The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has honored Mary Helen Immordino-Yang with the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science for her "sustained commitment and novel approach to integrating public engagement with science into her extensive research and scholarly activities and for using public interactions to inform her research."
Immordino-Yang is "an exceptional scientist with an impressive record in scientific research and in public engagement for one so early in her career," said Tiffany Lohwater, AAAS Director of Meetings and Public Engagement. She has received awards including a 2012 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, an "Honor Coin" of the United States Army for translational neuroscience research, and the 2010 Cozzarelli Prize of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
As an assistant professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Rossier School of Education, an assistant professor of psychology at USC's Brain and Creativity Institute, and a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty at USC, Immordino-Yang's research has focused on the neuroscience of social emotion and its implications for education.
Going above and beyond her laudable research career, Immordino-Yang shares her passion for science with public audiences, including those in underrepresented communities. When invited to give academic talks, she arranges separate talks for educators and public audiences in the local area. She also engages K-12 students in her research through lab visits and internships for students from low-performing schools near the University of Southern California. Complementing her research on neurobiological mechanisms of social emotional development among Latino and Asian youth of immigrant parents, Immordino-Yang meets with each study participant to discuss their brain scans, as well as their college plans and potential interest in a career in science or engineering.
Immordino-Yang "has quite a reputation for explaining complex, technical science in a straightforward manner that enthralls her audience and generally motivates productive societal applications," wrote Lawrence Picus, vice dean for faculty affairs at USC, in his nomination letter.
Established in 2010, the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science recognizes the achievements of individual early-career scientists and engineers who have demonstrated significant contributions to public engagement activities while simultaneously pursuing a research career.