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Dr. Michael MacKenzie joins Rutgers School of Social Work
April 7, 2015

Rutgers School of Social Work is pleased to announce that Michael MacKenzie, Ph.D., has joined the faculty as an associate professor of Social Work.

"I am delighted to be joining a public university with such a long record of research deeply rooted in a sense of responsibility to give back to the families of the state of New Jersey. This new state child welfare data partnership will also have the potential to inform foster care policy and practice across the country and globally,” says MacKenzie.

Previously an associate professor at Columbia University, MacKenzie completed his Ph.D., MSW and Master of Arts in Developmental Psychology at the University of Michigan. MacKenzie first became interested in developmental pathways involving abuse and neglect through his extensive work with children in his family’s residential group homes in his native Canada. That work with children whose early childhood experiences had profoundly shaped the course of their lives sparked his passion for improving the lives of maltreated children and those growing up in out-of-home care through early relationship-based intervention strategies and alternative models of care when maintaining families is not possible. These experiences also focused his efforts on better understanding the dynamic connections between the biological and social worlds of the developing child. MacKenzie is one of a very small number of social work researchers with graduate training in molecular genetics and endocrinology, allowing him to incorporate work on the stress hormone system and gene expression into his transdisciplinary studies of early social deprivation and harsh parenting.

He is a prolific researcher in the area of dynamic processes in human development. MacKenzie’s work focuses on the accumulation of stress and risk in early parenting and its impact on caregiver perceptions and parenting behavior, including the etiology of harsh parenting and the pathways of children into and through the child welfare system. He has worked extensively in the U.S. and Canada and in Jordan, where, with colleagues at Columbia, he has supported the development of a foster care system and a juvenile diversion program. He currently holds a WT Grant Scholar Award, and his work has been funded by a variety of sources, including the Canadian government, UNICEF, Robert Wood Johnson, and the WK Kellogg Family Foundation.

MacKenzie shared that he and his family are pleased to be members of the local community and added, “I am thrilled at the opportunity to join the Rutgers School of Social Work. The depth of the research and practice experience of the faculty and the passion and diversity of the student body position Rutgers on an exciting trajectory, and I am eager to be able to be a part of building on that momentum."

MacKenzie has joined the Institute for Families (IFF) and Institute for Health partners in the new Child Welfare Data Partnership with New Jersey, while continuing his partnerships in NYC examining the underpinnings of placement instability in the foster care system.

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