Two grads win psychology awards

July 07, 2005, vol. 33, no. 6
By Carol Thorbes

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Two recent doctoral graduates of Simon Fraser University are winners of American Psychology-Law Society (AP-LS) awards in 2004 for interdisciplinary study of psychology and law.

The AP-LS is a branch of the American Psychological Association, a professional organization representing 100,000 psychologists across North America.

Jodi Viljoen, who completed her doctoral thesis in 2003 in psychology under the supervision of Ron Roesch, a psychologist specializing in law at SFU, took the top prize.

The second prize was awarded to Candice Odgers, a criminology graduate who did her bachelor of arts in 1999 and masters thesis in 2001 under the supervision of SFU criminologist Ray Corrado.

Odgers completed her doctorate in psychology in 2005 under the supervision of psychologist Dick Reppucci at the University of Virginia.

AP-LS award reviewers recognized Viljoen for conducting groundbreaking doctoral research that “has far reaching implications for the juvenile justice system and represents a significant contribution to the field.”

Viljoen's dissertation, Police Interrogation and Criminal Adjudication of Child and Adolescent Defendants, reveals that child and adolescent defendants are at risk of being unfairly tried because of their weak understanding of legal proceedings.

Viljoen's doctoral work also resulted in her being named a co-winner of the Lorne Kendall award, bestowed by SFU's psychology department for research on the measurement of behaviour in applied science.

Viljoen is now an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's department of psychology.

Odgers' AP-LS award is for her doctoral dissertation under Reppucci, a world famous leader in youth justice research.

Odgers' dissertation, Violence, Victimization, and Psychopathy among Female Juvenile Offenders, investigated the predictive validity of the Psychopathy Checklist - Youth Version within a population of female juvenile offenders.

AP-LS reviewers described Odgers' dissertation as representing “an important contribution to assist in understanding violence in young girls” and as having “important policy implications.”

Odgers, also the recipient of a Royal Society of Canada Alice Wilson medal, has returned to SFU to work as a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council postdoctoral fellow with psychologist Marlene Moretti.

A Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research trainee award is also funding Odgers' work with Moretti.

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