Dawn Bowers named PHHP Alumna of the Year

Bowers is recognized for extraordinary contributions to the field of neuropsychology.

Bowers, Dawn 2022

Dr. Dawn Bowers

Dawn Bowers, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, doctorate in clinical psychology ’78, has been named the College of Public Health and Health Professions 2022 Outstanding Alumna of the Year in recognition of extraordinary contributions to the field of neuropsychology.

Bowers is a professor and clinical/research neuropsychologist in the departments of clinical and health psychology and neurology at UF. She is the director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the Norman Fixel Institute for Neurological Diseases, and Neuropsychology Director for the UF Health Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration Program. She is an international expert in the neurocognitive and emotional changes of age-related neurodegenerative disorders.

Her current research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Parkinson’s Foundation, focuses on novel interventions for cognitive decline in older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s and those with Parkinson’s disease. Bowers has published more than 225 peer-reviewed research articles, over 350 peer-reviewed research presentations, one co-authored book and one clinical test. She was awarded a UF Research Foundation Professorship in 2006 and a UF Term Professorship in 2017. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, serves on numerous NIH/VA review panels, and has held leadership positions in professional organizations, including the International Neuropsychological Society and Society for Clinical Neuropsychology. She currently chairs the APA’s Division 40 Fellows Committee.

She is strongly committed to research training of predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows and serves as the multiple principal investigator of a unique NINDS-funded T32 training grant in Interdisciplinary Training in Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, now in its eighth year.

Bowers shares some of her UF memories and insights:

Why did you choose UF for your degree?

As an undergraduate at UF, I took a small graduate seminar on high cortical function that was co-taught by a neuropsychologist and neurologist. I was completely mesmerized and saw UF as the perfect juxtaposition for my interests in cognition, neuroscience and clinical psychology. As an aside, this course is still taught today and one that I coordinated for 15 years before passing the torch to others.

Favorite UF memory.

Among my favorite UF memories are a wonderful cohort of graduate students that I interfaced with during my graduate career days. We worked hard and we played hard. Many of my fellow graduates have gone on to be leaders in the field, and I am humbled to know them.

Best lesson learned.

Less is more.

UF faculty members who influenced you the most.

Three distinct faculty equally influenced me, but did so in different ways: Paul Satz, a neuropsychologist, Ken Heilman, a neurologist, and Molly Harrower, a clinical psychologist. From Paul Satz, I learned the importance of rigor in science. From Ken Heilman, I learned the importance of hypothesis testing, creativity and thinking outside the box. From Molly Harrower, I learned the importance of finding passion in one’s life, and how to harness that energy. From all three, I learned the value of interdisciplinary endeavors. This interdisciplinary theme carries forward in my research and teaching endeavors today, including a predoctoral T32 focused on Interdisciplinary Training in Movement Disorders, which encompasses four colleges and five fields: neuropsychology, rehabilitation science, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and applied physiology and kinesiology.

People would be surprised to know.

I won the regional Betty Crocker homemaker award during my junior year at Marianna High School in the panhandle of Florida. I was surprised too, but apparently did well on a test that all high school junior girls were required to take in the late 1960s.