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Fall 2024 On-Campus MSW Application FINAL Deadline: July 16, 2024

USC PhD students

PhD Current Student Bios

2024 Doctoral Candidates Seeking Academic Appointment

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is pleased to share the background and key research interests of some of our PhD students. Click on a name to view that student's biographical sketch.

Lucinda Adjesiwor, MSW
Professional and research interests: child and family welfare; childhood adversity; maltreatment; mental health; substance abuse and behavioral health; parenting; at-risk and vulnerable families; family-based interventions; racial and ethnic minority groups.

Ronna BaƱada, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: (im)migrant experiences with a focus on undocumented Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) communities; impacts of immigration status on mental health, health, and educational experiences; APIDA ethnic identity formation.

John Bunyi, MFT
Professional and research interests: the application of mental health technologies for increasing access to and effectiveness of mental health care for historically marginalized populations; reducing barriers to mental health care for immigrant populations; Filipinx mental health; leveraging big data in mental health care; dissemination and implementation of innovative mental health treatment delivery; mental health treatment for those with disabilities.

Liv Canning, BA (they/them)
Professional and research interests: the utilization of community-based participatory research and mindfulness-based interventions for survivors of sexual assault and within restorative justice contexts.

Adriane Clomax, MSW
Professional and research interests: the future of work and the digital economy, workplace climate, workplace culture, workers of color and broad-based employee ownership, military social work.

Jessenia De Leon, BS
Professional and research interests: adolescent welfare; juvenile justice; organizational sustainability; organizational capacity; nonprofit organizations; dissemination and implementation science; mental health programs; global mental health; financial stability for nonprofits; staff capability and retention.

Maiya Hotchkiss, BA
Professional and research interests: health and safety disparities, particularly among trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals; interpersonal and structural violence; violence prevention and treatment; community-facilitated evidence-based interventions; community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods.

Olga Koumoundouros, MFA
Professional and research interests: utilization of evidenced-based policies for violence prevention, intersecting kinds of violence, intersecting kinds of coping, participatory action research, survivor centered voice, trauma informed research models, mixed methods photo voice, health disparity, trauma informed public schools, juvenile justice, community-based environmental justice, engagement as healing practice, community equity, housing justice, low-income communities, guaranteed basic income programs.

Peichen Liu, MSW

Professional and research interests: homelessness, housing policy, supportive housing system, tenant experience in supportive housing system, ethnic minority experience of homelessness and shelter system, housing first model, mixed method research. 

Leticia Morales, MSW
Professional and research interests: Latino/a youth, mixed-status families, deportation, and family separation. 

Kiana Naimi, MSW, LCSW

Professional and research interests: children with special healthcare needs; family resilience; parenting; maternal/paternal mental health and wellbeing, post-traumatic growth (PTG); exploration of evidence-based programs and policies for child and family well-being within various domains of society.


Meghana Nallajerla, BA

Professional and research interests:

Rory P. O'Brien, MSW, MPH (they/them)
Professional and research interests: policy implementation and evaluation, LGBTQ+ youth mental health, civic engagement, minority stress, public health surveillance methods, community-based participatory research, mixed methods.

Juyoung Park, MSG
Professional and research interests: minority aging, social isolation and loneliness in older ethnic minority communities, health disparities among older persons associated with socioeconomic factors, community-based participatory research, elder mistreatment.

Laura Petry, MSW
Professional and research interests: homelessness and housing instability among youth and young adults, housing policy and urban planning, housing intervention models, continuums of care, coordinated entry systems, social and inter-organizational networks, spatial analysis and critical GIS, community-based participatory research.

Shaddy Saba, LSW, MA
Professional and research interests: etiology and treatment of substance use, mental health disorders, and physical pain; the impact of trauma and adverse experiences on health and well-being; military personnel and veteran behavioral health; biopsychosocial models of health; developmental and affective science; artificial intelligence and technology for behavioral health; contemplative (e.g., mindfulness-based) interventions.

Erika Salinas, MSW
Professional and research interests: tribal child welfare; communication and collaboration efforts between traditional and tribal governments regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA); compliance with ICWA; strength and resilience within tribal communities; the historical and current effects of Federal Indian policies; cultural approaches to intervention and prevention programs; and inter-generational trauma within tribal communities.

Aubrey Sutherland, MSW

Professional and research interests: assessment of culture/climate within the United States military and veteran populations through a sociological lens with a focus on socialization and deviant behaviors; military sexual trauma (MST), substance abuse, mental health stigma, policy implementation, level of acceptance, United States military and veteran transition.


Tamera Whitesides, MSW

Professional and research interests: utilization of evidence-based practices in child welfare; attachment and treatment of developmental trauma; interpersonal neurobiology; parenting and intergenerational trauma transmission; mindfulness-based interventions; secondary trauma for social workers in child welfare. 

Corinne Zachry, MA
Professional and research interests: understanding risk and protective factors for trauma-related mental health disparities in LGBTQ+ individuals, contributions of social policies to mental health disparities for individuals with multiple marginalized identities, community-based intervention research to alleviate exposure to chronic stressors, promotion of LGBTQ+ health equity.