James Mikawa Award

This award honors a psychologist whose work is outstanding in the field.  The outstanding work may be in the area of providing professional services or research. The namesake for this award is past UNR professor James Mikawa, who was with the Department of Psychology for 27 years serving in many administrative positions, including chair of the department. The one area James Mikawa most valued was mentoring and teaching students.

2023 James Mikawa Award Winner
Lorraine T. Benuto, Ph.D. was recognized for her outstanding contribution to the field of Psychology. Dr. Benuto is one of the most dedicated professors within the psychology field that I have worked with. She represents the best ideals of our field as she seeks to continuously improve the mental health of the Latinx population all while mentoring minority students so that they can also improve the well-being of underrepresented populations. She is the founder of two specialized clinics for Latinas, La Clinica and VIVA, and one specialized clinic for survivors of domestic violence, THRIVE. She has over approximately 2 million dollars of external funding, which she uses to fund her clinics so mental health services are free for English and Spanish speaking community members. Additionally, given the treatment-provider gap whereby there is a lack of Spanish-speaking mental health providers, through her research, Dr. Benuto seeks to increase access to and disseminate mental health services to reduce the treatment-provider gap. She has focused on developing telenovelas to disseminate treatments for anxiety, depression, and mental health literacy. Dr. Benuto also focused on studying race-based traumatic stress (RBTS) given the lack of awareness and treatment associated with RBTS. Due to her efforts, she has obtained 65-peer-refereed publications, 8 cited books, 37 book chapters, and 44 conference presentations. All her efforts have drastically improved the mental well-being of Spanish-speaking community members as the free Spanish services offered reduce financial difficulties from hindering treatment-seeking behaviors. Additionally, her research has provided the field with enormous information about Latinx mental health and how to best adapt treatments for this population. 

2022 James Mikawa Award Winner
Michelle B. Burke, Ph.D. was recognized for her outstanding contribution to the field of Psychology, specifically her work at Rural Regional Center (RRC). Dr. Burke is a tireless advocate for the civil and human rights and mental health needs of persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities; a population woefully underserved by mental health professionals. At RRC, she has been the driving force behind expanding the range of mental health services offered to persons served by RRC and making them accessible to individuals living in rural and frontier areas of Nevada. Dr. Burke has served on RRC’s Human Rights Committee for several years and have helped ensure the civil and human rights of persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities are respected and protected from unwarranted restrictions.

2021 James Mikawa Award Winner

Claudia Mejia, Ph.D. was recognized for her efforts as the Director of the Social Behavioral Health Intervention Services Team at Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada (VMSN), Dr. Mejia has been instrumental in promoting and implementing comprehensive, integrated care for uninsured patients. She is one of a few psychologists in Nevada who practices in a primary care setting, collaborating with multiple health disciplines. Dr. Mejia was recently recognized by VMSN and the National Hockey League (NHL) as being a First Star of the Week:

"Dr. Mejia specializes in health intervention services with the mission of providing quality healthcare and support to Southern Nevadans in low-income communities. Just days after the state's COVID-19 restrictions commenced, Dr. Mejia was on the phone connecting with the community's most vulnerable patients.

As you understood the importance of each patient's health and well-being, you and your team worked around the clock to create resource guides, coordinate rideshares to appointments, work with the volunteer and pharmacy departments for prescription deliveries, and collaborate with the medical and operations teams to get a telemedicine program off the ground. Since providing telemedicine services, you have been able to reach even more people in the community who are considered high-risk individuals.

You also showed an extra level of compassion over the holiday season by providing essential items to more than 200 patients and their family members - and is continuing to distribute these items to assist even more of those in-need."

2020 James Mikawa Award Winner
Lewis Etcoff, Ph.D. was recognized for his efforts with children and their families, educating, training and providing opportunities to legions of pre docs, post docs and early career psychologists and your work educating attorneys and judges in order to bring clinical wisdom and compassion to our system of justice. James Mikawa gave the art and science of psychology away to as many individuals, families, organizations and institutions as possible. NPA feels that Dr. Etcoff not only embrace Dr. Mikawa’s values and legacy, he has also embodied them over the course of a long and successful career.

2019 Sara Hunt, Ph.D.
2018 Noelle Lefforge, Ph.D.

2017 Bradley Donohue, Ph.D.
2016 Richard Baldo, Ph.D.
2015 Marta Meana, Ph.D.
2014 Martha Mahaffey, Ph.D.
2013 Daniel, Allen, Ph.D.
2012 John Friel, Ph.D.
2011 Jerry Nims, Ph.D.
2010 Alan Fruzzetti, Ph.D.
2009 Michelle Carro, Ph.D.
2008 Victoria Follette, Ph.D. and Jacqueline Pistorello, Ph.D.
2007 Stephanie Holland, Ph.D.
2006 Steven Hayes, Ph.D.
2005 Martin Gutride, Ph.D.
2004 Elizabeth Neighbors, Ph.D.
2003 Judy Phoenix, Ph.D.
2002 Steven Graybar, Ph.D.
2001 William Danton, Ph.D.