Perry-Jenkins Named Director of Center for Research on Families

Maureen Perry-Jenkins
Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Center for Research on Families (CRF) has announced that Professor Maureen Perry-Jenkins '81 (psychology) will take over as its new director. Replacing Sally Powers, who led CRF for the past ten years, she will oversee the continued advancement of family research at UMass.

Perry-Jenkins is a nationally renowned scholar whose contributions on the national, state, regional, and university levels have had profound impact. Broadly, her work focuses on the ways in which socio-cultural factors such as race, gender, and social class, shape the mental health and family relationships of low-wage parents and their children. More specifically, her recent research, funded by NIH, examines how work conditions and workplace policies of low-income families predict both parental and child well-being across the transition to parenthood.

Perry-Jenkins will manage the Center as it continues to increase research on family issues, build a multidisciplinary community of researchers, and connect national and internationally prominent family researchers with UMass faculty and students.  She, along with Associate Director Wendy Varner and Methodology Director Dr. Aline Sayer, will provide faculty mentoring to increase successful funding and management of external grant awards.

This position is not so new for Perry-Jenkins. She began her career at the University of Illinois as an assistant professor of family studies, but returned to her alma mater in 1995 to help create and direct what was then called the Center for the Family from 1996–2002.

CRF is an endowed interdisciplinary research center in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and College of Natural Sciences. “CRF is truly fortunate to have Maureen return to CRF as director. The direction of family research and its contribution to families, practitioners and policy-makers has never been more significant,” says CNS Dean Steven D. Goodwin. SBS Dean Robert S Feldman adds, We are delighted that Maureen has accepted this role. Her commitment to family research incorporates SBS’s mission of integrating learning, research, and public service. The role of family in the areas of culture, society, and individual behavior has never been more important and UMass is fortunate to have a Center focusing on these areas led by such a prominent scholar in family research.” 

“I’m thrilled to take on this new leadership role," says Perry-Jenkins. "Research on families requires an interdisciplinary approach ranging from topics as micro as stress and hormones during pregnancy to the effects of economic downturns on family functioning. CRF is a rare and exciting place where scholars from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, nursing, public health, political science and education come together to address pressing issues facing families. It will be my honor to  enhance these cross-disciplinary collaborations, foster cutting edge research on families, and build the reputation of CRF nationally and internationally.” 

Click here to learn more about the work and the achievements of the Center for Research on Families.