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.

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.

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.

Skye Allmang

Skye Allmang is a fifth-year PhD student in the Department of Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She holds a Master of Public Policy from Brandeis University and a Master of Social Welfare from UCLA. Prior to starting the PhD program, Skye worked as a project coordinator for a job-training program at a nonprofit in Southern California. Her research interests center around youth employment issues, with a particular interest in addressing barriers to employment, such as mental health issues and juvenile justice system involvement. She is currently a Hilton Scholar at the WORLD Policy Analysis Center, and is working on a research project that compares legislative protections for employer-provided job-training across 193 countries. Her dissertation is on the association between precarious employment and long-term health outcomes for young adults in the United States.

Sara Terrana

Sara Terrana is a doctoral candidate at UCLA – Luskin, School of Public Affairs in the Department of Social Welfare. Ms. Terrana’s research focuses on the nonprofit sector, particularly human-service organizations (HSOs) and their founders, and neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage. Her dissertation, under the advisement of Professor Zeke Hasenfeld, focuses on Black female founders of HSOs and examines both critical junctures of founding, and how life experiences and racial identity have influenced the founding decisions and the ability to mobilize material and symbolic resources for organizational survival. Further, her research examines how social change and social justice is manifested through the creation of HSOs in a neighborhood of concentrated disadvantage in Los Angeles. She specializes in qualitative methodology and advanced computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) technologies. Currently, Ms. Terrana is serving a two-year term (2017–19) as a nationally selected representative for the Society for Social Work and Research’s Doctoral Student Task Force. Prior to entering the doctoral program at UCLA, Ms. Terrana completed her MSW from UCLA in 2013. She also holds an MA from Teachers College – Columbia University (2011). Ms. Terrana served in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Vanuatu from 2005–07. She graduated magna cum laude with dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of Hawaii-Hilo in Psychology and Communications in 2004. Here are links to her most recent publications:

Terrana, S., & Wells, R. (2018). Financial Struggles of a Community-Based Organization: A Teaching Case. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 42(1), 105-111.

Download here:

 Terrana, S. (2017). Minority Founders of Community-Based Organizations in a Neighborhood of Concentrated Disadvantage: Motivations, Barriers, and Strategies. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 41(4), 359–375. Download here:

Donte Boyd

Donte Boyd is currently a third-year Ph.D. a student in the Department of Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Before entering the program Donte Boyd received his Masters in Social Work (MSW) from Washington University in Saint Louis. In entering the Ph.D. program at UCLA, Donte has received the Eugene V. Cota Robles fellowship for four years, which is awarded to exceptional applicants who also advance the Regents’ goals for diversification of the academy. As a continuing graduate student at UCLA in the Department of Social Welfare, he received two Summer Graduate Research Mentorship (6,000$) awards in academic years of 2015-16, and 2016-17.  His research examines the social context of Black adolescents, more specifically, in how the family and school context impacts HIV prevention. His research examines how the role of the family (e.g parent/sibling support, communication e.g.) and other important persons in Black males adolescents lives predict HIV prevention (HIV testing, condoms etc.).  Secondly, he’s interested in how the school context of Black male adolescents impacts sexual health behaviors including HIV testing. More specifically, how does racial discrimination, sense of belonging, and school safety impact HIV testing and knowledge in this context. Overall, my research utilizes an ecological approach to understand how family and school experiences, and contextual factors interact with one another to shape positive Health behaviors and HIV prevention.