Psychology professor wins Monty

by Tara Kistler

Courtesy Vanessa Malcarne

San Diego State psychology professor Vanessa Malcarne, who is part of the faculty of the joint doctoral program between SDSU and the University of California, San Diego focuses her research on quality of life issues for those who are chronically ill. She is interested in the ways people cope with a diagnosis that can never be fully treated and mental illnesses that come with such a prognosis.

Because of her research and impact outside the university, Malcarne is the newest winner of the prestigious Monty Award, given only to those who have made substantial contributions to the university and community.

Clinical psychology became Malcarne’s dream while she was in college. Her dream job as a biochemistry undergraduate at Cornell University was to become a veterinarian because it seemed “glamorous.” Malcarne realized her passion for literature and with the advice of a friend, decided psychology was her true calling and transferred to earn her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. Since her transition to SDSU in 1990, Malcarne focused on what she describes as, “moving past post-diagnosis issues to prevention of cancer.”

Her involvement and work with the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program includes research on the psychological effects of those diagnosed with serious illnesses and writing policy. The program started in the mid 1980s and when Malcarne joined, it was in its early stages.

Malcarne also psychometrically instruments to studies on people by creating questionnaires and testing them for effectiveness.

Georgia Sadler, Associate Director of the UCSD Moores Cancer Center said, “Dr Malcarne’s particular skill sets have enabled our research team to more effectively measure changes in the elusive areas of perceptions and attitudes.”

When Malcarne is not researching, writing or talking with patients, she enjoys hiking and seeing wildlife with her husband. She also likes to sing classical music. Sadler describes the collaboration since the mid ‘90s as, “a perfect partnership because we each bring unique as well as overlapping skill sets.”

Her determination to make a difference in the lives of those facing some of life’s greatest challenges and her contributions in research to the university and community have earned Malcarne a well-deserved Monty Award.