Poco D. Kernsmith

Poco D. Kernsmith

Professor of Social Welfare and Department Chair


MPH, Wayne State University, Urban Public Health, 2020.
PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, Social Welfare, 2002.
MSW, The University of Michigan, Interpersonal Practice and Community Organizing, 1995.
BA, University of California, Santa Barbara, Psychology & Women's Studies. 1994.

Areas of Interest:

Criminal/Legal Systems, School Culture and Climate, Sexual and Gender Identity and Expression, Violence Prevention, Youth Violence Perpetration


(310) 825-5932



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Dr. Poco D. Kernsmith is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Social Welfare. Dr. Kernsmith has integrated practice and research experience in the development and implementation of several federally funded research and intervention projects, focusing on the etiology and prevention of perpetration of violence by youth among peers, in families, and in intimate relationships. These projects include a longitudinal study on the modifiable protective factors to prevent intimate partner and sexual violence perpetration, and the development and evaluation of school-based violence prevention programs in university and middle school settings. Dr. Kernsmith is currently studying how school policies can help create inclusive, trauma-informed environments to prevent and respond to violence or threats of violence in middle and high schools.

Dr. Kernsmith’s research has been funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Justice, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Michigan State Policy Center. Dr. Kernsmith’s additional research areas include inclusive and comprehensive sexual health education, water justice, collective trauma, and community-based strategies to prevent hate-motivated violence and domestic terrorism. Dr. Kernsmith has also volunteered with the American Civil Liberties Union to support efforts related to reform of the criminal legal system.

Dr. Kernsmith has primarily taught classes in research methods at the BSW, MSW, and PhD levels, as well as courses related to violence prevention and intervention. As the PhD program director at two universities, Dr. Kernsmith engaged in efforts to assess structural barriers to student success and engaged in systems change to promote equity and inclusion in the academic system. Dr. Kernsmith is engaged in ongoing research to assess disparities in mentorship of doctoral students.