Steven A. Martinez '17, the 2023 recipient of the Young Alumni Recognition Award, is quick to share credit for his achievements with his mentors at Fitchburg State.
Now in a doctoral program at Temple University, Martinez returned to campus in October for the 2023 Alumni Association Awards Ceremony.
Associate Professor Christopher Adams introduced Martinez as a "tremendous student," motivated and hard-working, and able to balance his studies with playing on the varsity soccer team (including two years as captain).
"I'm super grateful and honored to be receiving this award," said Martinez, who credited professors going above and beyond class time to mentor him.
Equally important, he said, were his four years on the soccer team. He thanked former Coach Werner Thissen for his guidance. "It helped me learn a resilience for overcoming challenges," he said. "I attribute that to my experiences with the soccer team at Fitchburg State."
While attending Fitchburg State, Martinez worked with Associate Professor Michael Hove (Psychological Science) to assess the relationship between musical groove, movement, and sensation. After graduating in 2017, he worked on characterizing adolescent development as part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study with Dr. B.J. Casey at Yale University.
Shortly after, he worked on examining how a multi-domain group movement program may benefit individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia as well as characterizing the pathobiology of Gulf War Illness in Gulf War Veterans with Dr. Deborah Barnes and Dr. Linda Chao at the University of California San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center.
Currently, under the co-supervision of Dr. Jason Chein and Dr. Vishnu Murty, Martinez is a graduate student at Temple University, where he is studying the intersection of motivation and reward in social media use and how this shapes memory and decision-making.
In addition to his exceptional academic and work record since graduating Fitchburg State, Martinez has a significant record of publications in highly-respected scientific journals. He co-authored an article with Professor Hove that was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. He was also the lead author on an article about Vietnam Era Agent Orange Exposure that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He has authored multiple journal articles related to cognitive development in children and older adults. He has also presented his research and given talks at various national and international conferences.
Martinez's dedication to service and volunteering includes serving as a mentor to students in order to challenge inequalities in the graduate school admissions process and closing the gender gap in technology for female high school students. He is always freely giving of his time speaking to Fitchburg State students about his career path and preparation for careers in research.