A Florida State University researcher has been recognized for his distinguished and groundbreaking career working in one of the most challenging areas in psychology.
Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Psychology Thomas Joiner is the 2023 recipient of the International Association for Suicide Prevention Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented every two years to a single researcher worldwide in recognition of outstanding active research in the field.
“These kinds of awards are rewarding and affirming, and validating of our efforts, but my thoughts immediately go to my current Ph.D. students and my many former doctoral students who are now professors themselves,” Joiner said. “They’re the future and they’re integral to what I’ve been able to do over the years. Now many of them are off doing their own thing, which is just wonderful to see, and it really makes me optimistic about a topic that’s hard to be optimistic about sometimes.”
The lifetime achievement award, also known as the Stengel Research Award for the association’s founder and psychologist Erwin Stengel, has been presented since 1977 to leading researchers with at least 10 years of scientific activity in the field, as evidenced by the number and quality of publications in internationally acknowledged journals and indicators of esteem and reputation. Joiner accepted the award last month during the 32nd World Congress of the International Association for Suicide Prevention in Piran, Slovenia.
“The Stengel Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the most prestigious international awards in suicide research,” said Brad Schmidt, distinguished research professor and chair of the FSU Department of Psychology. “Dr. Joiner’s work has dramatically shaped our understanding of suicide and its prevention. His recognition is an incredible honor for FSU and is reflective of the amazing work being conducted in Department of Psychology.”
Dr. Joiner’s work has dramatically shaped our understanding of suicide and its prevention. His recognition is an incredible honor for FSU and is reflective of the amazing work being conducted in Department of Psychology.”
– Brad Schmidt, chair of the FSU Department of Psychology
Just five prior awardees hail from the U.S., with the other 19 representing Canada, Europe, the U.K., Australia and Asia. Joiner joins an esteemed group of honorees including suicide research pioneers Dr. J. John Mann, professor of translational neuroscience at Columbia University and director of Research and Director of Molecular Imaging and the Neuropathology Division at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, who earned the award in 2007, and Dr. Diego De Leo, head of Slovene Centre for Suicide Research and emeritus professor of psychiatry at the Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, who was recognized in 1991.
“I’ve been trying to aspire to their heights for my whole career and now to join them in this in this way, it’s very rewarding,” Joiner said.
Joiner, who joined the Psychology Department at FSU in 1997, serves as director of the Laboratory for the Study and Prevention of Suicide-Related Conditions and Behaviors, which focuses primarily on studying the nature, causes and management of suicidal behavior and related disorders, including eating, mood and personality disorders. The lab’s goal is to further refine and empirically test the interpersonal theory of suicide, as well as increasing the understanding and prevention of suicidal behavior in military and other settings.
Since earning his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1993, Joiner has earned or shared in nearly $50 million in external funding from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, state agencies, private foundations and more to support his research. He has also authored or edited over 800 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and publications, and directed and supervised the work of over 50 current and former graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.
“What a great recognition for Thomas, who has long been a leader in the field,” said Sam Huckaba, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “His spectacular research program, which is representative of the first-rate research taking place across the College of Arts and Sciences, has been influential and meaningful. The award shines a bright light on his excellence and is a soaring example of FSU’s robust research mission.”
To learn more about Joiner’s research, visit psychology.fsu.edu.