Research Category Sarah E. Nelson, PhD. Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Director of Research, Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance

The International Center for Responsible Gaming (ICRG) is pleased to honor Dr. Sarah Nelson with the 2022 ICRG Scientific Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions to the field of gambling disorder.

Nelson is well known in the gambling studies field for many reasons. Exemplary works include studies of voluntary self-exclusion and actual online gambling and gaming. Her research has suggested that self-exclusion provides an important pathway for recovery and also serves as a reasonable proxy for gambling-related problems in internet gambling player records studies. Nelson also played a key role in the Division on Addiction team that was the first to publish research using actual internet gambling player records. This and related work have helped shape contemporary understandings of internet gambling, illustrating the value of player records as a complement to self-report research strategies and showing how operators might use gambling records to identify and intervene with players who might have problems with gambling. Nelson recently was the lead author on the first paper to use daily fantasy sports player records to understand the distribution and characteristics of typical and atypical daily fantasy sports activity. This important work filled a void of knowledge about this activity that shares many aspects of traditional gambling.

Throughout her career, Nelson has advocated for the field of gambling studies to adopt more rigorous designs, use more valid measures and interpret findings more carefully. The field’s maturation has resulted, in part, from these efforts. She continues to publish novel findings as a lead author that are important for our collective understanding of gambling and disordered gambling. Yet, she simultaneously is working to lift up the next generation of gambling research scientists by providing mentored research experiences that result in high quality publications in esteemed journals.

Year: 2022
Type: Scientific Achievement Award