He is one of four researchers from UC Merced to receive the award, and the only one from the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. The other recipients are climatology Professor John Abatzoglou and computer vision Professor Ming-Hsuan Yang, both from the School of Engineering, and adjunct Professor Tanja Woyke, a biologist with the School of Natural Sciences who is primarily affiliated with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
This is the fourth consecutive year Hagger has received this award. This is Yang's sixth award. He also received the Longuet-Higgins Prize at CVPR 2023.
According to Clarivate, the organization that produces journal impact factors and other analytics, the award identifies the world’s most influential researchers — the select few who have been most frequently cited by their peers over the last decade. In 2023, 7,125 researchers, or about 0.1%, of the world's researchers, in 21 research fields and across multiple fields, have earned this exclusive distinction.
Hagger’s research focuses on the determinants of health behavior, the mechanisms and processes of behavior change, and behavior change interventions. Yang's research focuses on computer vision. Hagger has published 21 articles so far this year and has averaged 26 a year since he joined UC Merced in 2019. Hagger was promoted to Distinguished Professor, received the Senate Award for Distinction in Research, and was elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association this year.
One of the papers that has received the most attention details a study on ego-depletion. The research was based on the idea that people’s self-control is limited, and becomes depleted after a while, leading to lapses in impulse control or failure to control urges and temptations, such as lack of willpower in dieting, quitting smoking or cutting down on drinking. Hagger’s work challenged this idea and received quite a bit of press attention in addition to being cited by other researchers.
“Highly cited authors might contribute to a department’s research reputation — having authors whose research is highly cited is a hallmark of a research-intensive culture at a university and suggests that the department and university conducts very high-impact research,” Hagger explained. “As the department and UC Merced more broadly move toward achieving very high-research intensity status, including R1 status, the reputation of the research produced by its faculty is important.”
Earning this award also carries a great deal of meaning for the researcher individually.
“Citations are one way to judge a scientist’s impact because it demonstrates how many other researchers are using your work,” Hagger said, “so to be ranked among the top 0.1% out of hundreds of thousands of researchers is a real achievement and getting it four years in a row indicates consistent, sustained impact.”