Dr. Lawner directs all research activities at ACUE. Prior to ACUE, she served as an instructor and teaching assistant at the University of Connecticut. At UConn, Lawner conducted research as part of the Stigma and Identity Management Lab, which focused on investigating the impact of contending with negative group stereotypes on one’s career choices, academic performance, and health outcomes. This research included a focus on both visible stigmatized identities, such as race and gender, as well as concealable stigmatized identities, such as socioeconomic status, mental health, and sexual orientation. Lawner’s primary research interest has been the recruitment and retention of women in science, technology, engineering, and math, particularly focused on higher education. Her work in this area on student reactions to performance feedback and role models led her to consider how instructors could play a part in increasing equity in education, an interest that brought her to ACUE.
At UConn Lawner served on the university’s Committee on Persistence of Women in STEM, including the subcommittee on Faculty Awareness and Gateway Courses and the Data Taskforce. Lawner was also the project director at UConn on a multi-site research study on mental health and roommate relationships among college students that was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Prior to the University of Connecticut, Lawner served as a senior research assistant in youth development at Child Trends and worked on multiple evaluations of out-of-school time programs in that role and as an independent consultant. Lawner also helped develop the STEM-focused version of the Access for Young Women program, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Women’s Educational Equity Act and aims to address academic equity and improve leadership skills for adolescent girls, specifically the diverse and predominantly low-income population served by the Queens Community House.
Lawner graduated cum laude from Duke University, where she earned her BA in psychology. She holds an MA and PhD in social psychology and a certificate in quantitative research methods, all from the University of Connecticut. Lawner also coauthored a research-based book for parents, Breaking Through! Helping Girls Succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, which received the 2017 Book of the Year Award, parent/caregiver category, from the National Association for Gifted Children.