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 Tuesday, August 24, 2004, IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Longest Serving Faculty Member is Highly Cited Researcher
By Vanessa Lozano, junior, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The University of Colorado at Boulder is home to 24 of the most highly cited researchers in the world, according to a survey published in The Economist in London. Among them is Richard Jessor, psychology professor, director of the Research Program on Health Behavior and the longest serving active faculty member at the university.

Jessor began his career at CU-Boulder in 1951 as an assistant professor in the department of psychology. In 2001 he received the Robert L. Stearns Award for Extraordinary Achievement from the university.

In the late 1950's, Jessor and several colleagues established CU-Boulder's Institute of Behavioral Science. The Institute was founded to examine important social problems such as environmental change, health, problem behavior and population, through an interdisciplinary approach

"What keeps me going all these years is the sense that the work behavioral scientists do has some importance to society," said Jessor. "We're really trying to advance human welfare."

Jessor's research focuses on the development of youth, especially under conditions of adversity and disadvantages. He is currently working on projects examining teenage development in China and rural villages in Egypt.

Jessor's most recognized scientific contribution is Problem Behavior Theory, which has been used by behavioral scientists worldwide. He is currently applying the theory to CU-Boulder students, studying the smoking, drinking and drug use habits of the class of 2006 since their freshmen year. By measuring substance use, values, attitudes and interests, Jessor hopes to understand why some students use heavily, some moderately and some not at all. In September 2003 he and his colleagues presented preliminary findings to the CU Standing Committee on Substance Abuse.

"Dick Jessor has had an outstanding career at CU-Boulder," said Phil DiStefano, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. "His research agendas over the years have improved the quality of life for citizens in Colorado, the nation and around the world. The campus is very fortunate to have such an outstanding scholar and teacher."

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