International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Norris Presented with 2005 Robert Laufer Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement

Posted 1 April 2006 in StressPoints by ISTSS

At the ISTSS 2005 Awards Cere­mony in November, Fran Norris, PhD, received the Robert Laufer Award for Outstanding Scien­tific Achievement. The award is given annually to an individual or group who has made an outstanding contri­bution to research in the field of trau­matic stress studies.

Norris has made a career of high quality, complex, socially relevant, accessible and policy-relevant research on responses to traumatic stress. Her methodological and theoretical sophisti­cation has provided a model for the field.

One of the most prominent and original researchers in the field of PTSD, Norris’s work combines scholarly creativity with the problem-solving basis of all good science. Her work ranges from empirical and quantitative to qualitative and practi­cal. Her empirical and review papers present the readers with unprejudiced use of many different research and intellectual strategies based on the premise that any kind of scientific inquiry entails its own legitimate way of looking at the world.

According to Krys Kaniasty, PhD, editor of Anxiety,Stress & Coping: An International Journal, “Fran’s work manifests robust scholarly creativity while staying true to the tenor of good science – the mixture of challenging theory, societal problem solving and a genuine concern for people.” Kaniasty nominated Norris for the 2005 Robert Laufer Award.

Her career spans the entire spec­trum of trauma and PTSD, including her influential work on life events and mental health in older adults in the 1980s, with a shift to trauma and dis­aster in the ‘90s. She helped define the nature of traumatic events, and stud­ied the processes that moderate and mediate people’s responses to these events. She has focused much of her work on assessment and methodolog­ical issues, including the impact of cross-cultural contexts. Her innova­tive reviews of the literature in 2002 synthesized the findings of disaster research and pointed a new direction for trauma researchers in the post-9/11 world.

Norris received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Western Kentucky Univeristy, where she graduated summa cum laude. She then received her MA and PhD in Community and Social Psychology from the University of Louisville, where she later became associate director of the Urban Studies Center.

She eventually moved to the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University, where she was pro­fessor, director of graduate studies, and associate chair. Presently she is research professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School and a member of the National Center for PTSD in White River Junction, Vermont.

During the course of her distin­guished career, Norris has been awarded numerous research grants and participated in myriad profes­sional organizations. She has served as deputy and associate editor for the Journal of Traumatic Stress and editor of PTSD Research Quarterly.

Over the years, many researchers came to rely on Norris for continuous scholarly expertise, experience, wis­dom and encouragements. Fran’s fasci­nation with psychological science, her genuine interest in scholarly discovery and her supportive working style made many of her professional relationships examples of true synergy.

After two decades of concentration on empirical research, Dr. Norris most recently has undertaken two ini­tiatives that might ultimately tran­scend her theoretical and empirical contributions to the field of trauma and PTSD because they reach out beyond the circles of academic pur­suits. Fran’s timely work evaluating disaster mental health programs brings together her respect for schol­arly rigor and her true concern for suffering of victims and people who try to help them.

Norris’s vision and leadership in creating the Research Education in Disaster Mental Health (REDMH) program exemplifies a thoughtful attempt to create an interdisciplinary community of disaster researchers as well as to invite and mentor new tal­ent.

These new enterprises, in conjunc­tion with her long and distinguished career, define Fran Norris as a com­plete professional and a pioneer in the field of traumatic stress.