Research PioneerGAMBIER, Ohio (October 1, 2007) Linda Smolak of Kenyon's psychology faculty will receive one of the nation's top awards for research in the field of eating disorders. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has named Smolak winner of the 2007 Price Family Award for Research Excellence.
Smolak, a pioneer in studying how developmental factors, sociocultural influences, and gender are linked to eating disorders, will receive the award on October 6 at NEDA's annual conference in San Diego, California. The prize honors her for a body of scholarly work spanning two decades and including scores of articles, five major books, and numerous collaborative projects. Her research explores not only the causes of eating disorders but also prevention, treatment, and education.
Created five years ago, the Price Award goes to the world's leading researchers in eating disorders. In a field originally dominated by clinical work and case studies, Smolak has stood out for calling attention to the connections between adolescent developmental stages and eating disorders, and to how eating attitudes and body-image notions are shaped by sociocultural factors like family, peers, and the media, as well as by gender roles.
"Linda's work has served as a model for hundreds of researchers, both nationally and internationally," said clinical psychologist J. Kevin Thompson of the University of South Florida, another major researcher who has co-edited two books with Smolak. "The applied implications of her research have improved the emotional and social lives of thousands of children and adolescents."
Noting that NEDA began as a grass-roots group seeking to help eating-disorder victims, Smolak said: "I am particularly honored and flattered to get an award from an organization whose mission has been to serve families and victims, stressing the importance of prevention. It's very moving to me."
Smolak, who has taught at Kenyon since 1980, is the Samuel L. Cummings Professor of Psychology. Together with her colleagues Michael Levine and Sarah Murnen in the psychology department, she has made the College a nationally known center of research on body image and eating disorders. The three have frequently collaborated with one another, as well as with a large number of students, many of whom have gone on to graduate programs in the field.