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Yuthika Girme and Ryan Fitzgerald designated “Rising Stars” of 2020 by the Association of Psychological Science
Simon Fraser University (SFU) assistant professors Yuthika Girme and Ryan Fitzgerald are among 50 outstanding psychological scientists worldwide that were designated Rising Stars in 2020 by the Association for Psychological Science (APS). Girme studies how to support insecure people to develop satisfying relationships and Fitzgerald’s research reduces errors in eyewitness identifications. They are two of only three researchers from Canadian universities to make the list.
Girme and Fitzgerald both pursue research that makes the world a better place. Girme studies intimate relationships and attachment-related insecurities in people. Her research helps those struggling with insecurity feel supported enough to develop satisfying relationships. Fitzgerald focuses on psychology and law, eyewitness identification and memory in his work to reduce wrongful connvictions in the justice system.
Girme heads the Supporting Relationships and Wellbeing Lab (REWE Lab) at SFU. The lab’s recent publications look at how to encourage individual autonomy within interdependent relationships and how relationship attachment variation can compromise individuals’ well-being over time.
“People who harbour relationship insecurities tend to have more dissatisfying and unstable relationships, which puts them at risk for worse physical health and psychological wellbeing,” Girme says. “My research aims to understand how to better support insecure individuals so that they can reap the widespread benefits of satisfying relationships.”
Fitzgerald’s research on eyewitness identification and facial recognition improves how police and courts investigate and administer justice. He has published articles on how children witness and report events and on the differences between eyewitness identification in live, photo and video lineups.
Eyewitnesses play an important role in the criminal justice system. When witnesses are asked to identify a perpetrator in a lineup, evidence-based procedures keep them from mistakenly identifying an innocent person.
“Identification errors can lead an investigation astray and put innocent suspects at risk of wrongful conviction,” Fitzgerald says. “We know from post-conviction DNA testing that mistaken identification has put hundreds of innocent people in prison for crimes they did not commit. My research is focused on learning about how eyewitnesses make identification decisions and discovering procedures that reduce identification errors.”