Stephanie Madon, professor of psychology, is the 2021 recipient of the Cassling Innovation Award. Madon, who has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology since 1999, was recognized for her interdisciplinary collaborations with faculty and students across campus and for her innovative research and teaching practices.
The award was established by Dr. Randal Cassling and Lori Cassling to facilitate novel faculty research projects, especially as they relate to interdisciplinary research and scholarship.
Madon’s research aims to advance understanding about the ways in which pre-existing beliefs and cognitive biases alter people’s judgments and behaviors. She is particularly interested in understanding how expectations influence the perceptions of forensic examiners and others in the criminal justice system, as well as the psychological processes that lead suspects to confess during custodial police interrogations.
“My research lies at the intersection of psychology and law,” Madon said. “Throughout my career, I have strived to address the problem of wrongful conviction by integrating theory and methods from experimental social psychology with evidentiary law.”
Interdisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of Madon’s research. Recently, she brought together an interdisciplinary team of scientists and forensic practitioners from across the United States to promote the validity and application of forensic techniques. She also works closely with a diverse group of undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students to understand how police interrogations exploit suspects’ psychological vulnerabilities, which often result in misinformation, short-sighted thinking, false memories and false confessions.
Madon’s research has earned funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Justice, American Psychological Foundation, and Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, American Psychology-Law Society, Society of Experimental Social Psychology, Association for Psychological Science, and Society for Personality and Social Psychology. She serves on the human factors and physics-firearms subcommittees for the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as the research and development subcommittee of the Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners.
“I am incredibly honored to have received the Cassling Innovation Award,” Madon said. “Because of the generosity of the Cassling family, I will have the opportunity to build new connections with law enforcement that will enable me to expand my research into under-explored areas of forensic science. I am especially interested in pursuing a new line of research examining the use of detection dogs to identify illicit drugs during traffic stops.”