Sally Powers, Director

Dr. Sally Powers is Professor of Psychology and a member of the Neuroscience and Behavior Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Director of the Center for Research on Families, and Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the College of Natural Sciences.  Professor Powers joined the university in 1988.  She was an assistant professor of psychology from 1988-91 and an associate professor from 1991-95. She has been a professor since 1995. She served as coordinator of the Psychological Services Center from 1998-2000 and was head of the department of psychology’s clinical division in 2003-06. Professor Powers has also been a professor in the neuroscience and behavior program since 2007.


From 1987-91 Professor Powers was director of family research at the Laboratory of Developmental Psychopathology at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and was an assistant in child psychology at the Hall-Mercer Children’s Center there from 1985-89. She was an instructor of psychology in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School from 1982-92. Professor Powers was a senior research associate at the Henry A. Murray Research Center at Harvard University from 1981-88 and a research associate from 1981-87. She was associate director of the Adolescent and Family Development Project in the department of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston from 1978-83.


Professor Powers earned a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College in California in 1975 and earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University in 1976. In 1977-78 she was a clinical psychology intern at the James Jackson Putnam Child Guidance Center in Boston. In 1981 Professor Powers completed a one-year course in clinical concepts of psychoanalysis at the Boston Psychoanalysis Institute. She earned a doctorate of education in human development from Harvard University in 1982.


Research/Practice Interests

Dr. Powers’ research investigates psychosocial risk factors (particularly adolescent , adult, and family-related social and behavioral stressors) and biological risk factors (endocrine dysregulation) that influence gender differences in the longitudinal course of depression and anxiety.  


Dr. Powers’ research has been funded by NSF, NIMH, NICHD, and the William T. Grant Foundation, and is currently funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. At UMass, Dr. Powers has been awarded a Conti Faculty Fellowship for excellence in  research, and the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.  She regularly serves on review panels for NIH and recently served as a member of the Committee on the Science of Family Research of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine.