Clinical psychology doctoral student wins Ida M. Green Award

By Deborah Wormser

Clinical psychology doctoral student Maria C. Grosch became interested in neuropsychology as a middle school student volunteering at a senior citizens’ center near her home in St. Louis, Mo.

“There was a special wing for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments. I just really enjoyed working with those patients. I found the disease process interesting and wanted to learn more about it,” she said.

Maria Grosch
Maria Grosch, winner of the 2012 Ida M. Green Award, is congratulated by Rust Reid (second from left), W. Plack Carr Jr., and Dr. Michael Roth, Interim Dean of the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

While still an undergraduate majoring in psychology, she shadowed a neuropsychologist for a day at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, an experience that convinced her she had found her niche. “That gave me my first exposure to what the day-to-day life was like,” she said.

Ms. Grosch is the 2012 recipient of the Ida M. Green Award, which recognizes both quality research and service to the community.

As a researcher, Ms. Grosch designed a project to study breast cancer patients’ cognitive functioning following chemotherapy. That project required her to collect original data and to become the first psychology dissertation student to work in the new Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“She has done a wonderful job of forging new territory there,” said Dr. Betsy Kennard, Professor of Psychiatry. “As a result of her outstanding performance, we will have more students working at the Simmons Center after her graduation.”

Ms. Grosch’s mentor, Dr. C. Munro Cullum, Professor of Psychiatry and of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, praised her for acting as a role model for prospective students and for serving as president of the psychology graduate student organization.

Dr. Cullum noted that Ms. Grosch has published two papers, has three more in preparation, and has presented 13 posters at scientific conferences. She also has represented UT Southwestern Medical Center during practicums at the autism and neuropsychology clinics at Children’s Medical Center Dallas and during a rotation at Episcopal School of Dallas.

An ethics class assignment grew into a journal publication providing preliminary guidelines for the use of telemedicine in neuropsychology. The paper – the first of its kind – already has been widely cited, Dr. Cullum said.

Ms. Grosch also serves as the student representative on the National Academy of Neuropsychology’s Women in Leadership Committee – a prestigious national position – and recently received the organization’s Edith Kaplan Scholarship Award.

Ms. Grosch credited much of her success to her parents and to her mentors at UT Southwestern.

“I’ve had excellent mentors along the way. Dr. Cullum has been my mentor from the beginning,” she said. “He has that balance of meeting the person where they are and providing the level of support that they need, but also really pushing them to work harder and do the best that they can.”

Ms. Grosch, who received her undergraduate degree from Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., recently accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“I’m hoping to come back someday. I’m excited about the next step, but I am very sad to leave UT Southwestern,” she said.

She was presented with a certificate and $2,000 by W. Plack Carr Jr., Executive Vice President of Southwestern Medical Foundation, and Rust Reid, former Trustee and Vice President of the Cecil and Ida Green Foundation, at a reception on the 14th floor of the T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building.

The Ida M. Green Award was established by Southwestern Medical Foundation in honor of Mrs. Green. Her husband, Cecil Green, worked at General Electric and later co-founded Texas Instruments. Mrs. Green died in 1986 and Mr. Green in 2003.

Mrs. Green provided unrestricted gifts to many community organizations, including a major bequest to the foundation.

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Dr. Cullum holds the Pam Blumenthal Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Roth holds the Diane and Hal Brierley Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Research.

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