By Jenna Larson
The Association for Positive Behavior Support has selected Allison Bruhn, a University of Iowa assistant professor of special education, for a prestigious award.
According to the association’s website, the award is given to “an early career researcher whose work in positive behavior support reflects conceptual sophistication, applied relevance, and promise of substantial contribution to the field.”
In the UI College of Education, Bruhn teaches courses on classroom management and social and behavioral interventions.
“My research mostly focuses on improving the behavior of kids who struggle in that area and also helping teachers to use effective practices in their classroom,” she said. “My real passion is to help teachers help students.”
Bruhn said she was nominated for the award by University of Missouri Professor Tim Lewis, who serves on the nominating committee for the Ted Carr Initial Researcher Award. Lewis said he chose Bruhn because of her work and research.
“The intent is to recognize somebody who is up-and-coming and doing important work in the area of supporting kids with challenges in behavior,” Lewis said.
Carr, the eponym of the award, was one of the founders of the organization that supported students with severe behavioral problems, Bruhn said.
After Carr passed away in 2009, the organization created the award, which is given to early researchers within five years of receiving their Ph.D.s, she said. Typically, it’s given to someone doing work in the field of positive behavior support for kids with “challenging behavior.”
Lewis said he was aware of Bruhn’s work through colleagues at Vanderbilt, from which Bruhn got her degree.
“She struck me as somebody who fit that description very well and that she [was doing] great research and is trying to get things going in some of the school districts there near home as well as across Iowa, so it seemed like she was a good fit for the award,” Lewis said.
Kari Vogelgesang, a clinical assistant professor of education and a colleague of Bruhn, said she deserves the award.
Bruhn and Vogelgesang worked together on several different projects while Vogelgesang was Bruhn’s doctoral student.
“I think two of Allison’s strengths [are that] she is an extremely hard worker and she has an amazing ability to set specific goals and to meet all of those goals and exceed the expectations,” Vogelgesang said. “She produces a lot. Not only does she produces a lot, she produces high-quality work.”
Although the award was given specifically to Bruhn, she said it wouldn’t be possible without collaboration with her colleagues.
“I’m very fortunate to work with great people here at the University of Iowa, and also I have some fantastic colleagues across the country that I do research with,” Bruhn said.