Laura Liévano-Karim is a Fulbright fellow and PhD student in the UCLA Department of Social Welfare. She earned a B.Sc. in Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and an MPP degree from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. Before joining the PhD program at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, she worked as a researcher on diverse projects, both quantitative and qualitative, addressing multiple social justice dilemmas in Colombia including violence targeting marginalized populations of young people experiencing basic needs instability and youth disenfranchised from the system, throughout rural and urban zones of Colombia. Laura also worked as a lecturer at Universidad de los Andes teaching the undergraduate course: Qualitative Methods for Public Affairs. Recently Laura was working for an NGO specifically addressing the assessment of gender-based violence for teen mothers in the Caribbean region of Colombia and a study on state violence against youth at a juvenile detention center in Bogotá. Laura currently works with professor Dr. Amy Ritterbusch developing a research program on the prevention of violence against children in Colombia and Uganda.
Jihyun Oh earned her BA in Social Welfare at the Catholic University of Korea, her MA in Social Welfare at Seoul National University, and her MSW at the University of Washington (UW), Seattle. Prior to entering the UCLA doctoral program, in 2006-2011, she worked for various projects regarding measuring national minimum cost of living and producing Korean Welfare Panel Study data in the Division of Basic Social Security Research at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (a government-funded think tank). After completing her MSW, in 2017-2018, she interned in Partners for Our Children (UW-affiliated child welfare research center) in Seattle. Drawing on her research and practicum experiences in both Seoul and Seattle, Jihyun’s main research interest is child welfare and its association with relevant factors from both institutional and intergenerational contexts including parenting quality. Through her doctoral study at UCLA, Jihyun hopes to develop more comprehensive and systematic analysis that can contribute to improvements in child support policy and practice.
Sara Wilf is a first-year student in Social Welfare, with an MPA in Social Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She also holds a BA in Comparative Literature – Spanish and English from Brown University, where she graduated magna cum laude.
Sara researches youth civic engagement and youth-led social change, with a focus on social media. She is interested both in the developmental process of civic engagement in youth, as well as the impact of civic engagement and youth leadership on individuals, schools, and communities. Her research interests stem from her involvement with youth empowerment programs in the U.S., and her experience evaluating youth-focused programs with organizations such as Ashoka, Mathematica Policy Research, and Make a Difference (India).
You can find Sara on Twitter at @SaraBWilf
Stephanie Thorne is a first year Social Welfare PhD student at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Stephanie earned her Master of Science in Social Work with a concentration in Administration and Policy Practice from the University of Texas at Austin and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sexuality Studies from the University of California at Davis. She has worked with children and families in diverse environments for several years, including providing equine therapy, volunteering at a crisis nursery, providing tutoring services, completing family assessments, and in social work case management. Additionally, Stephanie has experience in developmental psychology research and child welfare research. Before starting at UCLA, Stephanie was a Research Associate at a state-wide Texas child placing agency. Stephanie’s research interests include foster care systems in Los Angeles County. Stephanie is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Eta Tau chapter of Phi Alpha, the Social Work Honor Society.
Dominique Mikell obtained her BA in Philosophy with Honors from the Graduate School of Education from Stanford University and her MA degree from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. She worked as a Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow at Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia as an extended foster care implementation researcher. Dominique’s research interests include adult functioning of former foster children and participatory and interpretive research methods.
Carol A. Leung’s research area is broadly focused on the areas of gun violence and suicide prevention. Her dissertation focuses on whether proximal and distal suicide risk factors are associated with firearm use for suicide by women in different age groups. In this work, Carol evaluates whether there are precipitating circumstances and life events that predispose women to suicide by firearms. This research is of particular importance given the complexity of gun violence in the United States as well as the rising suicide rates among women.
Carol has advanced training in research methods and theory development and is particularly skilled in conducting quantitative research with large data sets, including the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System. She has published her research in peer-reviewed journals, including International Social Work and the Journal of Aging & Social Policy. Recently, Carol published a manuscript entitled “Deploying an Ecological Model to Stem the Rising Tide of Firearm Suicide in Older Age.” Carol has taught or assisted in teaching courses for undergraduate and graduate students at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs since 2015. These include classes in health policy, aging and diversity, adult psychopathology, firearm violence, human behavior and the social environment, and research methods. Additionally, she has worked on three grant-funded projects in her area of research and presented at 11 conferences and workshops.
Carol is a licensed clinical social worker. Prior to UCLA, she worked as a psychotherapist at Flushing Hospital Outpatient Mental Health Clinic in New York City serving immigrant and refugee populations. Carol has six other publications in clinical training guides and book chapters on topics related to multicultural skills and mental health interventions. She graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin in Psychology with a Business Administration minor in 2009.
Leung, C.A. (2014). Bye-bye bullies. In M. Cheung, Therapeutic games and guided imagery Volume II: Working with children, adolescents and families with special needs and in multicultural settings (A13). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
Cheung, M., & Leung, C.A. (To be published in 2019). Social-cultural and ecological perspective. In R. Ow & A. Poon (Eds.), Mental health and Social Work. New York, NY: Springer.
Noel Barragan obtained her BS in Natural Science and Spanish from Loyola Marymount University and her MPH from the University of Southern California. She has worked the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health as an evaluator and program manger for chronic disease prevention efforts targeting low-income populations. Noel’s research interests include senior health, social determinants of health, and health policy.
Jason Anthony Plummer’s research is grounded in critical consciousness development and draws from positive youth development, psychological empowerment, social identity development, and social justice theories to understand sociopolitical development among youth of various ethnic groups. A driving question of his research is how and why adolescents and young adults become engaged in political systems as critical actors.
Critical consciousness is the capacity to understand the structural nature of oppressive and social injustices coupled with a desire to take action towards undoing their existence. Mr. Plummer’s research agenda is to document patterns of developmental change in critical consciousness across adolescence and young adulthood and corresponding changes in various forms of engagement. A goal of Mr. Plummer’s research is to identify how relationships and experiences in everyday contexts such as families, schools, and neighborhoods foster growth in critical consciousness and critical participatory behaviors. Further, he is interested in examining mechanisms that explain sociopolitical inequalities and understanding ethnic and cultural differences in youth civic engagement and political behavior. Mr. Plummer also conceptualizes critical consciousness as a worldview that may influence professional conduct within social service and state agencies (mental health, healthcare, and policing). His program of research uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies has both theoretical and applied implications. His research projects have received funding from UCLA’s graduate division and honorable mention status from the Ford Foundation.
Mr. Plummer received his B.A. in psychology from Baruch College, CUNY, and both his master’s in social work and urban planning are from the University of Michigan. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Urban Social Work and author of Families in the Urban Environment: Understanding resiliency (Cognella, 2018)
Amelia C. Mueller-Williams is a fourth year PhD student in the UCLA, Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare. Amelia holds Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health degrees from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Anthropology from Macalester College (St. Paul, MN). She uses her diverse academic and practice background to study social and environmental factors that impact suicide, alcohol, and drug use and related deaths. Specifically her PhD research focuses on how social disadvantage (e.g., poverty, discrimination, cultural biases) influences changes in rates of suicide, alcohol-, and drug-related deaths and understanding the role structural racism plays in generating differences in rates across race/ethnic groups. Building upon prior work in this area doing Community Based Participatory Research with American Indian communities, much of Amelia’s research has a special emphasis on understanding social and environmental determinants of suicide, alcohol-, and drug-related deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives. In the context colonialism’s legacy, American Indians and Alaska Natives experience the greatest impact from these causes of death; helping understand these meaningfully preventable causes of death is part of a mission grounded in social justice. Amelia specializes in quantitative data analysis using “big data” to capture large portions of the U.S. population that can account for sociodemographic heterogeneity within groups, such as race/ethnicity and geographic area. She has received competitive fellowship awards to support this work from UCLA’s year-long Graduate Research Mentorship Program and Graduate Summer Research Mentorship program; she received awards for special training from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Berkeley Workshop on Formal Demography and the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research’s Summer Program in Quantitative Methods for Social Research.
Michele Wong is a first 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.