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Researchers of divorce mediation earn award for outstanding collaboration



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Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, left, and Amy Applegate, right, won IU’s Outstanding Faculty Collaborative Research Award for their research in divorce mediation. The two researchers earned a $15,000 research grant as part of the award. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

One pair of IU faculty members work so well together that many simply refer to them as “the Amys.” 

Amy Applegate, a clinical professor of law, and Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, a professor of psychology, received IU’s Outstanding Faculty Collaborative Research Award for their research together, which focused on mediation in divorce cases. 

“Amy and I have done a lot of research together,” Applegate said. 

Applegate said there were other collaborators involved in their research, such as faculty from other universities, mediators in Washington D.C., judges, other faculty in clinical psychology at IU, law students and graduate students in psychology. 

Holtzworth-Munroe was unable to be reached for comment, but Applegate said Holtzworth-Munroe is nationally and internationally known for the research she does in domestic violence. 

“She is an outstanding researcher, which is why it is a privilege to work with her,” Applegate said. 

The research award winners receive a $15,000 grant to support their research, as well as the opportunity to give a lecture about their work. Applegate and Holtzworth-Munroe will be giving their lecture at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 17 in the IU Cinema.

Applegate said they studied several different lines of mediation in divorce cases. She said the first line was an experiment with random subjects that compared more specific mediation techniques to regular ones. 

The two enhanced mediation techniques they looked at were called child-focused and child-inclusive. Child-inclusive mediation involved talking with the children to bring their perspective into the case, but the child-focused technique educated separating or divorced parents about the best interests of their children. 

This first line also included looking at court-issued online parent education programs and examined their effectiveness. 

Applegate said the second line of research studied mediation in divorce cases involving domestic violence. She said from this they created their own screening tool, a survey of behavioral questions, to uncover the level of domestic violence in the case. Their tool does not require much training and is now widely used. 

Applegate said psychologists and other scientists typically know how to do scientific studies in a way lawyers do not, so combining the methods of the two can lead to better research.  

“Putting it together, we can do so much more than we could do on our own,” Applegate said. 

Vice Provost for Research Rick Van Kooten said the award is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Provost's office. It recognizes teams of researchers who come from different academic departments and are conducting outstanding research.

“It takes more effort to reach out beyond your usual area,” Van Kooten said. 

Van Kooten said the researchers are nominated for the award, which was advertised to the different departments and deans of all the schools. He said the award is competitive because the office receives 20 nomination letters every year.

The selection committee received four nomination letters for Applegate and Holtzworth-Munroe. 

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