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VAWC Affiliates

Faculty Affiliates

Edward Alessi, PhD, LCSW

Dr. Alessi is an associate professor in the School of Social Work. His research aims to improve understanding of stress and trauma among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations and enhance clinical practice with LGBT and other marginalized populations. In June 2017, he was named Rutgers Chancellor’s Scholar, an award created to support faculty excellence at the Associate Professor level. His research has been published in journals such as Psychological TraumaChild Abuse & NeglectPsychotherapy, Psychotherapy Research, and The Journal of Sex Research. Dr. Alessi’s current projects examine how stress and trauma influence the integration experiences of LGBT immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He served as guest editor for the Clinical Social Work Journal’s first special issue on Clinical Practice with LGBTQ Populations. Dr. Alessi has also been recognized for his teaching. He was awarded the Rutgers University Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2017. In addition, he received the Outstanding Professor of the Year Award four years in a row (2013-16). A clinical social worker since 2001, he has worked primarily in outpatient mental health and has been an independent practitioner since 2004.


Antoinette Farmer, PhD

 Antoinette Y. Farmer (Ph. D., University of Pittsburgh, 1991) is professor and associate dean for academic affairs at Rutgers University's School of Social Work. Her research focuses on examining the social and interpersonal factors that affect parenting as well as how parenting practices influence adolescent high risk behaviors, such as delinquency and substance use. This research agenda has been greatly influenced by the work of Jay Belsky, and she has also modified his ecological model as reflected in her research examining the buffering effect of social support on the relationship between parenting stress and parenting behavior. Her work in the area of parenting has led her to develop and test models to determine what variables may mediate the relationship between parenting and adolescent outcomes. She is also beginning to examine the effects of fathers' parenting practices on adolescents high risk behaviors. Her work has also examined the effects of religion/spirituality on adolescent high risk behaviors. In order to carry out her research agenda, she conducts quantitative data analysis using large national data sets. Her research has been published in Social Work, Journal of Social Service Research, and Children and Youth Services Review. She co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Social Service Research, which was devoted to informing researchers of the methodological issues confronting them when conducting research with minority and oppressed populations. She has also written several chapters on this issue as well, with the most recent appearing in the Handbook of Social Work Research Methods (2nd Edition). She has served as a consulting editor for Social Work in Education and on the editorial board for Children in Schools. Dr. Farmer has also presented at numerous national and international conferences.


Dorothy Hodgson, PhD

Dorothy L. Hodgson is Professor of Anthropology and the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Graduate Studies at Rutgers University.   She is the author or editor of ten books, including, most recently Gender, Justice and the Problem of Culture: From Customary Law to Human Rights in Tanzania (Indiana, 2017) and Global Africa (California, 2017; with Judith Byfield). See for more information. 





Debra Patterson, PhD, MA, LMSW

Dr. Patterson is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Wayne State University. She holds a Ph.D. in community psychology with a concentration in organizational and social change from Michigan State University. Her research examines sexual assault victims/survivors’ barriers to help-seeking; culturally specific trauma-informed services; sexual assault nurse examiner programs; and improving professional and familial responses towards survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence. Her research also focuses on training attrition, knowledge attainment and retention, competency development. She has been working in the violence against women field since 1996 and is the former director of a rape crisis center in Southeast Michigan. She can be contacted at




Tova Walsh, PhD 

Tova Walsh is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work and a faculty affiliate of the Institute for Digital Innovation in Social Work at Rutgers.  Her research focuses on understanding and improving health and wellbeing in multi-stressed families, with an emphasis on pregnancy and early parenting in contexts of risk. She examines the parenting support needs of underserved groups including new fathers and military-connected parents, and collaborates to develop and test parenting interventions to meet their needs. 

Walsh's research draws on her experience working in low-income communities as a home visitor to families with children ages 0 to three. This work inspires her continuing interest in efforts to prevent domestic violence and child maltreatment, and build protective factors that help buffer children and families from adverse experiences and stressful circumstances.

Her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Doris Duke Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and National Institutes of Health.



Research Affiliates

Yasemin Irvin-Erickson, PhD

Yasemin Irvin-Erickson is a senior research associate in the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center. Her research focuses on crime prevention and social protection through the lens of inclusive growth and sustainable development. Irvin-Erickson directs projects on economic resilience of women and girls, refugees, and geographies disproportionately affected by violent crimes. She is also an associate editor for Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal.

Before joining Urban, Irvin-Erickson was the research director for global mapping at Rutgers Center on Public Security and a lecturer at Rutgers University–Newark, where she taught crime analysis, statistics, and research methods. Her research has been presented at national and international conferences and appeared in peer-reviewed publications and research briefs. Irvin-Erickson earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Middle East Technical University, a master’s degree in forensic science from Istanbul University Institute of Forensic Sciences, and a doctorate degree in criminal justice from Rutgers School of Criminal Justice.


Amanda Stylianou, PhD, MSW, LCSW

Amanda M. Stylianou @amstylianou, is a social worker who focuses her career on improving services at the intersection of trauma, mental health and poverty. In her role as Associate Vice President of Quality and Program Development at Safe Horizon, the nation's leading victim services agency, she works with her team to ensure the organization is providing the most effective and efficient services to clients throughout NYC. Her current research focuses on understanding the needs of victims/survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking and on understanding and evaluating practices in the field. In addition to her work at Safe Horizon, Dr. Stylianou teaches in the MSW program at Rutgers University and offers several CEU trainings throughout New Jersey with Rutgers University's Institute for Families. Dr. Stylianou has published in a variety of journals including Social Work, the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Violence against Women, Violence and Victims, Affilia and Children and Youth Services Review. 

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