Holly Laws, an expert in analyzing and interpreting data for family-related research, is the new director of the Center for Research on Families’ (CRF) Methodology Consulting Center (MCS).
Laws will co-direct the program with Aline Sayer until Sayer’s retirement in spring 2018.
Laws received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology with a minor in quantitative methods from UMass Amherst in 2014. She specializes in using novel statistical methods to determine how close relationships impact mental health over time.
In addition to overseeing CRF’s consulting program, she will teach courses in hierarchical linear modeling and structural equation modeling as a faculty member of the department of psychological and brain sciences.
As a doctoral student in 2012, she received a CRF Family Research Dissertation Fellowship that supported her research examining physiological co-regulation within newly married couples. She worked with former CRF director Sally Powers as a statistical consultant for her research on adolescent depression.
Prior to her new role at UMass, Laws was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University in the department of psychiatry in the School of Medicine.
“CRF offers specialized methodology workshops. We want to continue this and expand it on a national level both through consulting and by providing online tools,” says Laws. “We want CRF to become a resource for researchers who are working with family data and don’t know how to use it. This is our niche–working with the complex dyadic models and longitudinal designs that capture the complexity of families.”
MCS currently offers a range of services, including free statistical seminars featuring state-of-the-art techniques that are open to researchers—student and faculty alike. The program offers up to 10 hours of free methodology consultation services to all graduate students and faculty on campus.
Laws finds that CRF is distinctive in its mission to support interdisciplinary research that focuses on the diversity, health and well-being of families.
“CRF was the whole reason I chose to do my doctoral program at UMass Amherst. To have a place that is specifically about research, but is family oriented, is rare. I don’t know of any other research centers that have a concentration in child and family research with such strong ties to a clinical division. CRF is very unique in that way,” says Laws.
Laws has also served as an instructor for the University of Michigan’s ICPSR Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research–a series of statistical workshops hosted at UMass Amherst each summer–since 2012.