Dr. Julio Ramirez ’77 Wins American Psychological Association Award
You won’t meet too many people who are more passionate about science and science education than Dr. Julio Ramirez ’77. Over the years, his professional career in neurological research as well as his development of programs to support student learning have garnered him continued recognition and praise.
This past August, Dr. Ramirez was awarded the Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology from the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Ramirez, who graduated from Fairfield’s College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in psychology, is the R. Stuart Dickson Professor of Psychology at Davidson College.
The APA is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States with nearly 130,00 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students.
Dr. Ronald Salafia, professor of psychology and one of Dr. Ramirez’s former professors, said, “This is quite an honor. Winning the award for teaching places Julio in a small, elite group of individuals who have had a major impact on the futures of young psychologists and neuroscientists. This award follows on the heels of his recognition by President Barack Obama for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (pictured).”
The APA recognized Dr. Ramirez for creating infrastructure to support education and training in neuroscience as well as for the mentoring programs he created for junior faculty. In addition, he has made significant contributions to integrated teaching, research, and interdisciplinary study.
In their November publication, the APA wrote, “Through his example and support, he engages and inspires students of every cultural background and aptitude, according them the great respect of demanding excellence from them.”
As a child growing up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Dr. Ramirez was always interested in learning, particularly in science. As he grew up, family, teachers and community mentors supported his interests and challenged him to build on them.
“I was deeply moved to see how someone who wasn't a relative of mine might be concerned for my well-being,” Dr. Ramirez said. “During one experience that stands out when I was 15, I had just spoken in a large group meeting about some difficulties I saw that our community program was having. Eddie Rodriguez, a student from Fairfield University, pulled me to the side after the meeting to encourage me to consider going to college. He was a huge fan of Fairfield as I would eventually become.”
Eddie Rodriguez ’72 is now a superior court judge for the state of Connecticut.
Now a professor at another liberal arts college, Dr. Ramirez works closely with students in his lab and creates opportunities for them to develop their careers. The support he provides is similar to his own positive experiences when he was a student.
“I've had the privilege of mentoring over 130 students,” he said. “My introduction to the power of hands-on learning actually occurred at Fairfield under the mentorship of Drs. Salafia and Jack Boitano. During my junior and senior years I had that honor of working on several projects with Ron, which we eventually published. When liberal arts students are immersed in scientific work, they are confronted with complex problems that require well-honed critical thinking skills, the ability to think rapidly and fluidly, and the ability to express themselves orally and in writing. The preparation I got at Fairfield served as a model for me.”
Dr. Ramirez teaches courses in neuroscience and psychology and performs research on the recovery of function after central nervous system injury, with an emphasis on determining the functional significance of hippocampal neuroplasticity.
In addition to teaching, Dr. Ramirez has received funding from many prestigious institutions including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He joined the Davidson faculty in 1986 and has been widely published in scientific journals, usually with student co-authors.
“I get my deepest satisfaction as a mentor when I see my students come to believe in themselves as young professionals and when they make their own discoveries. I love to watch the joy of discovery wash over them like an ocean wave,” he said.
Top Image: Dr. Julio Ramirez recieving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Barack Obama in 2012.
Bottom Image: Dr. Julio Ramirez recieving the APA award for Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology. Pictured with Dr. Nadine Kaslow, President of the APA.