Pelaez earns Excellence in Research honors


The College of Education’s faculty continues to be recognized for their efforts in the classroom and in research.

At the annual Faculty Convocation, Professor Martha Pelaez won the Excellence in Research and Creative Activities award. Her colleague in the educational psychology program, Senior Instructor Joanne Sanders-Reio, won an Excellence in Teaching award.

“I was ecstatic,” Pelaez said. “I didn’t expect to receive the award because there are so many people doing fantastic research at the College of Education and at FIU.”

Pelaez focuses her research in the area of infant development, finding ways to help infants develop behaviors that affect their learning as they become toddlers. Pelaez has been recognized by FIU twice for her work. In 2005, she receieved the Excellence in Service award and in 1997, she also received the Excellence in Research Award.

For example, when an infant is only 3, 4, and 5 months old, it should be able to make eye contact with its parents. This helps build the behaviors necessary for language development and for socializing with other children and family members.

Some infants, however, don’t develop this skill as expected, Pelaez said. Infants who are on the autism spectrum, for instance have trouble engaging in eye contact smiling, vocalizing, and socializing, she said.

“It’s very gratifying, but if you tap into the right procedures, then you can get the behaviors you desire most of the time,” Pelaez said. “Once parents begin to understand the techniques and the important of their own behaviors in establishing these behavioral repertoires, they can help their own children develop.”

Their awards come on the heels of previous honors won by their colleagues in the College of Education.

Previous College of Education Faculty Award Winners


  • Lynne D. Miller – Excellence in Teaching
  • Elizabeth Cramer – Excellence in Service
  • Eva Frank – Excellence in Mentorship and Advising


  • Alexis McKenney – Excellence in Service
  • Joyce Fine – Excellence in Engagement