SANS is pleased to recognize our members with three key awards each year.

2023 Distinguished Scholar Award

The Distinguished Scholar Award recognizes the broad scope and potentially integrative nature of scholarship in social and affective neuroscience. It honors a scholar who has made distinctively valuable research contributions across his or her career in areas by significantly advancing our understanding of the biological basis of social and affective processes or expanding the core of social and affective neuroscience discipline. The winner of this award will receive travel compensation (up to $599 USD) and complimentary registration to the annual meeting.

Matthew Lieberman (he/him)

Matthew Lieberman (he/him)

2023 Distinguished Scholar Award Winner

Matthew Lieberman is a professor at University of California, Los Angeles but still considers himself a philosopher who just wanted some data.  Matt was dubbed one of the so-called “young turks” back in 2001, when social neuroscience was still social cognitive neuroscience and he hosted the first-ever social neuroscience conference in West Hollywood.  He had the good fortune to be the first person hired in the U.S. to use fMRI to examine social psychological questions which gave him a massive first mover advantage in recruiting many trainees who went on to be central to our field.  His research interests have been extremely varied, usually involving a new research program with each new trainee or collaborator.  These areas include: social pain, self-knowledge, affect labeling, persuasion, mentalizing, positive empathy, social working memory, and what the default mode network actually does for us at rest.  Now as an “old turk”, his interests have turned to making social neuroscience more ‘social’ by using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to examine people while they interact and have conversations, sometimes far from the university lab.  This approach uses neural synchrony to identify when people are seeing things in (in)compatible ways, the consequences this has for friendship, teams, and ideological conflict, and how different interventions can alter these dynamics.

In 2013, Matt published his bestselling book “Social: Why our brains are wired to connect” but if you are going to read one thing of his, he recommends his 2022 Psych Review paper “Seeing minds, matter, and meaning: The CEEing model of pre-reflective subjective construal”.  Matt was also the founding Editor-in-Chief of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, a position he has held for nearly twenty years.  Finally, outside of academia, Matt is the co-founder of Resonance, a company that uses artificial intelligence to help members of large communities make new meaningful connections in order to fight the growing loneliness crises in our schools, workplaces, and communities.

Past Winners

2022 – Eveline Crone

2021 – Uta & Chris Frith

2019 – Nancy Kanwisher

– Betsy Murray

2017 – B.J. Casey

2016 – John Cacioppo

2015 – James J. Gross

2014 – Elizabeth Phelps

2013 – Ralph Adolphs

2023 Early Career Award

The Early Career Award recognizes an early-stage investigator who has made significant contributions to Social and Affective Neuroscience terms of outstanding scholarship and service to the field.  The winner of the award will receive a $500 prize, complimentary registration, and be invited to give a short talk at the annual meeting.

Jon Freeman

Jon Freeman

Columbia University

2022 Early Career Award Winner

Jon Freeman is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Columbia University. His research focuses on how we perceive other people, such as how we categorize others into social groups, infer their emotion or personality via facial cues, and more generally how we understand and react to our social world. His work examines the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying person perception, stereotyping and less conscious forms of bias, and decision-making in social contexts, including the interplay of social, emotional, and visual processes in perceptual and interpersonal judgments. He takes an integrative and multi-level approach that makes use of several techniques, including functional neuroimaging, computational modeling, and behavioral paradigms. His research has been recognized with awards including the NSF CAREER Award, the APS Janet Taylor Spence Award, the Society for Personality & Social Psychology’s SAGE Young Scholars Award, the Society for Social Neuroscience’s Early Career Award, and the International Social Cognition Network’s Early Career Award. His advocacy work on the disparities and educational and career barriers LGBTQ people face in STEM, and the central role that demographic data have in understanding and addressing them, recently led the US government’s national STEM workforce surveys to pilot sexual orientation and gender identity questions. For this work he was recognized with the LGBTQ Scientist of the Year Award from NOGLSTP.

Past Winners

2021 – Catherine Hartley

2020 – Emily Falk

2019 – Jamil Zaki

2018 – Leah Somerville

2023 Innovation Award

The SANS Innovation Award recognizes a particular article authored by a SANS member and published in a scholarly outlet that makes a contribution likely to generate the discovery of new hypotheses, new phenomena, or new ways of thinking about the discipline of social and affective neuroscience. Any kind of innovative contribution (including developments of new theory or methods, including analytic methods; innovative applications of existing methods; and creative application of methods from other fields) is eligible. Contributions may be judged innovative and generative even before they have generated substantial empirical findings. The award selection will focus on a contribution’s conceptual innovation and potential to motivate new research and further conceptual investigation.

Patricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood

University of Birmingham

2022 Innovation Award Winner

Dr. Patricia Lockwood is a Sir Henry Dale Fellow and Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her lab investigates social learning and decision-making across the lifespan and in neurological and psychiatric disorders using a mixture of computational modelling, behavioural measures, self report, patient studies and neuroimaging.

Patricia L. Lockwood ,1,2,3,* Matthew A.J. Apps,1,2,3,7 and Steve W.C. Chang4,5,6,7
1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
2Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, University of Oxford
3Centre for Human Brain Health, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham
4Department of Psychology, Yale University
5Department of Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine
6Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine
7Equal contributions
You can read more about the work in the lab here:
Past Winners

2021 – Dal Monte, O., Chu, C., Fagan, N.,and Chang, S (2020).  Specialized medial prefrontal–amygdala coordination in other-regarding decision preference.  Nature Neuroscience, 2020 April 23(4): 565-574.

2019 – FeldmanHall, O., Dunsmoor, J. E., Tompary, A., Hunter, L. E., Todorov, A., & Phelps, E. A. (2018). Stimulus generalization as a mechanism for learning to trust. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(7), E1690-E1697.

2018 – Parkinson, C., Kleinbaum, A.M. & Wheatley, T. (2017).  Spontaneous neural encoding of social network position. Nature Human Behavior, 1(5), 0072.

2017 – Lockwood, Patricia L., Apps, M.A.J., Valton, V., Viding, E., Rosier, J.P. (2016). Neurocomputational mechanisms of prosocial learning and links to empathy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113, 9763-9768.
2017 – Stolier, Ryan M. & Freeman, J.B. Neural pattern similarity reveals the inherent intersection of social categories. Nature Neuroscience, 19, 795-797.

2016 – Jack, Rachael. E., , Garrod, O.G.B., Schyns, P.G. (2014) Dynamic facial expressions of emotion transmit an evolving hierarchy of signals over time. Current Biology, 24, 187-192. 

2015 – Preston, Stephanie D. (2013). The origins of altruism in offspring care. Psychological Bulletin, 139, 1305-1341.

2014 – McKell Carter, R., Bowling, D. L., Reeck, C., & Huettel, S. A. (2012). A distinct role of the temporal-parietal junction in predicting socially guided decisions. Science, 337, 109-111.

2013 – Yarkoni, T., Poldrack, R. A., Nichols, T. E., Van Essen, D. C., & Wager, T. D. (2011). Large-scale automated synthesis of human functional neuroimaging data. Nature Methods, 8, 665-670.