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.
Nicholas Barr, PhD, MSW (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: understanding risk and resilience for mental health outcomes in populations with high rates of traumatic experiences, like military veterans and homeless young adults. A specific focus on investigating the protective role of mindfulness in this context.
Adriane Clomax, MSW
Professional and Research Interests: economic justice, social policy, corporate social responsibility, and social entrepreneurship
Jaih B. Craddock, MSW, MA
Professional and research interests: specializes in social network analysis and health disparities among minority populations. An emphasis on associations of sexual health communication, social and sexual networks, social media, medical mistrust and HIV risk and protective behaviors among Black youth and young adults. Dissertation is examining how social networks and individual-level characteristics are associated with condom use, HIV testing and interest in PrEP among young Black women. NIMHD-F31 award recipient for funding of dissertation research and training.
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.
Andrea Lane Eastman, PhD, MA (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: utilization of evidenced-based policies for child welfare, juvenile justice, children of incarcerated parents, and homeless youth.
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.
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.
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.
Andrea Kennedy, PhD, MSW (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: childhood obesity prevention, chronic disease prevention and control, behavioral health, interactive media, urban education, and school-based interventions.
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.
Rebecca Lengnick-Hall, MSSW, MPAff
Professional and research interests: the use of mixed methods approaches to understand how evidence-based practices are implemented and sustained in community-based organizations; and the focuses on exploring the ways in which individuals, organizations, and service systems adapt when new practices are introduced.
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.
Kathleen McNamara, Capt., USAF, LCSW, MA, BCD
Professional and research interests: military social work; women in the military; health disparities among stigmatized groups; LGBTQ inclusion and retention in the military; trauma treatment, and use of policy to advance social justice.
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.
Sara Miller, MSW
Professional and Research Interests: improving policies and programs that help to break down the school to prison pipeline within historically marginalized communities. Continue testing the effectiveness of deterrence programs within various settings; and encourage widespread implementation of innovative programs that engage youth and reduce the need for punitive measures such as suspension, arrest and incarceration
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.
Abigail Palmer, LCSW, MA
Professional and research interests: prevention programs for young children and families at risk of child welfare involvement, the effectiveness of evidence-based dyadic treatments for young children, the dissemination and implementation of these EBTs in community-based mental health settings, and interdisciplinary collaboration between mental health systems and dependency courts/child welfare.
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.
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.
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.
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. Gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence and dating violence among youth and young adults, particularly immigrants and Latinos.
Yoewon Yoon, MSW
Professional and research interests: behavioral health, childhood adversity, maltreatment, and mental health.
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.