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Dr. Mullins Awarded 2023 Dennis Drotar Distinguished Research Award in Pediatric Psychology

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

It is with great pride that the Center for Pediatric Psychology announces Dr. Larry Mullins was awarded the 2023 Dennis Drotar Distinguished Research Award in Pediatric Psychology by the Society of Pediatric Psychology. This award recognizes Dr. Mullins’ excellence and significant contributions to the scientific base of pediatric psychology. We felt it best to share the words of his colleagues as to why he is most deserving of this award:

Dr. Mullins’ formative research experiences included observing children’s pain experiences while receiving dental procedures in a mobile dental clinic, an un-air-conditioned trailer that traveled to rural Missouri communities throughout the summer.

His pioneering work developing measures of illness uncertainty and targeting family-centered processes to facilitate adjustment of children has been integral to informing evidence-based clinical care.


Applying a family systems framework, Dr. Mullins demonstrated the transactional relationships of illness uncertainty showing that children with parents who experience higher illness uncertainty regarding their child’s illness also report higher illness uncertainty and psychological distress.

Dr. Mullins has continually practiced clinically, which directly informs, motivates, and shapes his research. Dr. Mullins’ interdisciplinary research has significantly advanced our understanding of the psychosocial factors that influence family functioning across a broad range of pediatric health conditions (e.g., cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma). Ultimately, it is his care for children and families, and attention to their needs, that has resulted in him being the foremost expert on pediatric and parental illness uncertainty, and more recently, differences of sex development (DSD).

His research also expanded our previously limited understanding of gender identity development in children with DSD; These findings have given direction to the clinicians on the front lines of care, in the context of very limited psychosocial research and a polarizing political environment surrounding their care.

He has held numerous leadership positions including Director of the Psychological Services Center, Director of Clinical Training, Department Head, and Associate Dean for Research. What is notable is that each of these leadership roles reflects his investment in multiple aspects of Pediatric Psychology, particularly research, teaching, and clinical care.

He is also adored by his colleagues, respected as a leader in the field, and has committed his career to advancements in pediatric psychology. He has approached his research career with humility and dedication to train the next generation of scientists, resulting in a research legacy that will continue long after his career.

When work needs to be done to sustain and advance research and clinical programs, Larry will do it.

He generates opportunities for his students to pursue their own interests and paves pathways for those who do not have equitable access in these professional spaces, as well as leveraging his career to aid those from marginalized backgrounds.

I deeply respect him as a scientist and as a kind and generous human being.


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