USC PhD students

PhD Current Student Bios

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.

Eunhye Ahn, MSW
Professional and research interests: using big data to identify and approach issues around child maltreatment; improving child protection system and child risk assessment using administrative data; improving and managing administrative data system in the social sector.

Adriane Clomax, MSW
Professional and research Interests: economic justice, social policy, corporate social responsibility, and social entrepreneurship

Jessenia De Leon, BS
Professional and research Interests: adolescent welfare; juvenile justice; sexually abused children and adolescents; the role of parenting and cultural environment as contextual factors shaping adolescent well-being; trauma treatment; use of policy to advance social justice; mindfulness-based interventions, dating violence among youth and young adults; community and school based intervention for youth; alternative treatments.

Graham DiGuiseppi, ScM
Professional and research Interests: Prevention and treatment of substance use disorders and mental health promotion in vulnerable populations; Interventions that utilize mindfulness, social support and social psychological principles; using social network analysis to understand health behavior and improve the reach and effectiveness of interventions.

Jessica Dodge, MPH
Professional and research interests: military mental health; military family health; military to civilian transitions; reintegration post-conflict; cultural integration; PTSD, anxiety, depression and preventative behaviors and biological markers; resilience and strength based treatments; alternative treatments; mental health stigma; social identity theory; and community-based support.

Daniel Green, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: health and mental health of aging sexual minority adults, impact of social stigma, program evaluation, clinical social work practice, and social work education.

Taylor Harris, MA
Professional and research interests: homelessness, housing, evidence-based practices and services that address homeless and formerly homeless adults' mental health, substance use, and other behavioral health issues.

Chyna Hill, MSW, MA
Professional and research interests: variability of obesity risk among Black women, racial health disparities, applications of cumulative inequality theory, and the investigation of pathways that link social determinants of health to obesity incidence and breast cancer mortality.

Monique Holguin, MSW
Professional and research interests: addressing racial/ethnic health disparities for homeless youth and other marginalized populations, integrated health care clinical service delivery models, policies and programming, place-based initiatives and community collaboration development and analysis, improving systems of care efficacy and investigating its impact on high-need, disenfranchised populations, implementation of culturally adapted evidence-based interventions for marginalized communities.

Adam James, MSW
Professional and research interests: mental health, child welfare, poverty, adolescents, family dynamics, social work ethics, and social work identity.

Chung Hyeon Jeong, MSW
Professional and research interests: primarily addresses health/healthcare disparities in various aspects including health behaviors, access to healthcare, and health service utilization among racial/ethnic minorities, especially immigrant/refugee populations. In master’s program conducted research on the effects of social support and acculturative stress on health-promoting behaviors among North Korean refugees in South Korea. Current focuses are primarily on the potential influences of normative/behavioral culture and social networks among Korean immigrants on the process of adaptation of in the U.S. healthcare settings.

Cary Klemmer, MSW
Professional and research interests: identifying affirmative environments and practices related to the positive behavioral and mental health outcomes of transgender and gender nonconforming adults and adolescents using mixed-methods research.

Wichada La Motte-Kerr, MPH
Professional and research interests: health and wellbeing for persons experiencing homelessness including substance use, sexual risk behaviors, violence and trauma experiences, and the association of social support and networks with these outcomes.

Daniel S. Lee, LCSW, MSW, PPSC
Professional and research interests: child maltreatment; mental health; racial and ethnic minority disparities; at-risk youth; adolescence and young adulthood; socio-emotional development; psychosocial and developmental outcomes; cognitive functioning; social support; caregiver-child dyadic interactions; the influence of family dynamics.

Woo Jung Lee, MA
Professional and research interests: individual and environmental risk and protective factors surrounding adolescent mental health in a developmental trajectory; impact of poverty on youth and later outcomes from a life course perspective; the role of parenting and cultural environment as contextual factors shaping adolescent well-being; internalizing and externalizing behavior, brain functions, emotions as mechanisms and outcomes; race and culture and inequality as context, immigrant experience; and policy, prevention/intervention.

Jiaming Liang, MA
Professional and research Interests: psychological needs of the elderly and their effects on the aging process; Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias assessing the effectiveness of prevention of cognitive impairment; methodological approaches and health disparities.

Mandong Liu, MSSW
Professional and research interests: end-of-life care and advance care planning among racial/ethnic minority groups, caregiving and caregivers' self-management of physical and mental health, cross cultural research and practice.

Ruotong Liu, MPP
Professional and research interests: end-of-life care preferences among racial/ethnic minorities; quality of life among end-of-life patients, their families, and caregivers, using deep learning methods to improve palliative care through the identification of potentially qualified patients; and cost-benefit/cost-effective analysis of treatment options.

Beatrice Martinez, MSW
Professional and research Interests: community-based participatory research; recruitment science; health disparities; older adults; mental health; health outcomes; chronic conditions; socio-cultural values and its effect on behavioral health and treatment adherence.

Sapna Mendon, MSW
Professional and research interests: implementation of evidence-based practices in community based mental health agencies with a focus on adoption, fidelity, and routinization within systems; mental health services and policy research; organizational culture and implementation climate; integrated healthcare; and suicide prevention.

Stephen Morgano, Capt., USAF, MSASS, Med, LISW, LPC
Professional and research Interests: military mental health, impact of stigmatization on utilization of health services among active duty and prior military, contributing factors in reduction of the stigma for seeking help, effect on health outcomes caused by clinical use of command/unit assets for active duty members, effectiveness of current treatment approaches for domestic violence and family maltreatment for military families, alcohol use and abuse among active duty members.

Rory P. Obrien, MSW, MPH
Professional and research Interests: LGBTQ youth homelessness, intimate partner violence, reproductive health, and mental health; and LGBTQ and reproductive health policy implementation.

Abigail Palmer, MA
Professional and research Interests: early childhood (birth to five), parental mental health and parenting, family support and family-focused interventions with low-income families including two-generation approaches and home-visiting models, community-based research, intervention development, and implementation science.

Lindsey Palmer, MSW
Professional and research interests: utilizing population-level linked administrative data to assess the wellbeing of children and youth involved in the child welfare system; mental and behavioral health and treatment in adolescent foster youth, early childbearing among adolescents in foster care, and foster care placement trajectories.

Tasha Perdue, MSW
Professional and research interests: substance use, initiation experiences, transitions from prescription opioids to heroin, people who inject drugs, community influences on health behaviors and risk reduction, influence of social and cultural context on risk and protective behaviors, harm reduction, addressing stigma related to substance use, epidemiology, policy advocacy and analysis.

Judith L. Perrigo, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interest: risk and protective factors that influence the cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development of young children (birth to five): behavioral health, child welfare, prevention and early intervention, developmental disabilities, early childhood education, and parent training programs.

Laura Petry, MSW
Professional and research Interests: youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability; homeless enumerations; housing models; coordinated entry systems; peer-based interventions; social networks; public policy; and youth voice.

Jose Reyes, MSW
Professional and research interests: health policy development and analysis; structural evolvement of health and human service organizations; strategic community collaborations to increase systemic efficiency and effectiveness; organizational governance and leadership; health workforce development and diversity; cultural and linguistically appropriate services.

Dean Rivera, MSW
Professional and research interests: mental health, substance abuse, mindfulness-based interventions, criminogenic needs and dynamic risk factors of forensic populations with substance use or co-occurring substance use disorders, cultural and gender risk and responsivity, translational and applied social work science.

Joshua Rusow, MSW
Professional and research interests: sexual and gender minority youth in understanding their experiences of minority-related stress and the impact of those experiences on their mental, physical, and particularly sexual health. An emphasis on how minority stress differs by locality, and how those differences relate to social network formation, relationships and subsequent health outcomes.

Shaddy Saba, LSW, MA
Professional and research Interests: etiology and treatment of substance use disorders, mental health and chronic pain conditions; interpersonal neurobiology, attachment, and developmental trauma; mindfulness-based interventions; marginalized groups such as homeless individuals and military veterans; integrated care models; and technology and behavioral healthcare.

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.

Leslie Schnyder, MSW
Professional and research Interests: workplace inclusivity and diversity; employee wellness; retention, engagement, productivity, and wellness amongst individuals from underrepresented racial identity groups in workplace settings; and inclusion and exclusion of underrepresented racial identity groups in organizations

Sara Semborski, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: homelessness, housing models and homeless service delivery, LGBTQ+ homeless youth, adolescent development, social networks, and socio-spatial relations.

Ankur Srivastava, MA, MPhil
Professional and research interests: addressing behavioral health disparities among gender and sexual minority adolescents using a psychosocial developmental framework. In addition, using interdisciplinary models to examine the association of minority stress with behavioral health, individual trajectories and risk over time.

Yi-Hsuan Tung, MSW
Professional and research Interests: understanding unmet needs of older adults with diverse health conditions and disabilities in long-term care and community settings; evidence-based practices and services that optimize potentials of independent living, sense of self-control, and psychological well-being among older adults with disabilities; and aging and technology.

Yoewon Yoon, MSW
Professional and research interests: behavioral health, childhood adversity, maltreatment, and mental health.

Carolina Villamil Grest, MSW
Professional and research interests: the intersection of substance use and mental health among Hispanic immigrant youth and examination of preventing/intervening mechanisms to reduce behavioral health disparities, particularly among immigrants and Latinos. This includes gender-based violence, intimate partner violence and dating violence among youth and young adults.

Kexin Yu, MSW
Professional and research interests: examining the risk and protective factors of social isolation issue among older adults, and the impacts that intergenerational relationships and older peoples’ technology use have on their social well-being; study of older adults’ experiences, challenges, and preferences of health care; and exploration of how to employ mobile technology for health promotion and disease management.

Qianwei Zhao, MSW
Professional and research interests: the consequences of mass imprisonment for inequality, with emphasis on health, children, and families; improving the well-being of individuals, families, and communities that have been impacted by mass imprisonment.