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Rutgers School of Social Work Welcomes New Postdoctoral Associates
June 10, 2022

We are pleased to welcome four new postdoctoral associates to Rutgers School of Social Work. Alhassan Abdullah (supervisor Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Research on Ending Violence Sarah McMahon), Divya Bhagianadh (supervisors Professor Emily Greenfield and Associate Professor Ayse Akincigil), Yong Gun (YG) Lee (supervisors Associate Professor and Chancellor’s Scholar of LGBTQ Mental Health, Trauma, and Resilience Edward Alessi, Professor and Director of the Doctorate of Social Work Program (DSW) Michael LaSala, and Assistant Professor and Chancellor's Scholar for Inclusive Excellence in Sexual and Gender Minority Health Gabriel Robles), and Nicole McKenna (supervisor Associate Professor Jacquelynn Duron) will begin in their roles on September 1, 2022.

The postdoctoral associates will be part of a vibrant cohort of scholars at the School of Social Work engaged in research that aims to reduce health disparities and ensure racial, social, and economic justice. They will engage in trainings on various topics and have the support of the faculty to begin their own research trajectories while forging collaborative relationships with faculty and doctoral students.

Learn more about our new postdoctoral associates below.

Alhassan AbdullahAlhassan Abdullah is the Postdoctoral Associate for Interpersonal Violence Research at Rutgers School of Social Work and will collaborate with Drs. Victoria Banyard, Maxine Davis, Sarah McMahon, and Chiara Sabina. He is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong. He is currently working as a visiting research scholar at Haverford College where he is consulting with revered social theorist and student of Talcott Parsons, Professor Mark Gould. Alhassan will defend his Ph.D. dissertation titled “Theorizing the Measurement Model and Efficacy of Informal Social Control of Child Neglect: A Nationally Representative Study” in August 2022. His research primarily embraces issues affecting the wellbeing of children and families, especially about developing community capacity to intervene, remedy, and prevent all forms of violence and abuse through informal social control. He has published over 40 research articles focusing on topics related to informal social control (bystander intervention), child abuse, neglect, intimate partner violence, community/neighborhood prevention, child protection systems, kinship care, and cultural filicide. He has published on these topics using data from Ghana, Nepal, Korea, and China. His publications have appeared in leading social work journals such as Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Child Abuse & Neglect, Children and Youth Services, and The Journal of Community Psychology. Alhassan’s approach to research and scholarship brings theoretical rigor to the study of neighborhood contexts in child maltreatment and violence prevention, as well as methodological advancement in the study of informal interventions in child maltreatment. Alhassan received the ResilienceCon promising research scholar award and has received over $31,000 (USD) in international competitive research grants.

Divya BhagianadhDivya Bhagianadh is the Postdoctoral Associate in Aging and Health Equity at Rutgers School of Social Work and will be collaborating with Drs. Ayse Akincigil and Emily Greenfield. She received her Ph.D. in Health Services and Policy from the College of Public Health, University of Iowa. Her research focuses on gerontology with an emphasis on end-of-life (EOL) supports and systems of care. Her dissertation work used national datasets to explore the co-occurrence of indicators that capture EOL quality and the influence of state policies on EOL outcomes. In addition to this work, Dr. Bhagianadh has worked on research projects focused on managed care and EOL outcomes, trajectories of cognitive function among agricultural workers, cannabis use among older adults, and telehealth programs in rural areas. Her work is featured in top journals in aging and health.

YG LeeYong Gun (YG) Lee is the Postdoctoral Associate in Intersectionality & Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Health at Rutgers School of Social Work and will be collaborating with Drs. Edward Alessi, Michael LaSala, and Gabriel Robles. He studies social-ecological factors shaping the health of SGM individuals with the intention of informing interventions aimed at expanding safe and equitable access to health care. As part of his doctoral training, YG collaborated on clinical trials of interventions harnessing interpersonal (e.g., partners, peers) influences for promoting linkage to HIV care among men who have sex with men and illicitly use substances in New York City and Kazakhstan. YG hails from Seoul and Jakarta and received his MSW and Ph.D. from Columbia School of Social Work.

Nicole McKennaNicole McKenna is the Postdoctoral Associate in Research with Juvenile Justice Populations at Rutgers School of Social Work and will collaborate with Drs. Jacquelynn Duron, Abigail Williams-Butler, and Paul Boxer. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati in the School of Criminal Justice. Her research focuses on girls in the juvenile legal system, experiences of trauma and victimization, and trauma-informed interventions. She adopts a social justice lens, as well as a feminist and trauma-informed perspective in her research. To date, she has published eight peer-reviewed articles and two book chapters. Her work has been featured in the American Journal of Community Psychology, Criminal Justice and Behavior, and Feminist Criminology. Her dissertation research, Detention as Trauma, is a mixed methods study of trauma-responsive and trauma-inducing practices in U.S. youth detention facilities. She has obtained nearly $10,000 in grant funding to support her research on trauma-informed care. Nicole received the 2021 Student Paper Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Section for her work, Just leave girls alone: Threshold effects of dispositions and recidivism among court-involved girls.

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