2024 Rosenblatt Recipient

Cynthia Berg

Professor psychology at the University of Utah

A distinguished professor psychology at the University of Utah, Cynthia Berg has served as dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science (CSBS), where she taught for more than 30 years and researched, among other things, how people cope with health challenges and other life stressors.

Funded largely by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Berg’s research examines how family members can facilitate or derail the management of chronic illnesses, especially diabetes, according to her CV. The findings demonstrate the importance of social relationships to chronic illness management and health outcomes.

“I take a life-span developmental perspective to examine how parents lay a foundation for how individuals utilize their social context for management of chronic illnesses, a social context that expands to friends, co-workers, and romantic partners,” she wrote in the CV. This work was and remains transformative, stressed a letter of nomination signed by several longtime colleagues at CSBS. Berg was among the first to show that weathering and managing stress is a collaborative process that relies on close relationships.

Overall, she has brought in more than $14 million in extramural funding to the U as a principal investigator and several million more as a co-PI. Over nearly four decades at the U, Berg has published 200 peer-reviewed studies, many of them in the most important psychology and medical journals, leaving a body of research with far-reaching implications.

“What is all the more astonishing is that she has maintained this incredibly high level of productivity while simultaneously serving as a department head and then as Dean of a large college,” wrote one outside colleague in a letter of recommendation for the Rosenblatt Prize.

Berg earned her doctorate at Yale University in developmental psychology in 1987 and joined the U faculty that year. Regarded as a “genuinely wonderful colleague” by many, Berg chaired the Psychology Department from 2008 to 2011, then led CSBS from 2013 until 2022. Last year, she was selected as a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Under her watch as dean, CSBS expanded its degree offerings, adding programs in criminology and geographic information science.  During that time, the college’s undergraduate majors grew by 36% as a direct result of her strategic use of resources to enrich student support.

Berg’s gifts as a mentor have helped her graduate students succeed in their academic careers, with two recent mentees having landed early-career grants from NIH. As Psychology Department chair, she instituted a junior faculty mentoring program which succeeded in maintaining junior faculty morale and commitment to the department.

Past Recipients

2021 Recipient
Chris M. Ireland
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2020 Recipient
Martha Bradley Evans
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