Ashleigh Herrera

Ashleigh Herrera’s research focuses on the treatment of co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders in minority populations.

This research endeavor seeks to provide insight into population characteristics related to experiences with trauma and psychiatric conditions in order to guide practice and policy related to the provision of SUD treatment services for patients and the importance of integrated treatment for trauma, PTSD, and other psychiatric conditions.

Her dissertation utilizes secondary data in order to examine the role of lifetime experiences of trauma and psychiatric conditions and distress on residential substance use disorder (SUD) treatment outcomes for patients with Medi-Cal in Los Angeles County

Ms. Herrera specializes in quantitative methodology and program evaluation. She has training in

the following software systems: ARC-GIS, SPSS, and NVivo. She has worked as a research assistant for faculty members at UCLA as well as the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, culminating in several publications in peer-reviewed journals, such as Social Work and the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. She has presented her work at both national and international social work conferences, including in Hong Kong and Sweden. Ms. Herrera has taught undergraduate courses at UCLA. These have included classes in aging and human behavior in the social environment.

Additionally, Ms. Herrera has worked in direct clinical practice since 2015. In 2017, she obtained her LCSW. She is currently working as the onsite clinician at a residential SUD treatment facility. In this capacity, she conducts assessments, develops treatment plans, provides individual counseling, facilitates psychoeducational groups, trains AOD counselors, and collaborates with

DMH, SAPC, DCFS, and DOC to address the needs of her patients.

Prior to entering the doctoral program at UCLA, Ms. Herrera graduated at the top of her class from the MSW program at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, where she focused on Macro Practice and obtained a specialization in Trabajo Social (Social Work Practice with Latinos). During her MSW program, she completed internships in Houston, Texas, and Hong Kong. She also served as the President of the Hispanic Student Association. In 2010, she graduated Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in History and minor Sociology from the University of Houston.

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

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

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

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.

Javier Garcia-Perez

Javier Garcia-Perez is a student in the Social Welfare Ph.D. program. He obtained his BA in Chicana/Chicano Studies from the University of California, Davis. He completed his MA in Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University and a dual MSW/MS in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2). He previously served as the program director for an ExpandED learning program working to achieve educational equity for low-income and marginalized middle school students in New York City. Javier’s research interests include queer Latinx community health, identity-based traumatic stress, and qualitative research methodology. He is a Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellow, a fellowship for doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds. Currently, he is working on a project surveying MSW students of color in the state of California regarding their experiences of racism in the classroom or in the field and its potential impact on their education. This summer, he will also be working on a systematic literature review on the relationship between discrimination and traumatic stress symptoms within queer youth of color populations, supported by the UCLA Graduate Summer Research Mentorship program.

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

The Collectivist: Volume One, a journal from Penn SP2.

Jianchao Lai

Jianchao Lai is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. She received her Bachelor of Social Work from Nanjing University and Masters of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests focus on examining the underreporting and service outcomes of child maltreatment among Asian American communities.

During her doctoral program at UCLA, she gained experience in both quantitative and qualitative research studies. Her primary work focuses on undermining the model minority myth and investigating how this population’s social problems are often overlooked by the public due to this stereotype, especially child maltreatment incidence among Asian communities. Her independent mixed-method research study, which was funded by the Pearl Wang Fellowship, utilizes a national-scale child case file archive and grounded theory interviews to examine the unique social and cultural factors of the Asian American population that contribute to the underreporting of child maltreatment and service adequacy of child maltreatment incidents. In addition, she is also involved in a collaborative research project with the Center on Children, Families and the Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln evaluating the Alternative Response program using longitudinal state-wide child protective service case files.

Upon completing her undergraduate and MSW program, she worked at various government agencies, non-profits, and community centers such as the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund and Center for Community and Non-Profit Studies. Her work focused on early childhood development and prevention of adverse childhood experiences.

As the Asian population is gaining attention in the United States and internationally, the demand for culturally appropriate services for this population is expected to increase. However, the dearth of empirical research on child maltreatment among Asian communities remains striking.  Lai’s scholarly research aims to fill significant research gaps about this population and to promote adequate and effective services for marginalized children. She plans to expand her current research agenda to seek an applicable and effective child protective services model for Asian populations globally in the future.

 

Fellowships & Awards

  • Pearl Wang Fellowship (2019-2020), Asian American Studies Center
  • Adam Smith Fellowship (2017-2018), Mercatus Center
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship (Summer 2017), UCLA
  • Graduate Summer Research Mentorship (Summer 2018), UCLA

Kristen Brock-Petroshius

Kristen Brock-Petroshius is a Doctoral Student in Social Welfare. Her research spans Social Welfare and Political Science and focuses on Race, Ethnicity, & Politics, Political Psychology, and Community Organizing. She uses quantitative and qualitative methods – with a particular focus on field experiments. Her engaged scholarship explores methods to change dominant racial and political attitudes in predominantly white communities within the United States.

Kristen is an affiliate of the UCLA Race, Ethnicity, Politics & Society Lab and Marvin Hoffenberg Fellow in American Politics & Public Policy. She received her BA in Sociology with a minor in Gender Studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of California, Los Angeles.

You can learn more about her work here: www.kristenbrockpetroshius.com.

Brenda Morales

Brenda Morales is currently a fourth year doctoral student in the Department of Social Welfare at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA. Her research interests include investigating risk factors that contribute to disparities in health care and mental health among undocumented Latino immigrants and their children.

She is currently a recipient of the Eugene V. Cota-Robles four-year fellowship, one of the most prestigious fellowships awarded by UCLA. Her research at UCLA has mainly focused on examining the mental health needs of Latino immigrants. One of her studies examined the fear of deportation and psychological wellbeing of immigrants, through the use of field research in a predominantly Hispanic community. Her research projects at UCLA have been funded through two Summer Graduate Research Mentorship ($6,000) awards in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Brenda is a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR), where she is involved in qualitative data analysis for the Center’s Research on Immigrant Health and State Policy (RIGHTS) project, which examines how state-level policies impact Chinese and Mexican immigrants’ access to health care and health status.

Before entering UCLA, she was part of the University of Michigan/CSULA Social Work Bridges to the Doctoral Program, where she analyzed secondary data from the California Health Interview Survey examining health care disparities among immigrant populations. Given the national attention to the concerns of the undocumented and immigrant community in the nation and the crisis and dangers facing families, her research informs the mental health and public policy community about responding to the needs of undocumented and immigrant community to better serve their mental health needs.

Brenda Morales was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She obtained her B.A. in Social Work in 2014 and her Master of Social Work (MSW) in 2016 from California State University, Los Angeles.

Lei Chen

Lei Chen is a third-year doctoral student of Social Welfare at Luskin School of Public Affairs, the University of California in Los Angeles. Her research interests include health and aging policy; older adults’ psychological well-being; social support for older adults; cross-cultural studies, and mixed methods. Her current research focuses on examining the impact of the population policy and related policies for older adults’ psychological well-being in rural China.

She is a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. She is currently involved in the Research on ImmiGrant HealTh and State policy (RIGHTS) Study, which examines how California’s immigrant policy environment influences access to health care by identifying how the state’s health and welfare, education, labor, and law enforcement policies shape Asian and Latino immigrants’ daily lives.

Before joining the Ph.D. program at UCLA, she was a research assistant for a number of companies, international organizations, and universities, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), McKinsey & Company, Fudan University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Washington University.

Kwan Jin Yao

Jin Yao, Kwan is a PhD student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Luskin School of Public Affairs – under the National University of Singapore (NUS)-Overseas Graduate Scholarship – who graduated as valedictorian of the class of 2017 with a Master in Public Policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS.

 

His primary research interest revolves around children and adolescents from low-income families, and in particular on the family structures and family quality associated with positive adolescent and family development. He is also interested in the civic engagement of adolescents and youths as well as the social and public policies governing the non-profit and philanthropy sector in Singapore and in Asia.

 

You can learn more about his work here https://www.kwanjinyao.com

Melanie Sonsteng-Person

Melanie Sonsteng-Person is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Social Welfare. She is Social Justice Fellow for the UCLA Institute of American Cultures working for the research and community engagement project “Social Justice and Education in the Community.” Broadly, her research interest focuses on unaddressed trauma symptoms in violence-exposed youth, more specifically her aim is to identify key protective factors that lead to an increase in educational attainment and decrease in criminalization. Her work at UCLA focuses specifically on how schools identify and respond to community violence exposure and trauma exposure. She is currently analyzing survey and interview data she collected to assess teachers’ current level of training on violence and trauma exposure among their students and how this influences their feelings of success and confidence in the classroom. The interviews provide an in-depth understanding of the meaning teachers give to students’ internal and external trauma symptoms displayed in the classroom and how teachers perceive their preparation and coping skills.

 

Prior to coming to UCLA, Melanie worked in Boston, Brooklyn, and Detroit in the fields of violence prevention and education. Her research is informed by her experience as a 7th Grade Science Teacher in Brooklyn and as a Certified Trauma Practitioner in Detroit where she worked with youth and students exposed to violence.

 

You can follow Melanie’s work and engage in a safe classroom’s collaborative here: melaniesonsteng.com

Jennifer A. Ray

Jennifer Ray is currently a fourth-year doctoral student in the Social Welfare program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her scholarship centers on childhood adversity, family relations, and interventions aimed at reducing behavior problems among young children in African American families.

Jennifer’s current work examines the associations between and among adverse experiences in early childhood, nonresident father involvement, and child behavior problems in socially and economically disadvantaged African American families.

Prior to joining the Social Welfare program at UCLA, Jennifer worked as a clinician providing community mental health services to high-risk children and families in Los Angeles county. She has also worked on community-based research with the UCLA Social Justice Partnership and the UCLA Labor Center.

Jennifer completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and received her MSW from the University of Southern California.