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UCR Psychologist Wins Prize for Inspiring Students

UCR Psychologist Wins Prize for Inspiring Students

Howard Friedman, known for his pioneering work in health psychology, receives award from Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust.

(January 5, 2012)

Howard FriedmanEnlarge

Howard Friedman

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Howard Friedman, distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, has won a $25,000 award from the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust for inspiring students to make a difference in the community.

Friedman is one of 15 professors from U.S. universities recognized by the trust for inspiring students to action that benefits society. He is the first University of California scholar honored since the awards began two years ago. The recipients will be honored in a ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 7, at The Carter Center in Atlanta.

"It's very rewarding to see students getting inspired and putting ideas into practice in medicine, public health and health psychology. What's better for a scholar than to change a field or help get a movement going?" said the researcher who is a pioneer in the field of health psychology. "As a professor, my greatest satisfaction has always come from my students."

Friedman, who has won four awards for teaching excellence while at UC Riverside, spent more than 20 years identifying predictors of health and long life among 1,500 individuals who were part of a study started by Stanford University psychologist Louis Terman in 1921. The study began when the participants were 10 years old and followed them throughout their lives.

More than two decades ago, Friedman and co-researcher Leslie Martin (then a UC Riverside graduate student), as well as many other UCR graduate and undergraduate students on his research teams, began examining and supplementing the data. They determined that personality characteristics and social relations from childhood can predict one's risk of dying decades later. It was the most prudent and persistent individuals who stayed healthier and lived longer. Their overall conclusions are reported in the book "The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study" (Hudson Street Press).

Friedman's research has profoundly affected two generations of students who have since become physicians, public health workers, psychologists and health psychology researchers. "I work with a lot of students in UCR’s biomedical and pre-medical programs," he said. "They use the findings of health psychology research in the practice of medicine. And my wonderful graduate students have gone on to teach and spread the word to countless other students."

"These outstanding faculty members have inspired their former students to change the world. The trust recognizes the benefits of what an extraordinary professor can produce," said Carol Goodheart, Beckman Trust Committee member and past president of the American Psychological Association. "We learn how remarkably professors have motivated their students, and see how students have created a real-world success because of this inspiration."

The trust, which is administered by the Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services group, was founded in 2008 under the will of Gail McKnight Beckman in honor of her mother, Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman, an educator, renowned author and pioneer in the field of psychology. She was one of the first female psychology professors at Columbia University and later taught at the University of Pennsylvania.

The other recipients this year are from Harvard University, the University of Miami, the Graduate Center at City University of New York, University of Arizona, Boston College, University of Washington, Towson University, University of Rochester, Georgia State University, Columbia University, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Palo Alto University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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