Lynsay Ayer

Photo of Lynsay Ayer
Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist
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 scientist at the RAND Corporation. 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 abuse). She is particularly interested in identifying ways to improve access to trauma and mental health services for marginalized and underserved populations. For example, she has studied the role of fathers in the child welfare system, and tested interventions for low-income communities with limited access to mental health services. Ayer's work aims to explore and test new models of service delivery, particularly in non-traditional mental health settings (e.g., task shifting models, using digital technologies). 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.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Suicide Prevention Program Consultant, National Institute of Mental Health

Recent Projects

  • Fathers, Child Mental Health, and Maltreatment in the Child Welfare System
  • Evaluation of the NYC Connections to Care Initiative
  • Development and Testing of Life Improvement for Teens (LIFT) Online Curriculum for Stress and Trauma
  • Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities
  • Improving Causal Inference Tools for Addiction Researchers

Selected Publications

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, 59(9), 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, 13(3), 2019

Jaycox, L.H., Ayer, L., Vona, P., Hehman, C., Stein, B.D., Mahmud, A., Woolley, M., Meza, E., Thornton, E., & Venkatesh, B., "Development and preliminary evaluation of a self-guided, Internet-based tool for coping with stress and trauma: Life Improvement for Teens (LIFT)," Psychological Services, 16(1), 2018

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, 82, 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, 21(4), 2016

Ayer, L., Ramchand, R., Geyer, L., Burgette, L., & Kofner, A. , "The influence of training, reluctance, efficacy, and stigma on suicide intervention behavior among NCOs in the Army and Marine Corps. ," Journal of Primary Prevention, 37, 2016

Ayer L.A., Harder V.S., Rose G.L., & Helzer J.E. , "Drinking and stress: An examination of sex and stressor differences using IVR-based daily data," Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 115, 2011

Ayer, L.A., Althoff, R.R., Ivanova, M.Y., Rettew, D.C., Sulman, J., Waxler, E., & Hudziak, J.J. , "Child behavior checklist-juvenile bipolar disorder (CBCL-JBD) and CBCL–posttraumatic stress problems (CBCL-PTSP) scales are measures of a single dysregulatory syndrome," Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 2009


  • Man talks with mental health practitioner via telemedecine, photo by verbaska_studio/Getty Images

    Want to Stem the Rising Mental Health Crisis? Look Beyond the Usual Suspects for Help

    As the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects spread, concerns about mental health impacts continue to grow. Many communities and policymakers are desperate to stem the tide of unaddressed mental health needs, and with the right investments in training, task-shifting models have enormous potential to bolster available, accessible mental health services.

    May 12, 2020 Psych Central