Executive Officer, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress
Senior Project Director, STARRS
Department of Psychiatry
F.Edward Hebert School of Medicine
Uniformed Services University
Robert K. Gifford, Ph.D., is the Executive Officer of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University (USUHS); specializing in the study of traumatic stress in the workplace, particularly combat stress, operational stress, accidents, and the aftermath of workplace incidents. He is the Senior Project Director for the Army Study of Risk and Resilience among Servicemembers. His advanced degrees include Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Philosophy degrees, both in psychology, from Yale University, and a Master of Science in clinical psychology from Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.
Dr. Gifford served in the United States Army for thirty years, retiring as a colonel. While in the Army, he conducted psychological research in the field during operations in Panama, the Persian Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield/Storm), in Somalia, and in Bosnia, as well as at sites in Germany and the United States during peacetime. His research on soldiers’ stress and coping during operational deployments and his studies of grief leadership were used by the Army leadership to develop personnel policies for improving support of soldiers in the field. His other military assignments included serving as Director of Admissions for the USUHS School of Medicine: Chief of the Staff and Faculty Development Division at the Army Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit – Europe, in Heidelberg, Germany, Director of the Military Operational Medicine Research Program for the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Chief of the Department of Military Psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and Executive Officer of the WRAIR. He also served as Research Psychology Consultant to The Army Surgeon General and later as the Army Medical Service Corps’ Assistant Chief for Medical Allied Sciences.
Dr. Gifford’s research interests include community shielding; creating resiliency in organizations; the role of group, organizational, and community factors in preparing for disaster or traumatic loss and in facilitating a return to normal function after such events; and grief leadership – the effect of leaders’ behavior and communication on group recovery. He has extensive experience with both interview research at multiple levels within organizations, and survey questionnaires for larger populations. He has also been active in education about traumatic stress and developing resiliency in organizations and individuals.