International Positive Psychology Association Announces 2017 Award Winners

The International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) welcomed six new Fellows, and honored eight additional members at its Awards Program on July 14, 2017 at the Fifth World Congress on Positive Psychology. Awards included the Christopher Peterson Gold Medal and Top Dissertation Awards, as well as three new awards; Outstanding Practitioner, Early Career Researcher and the Raymond D. Fowler Service Award.

“The field of positive psychology has grown in size and scope in recent years. Our awards program recognizes those members who have advanced the field in ways that demonstrate excellence, ethics and impact,” said newly elected IPPA President, Lea Waters, Ph.D., who served as the 2017 Awards Committee Chair.

IPPA Honors Six Members with Fellow Award

The title of Fellow is conferred on IPPA members who have contributed most significantly to the development of the scientific advancement of knowledge in their specific field within the domain of positive psychology and the promotion of the discipline at the national or global level.

This 2017 Fellows have demonstrated a commitment to the field through participation in IPPA programming and service in various leadership roles within the organization. Their work has contributed to our understanding of genetic variances in well-being, appreciative inquiry, gratitude, the impact of positive emotions on health, the science and practice of character strengths and the neural and hormonal basis of social cognition.

Congratulations to the 2017 Fellow Award winners:

  • Meike Bartels, Professor in Genetics and Wellbeing at the department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
  • David Cooperrider, Distinguished Professor at Case Western University
  • Robert Emmons, Professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis.
  • Judith Moskowitz, 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.
  • Ryan M. Niemiec, Director of Education of the VIA Institute on Character
  • Tania Singer, Director of the Department of Social Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences

To learn more about the 2017 and previously inducted IPPA Fellows, visit here.

Christopher Peterson Gold Medal Awarded to Robert Vallerand, Ph.D.

The Christopher Peterson Gold Medal is the highest honor that IPPA bestows. It is conferred on the member who exemplifies the best of positive psychology at the personal, professional, and academic levels. Previous winners include Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D. (2013) and Nansook Park, Ph.D. (2015).

The 2017 Christopher Peterson Gold Medal goes to Robert J. Vallerand, Ph.D. Professor 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. He served on IPPA’s Board of Directors since 2007, and as IPPA President, President-elect and Past-President from 2009 – 2015. In this role, he also chaired the 2nd World Congress on Positive Psychology in Philadelphia in 2011. He 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. Read more winner here.

First Outstanding Practitioner Award Recognizes 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, post-traumatic growth, multicultural psychotherapy and positive education. Read more here.

First Early Career Researcher Award Recognizes Margaret 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. Read more here.

First Raymond D. Fowler Service Award Recognizes David J. Pollay, MAPP

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 Pollay is the founder and volunteer host and director of IPPA’s popular Positive Psychology Leader Series, which features live virtual interviews, presentations and Q&A with leading researchers and practitioners. Read more here.

Top Dissertation Award Honors Four Students

IPPA’s Top Dissertation Award is conferred on the author of a Ph.D. dissertation on a topic in the domain of positive psychology.

This year’s winners are:

  • Outstanding Dissertation Award First Place: Alejandro Adler, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, USA, “Teaching Well-Being Increases Academic Performance: Evidence From Bhutan, Mexico, And Peru
  • Three Honorable Mention Awards recognized:
    • Kathrine Nelson-Coffey, Ph.D., The Effects Of Prosocial And Self-Focused Behaviors On Psychological Flourishing,
    • Elise Rice, Ph.D., Positive Spontaneous Thoughts Reflect Incentive Salience
    • Ann Roepke, Ph.D., Surviving And Thriving: Evaluations Of Three Interventions Fostering Well Being And Growth In The Face Of Adversity

About IPPA’s Awards Program

Since launching its awards program in 2011, IPPA has honored 84 individuals who have contributed most significantly to the field of positive psychology, who best exemplify the essence of positive psychology in their professional and personal lives, or who show the greatest promise in their future work. Awards are given every two years at the World Congress on Positive Psychology.

About the World Congress on Positive Psychology

Every other year since 2009, IPPA hosts a global gathering of leading researchers, practitioners and students to share the latest research and best practices in positive psychology. The Fifth World Congress was held in Montréal, Quebec July 13 – 16, 2017. The Sixth World Congress is slated for July 18 – 21, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

About IPPA

The International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) was founded in 2007 to bring together the global community of scholars, practitioners, and students who advance the science of positive psychology and its research-based applications, facilitate collaboration around the world and across academic disciplines and to share the findings of positive psychology with a broad audience.

Positive psychology is an exciting subfield of psychology that focuses on the study of the positive emotions, strengths, and virtues that make individuals and groups thrive. The scientific findings of positive psychology have been applied in clinical, business, education, coaching, and other settings.

For more information about IPPA’s year-round programming, including the Positive Psychology Leader Series and professional and student divisions, visit