Michele Wong is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also completed her M.S. in Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Sciences in June 2017. Prior to pursuing her graduate studies, Michele served as the project coordinator for the African-American Knowledge Optimized for Mindfully Healthy Adolescents (AAKOMA) Project Lab at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. During this time, she gained experience in community-based participatory research, working with an African-American faith community to pilot test a Faith Based Mental Health Promotion Program (FBMHP) to help reduce mental health stigma and increase treatment engagement. Michele’s research interests examine how structural factors and immigration-related factors influence mental health disparities. She is also interested in applying an intersectional framework to develop sustainable mental health policies, programs and practices. In her free time, Michele enjoy’s traveling, visiting her family in Canada, hiking, cooking, and building community.
Jianchao Lai is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Social Welfare of the Luskin School of Public Affairs. She received her Bachelor of Social Work from Nanjing University and Master of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests focus on examining the underreporting and service outcomes of child maltreatment and gender-based violence in Asian American communities. Through her research and advocacy effort, she aims to promote adequate and effective services for Asian American children and families and to raise public awareness of such issues in the Asian communities.
The model minority myth has largely obscured Asian Americans’ lived experiences, often causing their needs to be disregarded by the general public. Given the concern of understudied problems in the Asian communities, Jianchao conducted multiple mix-method research projects, using quantitative datasets in both local and national scales and qualitative interviews, to examine the unique risk and protective actors in Asian communities concerning the underreporting and service inadequacy of child maltreatment and sexual violence incidents. Her projects were funded by various grants such as the UCLA Racial and Social Justice Grant, Pearl Wang Fellowship, Institutional Courage Research Grant.
Upon completing her undergraduate and graduate programs, she practiced at various government agencies, non-profit organizations, and community agencies related to early childhood development and prevention of adverse childhood experiences such as the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund and Center for Community and Non-Profit Studies. During her doctoral program at UCLA, she collaborated with interdisciplinary teams in both quantitative and qualitative research projects. One of her current projects is in collaboration with the Center on Children, Families and the Law (CCFL) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to evaluate the Alternative Response program outcomes using longitudinal state-wide child protective services case files. She is also co-organizing a funded transmedia project with a team of public health researchers and filmmakers to raise public awareness of sexual violence against Asian college students during the COVID-19.
As the Asian population has been gaining attention in the states and internationally, the demand for culturally appropriate services for this population will only increase. Dedicated to filling the significant gaps about this population and child welfare services, she is motivated to further expand her current research agenda to seek an applicable and effective service model for the Asian population globally.
Ph.D. expected in 2022.