University professor named top young researcher

University professor named top young researcher Jon D. Elhai, Ph.D, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at The University of South Dakota, has been selected to receive the prestigious Chaim Danieli Young Professional Award of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

This award recognizes excellence in traumatic stress service or research by an individual who has completed his or her training within the last five years.

"This is a competitive award, and there are numerous other early career professionals conducting significant research in the field of traumatic stress who are well-deserving of this award," said Elhai. "I feel quite pleased and honored that I was chosen."

Dr. Elhai will receive the award on Nov. 1 at the society's 19th annual meeting in Chicago, IL.

Dr. Elhai is a faculty member of the Disaster Mental Health Institute at USD, and Dr. Gerard A. Jacobs, DMHI director, singled out Elhai for praise.

"This award essentially identifies Dr. Elhai as the leading young researcher in this field in the world, which seems completely accurate to me," said Jacobs. "Dr. Elhai has been a tremendous addition to the DMHI faculty. Students have been very excited by his teaching and by the opportunities he has provided to them to become involved in his research."

Elhai believes the award reflects positively on the Institute and USD.

"I believe that the award enhances the prestige of the Disaster Mental Health Institute, Department of Psychology, and the university as a whole," he said. "Personally, it gives me some credibility, as I am a young researcher just starting my professional career."

DMHI faculty are engaged in disaster preparedness and response, crisis intervention, refugee mental health, service to Native American communities, and research both nationally and internationally. The DMHI was founded in 1993, and was designated a South Dakota Board of Regents Center of Excellence in 1997. The mission of the DMHI is the promotion, development, and application of both practice and research in disaster mental health.

Dr. Elhai says receiving this award "means that the research my colleagues, students, and I have been working on for several years may be having an impact on the field of traumatic stress. And, perhaps our research is starting to make a difference to the work of mental health professionals treating survivors of traumatic events."

Elhai received his doctorate in psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, in 2000. He focuses on the assessment of traumatic events and posttraumatic stress in civilian and military populations and has a very active research program. He is also a member of the Red Cross Disaster Services Human Resources program.

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