Aronson, Palca win Social Sciences division awards

Elliot Aronson
Psychology professor emeritus Elliot Aronson is winner of the 2012 Distinguished Social Sciences Emeriti Faculty award.
Joe Palca
NPR science correspondent Joe Palca is winner of the 2012 Distinguished Social Sciences Alumni Award.

The UC Santa Cruz Social Sciences Division has named NPR science correspondent Joe Palca (Ph.D., '82, psychology) as winner of the 2012 Distinguished Social Sciences Alumni Award.

Psychology professor emeritus Elliot Aronson has been selected winner of the 2012 Distinguished Social Sciences Emeriti Faculty award.

Palca and Aronson will be honored in separate events at the end of April as part of UCSC's Alumni Reunion Weekend.  Palca will receive the alumni award Thursday, April 26 at a reception and presentation from 4-6 p.m. in the Las Feliz Room of the Seymour Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab,

The next day, Friday April 27, Aronson will be guest of honor at a luncheon and presentation from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., also in the Las Feliz Room.

The distinguished emeriti award honors eminent scholars, researchers, and instructors who continue to make major contributions in their fields since retirement. Aronson taught at UCSC from 1974 to 1994 and is one of the preeminent social psychologists of the 20th century. He has written or edited more than 20 books including The Social Animal, The Jigsaw Classroom, Nobody Left to Hate, Mistakes Were Made, (but not by me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, and last year, a memoir Not By Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist.

After retirement, Aronson continued to teach and write, publishing five books. "It is difficult to imagine anyone who has accomplished more in his field: not only during his regular tenure, but as an emeritus professor,'' wrote professor David Swanger in his nomination letter.

"I love doing research in social psychology so it is not surprising that I continued to do it long after my so called "retirement," Aronson said. During the past 15 years, he said, his major activity has been to "translate this research into jargon-free books for non-psychologists--to demonstrate the wide variety of ways in which a knowledge of social psychology can help us understand the everyday happenings of our world, such things as prejudice, bullying, empathy, and compassion."

The distinguished alumni award recognizes graduates in the social sciences who have made extraordinary accomplishments in their careers. After UCSC, Palca first worked as a health producer for the Washington, D.C. CBS affiliate. He later was a science journalist for Nature and a senior correspondent for Science. He joined NPR in 1992.

His research at UCSC was in human sleep physiology.

In nominating Palca, psychology professor Bruce Bridgeman wrote that his reports "are valued because he has a knack for getting to the bottom of a story, reporting
the facts and their meaning for the public without having an axe to grind.

"Ironically, it is his own solid scientific background, acquired at UC Santa Cruz, that enables him to accomplish this with so much success," Bridgeman wrote.

Social Sciences Dean Sheldon Kamieniecki's Board of Councilors make the final selections for the alumni and emeriti awards.