Cog Sci Professor Appointed to NIH Award Panel


Teenie MatlockUC Merced cognitive science Professor Teenie Matlock has been appointed to a six-year term on the National Institutes of Health's Language and Communication Study Section.

Matlock joins a panel of leading experts in the scientific study of language from some of the world's most renowned universities, including Stanford, Purdue and Columbia. Her appointment is another example of the distinguished faculty members at UC Merced who not only contribute to society through their cutting-edge research, but also give back to the scientific community by ensuring only worthwhile proposals are being funded.

"I'm honored and excited to have been selected as a regular member of the Language and Communication Study Section because I'll have the opportunity to review world-class, cutting-edge research that will have a positive impact on society," Matlock said. "It will be a great learning experience."

The study section is part of the institute's Center for Scientific Review (CSR), which establishes peer review groups for grant and fellowship applications. The center evaluated 71,000 applications in 2009. Its mission is to make sure applications are reviewed fairly by experts so the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds the most promising, viable research.

"NIH depends on highly regarded scientists, like Dr. Teenie Matlock, to help us identify the most promising grant applications," CSR Communication Director Don Luckett said. "The key input from these independent volunteers ensures that the federal funds appropriated to NIH support the best research for preventing and curing diseases and improving the health of the nation and the world."

The study section meets several times a year to review the top applications. The panels are made up of well-respected researchers in each discipline. They determine what research proposals address significant problems and use novel concepts that may challenge existing paradigms. The panel also looks at the qualifications of the research team and what sort effect the proposed study could have on the academic field.

"Professor Matlock's appointment to NIH's study section underscores her status as a leading interdisciplinary scholar whose work touches on linguistics, communication, cognitive science and psychology," said Mark Aldenderfer, dean of UC Merced's School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. "Her vision and input on the study section will help guide research into language and communication for years to come."

Matlock has published 50 articles on language and communication. Many of her projects investigate how linguistic form influences everyday thought, including political attitudes. In a study on political ads, she recently found that even grammatical details can affect people's attitudes about politicians' past actions and, ultimately, their electability. For example, language such as "He was taking bribes" is viewed worse than "He took bribes."