Core research areas

The School of Social Work and the Center for Social Work Research strive to conduct and disseminate research and forge community partnerships in four core areas of practice and research:


The Aging research area focuses on addressing the diverse needs of older adults in urban areas. Topics include health promotion for older adults, moving and transitions for older adults and older adult service provision.

Assistant Professor (Clinical) Cassandra Bowers
Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Joy Ernst
Associate Professor and Director, Doctoral Program Faith Hopp
Associate Professor (Clinical) and BSW WOW! Coordinator Fayetta Keys
Assistant Professor Tam Perry

Child Welfare

The Child Welfare research area seeks to understand the needs of and services for vulnerable youth and the people and systems that serve them. Topics include access to higher education for foster care youth, Child Welfare workforce training, foster parent support, and the health needs of foster care youth.

Lecturer and BSW Coordinator, Susan Lebold
Assistant Professor (Clinical) and Director of Field Education Anwar Najor-Durack 
Associate Professor, Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Center for Social Work Research Joanne Sobeck
Lecturer, Judith Wineman

Health/Behavioral Health

The Health/Behavioral Health research area examines the health and behavioral health risk and protective factors for under-served populations. Topic areas include substance abuse, trauma, infant mental health, gambling, suicide, and mental health.

Dean and Professor Sheryl Kubiak
Distinguished Professor Jerrold Brandell
Assistant Professor J. Lloyd Allen
Assistant Professor Suzanne Brown
Assisstant Professor Viktor Burlaka
Assistant Professor Carolyn Dayton
Associate Professor Antonio Gonzalez-Prendes
Associate Professor Kim Jaffee
Associate Professor Michael Kral
Associate Professor Durrenda Onolemhemhen
Assistant Professor Lisa O'Donnell
Assistant Professor Stella Resko
Assistant Professor (Clinical) and MSW Coordinator Shirley Thomas

Interpersonal Violence

The Interpersonal Violence research area looks at prevalence, prevention, and risk and protective factors for relational violence or coercion and support for the vulnerable groups affected. Topics include teen dating violence, sexual assault and rape, domestic violence, and bullying and peer victimization.

Associate Professor Jun Sung Hong
Professor Poco Kernsmith
Associate Professor Debra Patterson
Professor Arlene Weisz

Faculty also conduct research in the areas of community development, policy and program development

Assistant Professor Richard Smith
Associate Professor, Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Center for Social Work Research Joanne Sobeck
Associate Professor Erin Comartin