Faculty member honored for quality of research

Kia Asberg (second from right) talks with students.

Kia Asberg (second from right) talks with students.

Kia Asberg, assistant professor of psychology, has been awarded the Deborah L. Rhatigan Early Career Award for Excellence in Violence Research, presented by the Child Maltreatment & Interpersonal Violence Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

The award, presented at the group’s annual convention meeting Nov. 16, recognizes an outstanding, peer-reviewed publication during the past year that makes an important contribution to violence research, prevention or treatment.

Asberg’s winning article, co-authored with the University of Central Florida’s Kimberly Renk, is titled “Comparing Incarcerated and College Student Women With Histories of Childhood Sexual Abuse: The Roles of Abuse Severity, Support, and Substance Use,” and was published in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

Some of her other published works also have researched related subjects as varied as effectiveness of child protective services measured by recidivism and career intentions among public child welfare employees.

“Dr. Kia Asberg excels at everything, including research, teaching and service at all levels,” said David McCord, head of the psychology department. “She is now in her fifth year on our faculty, joining us directly after completing her clinical internship year at Yale University, and we are most fortunate to have her. She is clearly establishing a strong research record in the areas of stress, emotional trauma and violence. One thing we most appreciate is her willingness and ability to include graduate and undergraduate students in her research lab, many of whom have contributed as co-authors of her published papers and professional presentations.”

Asberg said she was truly surprised at receiving the recognition. “I didn’t even know I was nominated,” she said. Gratitude and gratification followed the surprise: “It was especially nice to receive the award with my graduate mentor, Dr. Renk. It is also reassuring as an indication that I am on the right track,” she said.

The theme of interpersonal violence is present throughout Asberg’s research and has included incarcerated females, veterans (with WCU colleague Leonardo Bobadilla), and the Department of Social Services in Haywood County. “I hope to continue these collaborations with my colleagues and students and I am extremely honored to have been recognized for this work,” Asberg said.

The award’s name honors the late Deborah L. Rhatigan, a University of Tennessee psychology professor whose career focus on reducing the risk for abuse, particularly of battered women, was cut short at her death from cancer at the age of 40.

“We were excited to provide this award to Dr. Asberg,” said Alesia Hawkins, chair of the special interest group. “Her article embodies Dr. Rhatigan’s vision and work to understand the impact of violence on women’s lives and improve intervention and prevention efforts. We hope such a recognition will highlight the importance of Dr. Asberg’s research on childhood sexual abuse and hope that she continues her work, which we believe will contribute greatly to the field of sexual abuse and assault.”

ABCT, founded in 1966, is described at its website as an “organization committed to the advancement of scientific approaches to the understanding and improvement of human functioning through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to the assessment, prevention, treatment of human problems, and the enhancement of health and well-being.”

The special interest group of the organization seeks to promote awareness of – and disseminate research about – issues related to child maltreatment and interpersonal violence.