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Two Faculty Named Association for Psychological Science Rising Stars

Two Faculty Named Association for Psychological Science Rising Stars

Two early-career faculty members in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences have been named Rising Stars by the Association for Psychological Science, one of the top honors in the field.

The recognition was awarded to Hannah Williamson and Elizabeth Muñoz, both assistant professors of human development and family sciences at UT Austin. Each year, only a handful of scholars worldwide — people making extensive impact in psychology early in their careers — get chosen to be APS Rising Stars.

"This is truly a remarkable accomplishment for our faculty and for UT Austin," said Karen Fingerman, a professor of Human Development and Family Sciences.

The APS Rising Star designation is presented to outstanding APS members in recognition of researchers' innovative work that has already advanced the field, signaling great potential for their continued contributions.

Williamson's research is focused on strengthening families, particularly among under-served groups, including low-income and ethnic minority couples. Her work examines relationship processes and intervention strategies for disadvantaged couples. She has recently published studies looking at how couples fared during the global COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of Hurricane Harvey on couples in the path of the storm.

Muñoz's research centers around identifying early and modifiable predictors of adult cognitive health. She studies the role of psychosocial and environmental stress on cognitive health, considering how early environments and exposures influence cognitive outcomes in later life. Through her research, she aims to understand how biological predispositions, such as genetic risk, and culture specific factors may shape the association between stress and cognitive health throughout adulthood. She is a member of the Center on Aging and Population Sciences