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Laura O’Dell, Department of Psychology alumnus, receives prestigious PECASE Award

February 24, 2009

Dr. Laura O’Dell received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in a White House ceremony last December. Dr. O’Dell is currently an Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Texas-El Paso. 

She received her Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the Psychology Department at Arizona State University in 1997.  The PECASE award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government upon outstanding scientists and engineers in the early part of their independent research careers. The PECASE Awards are intended to recognize scientists and engineers who, while early in their research careers, show exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge.

They also support the continued development of the award winners and foster innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology. Dr. O’Dell was nominated for the Award by Dr. David Shurtleff from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in honor of her ground breaking research revealing differences in sensitivity to rewarding and aversive effects of nicotine in adolescents versus adults. 

This research employing animal models suggests that adolescents are more sensitive to the rewarding effects of nicotine and less sensitive to its aversive effects and adults, consistent with the increased vulnerability to initiating smoking during adolescence.