Lynsay Ayer

Lynsay Ayer
Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Off Site Office


Ph.D. in clinical psychology, University of Vermont; B.A. in psychology, Cornell University


Lynsay Ayer (she/her) is a senior behavioral and social scientist at RAND and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The overarching goals of her research are (a) to prevent violence and trauma (e.g., child maltreatment, suicide, disasters) and (b) prevent and treat behavioral health problems caused by stressful/traumatic events (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol misuse). She is particularly interested in identifying ways to improve access to behavioral health services for youth and marginalized and underserved populations. For example, she has studied the role of fathers in the child welfare system, and tested interventions to improve access to mental health services in low-income communities. Ayer's work aims to develop and test new models of service delivery that expand the mental health workforce (e.g., task sharing models). She has led or co-led studies utilizing longitudinal survey designs, randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental designs, and mixed methods. Ayer received her B.A. in psychology from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Vermont. She completed her clinical internship at the Medical University of South Carolina/Department of Veterans Affairs Consortium.

Previous Positions

Suicide Prevention Program Advisor, National Institute of Mental Health (half time, 2019-2022)

Recent Projects

  • Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors Among Preteens in the Child Welfare System
  • Libraries for Health
  • COVID Impacts on Alcohol Use in Communities Affected by Repeated Disasters
  • Artificial Intelligence in Schools for Suicide Prevention
  • How Built and Social Environments Affect COVID-19 Disaster Impacts in the Gulf of Mexico

Selected Publications

Ayer, L., Stevens, C., Reider, E., Sims, B., Colpe, L., & Pearson, J., "Preventing Youth Suicide: Potential “Crossover Effects” of Existing School-based Programs," Prevention Science, 2022

Ayer, L., Horowitz, L., Colpe, L., Lowry, N., Ryan, P., Boudreaux, E., Little, V., Erban, S., Ramirez-Estrada, S., & Schoenbaum, M., "Clinical Pathway for Suicide Risk Screening in Adult Primary Care Settings: Special Recommendations," Journal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry, 2022

Ayer, L., Ramchand, R., Karimi, G., & Wong, E., "Co-occurring alcohol and mental health problems in the military: Prevalence, disparities, and service utilization," Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2022

Ayer, L., Pane, J., Godley, M., McCaffrey, D., Burgette, L., Cefalu, M., Vegetabile, B., & Griffin, B.A., "Comparative effectiveness of individual versus family-based substance use treatment on adolescent self-injurious thoughts and behaviors," Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 2022

Ayer, L., Colpe, L., Pearson, J., Rooney, M., & Murphy, E., "Advancing research on child suicide: A call to action," Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2020

Ayer, L., Engel, C., Parker, A., Seelam, R., & Ramchand, R., "Behavioral health of Gulf Coast residents six years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: the role of trauma history," Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness

Ayer, L., Setodji, C., Schultz, D., Jaycox, L., & Kofner, A., "Change in externalizing problems over time among ethnic minority youth exposed to violence," Children & Youth Services Review, 2017

Ayer, L., Woldetsadik, M., Malsberger, R., Burgette, L.F., & Kohl, P.L., "Who are the men caring for maltreated youth? Male caregivers in the child welfare system," Child Maltreatment, 2016