Psychologist Receives Claude Pepper Award

In early March, the National Institutes of Health awarded Randi Martin, PhD, its highest honor to a grantee--the Claude Pepper Award. Dr. Martin is Professor of Psychology at Rice University. The National Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD) gives this award to a researcher who has demonstrated excellence in science, which NIDCD measures by past productivity, standing in the field, and quality of proposed future work.

Dr. Martin will receive about $700,000 over a 7-year period to fund her research on short-term memory deficits. Specifically, her research focuses on the relation of short-term memory and language-comprehension deficits in aphasics. Aphasic refers to persons who suffer from language disorders following brain damage.

In the past, it was accepted that there was only one type of short-term memory deficit. "This does not seem to be the case," Dr. Martin said. "When brain damage hinders language ability, not all skills are affected equally." For example, a person may be able to understand the meaning of a word, but have difficulty with the structure of sentences. Dr. Martin plans to use this award to investigate further whether different types of short-term memory deficits have different consequences for comprehending sentences, producing sentences, or for long-term learning.

"It is refreshing to hear that a psychologist is the recipient of this great honor, and it comes as no surprise to me that it is Dr. Martin. Dr. Martin's work in cognitive neuropsychology is widely respected throughout the field. Her research has furthered our understanding of the relationship of the brain to language behavior, and its practical implications will benefit those who suffer from brain damage," commented William Howell, PhD, APA Executive Director for Science, who is also Dr. Martin's former colleague at Rice University.

Dr. Martin has taught psychology at Rice University since 1982. She received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University.

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