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Meet our Ph.D. Students

Meet our PhD Students

Selected bios of current students

Saige Addison Headshot

Saige M. Addison

Saige Addison is a first year dual MSW / PhD student with evolving research interests. She has experience through interning at the county prosecutor’s office, a local library, the Alzheimer’s Association, and currently with the Rutgers University Center for Prevention Science. 

Lillian Alexander Headshot

Lillian Alexander


Headshot - E. Amponsah

Enoch Boafo Amponsah

Student, Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Enoch Boafo Amponsah is a PhD student with the School of Social Work, Rutgers University. He has vast research and practice experience in issues of child welfare and family wellbeing. Majority of his research publications focuses on child maltreatment prevention, interpersonal violence and gender issues in low middle income countries.  Prior to joining Rutgers, he obtained his masters in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation at the University of Oxford, UK.

Esther Bennett headshot

Esther R. Bennett


Allison Brachmann headshot

Allison Brachmann


Charles Chear

Charles Chear

Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work

Charles Chear is a PhD candidate studying how and why poor people move, and the relationship between moving and socioeconomic conditions such as housing and work. Populations of interest include convenience store (‘bodega’) workers and Housing Choice Voucher (‘Section 8’) recipients. Prior to research, Charles was a social worker serving diverse populations and organizations in Massachusetts, Arizona, Tohono O’odham Nation, Pennsylvania, and Cambodia.

Kate E. Golden headshot

Kate E. Golden


Jordon Goodwin headshot

Jordan Goodwin

Graduate Assistant & Doctoral Student



Brett Greenfield

Lorraine Y. Howard

Lorraine Y. Howard headshot

Education: Ph.D. (expected May 2023) Rutgers University School of Social Work; MSW, Rutgers University School of Social Work, 2008; Bachelor’s of Arts and Science (BSW), Rutgers University, 1996. Research Interests: Racial and community trauma; intersection of addictions and neuroscience; adolescent and young adult development; culturally competent social work practice; translational research. Research Experience:Co-investigator on Experience of Social Work Students during an Inter-Professional Education (IPE) event; Research consultant on Gene Upshaw Players’ Assistance Trust Evaluation Study; Research consultant on ALDA, Inc. After-School Program project. Teaching interests: Social Work Practice; Clinical Social Work; Diversity and Oppression, Psychopathology. Teaching experience: Clinical Assessment & Diagnosis; Clinical Social work I; Theories of Personality and Psychopathology; Evaluation of Practice: Clinical, Communication in Social Work Practice; HBSE: Understanding Addictive Behaviors; Generalist Practice I; Case Management in Addiction Practices; Biology of Addictive Behaviors; Social Work Policy & Services I & II; Clinical Social Work: Addictive Behaviors I & II; HBSE: Addictive Behaviors Across the Lifespan; Professional Development; Addiction Counselor Training Program. Practice experience: Director of Addiction Education at Rutgers University Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies (current position); Teaching Lecturer Rutgers School of Social Work; Faculty (Field Education Coordinator) at Rutgers School of Social Work; Administrator at various treatment programs; Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Jersey and Texas; Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor in New Jersey; Therapist in private practice; Social Worker at various treatment programs. Email Address:

Courtney Hutchison

Courtney Hutchison headshot

Education: PhD, Rutgers University School of Social Work (expected 2023); MSS, Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work & Social Research; MPH, University of California, Berkeley; BA, International Relations, Brown University. Research Interests: Clinical interventions for PTSD and other trauma-related disorders; MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD; the role of shame in psychopathology. Honors: Presidential Fellow, Rutgers University; Award for Clinical Excellence, Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work; Junior Fellow, Center for Child and Family Wellbeing; Alumni Scholar, UC Berkeley. Research Experience: Director of Research, SoundMind Center; Graduate Assistant, Center on Violence Against Women and Children, Rutgers School of Social Work (2019-current); Graduate Research Assistant, Forum for Collaborative Research, 2013-2014; Research Assistant, Program for Recovery and Community Health, Yale University (2007). Teaching Interests:  Clinical Social Work Practice; Human Behavior in the Social Environment; Psychopathology. Teaching Experience: Graduate Student Instructor, UC Berkeley: Introduction to Gender & Women’s Studies, Feminist Theory; Graduate Student Instructor, UC Berkeley: Global Health. Practice Experience: Licensed Social Worker in Pennsylvania (2018-current); Ketamine-assisted psychotherapist, SoundMind Center (2021-current); Psychotherapist, University of Pennsylvania Counseling and Psychological Services (2018-2020); psychotherapist, Philadelphia Consultation Center (2018-2019). E-mail Address:



Hasan Johnson

Hasan Johnson headshot

Education:  MSW, Rutgers University; BA, Psychology, Rutgers College; Research Interests:  computer based cognitive behavioral interventions to promote grit, motivational achievement and social problem solving skills among adolescent students;  culturally appropriate, evidenced based clinical intervention with marginalized and oppressed populations that address mental health needs; Research Experience:  Graduate Assistant, Rutgers University Institute for Families; Practice Experience: MSW Field Instructor, Plainfield Public Schools, Plainfield, NJ; Mental Health Clinician, UMDNJ and Private Practice; School of Social Worker/Guidance Counselor—Plainfield, New Brunswick and Piscataway Schools, NJ; Honors/Awards:  Recipient of Outstanding Doctoral Student Instructor Award. Email Address:


Anais Mahone

Anais Mahone headshot

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2024); MSW, Temple University School of Social Work (2013); Bachelor of Arts in English, University of Pittsburgh (2007). Honors: 2020-2021 Dean’s Fellowship, Rutgers University, School of Graduate Studies Research Interests: Healthcare access, public insurance options, racial disparities in health, social determinants of health, impact of poverty on health Research Experience: Research Assistant, Dr. Patricia Findley: Special Care Dentistry during the COVID-19 pandemic; studying the experiences of persons needing dental care and dentists in New Jersey, quantitive and qualitative research methods. Teaching experience: West Chester University Graduate Department of Social Work (2019-2020): Methods of Social Work Research, Social Welfare Policies and Services, Specialized Social Work Practice with Communities Teaching interests: Diversity & Oppression; Human Behavior and the Social Environment; Social Welfare Policy and Services I & II; Methods of Social Work Research I & II, Clinical Social Work: Health. Practice experience: Licensed Clinical Social Worker, New Jersey (2020-current); Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Pennsylvania (2017-current); Medical Social Worker, University of Pennsylvania Health System (2013-2020); Psychotherapist, private practice (2014-2016). Service: SSWR Doctoral Student Committee; Interprofessional Education Student Advisory Council (2020 -2021).

Lauren Manley 

Lauren Manley headshot

Education:  PhD, Rutgers University School of Social Work (expected 2025); MSW, Rutgers University School of Social Work (expected 2023); M.S., Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, (2020); B.S., Genetics, Texas A&M University (2017); Research Interests: Impacts of trauma and stress on health and wellbeing; adverse childhood experiences; traumatic stress; Research Experience: Graduate Research Assistant, New Jersey Integrated Care for Kids, Hackensack Meridian Health (2021-current); Part-time Graduate Research Assistant, Center for Research on Ending Violence, Rutgers School of Social Work (2021-current); Oncology Medical Internship; Research Assistant, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A&M University; Research Assistant, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences, Texas A&M University; Teaching Interests: Human Behavior and the Social Environment; Methods of Social Work Research I & II; Practice Experience: Victim Advocate, U.S. Army; Texas Army National Guard; Email:

Rebecca Martin                             

R. Martin Headshot

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected 2025); MSW and Certificate in Aging and Health, Rutgers University; MDes in Design Practices, with honors, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University; B.A., School of Media Arts and Design, Corporate Media Mass Communications, minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, James Madison University. Research Interests: othering, belonging, and bridging, particularly when centering disability as an intersectional identity; cross-discipline problem solving; the evolution of research methodologies to reflect changing identities; and coalition-building between underrepresented groups. Research Experience: Graduate Assistant (GA) Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (Rutgers University), Inclusive Healthy Grant program, under supervision of Dr. Patricia Findley (2022-2023). GA, Inclusive Healthy Communities program evaluation, under supervision of Drs. Emily Greenfield and Patricia Findley (2021-2022). GA, Center for Prevention Science, Rutgers University (2020 – 2021). Research Assistant for Age-Friendly Initiatives in Northern New Jersey, Rutgers University (2017-2018). Teaching Interests: Social Work with Loss Across the Lifespan and Chronic Illness and Disability. Practice Experience:  Social Work: Licensed Social Worker in NJ (2018 – present); College and Career Advisor, EDGE 2.0, The Family Resource Network (2018 – 2020); Social Services Intern, Daughters of Miriam Center (2017 – 2018); Accommodations Assistant, Rutgers-Newark Office of Disability Services (Summer 2017); Social Work Intern, Public Defender’s Office of Essex Vicinage (2016 – 2017). Design: Curriculum Designer and Educator, World Family English (2013 – 2015); Lead Retail Designer, Global Digital Mojo (2013-2014); Visual Merchandising Manager for New and Remodel Stores, Toys‘R’Us/Babies‘R’Us (2008 – 2012).

Camille McKenzie

Camille S. McKenzie headshot

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2023); MSW, New York University Silver School of Social Work (2013); Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Psychology, and Gender Women Studies, University of Delaware (2010). Honors: Member Alpha Kappa Delta National Honors Society; Member Psi Chi National Honors Society; BA Honors Degree of Distinction (2010). Research Interests: Health equity; healthcare access & utilization; help-seeking behaviors; health insurance literacy; insurance-based discrimination; managed care. Research Experience:  Graduate Assistant, Dr. Patricia Findley, Special Populations Interprofessional Care Experiences (SPICE) COVID-19 healthcare study; Collaboration with Dr. Ayse Akincigil, Identifying Population Living with Alzheimer’s: Concordance between Medicare Claims & Survey Reports. Teaching interests: Social Work Practice; Diversity & Oppression; Social Welfare Policy and Services. Practice Experience: Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Jersey; Healthcare Social Worker, RWJBH Monmouth Medical Center, RWJBH Clara Maass Medical Center, University Hospital-Newark, JFK-Hartwyck Edison Estates; Case Manager, Partnership for Children of Essex; Advocate Supervisor & Hotline Crisis Counselor, YWCA’s Healing Space (Bergen County Rape Crisis Center). E-mail


Nicole Milano

Nicole Milano headshot

Education:  Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected 2023); MSW, Rutgers University School of Social Work, 2019; Bachelor of Science in Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University, 2012  Research interests: Health equity, Behavioral health parity, Integration of behavioral health and physical health Research experience: Graduate Assistant with Dr. Patricia Findley (2019-present), Health disparities research Teaching Interests:  Research Methods,   Chronic Illness and Disability     Practice Experience:  Licensed Social Worker in New Jersey (2019-present); Community Advocate, Mental Health Association in NJ (2019-present) Email Address:

Lucy Nonas-Barnes  

Lucy Nonas-Barnes headshots

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2025)MSW, Columbia University, School of Social Work, 2017; Bachelor of Arts in Social Anthropology, University of Michigan, 2011. Research Interests: Implementation science, school-to-prison pipeline, social-emotional learning, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, mass incarceration,  juvenile justice, child welfare. Research Experience: Graduate Assistant, Means Safety Project (2021-present)with Dr. Hannah Szlyk. Teaching Interests: Social Work Practice I with Individuals, Families, and Groups; Social Work Practice II; Diversity and Oppression; Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis; Methods of Social Work Research; Clinical Social Work. Practice Experience: Licensed Masters in Social Work in New York (2017-present); Outpatient therapist, The Counseling Center Group, NY (2022-present); Assistant Clinical Director, STEP Aftercare, The Children’s Village, NY (2017-2021).

Lena Moraa Obara

Lena Moraa Obara headshot

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected 2025); MA in Sociology, University of Nairobi, Kenya (2015); Bachelor of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Makerere University, Uganda (2010). Research Interests: Sexual violence prevention and response; gender-based violence (GBV), and unaccompanied minors; evaluation research; GBV and trauma; International social welfare, access to and distribution of health services for women and girls who have experienced abuse in informal settings such as internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugee camps in East Africa. Teaching Interests: Diversity & Oppression; Human Behavior and the Social Environment; violence against women and children; Research Methods. Research Experience:  Graduate Research Assistant, Center on Violence Against Women and Children - Rutgers University under Dr. Victoria Banyard and Dr. Sarah McMahon (2021 – ongoing); Research Manager (Independent Contractor), Columbia School of Social Work on projects being run in Kenyan informal settlements on women’s health and the lived environment; Research Assistant, University of Nairobi, Kenya: Research Assistant, Heshima Kenya. Email Address:

Natalie Elaine Pope

Natalie Pope Headshot

Education: PhD, School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2025); MSSW, University of Louisville, 2017; MBA, University of Louisville, 2015; Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies and Religion, Centre College, 2013. Research Interests: Age-friendly communities and social policy; organizations and social impact; community-based practice; longitudinal data analysis; mixed-methods policy analysis. Research Experience: Graduate Assistant, Dr. Emily A. Greenfield (2020 – present): developmental evaluation of age-friendly initiatives in northern New Jersey. Teaching interests: Human Behavior and the Social Environment; Social Welfare Policy courses; Social Work Practice II; Research Methods; Aging policy courses; Organizational management courses. Practice experience: Certified Social Worker in KY (CSW, 2017-present); Marketing & Business Specialist, University of Louisville Trager Institute, KY (2015-2020); Age-Friendly Louisville Chair, KY (2017-2019). Email:  



Clara Scher

Clara Scher headshot

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work (expected May 2025); MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences, University College London, 2020; BA, Psychology, Lehigh University, 2017. Honors: UCL Division of Psychiatry Scholarship, University College London, 2019; Dale S. Strohl Thesis Grant, Lehigh University, 2016. Research Interests: Mental health and well-being of individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. Research Experience: Graduate Assistant, Age-Friendly Research Group at Rutgers (2020-current), with Dr. Emily Greenfield studying the development and implementation of age- and dementia-friendly community initiatives. Teaching Interests: Human Behavior and the Social Environment; Social Welfare Policy and Services I & II; Methods of Social Work Research I & II.           

Jenny Schrum

Jenny Schrum headshot

Education: Ph.D. Rutgers University School of Social Work (expected 2023); MSW (expected May 2020) Rutgers University School of Social Work; MPH, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, 2015; Bachelors of Science in Community Nutrition, Rutgers University, 2012. Research Interests: Nutrition and food systems; climate change and sustainability; health disparities; program design and evaluation; non-profit management; and the intersection of social work and public health. Research Experience: Graduate Assistant, Center for Prevention Science: Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), State-level logic model development. Teaching Interests: Social Work Practice II, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Program & Strategic Planning. Teaching Experience: Field instructor providing supervision to MPH practicum students. Practice Experience: Director of Youth Programming, City Green Inc., NJ; Health & Wellness Manager, Horton’s Kids, D.C.; Advisory Board, Capital Area Food Bank, D.C.; Evaluation Consultant, Greater DC Diaper Bank, D.C.

Jackie Stanmyre

Jackie Stanmeyr

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2025); MSW, Rutgers University School of Social Work (2014); Addiction Counselor Training (ACT) Certificate (2014); Bachelor of Science in Magazine Journalism, Syracuse University (2008); Bachelor of Science in Sport Management (2008). Research Interests: Risk factors for problem gambling; screening, assessment, and intervention for problem gambling and gambling disorder; sports wagering; sports wagering among athletes and former athletes; behavioral and substance addiction. Research Experience: Assistant Director, Center for Gambling Studies (2019-current); Research Assistant with Dr. Lia Nower (Sept. 2012-May 2014): studying the mental health implications of internet gambling, prevalence of addiction content in social work literature, resilience in recovery from addiction, remote counseling and treatment needs of Alaska Natives. Teaching Experience: Clinical Social Work: Addictive Behaviors I; Professional Development and Responsibility in Addictions Practice; Understanding Addictive Behaviors. Practice experience: Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Jersey (2017-current); Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (2015-current). Clinical supervisor, The Kintock Group, NJ; Clinician, Community Psychiatric Institute; Counselor intern, Turning Point, NJ; Counselor intern, The Kintock Group, NJ. Email

Amanda Stroiman

Amanda Stroiman headshot

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2025); MSW, Rutgers University School of Social Work (expected May 2022); MA, Mental Health Counseling, Boston College, 2020; BA, Psychology, Indiana University, 2018. Research Interests: child and family mental health, community based participatory research, cultural adaptation of evidence-based practices. Research Experience: Graduate Research Assistant, Parenting Trauma Substance Abuse and Resilience Lab at Rutgers with Dr. Emily Bosk; Early Child Development Research Consultant, Research Program for Children and Adversity at Boston College with Dr. Theresa Betancourt; Graduate Research Assistant at Boston College with Dr. Eric Dearing, Research Assistant at Early Learning and Cognition Lab at UC San Diego with Dr. Beth Casey. Practice Experience: Elementary School Counselor, Match Charter Elementary School; Clinical Counseling Intern, The Jaffa Institute, Crisis Intervention Worker, Indiana University. Teaching Interests: Clinical Assessment & Diagnosis, Clinical Social Work: Children, Advanced Contemporary Policy: Mental Health

Nora Sullivan

Nora Sullivan headshot

Education: MSW/Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (Expected May 2025); Master of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School, 2020; Bachelor of Religion and International Relations, Drake University, 2014. Research Interests: Understanding and improving services provided to people experiencing homelessness through religious institutions; improving end of life care options for people experiencing homelessness; harm reduction; community organizing; critical research; grief & loss; mixed methods research. Research Experience: Graduate Research Assistant, Center for Prevention Science, Rutgers University (2021-present). Practice Experience: Hospital Chaplain Extern, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center; Volunteer Coordinator, Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry; Program & Outreach Coordinator, Material Aid and Advocacy Program; Co-President, Harvard Divinity School Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Students. Teaching Experience: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, Bulgaria; ELL Paraprofessional, Hopkins North Junior High, Minnetonka, MN. Email Address:

Nivedhitha Thiruvenkadam

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2025)MSW, School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2023)M.Ed. in Community Development and Action, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, 2020; M.Sc. in Clinical Psychology, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, India, 2015Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Bharathiyar UniversityIndia2016. Research Interests: Global Child Welfare; Child wellbeing and development; Child maltreatment; Diversity and Inclusion in the Academy; Prevention and implementation research; Mixed methods research; Decolonizing methodology; Community based action research. Research Experience: Graduate Assistant, Center for Prevention Science (2021- current), with Dr. Kristen Gilmore Powell: Evaluating the outcomes from the Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care grant in New Jersey (Evaluation research); Masters’ thesis with Dr. Anjali Forber-Pratt (2020): Exploratory study examining the ecological factors affecting family preservation in a refugee community in India (Mixed Methods study); Masters’ thesis with Dr.Premanand (2015): Need analysis for a personal safety and sexuality education program in schools in India (Mixed methods research).Teaching Interests: Human Behavior and the Social Environment; Diversity & Oppression; Methods of Social Work Research I & II. Teaching Experience: Teaching AssistantDept. Human and Organizational Development, Vanderbilt University (2018- 2020)Applied human Development course and Systematic Inquiry course. Practice Experience: Guardians of Dreams Foundation, India (2015- 2016): Project coordinator; Hudson County CASA (2020): Volunteer.

Jose Ricardo Vargas Garcia

Jose Ricardo Vargas Garcia headshot

Education: Ph.D., Rutgers University School of Social Work (Expected 2021);  Masters of Arts in Addiction Studies, Lewis and Clark College; Bachelors of Science in Psychology, Portland State University. Honors/Awards:  Graduate Assistant Professional Development Award. Research experience: Research assistant at the Center for Violence Against Women and Children under Dr. Sarah McMahon (2018-2019); Research Assistant at the Center for Gambling Studies under Dr. Lia Nower (2015-2018).Teaching Interests:  Conceptual Foundations, Research Methods I and II, and Human Behavior in the Social Environment. Practice Experience:  Therapist in community mental health and addiction centers focusing on co-morbid disorders and gambling disorder. Email Address:

Yuhan Wei

Yuhan Wei headshot

Education: Ph.D. candidateRutgers University School of Social Work; MSW, Peking University, 2017; Bachelor of Social Work, Jilin University, 2015; Research Interests: acculturation process    of immigrant children especially, Chinese immigrant children; acculturation process of international students; adolescent and young adult development; the impact of different acculturation levels      among immigrant children and their parents on family relationship and children’s development; Research Experience:  Graduate Assistant, Huamin Research Center, Rutgers SSW,  Dr.Chien        Huang, studying the influence of mindfulness on Hispanic Children’s mental health; Graduate Assistant, Institute for Families, data analyst; Teaching interests: Statistics; Human Behavior in the    Social Environment; Practice experience:  Community social worker, Pengxing NGO, Shenzhen, China; social worker, Xingongmin NGO for migrant children, Beijing, China. Email    

Melanie Yu

Melanie Yu headshot

Education:  Ph.D. (expected May 2023), Rutgers University School of Social Work; MSW (Expected May 2020), Rutgers University School of Social Work; MA, Columbia University, Teachers College;  Research Interests:  Participatory action research, refugee youth and families, ethnic enclaves and mental health, diasporic communities and identity formation, refugee resettlement and immigration policies;  Research experience:  Graduate Research Assistant, Dr. Cassandra Simmel, Child Welfare and Well-Being Research Unit; Teaching Interests:  Social Work with Immigrants and Refugees, Diversity and Oppression, Management Practice and Theory;  Teaching Experience:  Introduction to Mentoring, Rutgers University;  Practice Experience:  Refugee resettlement casework, refugee youth programming, NAMI-Hunterdon Board of Directors, NAMI Chinese American Mental Health Outreach Program, AmeriCorps Alum; Email Address:

Devon Ziminski

Devon Ziminski headshot

Education: Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University (expected May 2025); Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Harvard University Extension School; MS, School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania; BS, Marketing, and Minor in Professional Writing, The College of New Jersey. Research Interests: poverty narratives, mobility from poverty; economic inequities; gun violence prevention; social policy. Research Experience: Senior Research Coordinator, The Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs, Rutgers University – Camden; Research Project Coordinator, The Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs, Rutgers University – Camden; Research/Staff Assistant, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Research Assistant, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School. Teaching interests: Social Welfare Policy and Services I; Poverty, Inequality, Discrimination and Public Policy; Methods of Social Work Research. Email: