This past July, the Vice President for Research awarded three new Scholarship Facilitation Fund grants of approximately $2K per award to School of Social Work faculty. Two of the awardees (Drs. Kennedy and Wilson) will use the funds to conduct research specifically related to trauma and victimization. The third awardee (Dr. Werkmeister Rozas) will use funds to build a research agenda focused on understanding and alleviating health disparities. All three awards are noteworthy for their direct links to research in “areas of distinction” that are central to the school’s academic plan.
Dr. Stefanie Kennedy, who is just joining the school this fall as an Assistant Professor, was awarded a grant to expand her ground-breaking research on women in prison, developed from her doctoral dissertation at the University of Florida. Kennedy will focus on trying to understand how exposure to multiple forms of violence in childhood – what some experts call “polyvictimization” – affects the lives of incarcerated women. She is focused on how this experience affects criminal behavior, mental health, and substance abuse outcomes among these women. This small grant will allow Kennedy to expand her data collection efforts to two additional prisons – including one in the Northeast.
Dr. Cristina Wilson, Associate Professor of Social Work, will focus on understanding how pre-school teachers can ameliorate the harmful effects of trauma exposure in young African American and Hispanic children. The project, which will be co-led by SSW doctoral student Alysse Melville, is particularly noteworthy in that it will use an innovative measurement strategy, the “Head-Toes- Knees-Shoulders” task to understand traumatized preschoolers’ ability to control their behaviors and feelings.
Dr. Werkmeister Rozas has developed an innovative strategy – combining both family and community-based interventions- to prevent diabetes risk and promote diabetes self-management among Latinos in Hartford. Drawing on initial funding provided by UConn’s InCHIP, Werkmeister Rozas has piloted this intervention in Hartford area churches serving Latinos. Very preliminary trials of this intervention show promising results with respect to blood sugar and weight among participants. This award will make possible the creation of a manual for the intervention. A manual will enhance the consistency with which the intervention can be delivered. This will increase Werkmeister Rozas’ potential for leading a full-scale, NIH-funded clinical trial to understand the efficacy of this critically needed intervention.