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.
Nicholas Barr, MSW
Professional and research interests: mindfulness-based interventions and functional outcomes in therapy, as well as implementation of evidence-based practices in community mental health settings with adults with serious mental illness.
Melissa Bird, MSW
Professional and research interests: advocacy for children, women and their families; social justice advocacy and preparing women for leadership roles in politics; liaison between policy makers, community leaders and other stakeholders to improve access to reproductive health care for women, men and teens.
Kimberly Brimhall, CSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: investigating relationships among workforce diversity, leadership, inclusion, organizational climate and organizational culture.
Andrea Brinkmann, MSW
Professional and research interests: childhood obesity prevention, chronic disease prevention and control, behavioral health, interactive media, urban education, school-based interventions.
Gordon Capp, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: mental health, mental health needs and services in schools, child welfare, child development, including social-emotional development.
Jaih Craddock, MSW, MA
Professional and research interests: sexual health promotion programs within minority communities particularly among black American communities, racial/ethnic health disparities, black family dynamics' influence on health, HIV/STD risk behaviors in adolescents and young adults, development and evaluation of intervention programs.
Karissa Fenwick, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: severe mental illness, implementation of evidence-based practices in community mental health service settings, intervention and program evaluation, integration of health and mental health services for individuals with schizophrenia.
Megan Finno-Velasquez, PhD, MSW, (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: immigration, Latino family and child well-being, cultural competence in child welfare policy and practice, child welfare organizational implementation of innovation.
Anthony Fulginiti, MSW
Professional and research interests: mechanisms and culturally distinct pathways in suicidality, suicide and social networks, suicide prevention program and intervention development, interventions connecting health-mental health care environments, severe mental illness in the oncology population and context.
Lizbeth Gaona, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: Community Mental Health Outcomes, Evidenced Based Treatment Outcomes Across Cultures, Culturally Adapted Interventions for Latino/as, Religion, Mindfulness, Trauma.
Jeremy Gibbs, MSW
Professional and research interests: LGBT issues, identity development, child welfare, transitional adults, religious and spiritual communities, mental health, international social work, crisis intervention.
Taylor Harris, MA
Professional and research interests: behavioral health and health among vulnerable populations, homelessness, housing, evidence-based practices and delivery of services in community settings.
Krystal Hays, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: promotion of mental health services particularly among black Americans, including evidence-based interventions and capacity building within the black church as a catalyst for mental health promotion programs within the community.
Amy He, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: child welfare; parental substance use with child welfare-involved families; cross-systems collaboration between child welfare and mental health, public health, and judicial systems; translational and implementation science; utilization of evidence-based practices and policies; practice and policy development in human services organizations; organizational theory on transformational, transactional, and shared leadership.
Paula Helu Fernandez, MS
Professional and research interests: Latinos diagnosed with serious mental illnesses by addressing different concerns in culture-specific treatment of serious mental illnesses, such as disclosure, use of psychotropic medication, acculturation, sexuality and quality of life, and family involvement in treatment.
Adam James, MSW
Professional and research interests: mental health, child welfare, poverty, adolescents, family dynamics, social work ethics, social work identity.
Chung Hyeon Jeong, MSW
Professional and research interests: health disparities of ethnic minorities on health behaviors; interaction between physical and mental health; and the effect of social network, social support on health behaviors.
Cary Klemmer, BA
Professional and research interests: health disparities among LGBTQ populations through reduction of HIV/STD risk-taking behaviors, spirituality in HIV-prevention interventions and mental health care for HIV-positive and at-risk populations, advocacy for injection drug-using communities, international social work, Japanese and Israeli issues in social work.
Liat Kriegel, MSW
Professional and research interests: intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice systems, prisoners, prisoner re-entry, police officer response to calls involving emotional disturbance, mental health interventions in the criminal justice system, peer support for persons with mental illnesses and histories of incarceration, civic engagement, effects of solitary confinement on prisoners, intersection of institutional racism and prisons.
Andrea Lane, MA
Professional and research interests: utilization of evidenced-based policies for child welfare, juvenile justice, children of incarcerated parents, and homeless youth.
Yura Lee, MSW
Health and mental health of family caregivers for patients with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, health disparities and depression of older adults, grand parenting and intergenerational support, and cross-cultural research.
Rebecca Lengnick-Hall, MSW, MPA
Professional and research interests: integrating social work perspectives into management practice in organizations across sectors (public, private, nonprofit) to create inclusive workplaces, how organizational change management approaches and organizational culture can support employee well-being and organizational effectiveness, and the role of leadership in organizations and the social work profession.
Caroline Sheng Foong Lim, MS
Professional and research interests: psychosocial risk factors for schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, psychosocial factors associated with positive outcomes specifically among individuals with first-episode psychosis, community services for individuals with chronic schizophrenia.
Carrie L. Lucas, Capt., USAF, MSW, MPA, LICSW
Professional and research interests: military social work, sexual assault/trauma, resilience, post-traumatic stress disorder, at-risk youth, and interpersonal violence.
Weiyu Mao, PhD, MPhil (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: aging and health, social support, gerontological social work, family care giving, family and intergenerational relationships, cross-cultural research.
Sapna Mendon, MSW
Professional and research interests: Implementation of evidence-based practices in school and community based mental health agencies with a focus on sustainability of programs, intervention research, help-seeking behavior, and the development of mental health screening tools designed for use by non-mental health care professionals (i.e. academic personnel and primary health care providers).
Hadass Moore, MSW
Professional and research interests: conflict zones with an emphasis on a gender perspective, victims of torture, immigration, cultural diversity among adolescents and children in the education system, military social work.
Lindsey Palmer, MSW
Professional and research interests: Intersection of child welfare and criminal justice systems, interagency collaboration and partnerships, pregnancy and parenting among youth in foster care.
Tasha Perdue, MSW
Professional and research interests: homeless and at-risk youth, severe mental illness, policy advocacy and analysis, substance abuse prevention and intervention, risky sexual behaviors of vulnerable populations, mixed-methods approaches and social networks for vulnerable women and youth.
Judith L. Perrigo, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: interdisciplinary models and collaboration in human services organizations; integration of health and mental health services; efficiency practices within human services organizations with the goal of improving client experience and well-being; management and social worker burn-out, leadership opportunities and satisfaction in human services organizations; use of culture and language in the delivery of services; and implementation of evidence-based practices.
Robin Petering, MSW
Adolescent intimate partner violence, youth homelessness, gangs and female gang membership, the intersection of intimate partner violence and community violence, policy advocacy and analysis, geographic information system (GIS) mapping.
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; diverse communities and complex ecologies.
Joshua Rusow, BA
Professional and research interests: LGBT issues, adolescents, sexual health, mental health, substance abuse, international social work, crisis intervention, technology in social work.
Elizabeth Siantz, MSW
Professional and research interests: implementation of services that address health disparities among persons with serious mental illness including integrated primary and mental health care, services provided by peers, and interventions that promote the self-management of chronic care conditions.
James Simon, LCSW, MSW
Professional and research interests: child protective services, child welfare recidivism, alternative response, differential response, child abuse re-referral and recurrence, post-investigation services, international social work.
Ankur Srivastava, MSW
Professional and research interests: LGBT issues, transgender health, gender-based violence, sexual identity development, political economy and operationalization of male sex work, construction and consumption of body images, use of technology in social work practice and research, mental health, substance use, HIV interventions, addressing stigma and discrimination in health care systems, international social work
Kathrine Sullivan, MSW
Professional and research interests: impact of trauma on children and families, mental health interventions in school and community settings, access to treatment and community support for service members/veterans and their families, treatment outcomes for active duty military and veterans, resilience and transgenerational trauma.
Mee Young Um, MSW, MIS
Professional and research interests: psychosocial well-being of immigrant and refugee communities, cultureand mental illness, stigma in mental health services, resiliency, policy analysis, cross-cultural research, mixed method approach.
Carolina Villamil, MSW
Professional and research interests: preventing substance use and improving mental health outcomes in adolescents and young adults, with an emphasis on Latino immigrants and children of immigrants, technology and social media to improve substance use and mental health outcomes in adolescents and young adults, Latino cultural and life course trajectories.
Yoewon Yoon, MSW
Professional and research interests: family welfare, child welfare, family violence, neglect, mental health of children and adolescents, school-based approach of children and adolescent's mental health, PTSD.
Amanda Yoshioka-Maxwell, MSW
Professional and research interests: child welfare, foster care systems, outcomes for transitional age youth, emancipation, predictors of homelessness for transitional age youth, independent living programs, and transitional housing programs.
Qianwei Zhao, MSW
Professional and research interests: prisoner reentry, children with incarcerated parents, elders with incarcerated children, mental and physical health.