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GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

PhD Student Directory

  • Stephanie Begun

    Stephanie Begun

    Stephanie is a mixed methods researcher who focuses on reproductive health and decision-making among homeless youth—specifically, how policies and community-based research interventions may work in tandem to positively impact homeless women's reproductive health access and outcomes. Stephanie's goal is to conduct research that enables a broader understanding of this complex topic, while also reflecting a strong commitment to social justice and anti-oppressive practice.
  • Erin Boyce

    Erin Boyce

    Erin is investigating social work practices related to direct, indirect and secondary trauma among those exposed to childhood sexual abuse disclosures.
  • Hagit Brandes

    Hagit Brandes

    Hagit is investigating the efficacy of animal-assisted intervention use in aggression reduction.

  • Samantha Brown

    Samantha Brown

    Samantha is interested in research that evaluates outcomes for children exposed to traumatic experiences and the impact this might have on social, emotional, and developmental functioning. Her research interests also include child resiliency, particularly factors that mediate the relationship between child maltreatment and the development of trauma-related symptomology.

  • Eric DesMarais

    Eric DesMarais

    Eric is interested in international social work with a focus on the development of transnational networks and their effects on human security, human trafficking, migration and development.
  • Rebecca Durbahn

    Rebecca Durbahn

    Rebecca is studying innovative interventions for children and adolescents with a history of trauma and mental health, particularly the impact of innovative interventions on symptoms of PTSD.
  • Jordan Farrar

    Jordan Farrar

    Jordan's research focuses on the international community, specifically Africa. Her primary research investigates the effect of armed conflict on youth and the utilization of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration strategies when intervening at the individual level. Other research interests focus on the effect of armed conflict on community and the family, as well as the use of a resilience perspective when analyzing and proposing community-based interventions.
  • Jie Feng

    Jie Feng

    Jie's research focuses on multicultural-community practice, particularly women's issues and empowerment, as well as international program development and management, and social work administration.
  • Badiah Haffejee

    Badiah Haffejee

    Badiah's research interest is in the intersection of immigration policy, particularly as it relates to refugee women in the United States. Other interests include community development-specifically toward the empowerment of refugee women and youth in urban communities. Her current research investigates African refugee student outcomes in an after school program, specifically looking at culturally responsive social work practices, as it applies to a collectivist-oriented culture.
  • Ashley Hanna

    Ashley Hanna

    Ashley is investigating the intersection of social work and various immigration issues. Her research interests include: 1) the effects of anti-immigrant policies and practices on the well-being of unauthorized immigrants, persons in mixed-status families, and the larger Latino community; 2) the effect of stigmatization on unauthorized immigrants and their families; and 3) the stress experienced by mixed-status Latino families due to the constant threat of detainment and/or deportation of unauthorized family members.
  • Lin Jiang

    Lin Jiang

    Lin's research interest is gerontology, especially comparing Chinese and American older adults' online activities/computer-based communication (i.e., voice chat, IM, 3D online games, emails, Facebook, YouTube and blogs). Specific examples include online social support and communication among senior citizens, civic engagement and older adults seeking online health information.
  • Shanna Katz Kattari

    Shanna Katz Kattari

    Shanna is a mixed methods researcher focused on understanding how power, privilege and oppression  marginalize, exclude, and discriminate against people regarding their identities/expressions. Her work currently centers on ability/disability  and ableism, as well as transgender/gender variant identities and transphobia, all using an intersectional lens. She is also interested in examining sexuality in marginalized communities, particularly LGBTQ individuals & people with disabilities.
  • Songmin Kim

    Songmin Kim

    Songmin is investigating how evidence-based social work interventions can include spirituality, particularly in community social work practice.
  • Susanne Klawetter

    Susanne Klawetter

    Susanne Klawetter,LCSW, is interested in examining social determinants of maternal and child health disparities. Topics of interest include intergenerational health patterns, gendered oppression, the application of a life course perspective in research and practice, and qualitative or mixed-methods approaches to engaging in community-based participatory research with marginalized women and children as it relates to health.
  • Chris Knoepke

    Chris Knoepke

    Chris' research interests include quality-of-life issues in cardiac care, particularly interventions that reduce anxiety provoked by health interventions.
  • Lisa Langenderfer

    Lisa Langenderfer-Magruder

    Lisa's research focuses on intimate partner violence, including partner violence among high-risk youth and perpetrator intervention.

  • Amber McDonald

    Amber McDonald

    Amber is interested in trauma-informed interventions for children who are victims of, and/or witnesses to, crime.  She is interested in researching and evaluating systems responses and forensic social work practices.

  • Ann Obermann

    Ann Obermann

    Ann's research focuses on the organizational health of human service organizations and how this directly effects client outcomes and their quality of services. In addition, she is looking at direct and or vicarious trauma's effect on an organization, its employees and those it serves.
  • Ashley O'Connor

    Ashley O'Connor

    Ashley's research interests include community and occupational reintegration of returning veterans, including animal-assisted psychiatric rehabilitation.
  • Jennifer Pearson

    Jennifer Pearson

    Jennifer's research interests include ethical standards for animal-assisted interventions, psychopathologies of the human-animal bond, and the intersection of animal welfare, human health and the environment.
  • Stephanie Lechuga Pena

    Stephanie Lechuga Peña

    Stephanie is researching parent engagement and academic achievement for Mexican American/Chicano/a students. She focuses on intervention research to engage families and build community cohesion to improve their health, the health of their children, and the performance of their children's schools.

  • Jon Phillips

    Jon Phillips

    Jon’s  research focuses on organizational culture in child welfare and how it relates to outcomes as defined by state and federal governments. He hopes to expand the concept of organizational culture by applying it to the child welfare system as a whole. In addition, he is interested in identifying and addressing the challenges of inter-agency cooperation within the child welfare system.
  • Mark Plassmeyer

    Mark Plassmeyer

    Mark is interested in investigating any effect that the change in Colorado’s policies regarding marijuana will have on incarceration rates in Colorado’s jails and prisons, particularly for minority populations in both adult and juvenile settings. He is also interested in what kind of financial impact the legalization of recreational marijuana will have on Colorado’s ability to provide public services, and whether the policy shift will produce any financial benefits to the populations, communities and/or neighborhoods that have historically experienced high rates of arrest and incarceration for marijuana-related offenses.
  • Abha Rai

    Abha Rai

    Abha is assessing impact across diverse sectors by administering both qualitative and quantitative checks across interventions that are being proposed and executed. Abha aims to standardize the implementation of interventions based on certain common findings that are beneficial to a particular sector and can be implemented across problems that are similar in nature. The ultimate aim is to avoid a multiplicity of research specific to a particular sector and creation of a repository of interventions that can be implemented in similar settings. 
  • Nick Schau

    Nick Schau

    Nick is examining how social structures and institutions impact the expression and onset of severe mental illness, the intersection of marginalized identities and severe mental illness, and the psychosocial impact of mental illness on family members.
  • Jason St. Mary

    Jason St. Mary

    Jason is interested in exploring the effects of colonialism/imperialism and capitalism/consumerism on indigenous cultures and underdeveloped countries, resulting in historical constructs of extreme forms of oppression and exploitation, and also in the transmission of intergenerational trauma. He is concerned with examining the international ramifications of global social work, exploring economic, political and community impact, and the movements of youth development, income generation, sustainability, health care reform and education in addressing access to resources such as housing, mental and physical health, nutrition, employment and safety concerns.

  • Darren Whitfield

    Darren Whitfield

    Darren is identifying and understanding critical health needs for gay men in the United States, particularly how systems of oppression influence health outcomes for gay men of color. Currently his work focuses on the psychosocial and cultural factors that may play a role in the disparity of HIV infection for young black gay and bisexual men
  • Jessica Lo

    Jessica Yang

    Jessica is studying child welfare and experiences of children in foster care and their identity development. Additionally, Lo has in interest in trauma and adult life outcomes, LGBT issues and the relationship between sexuality and religion.