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Jungeun Olivia Lee

Associate Professor and Director, PhD Program

Jungeun Olivia Lee focuses on a relationship among SES, adverse childhood experiences, substance use, and its comorbid mental health.

Media Contact
Jungeun Olivia Lee
Email:  lee363@usc.edu
Phone:  +1 213.740.7822
Rank:  Tenure Track Faculty

Jungeun Olivia Lee

Associate Professor and Director, PhD Program

Jungeun Olivia Lee focuses on a relationship among SES, adverse childhood experiences, substance use, and its comorbid mental health.

Media Contact


Jungeun Olivia Lee joined the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work in 2014. Prior to her appointment at USC, she was a research scientist at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work and Social Development Research Group after receiving her doctoral degree in 2009.
Her program of research centers on the interconnections among substance use, mental health, socioeconomic adversities, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) across the life course and how social and contextual risks fuel or disrupt the interplay. ACEs are highly correlated with socioeconomic status (SES) in childhood and predictive of SES, substance use, and mental health in adulthood. Her work intentionally straddles and integrates three distinct bodies of literature—behavioral health, socioeconomic adversities, and ACEs—generating four distinct but interconnected topic areas: (a) socioeconomic inequalities in substance use and mental health across the life course; (b) socioeconomic adversities and resilience across the life course and generations; (c) life course etiology of substance use; and (d) the effects of ACEs, a strong correlate of SES, across the life course and generations. She is pursuing these topic areas using a range of longitudinal datasets. She has contributed to multiple grants as either a principal investigator or co-investigator with support from multiple agencies, such as the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
She serves on the national editorial boards of the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research and BMC Public Health. She is an academic advisory board member for the Pacific Southwest region of the Prevention Technology Transfer Center Network. She also sits on the steering committee of the USC Institute for Addiction Science and serves as a co-leader of the Priority Populations and Health Equity Group at the institute. She is a member of the Society for Social Work and Research and the Society for Prevention Research.
Lee is also interested in quantitative methodology for longitudinal data and has expertise in four general areas of advanced statistics: including mixture modeling (often referred to as the “person-centered approach”), structural equation modeling, categorical data analysis, and techniques for handling missing data. 
To reference the work of Jungeun Olivia Lee online, we ask that you directly quote their work where possible and attribute it to “Jungeun Olivia Lee, a faculty member at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work” (LINK: https://dworakpeck.usc.edu).


University of Washington

PhD 2009

University of Wisconsin-Madison

MSW 2003

Seoul National University

MA 2000

Catholic University of Korea

BA 1997

Area of Expertise

  • SES
  • Childhood Adversity
  • Life Course Human Development
  • Substance use

Industry Experience

  • Social Services
  • Education/Learning
  • Research

Research Interest

Mental Health Substance Abuse


Graduate School Social Sciences Dissertation Fellowship

University of Washington, Seattle, 2008

NIH/OBSSR Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Honors Early Stage Investigator Paper Award


Early Career Preventionist Network Travel Scholarship

Society for Prevention Research

Articles & Publications

Unemployment And Substance Use Problems Among Young Adults: Does Childhood Low Socioeconomic Status Exacerbate The Effect? | Social Science & Medicine, 143, 36–44

Lee, J. O., Hill, K. G., Hartigan, L.* A., Boden, J. M., Guttmannova, K., Kosterman, R., Bailey, J., & Catalano, R. F.

The current study tested whether unemployment predicted young adults' heavy episodic drinking, cigarette smoking, and cannabis use after taking into account individual development in substance use. Furthermore, building on the life course perspective, this study examined whether the link between unemployment and substance use among young adults differed for those who experienced low childhood SES compared to those who did not. Data for the present study came from the Seattle Social Development Project (SSDP), a panel study examining a broad range of developmental outcomes from ages 10 to 33.

* student collaborators

Developmental pathways from parental socioeconomic status to adolescent substance use: Alternative and complementary reinforcement | Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47(2), 334-348

Lee, J.O., Cho, J., Yoon*, Y., Bello*, M.S., Khoddam, R., Leventhal, A.M.

Although lower socioeconomic status has been linked to increased youth substance use, much less research has determined potential mechanisms explaining the association. The current longitudinal study tested whether alternative (i.e., pleasure gained from activities without any concurrent use of substances) and complementary (i.e., pleasure gained from activities in tandem with substance use) reinforcement mediate the link between lower socioeconomic status and youth substance use. Further, we tested whether alternative and complementary reinforcement and youth substance use gradually unfold over time and then intersect with one another in a cascading manner. Potential sex differences are also examined.

* student collaborators

Developmental inflection point for the effect of maternal childhood adversity on children's mental health from childhood to adolescence: Time-varying effect of gender differences | Development and Psychopathology

Lee, J.O, Duan, L., Lee*, W.J., Rose, J., Oxford, M. L., & Cederbaum, J.A.

Childhood adversities have a well-established dose-response relationship with later mental health. However, less attention has been given to intergenerational influences. Further, it is unknown how intergenerational influences intersect with children’s developmental stages and gender. The current study examined whether a developmental inflection point exists when the intergenerational influences of childhood adversities gain salience and explored differences by children’s gender. Data were from the Young Women and Child Development Study (n = 361). Time-varying effect models (TVEMs) and moderation TVEMs by child’s gender were evaluated. Our findings reveal that ages 5 to 8, the period of transition into primary schools, may represent a developmental inflection point when the intergenerational influences of maternal childhood adversity start emerging substantially. The results from gender interaction TVEMs reveal that maternal childhood adversity was a statistically significant predictor of internalizing problems until age 11, regardless of child’s gender, and remained statistically significant for girls’ internalizing problems until age 16.7. For externalizing problems, maternal childhood adversity was a statistically significant predictor until age 13, regardless of gender.