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University of Michigan School of Information


Jennifer Lawlor

Jennifer Lawlor



Dr. Jennifer Lawlor is a Postdoctoral. Research Fellow in the University of Michigan School of Information. She uses engaged and computational research methods to understand how people collaborate and share information to manage complex problems in community settings, with a particular focus on coalitions. She also studies how tools from complexity science and systems thinking can improve the understanding of social issues. Dr. Lawlor is currently part of a team that is building a prototype community research ecology (CoRE). The CoRE will provide a space for researchers and practitioners in education to share and synthesize information related to problems of mutual interest.

Dr. Lawlor received the Carol Weiss Award for an outstanding early career contribution to the journal Evidence & Policy and the Society for Community Research and Action’s student thesis award. Outside of her research, she serves on an advisory committee for the Southeastern Michigan chapter of Girls on the Run and is a board member for the Ann Arbor Junior chamber.

Dissertation title

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means: Problem Definitions and Collaborative Relationships in Coalitions

Fields of interest

Community Change Efforts 
Community Coalitions 
Social Network Analysis 
Systems Thinking and Complexity Science for Community Problem-solving 
Use of Research Evidence and Data Use


Bachelor of Arts in community psychology, DePaul University, 2012
Master of Arts in ecological-community psychology, Michigan State University, 2015 
Doctor of Philosophy in ecological-community psychology, Michigan State University, 2019

Selected Publications

Lawlor, J.A., Metta, K.R., & Neal, Z.P. (2020, August 20). What is a coalition? A systematic review of coalitions in community psychology.

Lawlor, J.A., Mills, K.J., Neal, Z.P., Neal, J.W., Wilson, C. & McAlindon, K. (2019). Approaches to measuring use of research evidence in K-12 settings: A systematic review. Educational Research Review.

Lawlor, J.A. & McGirr, S.A. (2017). Agent based modeling as a tool for program design and evaluation. Evaluation and Program Planning, 65, 131-138.

Lawlor, J.A. & Neal, Z.P. (2016) Networked community change: Understanding community systems change through the lens of social network analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology57, 426-436.