Tracy Morris is a leading researcher in the study of childhood social anxiety.

Christopher Wilkinson has broken new ground in his research on the history of musical life of black West Virginians from 1930 to the beginning of World War II.

For their efforts, the two professors have been awarded this year’s Benedum Distinguished Scholar awards, the premier research honor at West Virginia University .

“This year’s recipients meet the high standard that has been established during the many years of this program,”said C. B. Wilson, associate provost for academic personnel.

As Benedum Distinguished Scholars, Morris and Wilkinson will present public lectures related to their research.

Morris will speak at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, and Wilkinson at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 4. Both lectures are in the Mountainlair Rhododendron Room.

Morris, a native of Tulsa , Okla. , joined the WVU faculty in 1993 as an assistant professor. She was promoted to associate professor in 1999, and to professor in 2004. She currently serves as coordinator of the clinical child psychology doctoral program.

I am thrilled, and humbled, to win this award, Morris said.It is a particular honor to be recognized by one’s peers.

Her research is in the area of developmental psychopathology, with a special interest in social anxiety disorder. She has published numerous articles and book chapters in the area of clinical child psychology and anxiety disorders.

Social anxiety disorder is an extreme variant of shyness,Morris said.I have researched how it develops in children, looking at both peer and parental influences.

Morris conducted the only longitudinal study of the developmental progression of social anxiety in children. Children in grades 1-3 were observed twice a year over a five year period. This work led in part to her book,Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents,which has been hailed as an essential resource for professionals in her field.

In addition, she co-developed the Social Phobia and Anxiety Inventory for Children, generally regarded as the field’s best instrument for assessing and diagnosing social anxiety in children, and a controlled clinical trial of a psychosocial treatment for social phobia in children, the first comprehensive, non-drug treatment for the disorder in child clinical psychology.

Morris has also meshed her passion for film with her work in psychology through her bookPsychology of Cinema: Perspectives on the Art and Science of Film.

She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pittsburg State University ( Kan. ) and her doctorate in clinical psychology in 1992 from the University of Mississippi . She went on to the Medical University of South Carolina, where she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical child psychology prior to joining WVU .

Morris received the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Researcher Award in 2002. She resides in Morgantown .

Wilkinson specializes in the history of African-American music, particularly jazz as well as the history of art music from a multicultural perspective. The Chicago , Ill. , native joined WVU as an instructor in 1976. He was named professor in 2001.

Originally, Wilkinson focused his research upon 17 th century Italian sacred music, the area of his doctoral research. His focus shifted to 20 th century American art music, investigating among other topics the creative process of composer George Crumb, a West Virginia native.

In 1988, he turned to jazz history, eventually reconstructing the career of Don Albert, leader ofThe World’s Greatest Jazz Band.In 2001, his biographical study of AlbertJazz on the Road: Don Albert’s Musical Lifewas published.

This is an extraordinary honor. I am gratified my work has received such praise,Wilkinson said.

Currently, Wilkinson is researching the musical culture of big band jazz and dance music in the African-American communities of the West Virginia coal fields during the Great Depression. The study will conclude with a monograph tentatively titledTruckin’on Down in the Mountain State : Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia.

Wilkinson received a bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and a master’s degree and doctorate from Rutgers University . He has published several articles and his research has been supported by a Summer Stipend and Travel-to-Collections Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; fellowships and media grants from the West Virginia Humanities Council an development and research grants from WVU .

The Benedum and Distinguished Professors of WVU established the Benedum Distinguished Scholar Awards in 1985-86 to honor and reward faculty for excellence in research and scholarship. The project is funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and coordinated by the Office of Academic Affairs and Research.

Morris and Wilkinson will accept their $5,000 awards at a special convocation at 7 p.m. Friday, April 21, in the Mountainlair Ballrooms as part of WVU ’s Weekend of Honors.