2022 Commencement

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Eric Rice

Professor and Co-Director of the USC Center for AI in Society

Social work expert, focusing on community outreach, network science, and the use of social networking technology by high-risk youth

Media Contact
Eric Rice
Email:  ericr@usc.edu
Phone:  +1 213.821.4292
Rank:  Tenure Track Faculty
Department:  Children, Youth and Families

Eric Rice

Professor and Co-Director of the USC Center for AI in Society

Social work expert, focusing on community outreach, network science, and the use of social networking technology by high-risk youth

Media Contact


Eric Rice is an associate professor and the founding co-director of the USC Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society, a joint venture of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Rice received a BA from the University of Chicago, and an MA and PhD in Sociology from Stanford University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. He joined the USC faculty in 2009. In 2012 he received the John B. Reid Early Career Award through the Society for Prevention Research. He specializes in social network science and theory, as well as community-based research. His primary focus is on youth experiencing homelessness and how issues of social network influence may affect risk-taking behaviors and resilience. For several years he has been working with colleague Milind Tambe to merge social work science and AI, seeking novel solutions to major social problems such as homelessness and HIV. Rice is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in such publications as the American Journal of Public Health, AIDS and Behavior, the Journal of Adolescent Health, Pediatrics, Child Development, and the Journal of the Society for Social Work Research. He is the recipient of grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the California HIV/AIDS Research Program, the Army Research Office and other agencies. Since 2002 he has worked closely with homeless youth providers in Los Angeles and many other communities across the country. He is the creator of the TAY Triage Tool—to identify high-risk homeless youth for prioritizing them for supportive housing—which was incorporated into Orgcode’s Next Step Tool for homeless youth. Along with Robin Petering, Rice is the co-chair of the West Coast Convening, a policy and practice working group of homeless youth providers, advocates, researchers and funders. With Megan Blondin, he created the Coordinated Entry Learning Collaborative, a national project involving nine communities working to vet best practices for the creation and implementation of coordinated housing referral systems. Rice’s primary collaborators in Los Angeles are the LGBT Center, My Friend’s Place and Safe Place for Youth. To reference the work of Eric Rice online, we ask that you directly quote their work where possible and attribute it to "Eric Rice, a faculty at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work” (LINK: https://dworakpeck.usc.edu)



University of California Los Angeles

Postdoctoral Fellow 2004

Stanford University

PhD 2002

Stanford University

MA 1996

University of Chicago

BA 1995

Area of Expertise

  • Artificial Intelligence for Social Good
  • Homelessness
  • HIV Prevention
  • Application of social networking methods to social work research
  • Social Network Theory
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Homeless youth
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Artificial Intelligence

Industry Experience

  • Health Care - Services
  • Health Care - Facilities
  • Mental Health Care
  • Public Policy
  • Research
  • Education/Learning
  • Program Development
  • Health and Wellness
  • Health Care - Providers

Research Interest

  • Children & Families
  • Health
  • Homelessness


Sterling C. Franklin Award for Distinguished Faculty
Awarded by the USC School of Social Work

Articles & Publications

Violence, trauma, mental health, and substance use among homeless youth Juggalos | Child Psychiatry & Human Development

2017 Insane Clown Posse is a musical duo whose fans are known as Juggalos. Many homeless youths (HY) identify as Juggalos, most likely because the group’s music embraces poverty and being an outsider in mainstream society. Juggalos are stereotyped as being violent, undereducated, poor, racist, crime-committing youth, and in 2011 the FBI officially labeled Juggalos as a gang. However, little is known about the intersection of HY and Juggalos. A convenience sample of Los Angeles-area, drop-in service-seeking HY completed a self-administered questionnaire (N = 495). In the sample, 15 % of HY identified as Juggalos. Juggalo-identifying youth were more likely to have experienced childhood trauma, including physical and sexual abuse and witnessing community violence. Multivariable models revealed that identifying as a Juggalo was associated with increased odds of recent methamphetamine use, ecstasy use, chronic marijuana use, and prescription drug misuse. Juggalos were also more likely to experience suicidal ideation, attempt suicide, recently engage in interpersonal violence, become injured during a fight, and have unprotected sex. In conclusion, Juggalos constitute a unique subpopulation of HY. Implications for Juggalo-specific trauma-informed services, rather than punitive, are discussed as well as the potential for future research regarding resiliency associated with Juggalo identification.


Differences in Health and Social Support between Homeless Men and Women Entering Permanent Supportive Housing | Women's Health Issues

2017 Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is the leading intervention to end chronic homelessness. Little is known, however, about gender differences, including potential disparities in physical and mental health and social support, that might inform services available through PSH.


Associations Between Sexting Behaviors and Sexual Behaviors Among Mobile Phone‐Owning Teens in Los Angeles | Child Development

2017 The implications of teen sexting for healthy development continue to concern parents, academics, and the general public. Using a probability sample of high school students (N = 1,208) aged 12–18, the prevalence of sexting, associations with sexting, and associations between sexing and sexual activity were assessed. Seventeen percent both sent and received sexts, and 24% only received sexts. Sending and receiving sexts were positively associated with each other and both behaviors were associated with having peers who sext. Lifetime reports of sexual intercourse, anal sex, oral sex, and recent unprotected sex were positively associated with reports of texting 300 or more times per day, only receiving sexts, and both sending and receiving sexts.


Risk behavior and access to HIV/AIDS prevention services in a community sample of homeless persons entering permanent supportive housing | AIDS Care

2017 Homeless persons suffer disproportionately high rates of HIV infection, and moving into permanent supportive housing (PSH) can provide a stable base from which to access needed prevention services. However, little is known about HIV risk or prevention behavior during this critical time of transition. The current study investigated STI and HIV risk and prevention behavior and recent use of prevention and treatment services (i.e., education, testing, medication) among homeless persons preparing to move into PSH. Data come from interviews with 421 homeless adults before they moved into PSH. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents were sexually active; of those, 75.7% reported unprotected sex. Nearly two-thirds (64%) reported past year HIV testing and 40% reported testing for another STI. Fewer than one-third (31%) of respondents reported receiving posttest counseling at their last HIV test. HIV seropositivity was self-reported by 10%. Among those persons who were HIV-positive, 57.1% reported less than 100% antiretroviral (ARV) adherence. Among HIV-negative respondents, less than 1% had been prescribed preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Less than half (46.4%) of the sample reported any HIV prevention education in the past year. This population of homeless adults about to move into PSH report high rates of HIV risk behavior, but low rates of HIV prevention education and very little PrEP utilization. Further, low rates of ARV adherence among HIV-positive respondents indicate significant risk for HIV transmission and acquisition. Entering PSH is a period of transition for homeless persons when integrated care is critically important to ensure positive health outcomes, but these data suggest that PrEP and other HIV prevention services are poorly accessed among this population. As such, multipronged services that integrate PrEP and other HIV prevention services are needed to prevent transmission and acquisition of HIV in this high-risk, vulnerable population and ensure the health and wellbeing of PSH residents.


Mental Illness Disclosure Decision Making | The American journal of orthopsychiatry

2017 Disclosure related to mental illness has been linked to various positive outcomes, including better mental health. However, many individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) continue to practice non-disclosure. Even though disclosure inherently occurs within the context of one's social relationships, research has generally conceptualized mental illness disclosure as an individual level phenomenon and neglected to consider preferences concerning to whom an individual discloses and the factors that influence this decision. The current study uses the disclosure decision-making model (DD-MM) by Greene (2009) to better understand the processes of mental illness disclosure preference and selective disclosure for individuals with SMI (n = 60) using multivariate random intercept logistic regression with an emphasis on the constituent factors of disclosure preference at both individual and relational levels. The majority of participants were found to practice selective disclosure, with 68% of the participants identifying at least 1 network member to whom they could disclose. Family members and friends were central to the selective disclosure process, comprising the greatest proportion of network members who, both were and were not identified as preferred confidants. Women were found to show higher odds of preference for mental illness disclosure than men. Having lower perceived social support was associated with lower odds of disclosure preference. Among relational factors, greater relationship availability and lower dyadic tangible social support were associated with lower odds of disclosure preference. Practice and research implications of using social network analysis to get a deeper understanding of disclosure and disclosure preference are discussed, including implications for future interventions targeting stigma reduction. (PsycINFO Database Record