Dominique A. Mikell

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, LCSW

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

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.

Amelia C. Mueller-Williams

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

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.

Ashleigh Herrera

Ashleigh Herrera, LCSW, is a fifth year doctoral student in the Social Welfare Department. Ashleigh’s research interests center on Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) and Co-Occurring Disorders (CODs), specifically among low-income, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and criminal justice involved individuals. Ashleigh completed her MSW at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work (UHGCSW) in 2012, and became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 2017. Ashleigh is employed as a LCSW working in direct practice in a residential drug and alcohol treatment setting and provides clinical supervision to Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselors to enhance their cultural competency, understanding of CODs, and practice of trauma-informed care. Ashleigh has previously worked as a Graduate Student Researcher at UCLA as well as during her MSW program at UHGCSW. Ashleigh also served as a Teaching Fellow with the UCLA GE Cluster Program.   Upon graduation, Ashleigh aspires to continue to pursue her research interests in the field of CODs and SUDs as well as inform policy and practice related to SUD and COD treatment.


“Factors Contributing to Depressive Symptoms among Mexican Americans and Latinos”

“The Perceived Role of Family in Heroin Use Behaviors of Mexican-American Men.”

Joanna Barreras

Joanna Barreras is a doctoral student in the Social Welfare program in the Luskin School of Public Affairs. In recognition of exemplary scholarship and her commitment to improving the well-being of Latinos, Joanna has been awarded numerous fellowships and most notably the Eugene V. Cota Robles four-year fellowship and the Dr. Ursula Mandel Scholarship to fund her research on issues around health and mental health service utilization affecting the Latino community. Furthermore, she has been a recipient of the UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs Monica Salinas Latino Fellowship and the Social Justice Initiative Fellowship. Such awards have allowed her to collaborate with community health and mental health clinics serving a large Latino population. As a striving scholar, Joanna has presented her work in several conferences such as the Society of Social Work Research Annual Conference, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America Annual Conference, the Latino Health Equity Conference, and the Summer Institute on Migration and Global Health. In addition, she has collaborated with researchers at Rand Corporation and has four manuscripts on Latino health issues under review, submitted to high impact journals. She continues to excel in contributing to the knowledge base through her research with hope to exert needed change around policies and practices focusing on the betterment of one of the largest fastest growing minorities in our nation—Latinos. Joanna received her MSW at California State University, Los Angeles in 2012 and her BA in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice at California State University, Long Beach in 2010. Her previous research experiences focused on health care utilization among Mexicans in California and mental health issues in low-income and minority communities. Her current research interests include physical and mental health disparities affecting Latinos, access and utilization of health and mental health care services, immigrant issues, and multicultural issues in research and practice.

Courtney Demko

Courtney Demko is a fourth year doctoral student in the Social Welfare department with a specialization in Gerontology at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.  She also earned her Master’s in Social Welfare at UCLA’s Luskin School with a specialization in Gerontology.  Courtney holds a BA in Political Science from Davidson College.

Courtney’s current research interests include the health and well-being of dementia family caregivers.  More specifically, her work examines the emotional, physical and psychological strain millennial caregivers experience while providing care to a loved one with dementia.

Courtney currently serves as the Assistant Director for the Center for Policy Research on Aging at UCLA, researching the economic impact of a nation growing older and more diverse.  Courtney recently surveyed older white conservative adults in Orange County, CA looking at their attitudes and beliefs towards immigration and immigration policy.

Courtney received the Meyer and Renee Luskin Fellowship, the Olive M. Stone Scholarship Endowment, the Hearst Endowed Scholarship in Aging, the Leon and Toby Gold Fellowship and the Targow Fellowship for her work as a doctoral student in the field of aging.


The Politics of Aging in a Majority-Minority Nation and Later-Life Social Support and Service Provision in Diverse and Vulnerable Populations.

Lia W. Marshall

Lia W. Marshall’s research focuses on older adult well-being. She is particularly interested in understanding prolonged independence and ability to age in place by investigating the interconnections between social isolation, mobility, and the built environment. Lia’s mixed methods dissertation, situated at the nexus of social welfare, gerontology and urban planning, seeks to understand the mobility experiences of socially isolated older adult women. This research is an important step in guiding policymakers to effectively allocate resources to enable aging in place and to enhance the lives of older women.

While Lia has training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods, she is particularly skilled in employing qualitative methodologies. In collaboration with faculty in both UCLA’s Urban Planning and Social Welfare Departments, she has served as a graduate research assistant for several projects, including “Disrupting Aging & Building Livable Communities: Los Angeles”, and with The Los Angeles Community Academic Partnership for Research in Aging (L.A. CAPRA). Lia has presented her work at conferences across academic disciplines, and has taught and guest lectured with both master’s students and undergraduates. Lia’s interests in social welfare, gerontology and urban planning inspired her to develop and teach the course entitled: “Environmentally Sustainable Aging: Diversity, Resilience, and Health” as a teaching fellow at UCLA.

In addition to teaching, Ms. Marshall continues her community engagement work with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust as a Steering Committee member for Golden Age Park, the first intergenerational park in Los Angeles, and as the Service Learning Coordinator for the UCLA undergraduate gerontology cluster. Lia received a Masters of Social Work from California State University, Los Angeles and a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.