Association of Former Students recognizes Varni's research

James Varni

James Varni

For research that has helped improve the lives of children with chronic diseases throughout the world, James Varni, a professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M, has earned The Association of Former Students’ 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award for Research.

The award, which includes a $4,000 cash gift, an engraved watch and a commemorative plaque, will be presented at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27 ceremonies in Rudder Theater.

Varni developed PedsQL, a quality of life measurement method used throughout the world, that can be performed by children as young as five with severe chronic conditions such as cerebral palsy and brain tumors.

“Before Dr. Varni’s clinical research, no quality of life measures existed for these children to voice their perspectives on their health and well being to their parents or the healthcare professions,” said Forster Ndubisi, head of the Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning Department, in a letter to The Association recommending Varni for the award.

In a five-year period following his 2004 arrival at Texas A&M, Varni authored and co-authored 96 peer-reviewed articles published in scholarly journals and was principal investigator or co-investigator on competitive research grants totaling more than $15 million.

“As a result of his stature in the field, he is constantly contacted by researchers from around the world, bringing further exposure to Texas A&M’s outstanding research enterprise,” said Ndubisi. “His contributions are exemplary and his work lays an important foundation for shaping the future of the department and its programs.”

Varni’s areas of expertise also include conceptual models and cognitive behavior therapy interventions in pediatric chronic health conditions. He has conducted research and evaluation projects focusing on the effects of the built and natural environment on child, parent and staff outcomes as a basis for evidence-based architectural design for pediatric healthcare facilities.

Varni earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1976, a Master of Arts in Psychology from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1974 and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 1972.

A Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the Society of Pediatric Psychology, Varni has published more than 250 journal articles and book chapters in behavioral medicine and four books on children. He’s also a recipient of the Significant Research Contributions Award from the American Psychological Association.

In addition to his faculty appointment in the College of Architecture, Varni is a professor and vice chairman in the College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and an adjunct professor in the College of Liberal Arts’ Department of Psychology.

The Association’s awards, first presented in 1955, have been presented to 906 professionals who have exhibited the highest standards of excellence at Texas A&M.

posted April 4, 2011