Bob Knight, USC’s Merle H. Bensinger Professor of Gerontology and Psychology, will receive the Retirement Research Fund Distinguished Contribution Award in Applied Gerontology from the American Psychology Association’s Division 20.
Knight will receive the award, which recognizes contributions that have improved the lives of elders, at the organization’s annual convention in San Francisco Aug. 17-20.
Division 20, dedicated to the psychology of adult aging and development, is widely considered the most prominent organization of its kind.
Knight, a former chapter president, analyzes factors that contribute to stress and poor physical health of dementia caregivers. He also has written extensively on psychotherapy for older adults, specifically on how emotions such as sadness and anxiety affect the way people think as they age.
“When people are sad, they remember sad events. When they are anxious, they tend to remember threats,” Knight said. “My research looks at emotions of older adults in a controlled environment.”
At USC, Knight, who said that he was “surprised and honored” to receive the award, wears many hats. He is the acting director of the Tingstad Older Adult Counseling Center, which offers an array of services designed to aid elders with aging issues. He serves as faculty director of the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center, assisting families and caregivers of adults with brain impairments. And he is director of clinical training in USC College’s Department of Psychology.
“Bob Knight has made a long-standing contribution to helping older adults through his research contributions and guidance,” said Neil Charness, 2006-07 Division 20 past president and professor of psychology at Florida State University. “He’s been instrumental in pushing the gerontology in psychology agenda and especially helpful with graduate students in preparing them for their field.”
Established in memory of M. Powell Lawton, a behavioral psychologist who specialized in psychological and social aspects of aging, the American Psychology Association award carries a $5,000 prize.
“This award recognizes Bob Knight’s sterling national and international reputation for his pioneering work in cognitive-behavioral psychosocial interventions for older adults,” said Gerald C. Davison, dean of the USC Davis School of Gerontology.