Trinity University Psychology Professor Wins Teaching Fellowship

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Susie P. Gonzalez
May 22, 2012

Trinity University Psychology Professor Wins Teaching Fellowship

Carolyn Becker is known for her ground-breaking work to promote a positive body image

SAN ANTONIO - Carolyn Black Becker, professor of psychology at Trinity University, has been named the 2012 recipient of the Dr. and Mrs. Z.T. Scott Faculty Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding abilities as a teacher and adviser.

The Z.T. Scott Fellowship includes a cash award to be used for professional development and   Psychology Professor Carolyn Beckerresearch. Trinity University Trustee Richard M. Kleberg III established the Fellowship in 1984 in honor of his grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Z.T. Scott. The award was announced May 12 during Trinity's undergraduate commencement.

Becker said she was drawn to Trinity in 1999 because she was expected, and wanted, to involve students in her scholarship. While developing an evidence-based, sustainable body image improvement program in partnership with campus sororities, she has worked closely with 37 research assistants and hundreds of volunteer peer leaders. The collaborations have led to nearly a dozen co-authored papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

As a result of her work promoting a healthy body image for collegiate women, Becker developed the award-winning Reflections: Body Image Program in partnership with the Delta Delta Delta national sorority as well as local sororities at Trinity. Subsequently, she has taken a new direction in her research and partnered with Trinity's department of athletics to design wellness programming for female athletes.  

Becker recently was named one of two researchers to head a five-year, $2.3 million study to improve the health and well-being of female collegiate athletes. Funding for the project is from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and it will be housed at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, a campus of the Louisiana State University System in Baton Rouge, La.   

Students praise Becker for being a tough task master who nevertheless makes her classes so interesting that they want to learn. Additionally, they say she is "intricately involved" in helping plan the next phase of their academic careers, both in applying to graduate schools or by introducing students to potential future employers. 

Carol Yoder, professor and chair of psychology at Trinity, said noteworthy about Becker's work ethic and intellectual excellence is that her teaching, service, and research are deeply intertwined in a way that few academic scholars can claim.  "Her work has been designed and executed in a way that truly impacts, conservatively, tens of thousands of people."

Becker is completing a year as a residential fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Becker holds a doctorate and master's degrees from Rutgers University and a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College. She also is a licensed clinical psychologist.