Stephanie Gonzalez ’18MA is the first recipient of the Maria Ruiz Memorial Award, which recognizes outstanding thesis research in applied behavior analysis.
The award was established in memory of Maria Ruiz, a Rollins psychology professor who was instrumental in creating the Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis and Clinical Science (ABACS) Program in 2015. Ruiz was a prominent researcher and writer in conceptual and applied behavior analysis. She passed away on August 15, 2017.
The award is presented to the student who best exemplifies Ruiz’s focus on controlled, rigorous data collection to inform treatment decisions. In addition to completing the ABACS program requirements with a 4.0 GPA, Gonzalez excelled in her application of the principles of behavior analysis to help dozens of individuals with special needs and served her peers as the student representative of the ABACS program.
Gonzalez’s thesis project was well conceptualized, carefully conducted, and answered a question novel to the field of behavior analysis. Her data support a methodology for teaching individuals with autism spectrum disorder how to respond to questions about past events.
Next year, Gonzalez will apply to doctoral programs to continue pursuing her passion for research.