Schroeders establish research award for young LSI investigators

Schroeders establish research award for young LSI investigators

Karen Salisbury Henry

As a newly minted Ph.D. in the late 1960s, Stephen Schroeder received dozens of small grants from his own institution before grabbing the academic equivalent of the brass ring – a major grant from a federal agency. The time and effort it took left an impression. 

            Now, after a long and distinguished career in biobehavioral science, including 11 years as the first director of LSI, Schroeder and his wife, Carolyn, have stepped forward to help young LSI investigators conduct pilot research that will lead to federal funding early in their careers.

            Through a major gift to the KU Endowment Association, the Schroeders have established the Stephen and Carolyn Schroeder Young Investigator Award for Research in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. The endowed fund will support one or more awards annually to a graduate student, postdoctoral fellow or junior faculty member at LSI who plans to conduct basic or applied research, preferably biobehavioral, in neurodevelopmental disorders. This could include research in autism spectrum disorder, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities or neuroscience.

            The Stephen and Carolyn Schroeder Young Investigator Award will enable investigators to complete pilot research, learn competent grantsmanship and improve their eligibility for funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education or related agencies. Recipients will be selected by senior scientists at LSI in a peer-review process of applications using the criteria of the targeted federal agency.

            According to Schroeder, graduate students in the behavioral sciences work in a journeyman role with senior researchers and usually only receive direct experience writing and submitting grants once they’re on their own as junior faculty. “This is a way to help new investigators receive helpful feedback from experienced reviewers at LSI and to be successful earlier in their careers.”

            Schroeder added, “I had such a great experience as director of the LSI and I always wanted to give something back.”        

            According to LSI Director John Colombo, “We are honored to have this gift from Steve and Carolyn. Research in neurodevelopmental disabilities has been the primary focus of the Institute since its inception, and this gift will allow us to sustain and support junior faculty working in that area. The gift is especially meaningful to me personally, as I consider Steve to be a mentor for many aspects of my own work in intellectual and developmental disabilities.”    

            Schroeder earned his Ph.D. in experimental psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and became one of the nation’s preeminent researchers in experimental psychology and pharmacology, focusing on biobehavioral approaches to help people with mental retardation with self-injurious behavior. He held research, teaching and administrative positions at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Ohio State University before coming to KU in 1990.

            Schroeder assumed the helm of LSI at a critical time when the Bureau of Child Research, directed by Richard Schiefelbusch, the Gerontology Center and the Center for Multicultural Leadership were incorporated into the newly named Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies. Under Schroeder’s direction, LSI became one of the premier research institutes in the nation on human and community development, disabilities and aging. He retired in 2001 as professor emeritus while continuing to hold leadership positions for the (then) Kansas Center for Excellence in Disabilities Education, Research and Service (now the KU Center on Developmental Disabilities) and the Centro Ann Sullivan del Perú (CASP), also an LSI-affiliated center.

            In 2001 Stephen Schroeder received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, AUCD’s highest award, in recognition of his lifetime contribution to the lives of people with disabilities and their families. Over the course of his career he also received awards from the American Psychological Association, the American Association on Mental Retardation and the Academy on Mental Retardation.

             An adjunct faculty member in the Clinical Child Psychology program at KU, Carolyn Schroeder has provided supervision, support and mentorship to graduate students in the assessment and treatment of children and their families. She also completed her Ph.D. at Pitt and, prior to coming to KU, held faculty appointments in the departments of pediatrics, psychiatry and psychology at UNC. She is widely recognized for the establishment of a model for psychologists' participation in primary care pediatrics. She has numerous publications in pediatric psychology, service delivery in primary care settings, and the assessment and treatment of children's behavior problems.

            Carolyn and Steve Schroeder have also established an endowed fund for the benefit of clinical child psychology at KU. The Carolyn and Stephen Schroeder Practice-Informed Research Award will assist graduate students who are conducting innovative research that is informed by clinical work.

            Over the years the Schroeders have also given hands-on support and raised significant funds for CASP to bring effective educational and clinical practices to the treatment of people with developmental disabilities in Latin America.

             The first Stephen and Carolyn Schroeder Young Investigator awards will be announced in spring 2017.