Black and white photo of Apryl Alexander.
Published on: Jun 11, 2020

Domestic violence prevention during the coronavirus pandemic was the topic of a recent congressional virtual roundtable Penn State’s Research-to-Policy Collaborative (RPC) participated in.

For the roundtable, the RPC connected one of their Rapid Response Network researchers, Apryl Alexander, associate professor in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the University of Denver, to members of the bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. This included U.S. House of Representatives Ann McLane Kuster, Jackie Speier, and John Katko. The roundtable was recorded and can be viewed via Rep. Kuster’s Facebook page.

“COVID-19 has put families and children at risk on many levels, including homelessness, unemployment, domestic violence, and child maltreatment, despite the fact they are vastly unreported,” said Alexander.

Prior to the roundtable, the RPC organized a virtual dialogue on substance use, violence, and mental health among families during the pandemic. Dr. Alexander’s participation in that event, along with previous meetings with congressional staff on violence prevention, led her to be invited as the only academic researcher on the congressional roundtable.

“The RPC focuses on increasing the use of research in policymaking by establishing working relationships with researchers who can rapidly and effectively respond to requests, providing guidance and support, and encouraging communication between researchers and legislative offices,” said Taylor Scott, associate director of the RPC and research assistant professor in the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. “We’ve found that by taking on a brokerage role in establishing interpersonal relationships between researchers and policymakers, we are able to get the research directly in front of decision-makers and create impact.”

Earlier this year, the RPC was awarded a Coronavirus Research Seed Fund (CRSF) grant, which helped to support the virtual dialogue and roundtable. A collaborative effort of the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, the Social Science Research Institute, the Materials Research Institute, the Institute for Computational and Data Science, and the Institutes for Energy and the Environment, the CRSF aims to rapidly contribute to the response of the COVID-19 crisis.