Doctoral program alumni

  • Tamarie Willis

    Tamarie Willis is a 2022 graduate of the Social Work Ph.D. program at Wayne State University. Her dissertation research examined the experiences of children in foster care with an incarcerated parent. Her research has been published in multiple academic journals, including Children and Youth Services Review, Journal of Public Child Welfare, and the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. Dr. Willis is currently is federal policy fellow at the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Federal Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE).  

  • Danielle Hicks

    Danielle Hicks graduated in 2022. Her dissertation focused on integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders among people in Michigan jails. She has published her research in multi-disciplinary journals including the Community Mental Health Journal, Addiction Research & Theory, and Cannabis & Cannabinoid Research and the Journal of Forensic Nursing. Dr. Hicks is currently the Evaluation Project Manager for Michigan’s State Opioid Response Grant and part of the School of Social Work’s Substance Use Research Team (SURT). 

  • Markus Whitehead

    Markus Whitehead graduated in 2021. His dissertation was titled, "The Military Promotion Process: The Lived Experiences of African American Women in the Military." He is currently a part-time faculty member with the School of Social Work, Wayne State University

  • Alexandra Cameron Schmaeman

    Alexandra Cameron Schmaeman graduated with her Ph.D. in December 2021. Her dissertation examined experiences of bullying suicidal ideation among adolescents. She has experience working inpatient psychiatry in Chicago, and has recently moved back to Michigan where she is a therapist for at-risk high school students. 

  • Sarah Mountain

    Sarah Mountain graduated in 2021. Her dissertation was titled, "Resiliency in Adolescents, Risk-Taking Behaviors and Protective Factors: Examining the Relationship Among African American Adolescents in Chicago's Southside." She is currently working as the Director of Human Resources for Rosh Review, an e-learning medical education company.

  • Michael Henson

    Michael Henson completed a joint Ph.D. in social work and anthropology from Wayne State University in 2021, and also holds a BA in anthropology and an MSW. Dr. Henson is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Florida Institute for Child Welfare at Florida State University. Dr. Henson’s research focuses on workforce development issues in child welfare, with his dissertation examining social work training programs focused on child welfare. He has also worked on research outside of child welfare, including projects focusing on the Flint water crisis and chronic health conditions among older African Americans. 

  • Jeoung Min Lee

    Jeoung Min Lee graduated in 2020. Her dissertation was titled, "Exploring Bullying And Peer Victimization Among African American Adolescents In Chicago's Southside." She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Wichita State University. Her research interest is bias-based bullying of minority adolescents, including racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities. She teaches courses in research methods and interpersonal practice.

  • Lori Vanderwill

    Lori Vanderwil graduated in 2020. Her dissertation was titled, "Teacher Wellbeing And Trauma-Informed Interventions In An Alternative Education Middle/high Public Charter School." She is currently working as a Research Scientist at the University of Washington-Seattle School of Social Work. Her research interests include trauma-informed teaching methods, social-emotional learning in education and home, parent trainings in Child Welfare, and support systems for teachers and families.

  • Carla Barron

    Carla Barron graduated in 2019. Her dissertation was titled, "A Qualitative Study Of Reflective Supervision From The Supervisee Perspective: An Ecological View." She is Clinical Coordinator for the Infant Mental Health Program at Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute.  Her work includes teaching courses for the IMH dual-title program and working on a research study on attachment-informed professional development training for Early Head Start teachers in Detroit.

  • Ann Carrellas

    Ann Carrellas graduated in 2018. Her dissertation was titled, "Sexual Victimization And Intellectual Disabilities Among Adolescents Involved In Child Welfare." She is an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the School of Social Justice in the College of Health and Human Services at the University of Toledo.

  • Tina R. Ryznar, PhD, MSW

    Tina Ryznar graduated in 2018. Her dissertation was titled, "Understanding Interdisciplinary Collaboration within Zero to Three Safe Babies Court Teams." Tina works for the American Institutes for Research as an Early Childhood Researcher.

  • Laurel M. Hicks, PhD, LCSW

    Laurel Hicks graduated in 2017. Her dissertation was titled, "Preparing to Parent: Mindfulness in Expectant Parents exposed to Adversity." She is a Researcher at the Renée Crown Wellness Institute within the University of Colorado - Boulder.

  • Bryan Victor, PhD, LMSW

    Bryan Victor graduated in 2017. His dissertation was titled, “Domestic Violence and Parental Substance Misuse In Child Welfare-Involved Families.” He is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Wayne State University with research examining child welfare policy and practice related to domestic violence and substance misuse.

  • Shantel Crosby, PhD, LMSW

    Shantel Crosby graduated in 2016. Her dissertation was titled, "Evaluating Trauma-Informed Educational Practices With Trauma-Exposed, Female Students." She is an Assistant Professor at the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville, focusing on trauma informed practice and high risk youth populations.

  • Christina Marsack-Topolewski, PhD, MSW

    Christina Marsack-Topolewski graduated in 2016. Her dissertation was titled, “An Examination of Quality of Life of Parents of Adult Children Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder.” She is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work for the College of Health and Human Services at Eastern Michigan University, engaged in research focused on non-medical prescription opioid use among populations with disabilities. She is also an MI-DDI (Developmental Disabilities Institute) Research Associate.

  • Deirdre Shires, PhD, MSW, MPH

    Deirdre Shires graduated in 2016. Her dissertation was titled, "Factors Associated with Primary Care Providers' Willingness to Deliver Routine and Transition Care to Transgender Individuals." She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Michigan State University.

  • Cassandra Barragan, PhD, MSW

    Cassandra Barragan graduated in 2015. Her dissertation was titled, "What Impacts Life Satisfaction of Aging Adults Following Stressful Life Events?: An Examination of the Buffering Effect of Personal Resources. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Eastern Michigan University and the Aging Studies Program Director.

  • Mickey Sperlich, PhD, MSW

    Michelle Sperlich graduated in 2014. Her dissertation was titled, "Trauma Exposure, Posttraumatic Stress, and Depression in a Community Sample of First-time Mothers." She is faculty at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, examining the effects of past trauma on childbearing and early parenting processes, how trauma is defined, and how we can effectively reach survivors with appropriate and desired interventions.

  • Sarah Van Zoeren, PhD, MSW

    Sarah Van Zoeren graduated in 2014. Her dissertation was titled, "The Influence of Individual and Perceived Organizational Characteristics On Teacher Interventions In Bullying Situations." She is an associate professor at Eastern Michigan University teaching in the BSW and MSW programs and engaging in service and scholarship related to school social work and educational equity. 

  • Jessica K. Camp, PhD, MSW

    Jessica Camp graduated in 2013. Her dissertation was titled, "Mental Disorders and Inequality in the United States: Intersection of Race, Gender, and Disability on Employment and Income." She owns a small business, named Social Work Data, providing social work support services in the community, including data analysis and evaluation, trauma-informed organizational training, continuing education, and distance learning. She also teaches program evaluation and research methods as a part-time adjunct at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and is involved in community-engaged research with the Office of Metropolitan Impact.

  • Erin Comartin, PhD, MSW

    Erin Comartin graduated in 2012. Her dissertation was titled, "Collective Action for the Rights of Sex Offenders: Evaluating Social Movement Organizations." She is an Associate Professor and Data Director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice at Wayne State University School of Social Work.

  • Jessica Lee Lucero, PhD, MSW

    Jessica Lucero graduated in 2012. Her dissertation was titled, "Neighborhood Risk and Protective Factors for Teenage Childbearing and Fathering." She is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Utah State University where she directs the Transforming Communities Initiative and serves as the main campus MSW director and Social Work department head.

  • Kimberly Richards, PhD, MSW

    Kimberly Richards graduated in 2012. Her dissertation was titled, "Child Welfare Professionals on Kinship Caregivers: Attitudes and Implications." She is the Director of Intake and After Hours at the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society and teaches as an adjunct for University of Windsor and Dalhousie University.

  • April Carcone, PhD, MSW

    April Carcone graduated in 2010. Her dissertation was titled, "A Social Ecological Perspective on Diabetes Care: Supporting Adolescents and Caregivers." She is an Associate Research Professor in the Division of Behavioral Sciences, Department of Family Medicine, Wayne State University School of Medicine, with a focus on Motivational Interviewing in patient-provider communication in clinical contexts, behavioral interventions to improve health outcomes and implementation science. 

  • Angela Kaiser, PhD, MSW

    Angie Kaiser graduated in 2010. Her dissertation was titled, "Bridging Social Capital Formation in a Faith-Based Organization." She is an Associate Professor at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

  • Cristina Tucker, PhD

    Cristina Tucker graduated in 2010. Her dissertation was titled, "The Civic engagement of Latino immigrants in the United States." She is teaching at Madonna in the MSW program. Her focus is on macro social work, teaching Program Planning, Leadership, Integrative Seminar, Research, and Field Practicum.

  • Rebecca Wiersma, PhD, LMSW

    Rebecca Wiersma graduated in 2010. Her dissertation was titled, "Children's Adaptive Psychological Functioning in the Face of Adversity." She is the Oakland County MSW Field Coordinator at Michigan State University.