Li named first A.A. Alexander Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry

Professor James Li

James Li was recently appointed as the recipient of the newly established A.A. Alexander Professorship, an endowed professorship that alternates every five years between the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at UW-Madison.

Created by Dr. Aris A. Alexander, the endowed professorship serves to recognize and strengthen collaborations between the two departments. An undergraduate and then a clinical graduate student in the Department of Psychology at UW-Madison, Dr. Alexander later went on to do post-doctoral work and then joined the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry where he served for 27 years. (Read more about Alexander and the professorship here.)

“I am delighted that James was selected for this professorship,” says Department of Psychology Chair Craig Berridge. “His research on the genetic mechanisms of mental health problems in children associated with certain neurodevelopmental disorders sits solidly at the nexus between our two fields. As part of his research program, he has developed strong cross-departmental collaborations and proposed a rich plan for how this award could strengthen collaborations between our departments.”

Li has identified a number of ways in which he hopes to strengthen current research and mentoring ties, while creating new opportunities for collaboration. From developing a stronger integration between faculty utilizing big data to identifying opportunities for faculty to teach seminars, workshops or full-fledged courses that focus on the ways in which research from both departments incorporates science and practice, Li has a bold vision for the next five years.

“I believe that a good reason why the UW Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology have maintained such a strong tradition of collaboration is because we share the same overarching mission – towards understanding how the human brain works and applying this knowledge to addressing the needs of our society and realizing the Wisconsin Idea,” says Li. “As the A.A. Alexander Professor, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Psychiatry in conducting innovative science and training our next generation of psychologists and psychiatrists to work side-by-side, for the betterment of our state and our society at-large.”

April 11, 2022