SUNY Oswego psychologist to receive award for scholarly activity

OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego’s Matthew J. Dykas, whose studies of family dynamics have advanced the understanding of what it takes to raise emotionally healthier children, will receive the 2012 Provost’s Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity.

Matthew J. Dykas
Matthew J. Dykas

Several nominators mentioned Dykas’ relative youth — he’s been at Oswego five years, following post-doctoral research at University of New Hampshire’s Family Research Lab — in letters of strong support. The $500 Provost’s Award goes to full-time faculty or staff who have been at SUNY Oswego no more than seven years or to faculty or staff on term appointments.

“I strongly recommend Dr. Dykas, an already accomplished researcher at a young age, excellent teacher and advisor,” wrote Karen M. Wolford, chair of the psychology department. “His research and the applications that come from it will benefit present and future generations in the Oswego community for years to come.”

Dykas has worked with five to seven student researchers a year, as well as faculty colleagues at Pennsylvania State and Maryland universities, to develop and expand on theories of attachment — strong bonds that create a secure base for infants and influence children through adolescence and adulthood. Wolford said one result of his scholarship is “others in the field are better informed on how to optimize parenting for emotionally and socially healthier children.”

Jude Anne Cassidy, a research colleague at the University of Maryland, where Dykas earned his Ph.D. and the award for outstanding dissertation, agreed. “Matt’s research is significant because it contributes to the relatively small body of literature that has examined links between attachment and social information-processing,” she wrote.

Community outreach

Dykas, director of SUNY Oswego’s Relationships Across Development Laboratory, serves as a research consultant with the Oswego County Family Court Collaborative. He has begun the Greater Oswego Child and Family Development Project, and has a paid consultancy with Washington state’s Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

On campus, Dykas helped rekindle interest in the Psi Chi international honor society for psychology and the Psychology Club. He serves in a number of psychology department roles, including first-year adviser.

Wolford praised Dykas for putting into action his strongly student-centered approach to research.

“Our students, many of whom are interested in this area of child-parent relationships and child development, have benefited greatly from directly working with Dr. Dykas in his lab,” Wolford wrote. “His students have presented at regional conferences (e.g., the annual conference of the Eastern Psychological Association) and at Quest during the past three years.”

Wolford also credited Dykas for helping obtain a two-year National Science Foundation grant for veterans trauma research, among other grants that have included Oswego’s Summer Scholars and Scholarly and Creative Activity grants to support faculty research and faculty-student research partnerships.

Brooks B. Gump, who worked alongside Dykas here and is now a professor in Syracuse University’s Falk College of Sport and Human Development, noted that all eight of the peer-reviewed articles Dykas and colleagues have published appeared in top-ranked journals, one of them in the Psychological Bulletin.