Mary Helen Immordino-Yang is honored with the 2013 AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science  for her sustained commitment and novel approach to integrating public engagement with science into her extensive research and scholarly activities and for using public interactions to inform her research.
Immordino-Yang is an affective neuroscientist and human development psychologist who studies the development of social emotion and self-awareness across cultures, connections to social resilience and morality, and implications for education. She is an Assistant Professor of Education, Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Southern California. A former public junior high school science teacher, she earned her doctorate in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard University in 2005 and completed her postdoctoral training in affective neuroscience in 2008. In 2010, she and her co-authors received the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' Cozzarelli Prize for their paper, "Neural Correlates of Admiration and Compassion". She holds an NSF CAREER award and in 2011 was named a “Rising Star” by the Association for Psychological Science. She has received an honor coin from the U.S. Army and a commendation from the County of Los Angeles for her work on compassion education, and is the inaugural recipient of the International Mind Brain Education Society Award for Transforming Education through Neuroscience.
Going above and beyond her laudable research career, Immordino-Yang shares her passion for science with public audiences, including those in underrepresented communities. When invited to give academic talks, she arranges separate talks for educators and public audiences in the local area. She also engages K-12 students in her research through lab visits and internships for students from low-performing schools near the University of Southern California. Complementing her research on neurobiological mechanisms of social emotional development among Latino and Asian youth of immigrant parents, Immordino-Yang meets with each study participant to discuss their brain scans, as well as their college plans and potential interest in a career in science or engineering.
AAAS’s First Endowed Award
As issues at the interface of science and society—from disease research to global climate change, evolution, human embryonic stem cell research, neuroscience, and others—take on increasing importance, the Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science seeks to encourage efforts to promote interactive dialogue between scientists and non-scientific, public audiences. By highlighting and celebrating successful examples of public engagement, AAAS and our partners aim to communicate the importance of such efforts and create models for other scientists and engineers.
AAAS is grateful to Bob and Margee Hazen for their vision in initiating this award and for their generous gifts to establish the endowment that funds it. We also wish to acknowledge Bruce and Betty Alberts, Alan and Agnes Leshner, David Evans Shaw, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Noyce Foundation for their leadership support, as well as the many others who made contributions to make this award a reality.