic Committee. His latest book is The Psychology of Passion (2015) with Oxford University Press.

Raymond D. Fowler Service Award – David J. Pollay, MAPP

David J. Pollay


The Raymond D. Fowler Service Award honors an IPPA member who has gone above and beyond to give his or her time in the service of advancing the field of positive psychology. The award is named after a dear colleague and IPPA Fellow, Ray Fowler, whose generosity and vision catalyzed the creation of IPPA back in 2007.

The 2017 winner of the Raymond D. Fowler Service Award is David J. Pollay, MAPP.

David was mentored by Ray Fowler back when they were working together to launch IPPA. He then proceeded to serve as IPPA’s first Associate Executive Director. Ten years ago, our winner created IPPA’s Positive Psychology Leader Series, and has served as a volunteer host and director of this popular educational program ever since – orchestrating 43 webinars to date! He helped to launch the Alumni Association of the UPENN Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program, of which he is a graduate. He is the author of two positive psychology-based books; The Law of the Garbage Truck and Three Promises. His colleagues describe him as quick with a kind, encouraging word and possessing a generosity matched only by his passion for his family and his life’s work. We are grateful everyday for his many contributions to our organization and to our field.

David J. Pollay is committed to helping people live fulfilling lives every day at work and at home. He is the author and creator of the international blockbuster, The Law of the Garbage Truck®, now translated into twelve languages. His latest book, The 3 Promises: Find Joy Every Day. Do What You Love. Make a Difference, has been selling out across the country in stores and online.

David is a leader in the science of Positive Psychology. He has spoken to audiences around the world, and he was a featured TEDx speaker. David served as the co-founding associate executive director of the International Positive Psychology Association. He has been featured on ABC, NPR, Univision, and in BusinessWeek SmallBiz Magazine, the Baltimore Sun, Business Digest, Florida’sSun Sentinel, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and media worldwide. His new book, The 3 Promises was just recommended by Live Happy Magazine.

David holds a master’s degree of applied positive psychology (M.A.P.P.) from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University. He has held leadership positions at Yahoo!, MasterCard, Global Payments, and AIESEC. He is also a former college football running back, coming to Yale after breaking Shorewood High School’s all-time career rushing and scoring records and serving as Team Captain.

Outstanding Practitioner Award- Tayyab Rashid, Ph.D.


The Outstanding Practitioner Award honors an IPPA practitioner who has shown the most outstanding excellence and impact in advancing the practice of positive psychology in ethical and evidence-based ways.

The 2017 winner of the Outstanding Practitioner Award is Tayyab Rashid, Ph.D.

Dr. Rashid is a licensed clinical psychologist and researcher at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada. His expertise includes positive clinical psychology, strength-based resilience, posttraumatic growth, multicultural psychotherapy and positive education. During his post-doctoral training, Dr. Rashid developed Positive Psychotherapy (PPT) with Dr. Martin Seligman, at the University of Pennsylvania. Tayyab has trained clinicians and educators internationally and has also worked with survivors of 9/11 and the Asian tsunami. He is currently serving as the first President of IPPA’s Positive Clinical Psychology Division.

Dr. Rashid is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Health & Wellness Centre, and an associate faculty in the graduate psychological clinical science program at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), Canada.  He is also an adjunct faculty at the Executive Master’s Program in Positive Leadership at the IE University, Spain.

Dr. Rashid developed and validated Positive Psychotherapy (PPT) with Dr. Martin Seligman at the Positive Psychology Centre, University of Pennsylvania and published several PPT studies with clients experiencing depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, borderline personality symptoms and psychosis.  Also trained in Hath Yoga and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Dr. Rashid has trained mental health professionals and educators internationally in positive psychology interventions and strengths-based resilience skills.

Dr. Rashid is current co-chair of Campus Mental Health, a Canadian initiative, and also directs award-winning program Flourish (www.utsc.utoronto.ca/flourish/) at UTSC.  Dr. Rashid, consults with several non-profit organizations and has worked with 9/11 families, Asian tsunami survivors and refugee families. Author of numerous scholarly papers, and book chapters, Dr. Rashid’s work has been featured in Wall Street JournalPsychology Today, Macleans’ magazine, TEDx and at the Canadian Broadcasting.

For the past two years, Dr. Rashid has served as the Chair of IPPA’s Positive Clinical Psychology Division’s Steering Committee and served as the lead author on the division charter.


Early Career Researcher Award – Margaret (Peggy) Kern, Ph.D.


The Early Career Researcher Award honors an IPPA member who, within the first 10 years of completing their PhD, has contributed most significantly to scientific advancement of knowledge in positive psychology.

The 2017 winner of the Early Career Researcher Award is Dr. Margaret Kern.

Dr. Kern is the Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Positive Psychology in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on understanding and measuring well-being across the lifespan. She has developed several freely available wellbeing measures, including PERMA-Profiler. She has published over 50 journal articles and book chapters, taught hundreds of students in the UPENN MAPP program and advised more than 100 students on their capstones.

2017 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:


Meike Bartels, Ph.D.
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Prof. dr. Meike Bartels is Professor in Genetics and Wellbeing at the department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Over the past years, she made important progress in quantifying and identifying causes of individual differences happiness and subjective well-being by conducting a large scale meta-analysis that revealed that about 36% of the variance in SWB is accounted for by genetic influences. Furthermore, she published a ground-breaking paper providing the first evidence ever for molecular genetic influences on SWB, and, together with international colleagues, she found the first genomic locations for SWB. The importance of a focus on gene-environment interplay is supported by her recent finding of significant associations of SWB with DNA methylation. To share her ideas with the scientific community at large and to disseminate her findings, she published over 150 peer-reviewed publications, including papers in Nature Genetics, PNAS, Behavior Genetics, Psychological Methods, and JAACA). International acknowledgement of her expertise and scientific accomplishment is reflected in the Thompson Award and the Fuller-Scott Award awarded by the Behavior Genetics Association and her honorary and competitive University Research Chair position.

David Cooperrider, Ph.D.
Case Western University

David L. Cooperrider, Ph.D., is Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University and holds the Fairmount Santrol – David L. Cooperrider Professorship in Appreciative Inquiry. He is the faculty founder of the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit. David is also the Honorary Chairman of TheDavid L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at the Champlain College Robert P. Stiller School of Business.   

David is best known for his original theoretical articulation of “AI” or Appreciative Inquiry with his mentor Suresh Srivastva. He has published 25 books and authored over 100 articles and book chapters. David has also served as advisor to prominent leaders in business and society, including projects with five Presidents and/or Nobel Laureates such as William Jefferson Clinton, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kofi Annan, and Jimmy Carter. David advises a wide variety of corporations including Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Hunter Douglas, Cleveland Clinic, National Grid, as well as the U.S. Navy and United Nations. Jane Nelson, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Leadership recently wrote, “David Cooperrider is one of the outstanding scholar-practitioners of our generation.”

Robert Emmons, Ph.D.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis where he has taught since 1988. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana‑Champaign. He is the author of over 200 original publications in peer‑reviewed journals or chapters and has written or edited eight books, including The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns (Guilford Press), The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford University Press), Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton-Mifflin), Gratitude Works! A Twenty-One Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity (Jossey-Bass) and The Little Book of Gratitude (Hachette). A leader in the positive psychology movement, Dr. Emmons is founding editor and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is Past-President of the American Psychological Association’s Division 36, The Psychology of Religion. His research focuses on the psychology of gratitude and thankfulness in both adults and youth, and also include the psychology and spirituality of joy and grace as they relate to human flourishing. Professor Emmons speaks regularly at medical and psychological conferences, churches and public events. Dr. Emmons has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the John M. Templeton Foundation, and the National Institute for Disability Research and Rehabilitation. His research has been featured in dozens of popular media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, Time, NPR, PBS, Consumer Reports, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Today Show.

Judith Moskowitz, Ph.D.
Northwestern University

Judith Moskowitz, PhD, MPH, is a Professor of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Director of Research at the Northwestern Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Trained as a social psychologist, she studies the impact of positive emotion on adjustment to health-related and other life stress. She is the Principal Investigator of several NIH-funded trials of a positive emotion skills intervention that aims to improve psychological and physical well-being. Her research team is currently conducting trials of the intervention in people coping with various types of health related stress including dementia caregivers, those living with elevated depressive symptoms or type 2 diabetes, and people newly diagnosed with HIV.

Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D.
VIA Institute on Character

Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D. is Education Director of the VIA Institute on Character, a non-profit organization in Cincinnati, Ohio, that is viewed as the global leader in advancing the science and practice of character strengths. Ryan is author of the new book, Character Strengths Interventions: A Field-Guide for Practitioners and other books including: Mindfulness and Character Strengths and Positive Psychology at the Movies. He’s an award-winning psychologist, certified coach, international workshop leader, and adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Xavier University.At VIA, Ryan develops (or co-develops) VIA’s courses, reports, and programs, and helps professionals around the globe, across disciplines, apply character strengths, personally and professionally. He’s published over 60 peer-reviewed or invited articles on character strengths and related topics. Ryan is especially interested in the intersection of character strengths with resilience, intellectual/developmental disability, mindfulness, savoring, and health.Ryan is creator of the evidence-based, Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (MBSP), the first, structured program for building character strengths. Over the last 15 years, Ryan has led hundreds of mindfulness groups for various audiences and has offered hundreds of presentations on character strengths.On a personal level, Ryan’s signature strengths are hope, love, curiosity, fairness, honesty, and appreciation of beauty.

Tania Singer, Ph.D.
Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

Tania Singer is the Director of the Department of Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig since 2010. After receiving her PhD in Psychology in 2000 at the MPI for Human Development in Berlin, she became a PostDoctoral Fellow at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience and the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience in London and later Full Professor of Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics at the University of Zurich. Her research focuses on the behavioral, neural, and hormonal basis of human social cognition and emotions and the motivational underpinnings of economic decision making. In the ReSource Project, a longitudinal study, she investigates the psychological and neuroscientific effects of mental training techniques. Tania has published her findings in many high-impact peer-reviewed journals and books.

2017 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  February 28, 2015 to February 15, 2017.  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:

Alejandro Adler, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Teaching Well-Being Increases Academic Performance: Evidence From Bhutan, Mexico, And Peru

Honorable Mention:  

Katherine Nelson-Coffey, Ph.D.

University of California, Riverside, USA

“The Effects Of Prosocial And Self-Focused Behaviors On Psychological Flourishing”

Elise Rice, Ph.D.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

“Positive Spontaneous Thoughts Reflect Incentive Salience”

Ann Roepke, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania, USA

“Surviving And Thriving: Evaluations Of Three Interventions Fostering Well Being And Growth In The Face Of Adversity”

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, nine students were awarded a scholarship to attend and present their research at the Fifth World Congress.  

Congratulations to the 2017  scholarship winners:

Sasha Blickman Sofia El Mouderrib Emilie Eve Gravel
Sasha Blickhan studied philosophy at Oxford University and King’s College London, and positive psychology at ARU Cambridge, UK, where she discovered her passion for positive social psychology. She lives in Munich, Germany, and teaches the science of well-being as a trainer for Applied Positive Psychology at Inntal Institut.


Sofia El Mouderrib is a PhD student in neuropsychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal in Quebec, Canada. Under the supervision of Pr. Dave Saint-Amour and Pr. Hugo Théoret, her research focuses on investigating the neurophysiological bases of executive functions by using non-invasive brain stimulation.


Emilie Gravel is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Ottawa where she is co-supervised by Dr Elke Reissing at the Human Sexuality Laboratory and by Dr Luc Pelletier at the Human Motivation Laboratory. Her research focuses on identifying the motivational factors that shape experiences of sexual well-being.


Judith Mangelsdorf Holli-Anne_Passmore_headshot Stéphanie Radziszewski
Judith Mangelsdorf (MAPP, MA, MEd) is a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. Her research focuses on the linkage between post-traumatic and post-ecstatic growth.


Holli-Anne Passmore is a positive psychology researcher focusing on full aliveness, meaning in life, and how connecting with nature can enhance well-being. She is completing her Ph.D. (2018) at the University of British Columbia.


Stéphanie Radziszewski is a doctoral student in community psychology at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her main research interests concern citizen participation, and the well-being of marginalized groups, such as people living in social housing.


LisaWagner Jennifer Winkler
Lisa Wagner is a research and teaching assistant the University of Zurich at the department of Personality and Assessment (Prof. Dr. W. Ruch) who focuses on children’s and adolescents’ character strengths and their significance in contexts that are highly relevant to their development, such as schools and peer groups in her PhD research. She also enjoys teaching positive psychology in seminars and the post-graduate continuing education course (Certificate of Advanced Studies in Positive Psychology) at the University of Zurich, which she also coordinates.
Jennifer Winkler has a background in public health with a focus on conflict management as a strategy for health promotion. Her doctoral degree work focused on using the skills and tools of public health to the research and management of conflict. In that work, she explored school discipline and student well being and developed an approach she has called “kind discipline.” Kind discipline defines approaches to address challenging student behavior that will ultimately support students and communities in thriving. In addressing these issues, she brings a focus on proactive approaches to building positive communities in ways that can reduce or mitigate potential conflict. Jennifer Winkler has a background in public health with a focus on conflict management as a strategy for health promotion. Her doctoral degree work focused on using the skills and tools of public health to the research and management of conflict. In that work, she explored school discipline and student well being and developed an approach she has called “kind discipline.” Kind discipline defines approaches to address challenging student behavior that will ultimately support students and communities in thriving. In addressing these issues, she brings a focus on proactive approaches to building positive communities in ways that can reduce or mitigate potential conflict.