Researcher of the Year: Tracy Cross

Tracy Cross
Tracy Cross

The Psychology of Gifted Students

Tracy Cross's accomplishments at Ball State University are legion: George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Gifted Studies; former Executive Director of the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities; newly appointed Associate Dean of Teachers College; and Researcher of the Year for 2004-05. Cross's research centers on understanding how gifted students cope with being gifted--often realized as a burden for those endowed with exceptional intellectual gifts.

"I'm a psychologist who studies the life of gifted students," says Cross. "Over the years I've learned that they often feel stigmatized about being gifted." To contribute to the education of gifted students where it is needed most, Cross and his colleagues at the Indiana Academy created Project ASPIRE, a program for gifted students in Indiana schools, particularly those with sizeable numbers of low-income gifted K-12 students.

"This population has been largely overlooked in terms of proper educational resources and training," explains Cross. "Since we're about helping people maximize their potential, we want to bring influential opportunities to kids in small rural settings--which is what Project ASPIRE does."

The Center for Gifted Studies and Talent Development at Ball State University was created a dozen years ago. Since then, he and his research team have garnered more than $8 million in federal, state, and foundation funding, including awards from the Indiana Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education's Jacob K. Javits Program. In so doing, programs for hundreds of gifted students have been provided for, including 140 psycho-educational evaluations of potentially gifted students. Cross has published more than 200 articles about gifted studies and delivered several hundred conference presentations.

Cross's achievements have earned him recognition in several well-known scholarly journals, including the Peabody Journal of Education, Gifted Child Quarterly, and Journal for the Education of the Gifted. He has also received honorary awards such as the Early Leader Award from the National Association for Gifted Children (1996), the Early Scholar Award (1997), the Outstanding Administrative Service Award from Ball State University (1998-1999), and, now, Ball State's prestigious Researcher of the Year award.

His professional future appears clear, as does that of the fortunate students affected by his work: "I want to be associated with things that matter, and to that end I will continue to conduct research on the psychology of gifted kids," says Cross.