Biobehavioral Health professor honored by Association for Psychological Science

Idan Shalev, assistant professor of biobehavioral health (BBH) at Penn State, has been recognized by the Association for Psychological Science (APS) for his work in genetics, stress and aging.

Shalev is a 2015 recipient of the Rising Star Award. The award recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research career post-doctorate whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions. He has been recognized along with 100 other researchers from all over the world.

“It’s a great honor to receive this type of recognition for the work I’m doing,” Shalev said. “My work is perhaps not considered that of the classic psychological sciences, as it incorporates molecular biology techniques. It’s great that the APS is recognizing this integrative work. This award also provides me with some expectations for the future.”

Shalev’s work focuses on telomeres, which are small protective “caps” at the tip of chromosomes. Without these protectors, cells can stop functioning and eventually die. Shalev’s research aims to determine how environmental stressors can accelerate the damage of telomeres.

“We may be able to look at telomeres to predict mortality,” Shalev said. “We already know that early life stressors, such as exposure to violence and major life changes, can predict early death. Telomeres are one potential marker to explain why.”

Roger McCarter, interim head of the department, said Shalev is a superb researcher and excellent teacher, and this award helps spotlight the great work of the college.

“Telomeres hold great potential as a marker of health and as a determinant of longevity,” McCarter said. “Having one of our faculty who is an expert in this area is great for the university. This recognition brings added excitement in the research community.”

Shalev joined Penn State in 2014. He received his doctorate from Hebrew University in 2010.

The APS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of scientific psychology and its representation at the national and international level.