Laura Koehly

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Laura Koehly

PhD
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Born
Laura M. Koehly

1966 (age 54–55)
NationalityAmerican
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Education
  • Bsc in psychology
  • MA
  • M.S.
  • PhD in quantitative psychology and statistics
Alma mater
  • University of California
  • University of Illinois
Known for
  • Social network analysis
  • Communal coping
  • Family health history
Scientific career
Fields
  • Social network analysis
  • Psychology
  • Statistics
Institutions
  • University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • University of Iowa
  • Texas A&M University
  • National Institutes of Health

Laura M. Koehly is an American statistical psychologist and social network analyst. She is Senior Investigator and the Branch Chief of the Social and Behavioral Research Branch and the Head of the Social Network Methods Section in the Intramural Research Program at the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Koehly is the current, and first female, President of the International Network for Social Network Analysis.

Career

Koehly received her Bachelor in Science in psychology with a minor in statistics from University of California, Davis, followed by a Master’s of Arts, Master’s of Science, and Doctorate in quantitative psychology and statistics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Although Koehly initially set her sights on becoming a clinical psychologist, her undergraduate coursework illuminated a personal interest in the modeling of complex phenomena done through statistical methods[1].

Following her graduate study, Koehly went on to work at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas as a research associate. Here, she lent her expertise in social network methods to a study examining the psychosocial impact of genetic testing for Lynch Syndrome-associated cancer. This group was the first to use social network methods to map the pathways through which health information flowed through families with the Lynch syndrome mutation [2].

In 2017, Koehly was named the Chief of the Social and Behavioral Research Branch of NHGRI, becoming the second chief of SBRB since its establishment in 2003.

Contributions to communal coping theory and social network analysis

Throughout her career, Koehly has developed expertise in interpersonal processes that underpin communal coping within families, particularly those affected by heritable conditions. These interpersonal processes include communication about a common stressor, shared appraisals of the stressor, and cooperative strategies aimed at reducing the negative impact of the stressor. Her work addresses questions related to communal coping in the context of health promotion and caregiving. She takes a social network perspective in this work, focusing on both the social structural and interpersonal processes underlying communal coping [3]. With the innovative nature of her work in this area, she has also contributed to the development of social network methods.

Koehly’s contributions to the development of social network analysis include both theoretical and methodological innovations. Her dissertative research introduced new approaches for estimating exponential random graph models for multiple-informants and multi-layer networks, areas in which she continues to innovate[4][5][6]. Also, her work on strategies for observing unbounded, family-based, networks using multiple-informant sampling methods are considered to be the state-of-the-art in family network research [7].

Contributions to social and behavioral research on human genetics and genomics

As an investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute, Koehly has made significant contributions to the social and behavioral aspects of genomics and health disparities. In addition to her early work on social network assessments of genetic testing uptake among families affected by Lynch Syndrome [2], she has studied communal coping, health communication, and other interpersonal processes in a wide range of family health contexts. These family health contexts have included complex diseases, such as heart diseases, type-2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease as well as singe-gene mutation diseases such as Sickle Cell Disease and inborn-errors of metabolism. Her contributions to health disparities research include multiple studies on families from diverse and under-represented populations including Mexican-origin and African American families.

Contributions to mentorship

Koehly’s dedication to science includes the advancement of early career trainees. She is known to have both an |ideator and a connector style of mentorship by motivating and allowing students to both cultivate ideas and lead small initiatives within their assigned tasks. Koehly embraces trainee’s career goals not only through advising but initiating and linking relevant connections to better provide trainees with access to resources paramount to their success. One of Koehly’s most successful and personal initiatives is to create and maintain diverse representation within her lab, intentionally seeking people of color, including African Americans, LGBTQ+, and other people typically underrepresented in STEM careers. She has earned multiple mentorship awards within NHGRI and NIH. In 2018, she was a Graduate Partnership Program Outstanding Mentor Award recipient[8], and in 2019 she received the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Mentoring Award from Dr. Francis Collins[9]. Her trainees have gone on to initiate stellar careers of their own in medicine, psychology, public health, and other fields.

References

  1. "Dr. Laura Koehly to lead the Social and Behavioral Research Branch at NHGRI". Genome.gov.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Koehly, L. M., Peterson, S. K., Watts, B. G., Kempf, K. K., Vernon, S. W., & Gritz, E. R. (2003). A social network analysis of communication about hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer genetic testing and family functioning. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers, 12(4), 304-313.
  3. Koehly, L. M. (2017). It’s interpersonal: Family relationships, genetic risk, and caregiving. The Gerontologist, 57(1), 32-39.
  4. Koehly, L. M., & Pattison, P. (2005). Multiple Relations or Multiple Raters'. Models and methods in social network analysis, 28.
  5. Koehly, L. M., & Marcum, C. S. (2018). Multi-relational measurement for latent construct networks. Psychological methods, 23(1), 42.
  6. Slaughter, A. J., & Koehly, L. M. (2016). Multilevel models for social networks: hierarchical Bayesian approaches to exponential random graph modeling. Social networks, 44, 334-345.
  7. Koehly, L. M., Ashida, S., Schafer, E. J., & Ludden, A. (2015). Caregiving networks—Using a network approach to identify missed opportunities. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 70(1), 143-154.
  8. "16th Annual NIH Graduate Student Research Symposium - Outstanding Mentor Award Nomination - Office of Intramural Training & Education at the National Institutes of Health". www.training.nih.gov.
  9. https://hr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/public/documents/2019-11/directors-awards-program-2019-508.pdf

External links

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