UW News

June 5, 2023

Faculty/staff honors: Psychology professor elected to esteemed educational science association, Dean of Social Work receives lifetime achievement award and more

Recent recognition of the University of Washington includes the election of Andrew Meltzoff to the National Academy of Education, a lifetime achievement award for Dean of the School of Social Work Edwina Uehara and Ed Kolodziej selected as a Frontiers Planet Prize finalist.

Andrew Meltzoff elected to National Academy of Education

Andrew Meltzoff, professor of psychology at the UW and co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, has been elected to the National Academy of Education. Members are selected based on outstanding scholarship or leadership related to education.

Members serve on expert study panels that address pressing issues in education. They also engage in the Academy’s professional development fellowship programs.

Meltzoff is a highly lauded researcher and internationally renowned expert on infant and child development. His research reaches beyond the bounds of psychology and investigates how role models and cultural stereotypes of different kinds impact child development, with implications for education.

“Adults have a drive to teach others, and young children have a drive to learn,” Meltzoff said. “Yet education in schools often misfires. Scientific advances in psychological and brain science should help us do a better job. Our children can’t wait, and our future literally depends on how well we feed, foster and embolden our children’s natural proclivity to learn. Social justice and equity issues can and should be addressed through education.”

Meltzoff’s election to the National Academy of Education adds to his long list of distinctions, including the 2020 William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science, given to honor a lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology.

Dean Edwina Uehara selected for 2023 lifetime achievement award

Edwina Uehara, dean of the University of Washington School of Social Work, received the 2023 lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Social Workers Washington chapter. The award recognizes her contributions to the social work profession in Washington state and across the country.

“Receiving NASW-Washington’s Lifetime Achievement Award is an incredible honor, and one that is doubly meaningful to me,” Uehara said. “First, because it recognizes the proudest professional title I hold as a ‘social worker,’ and second, because it’s an NASW-Washington state award. I am a Washingtonian though and through.”

Uehara’s career reflects a lifelong commitment to antiracism, civil rights and the development of culturally grounded mental health services. During her tenure, the School of Social Work became widely recognized as an innovative leader in advancing social and economic justice and enhancing quality of life through education, research and community engagement.

Citing her transformative leadership, the nomination letter spotlights how Uehara’s social work initiatives, including the Grand Challenges for Social Work, the Washington State Behavioral Health Workforce Development Initiative, the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence and more. The letter praised Uehara as “a positive champion for the social work profession.”

Uehara will step down as dean on June 30 after 17 years of leadership and service, becoming the longest-serving dean in the School’s history. She will rejoin the faculty to pursue her research, teaching and leadership in the field of behavioral health.

Ed Kolodziej selected as finalist for Frontiers Planet Prize

Ed Kolodziej, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UW, represented the United States as national champion for the inaugural Frontiers Planet Prize. The selection from 65 U.S. applicants elevated him into consideration for the international prize at the Frontiers Forum Live in Switzerland in April 2023. The prize competition recognizes scientists whose research contributes to the sustainable future of the planet.

Kolodziej led a team of researchers at UW Tacoma, Washington State University-Puyallup, and elsewhere who discovered 6PPD-quinone, a highly toxic and previously unidentified compound that was killing coho salmon in urbanized Puget Sound streams. The discovery and the shockwave it sent through the tire industry, which uses the compound in all tire rubber, ultimately earned Kolodziej’s team the nomination.

“We believe that our work on understanding the contributions of tire rubber to environmental pollution is important,” said Kolodziej. “I look forward to the day when we have ‘salmon safe tires’ made from chemicals that are safe for both people and the environment.”

Kolodziej recently travelled to Switzerland for the announcement of the prize’s international awards, which come with $1.1 million to put toward future research. Kolodziej was not selected, but said he was grateful for the global interest in his research.

“It was an honor to represent the United States for the Frontier Planet Prize,” he said, “and I was thankful that our wonderful research team and many collaborators were recognized in this fashion.”