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SSWR logo11.30.2015

The College of Social Work will be well-represented at this year’s Society for Social Work Research (SSWR) conference. In an overwhelming display of the dynamic research produced by the CoSW, a group of 25 of our faculty, staff, and graduate students will be presenting research at the 20th annual conference in Washington, D.C. this January.

The number of CoSW presentations accepted by SSWR is truly something special. As Dr. Patricia Sharpe notes, “the SSWR conference is a major national forum” and “the high level of participation from USC is evidence of the CoSW's continued growth in research excellence and national recognition.” Professor Kristina Webber agrees that our participation is significant, saying that it “is a testament to our college’s strong and growing focus on community-engaged research, and it signals a growing recognition among our peers that the CoSW is engaged in outstanding research in our state, across the country, and around the world.” Dr. Kirk Foster also points out that “not only is the number of faculty presentations higher than in the past, but our PhD students also have a more significant presence at SSWR.”

It is an honor for CoSW graduate students to be selected for this conference. Faculty have worked closely with doctoral students, “allowing them an excellent opportunity to share our research with an international audience and network” with social work researchers from around the world, says Dr. Teri Browne. Foster believes that the conference is an important step for graduate students—faculty support of graduate student research will prepare them for research-intensive positions in the future.

2016coverphoto23 715x300Presentations will cover the wide variety of specializations and research interests that is possible in the CoSW. Dr. Christina Andrews will show the effects of Medicaid expansions on prevention and community-based outreach services. Dr. Huong Nguyen will present a poster that previews her forthcoming paper in the Journal of Sex Research on the taboo issue of extramarital sex among men in Vietnam. Dr. Robert Hock will be presenting with disability researchers from five other universities, and Dr. Joi Dykes Anderson will share research about how childhood trauma effects the development of negative trauma-related cognitions—such as feeling incompetent, self-blaming, and feeling unsafe in the world—which are associated with the development of PTSD. These are but a few examples of the exciting and innovative research being produced out of the CoSW that will be on display at SSWR.

Some CoSW researchers will be presenting more than once. A team consisting of Dr. Teri Browne, Stephanie Clone, Dr. Dana DeHart, Dr. Aidyn Iachini, Caroline Pantridge, and Dr. Kristen Seay will be giving six presentations on the state-funded Recovery Program Transformation and Innovation (RPTIF) project that provides technical assistance to substance use agencies across South Carolina. The RPTIF project is a partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that works to improve substance abuse treatment and recovery. DeHart is excited about her team’s participation and believes that their presentations “will contribute to an unprecedented showing” for the CoSW at the conference.

In addition to presenting findings from the RPTIF project, Iachini is excited about leading a presentation on mother-child residential treatment programs and collaborating with Dr. Ronald Pitner to “share the findings of a districtwide needs assessment we conducted with principals from a local school district related to school mental health.” Webber and Foster will also present more than once; each will present two papers. Both of Webber’s presentations are related to adolescents’ school engagement. She will debut a questionnaire that can be used to measure school engagement and demonstrate its suitability for use with youth from various racial/ethnic groups, and in her second session she will explain two strategies for increasing school engagement among adolescents. One of Foster’s papers will discuss how people conceptualize and define their neighborhoods. Foster’s second paper examines the impact of distance to social capital generation sites (such as workplaces, places of worship, and civic organizations) on access to resources necessary for social and economic mobility.

The SSWR conference is not only for showcasing new research, but also for rewarding previous work. Foster and his co-authors will be honored with the 2016 SSWR Research Book Award for Chasing the American Dream (Oxford University Press).

The amount and excellence of CoSW research at the SSWR conference is an indicator of a successful and dynamic program. As Hock explains, SSWR “is the premier venue for the top social work researchers” and acceptance is highly competitive. The CoSW’s strong presence there “signifies the College's success at accelerating research productivity and establishing our leadership at the national level.”



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