PhD Student Bios

Current PhD Students

The USC 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

Armando Barragan, MSW
Professional and research interests: Latino mental health, severe mental illnesses, recruitment and retention, help seeking toward mental health treatment, ethnic minority health disparities, culturally adapted interventions, seclusion and mechanical restraints

Melissa Bird, MSW
Professional and research interests: improving health care outcomes for women and girls, policy advocacy and analysis, empowerment, community organizing, client centered advocacy as a social welfare intervention, health policies and outcomes

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, MSW, LCSW
Professional and research interests: mental health, mental health needs and services in schools, child welfare, child development, including social emotional development

Jaih Craddock, 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, MSW, LCSW
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, MSW 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

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, M.A.
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, MSW, LCSW
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

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; human services organizations- practice and policy development; organizational theory on transformational, transactional, and shared-leadership

Gretchen Heidemann, MSW, PhD (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: Social welfare policy and policy practice/advocacy, women's reentry from prison, domestic violence, community-based recovery, and homelessness. Namely, Dr. Heidemann is interested in examining the extent professional social workers are engaged in advocacy to address problems they observe among their clients/consumers at micro, mezzo, and macro levels, as well as the extent vulnerable and marginalized populations are engaged in advocacy on their own behalf. She is currently working with her mentor, Dr. Bruce Jansson, to develop advocacy training curricula that will increase frontline healthcare professionals' ability to engage in advocacy to improve patients' well-being. Her future plans are to transport the tested advocacy training curricula to the women's rights and criminal justice sectors in order to promote gender equality and reduce mass incarceration.

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

Mercedes Hernandez, MSW, LCSW, PhD (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: Latino mental health disparities, culturally competent evidence-based practice, intervention development for Latinos and other ethnic minority groups diagnosed with severe mental illness, community mental health, translational science research

Hsun-Ta Hsu, MSW
Addressing health disparities among homeless populations, homeless persons’ health decisions and risk taking behaviors, intervention development and implementation with a specific focus on addressing chronic homelessness, mental health, substance misuse, and HIV/STD risk behaviors.

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, B.A.
Professional and research interests: addressing health disparities among LGBTQ populations through reduction of HIV/STD risk-taking behaviors. The incorporation of spirituality into HIV prevention interventions and into mental health care for HIV+ and at-risk populations. Advocacy for injection drug using communities. International social work; interests on 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, MPAff
Professional and research interests: integrating social work perspectives into management practice in organizations across sectors (public, private, nonprofit) within creating inclusive workplaces; studying how organizational change management approaches and organizational culture can support employee well-being and organizational effectiveness; and the role of leadership in organizations and in the social work profession

Brooklyn Levine, MSW, PhD (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), female veterans, expressive art therapy interventions, evidence-based practice development and implementation, qualitative research methods

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 Areas of Interest: Military Social Work, Sexual Assault/Trauma, Resilience, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, At-Risk Youth, and Interpersonal Violence

Weiyu Mao, MPhil
Professional and research interests: aging and health, social support, gerontological social work, family care giving, family and intergenerational relationships, cross-cultural research

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

Hyunsung Oh, MSW, PhD (Post Doctoral Fellow)
Professional and research interests: Reintegration of Veterans with Invisible Wound, Problem-Solving Therapy, Mind-Body Interaction, Coping and Stress Among Population with Chronic Illness and/or Traumatic Event, Physiological Effects by Stress (Allostasis), Mobile Health Technology

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, MSW, LCSW
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; The 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

Joshua Rusow, B.A.
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

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, MA, MSW
Professional and research interests: psychosocial well-being of immigrant and refugee communities, culture
and 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. Exploring the use of technology and social media to improve substance use and mental health outcomes in adolescents and young adults. Latino cultural and life course trajectories

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