Author: Kathy Roach

Dr. Caitlin Elsaesser Receives SFF in Spring 2017

UConn Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) has announced the recipients of the Spring 2017 Scholarship   Facilitation Fund (SFF) Awards. Dr. Caitlin Elsaesser was awarded funds to conduct research on “Advancing Knowledge of the Consequences of Youth Violence Exposure”. The SFF program offers support to faculty research, scholarly activities, creative works, and interdisciplinary initiatives. These competitive awards provide up to $2,000 to assist faculty in the initiation, completion, or advancement of these projects. Thirty-one faculty received awards for the spring 2017 semester.

Dr. Elsaesser’s study will focus on better identifying the consequences of adolescent victimization. While it has been established that exposure to various forms of victimization (e.g., child maltreatment, witnessed community violence and family violence) are linked to negative outcomes, youth experience distinct responses to trauma. There is a limited understanding of why victimization results in particular outcomes, in part because longitudinal data on multiple forms of violence is difficult to collect. Her study will use LONGSCAN dataset, and innovative dataset that contains rich data on multiple forms of violence over adolescence. The study will explore three research questions: 1) How does an adolescent’s relationship to the victim of witnessed violence influence outcomes? 2)  How does early childhood maltreatment influence adolescent response to witnessed violence? and 3) Are particular family and school protective factors more salient for preventing adverse adolescent outcomes in response to particular forms of victimization?

Caitlin Elsaesser, Ph.D.

New SFF Grants Advance School’s Academic Plan

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.

Stephanie Kennedy, PhD

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.

Cristina Wilson, PhD

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.

Lisa Werkmeister Rozas, PhD
Lisa Werkmeister Rozas, PhD

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.

More details on each proposal

Summer Research Stimulus Award

The University of Connecticut School of Social Work initiated a grants seed funding program. The goal of the award is to provide support for small-scale pilot data collection, secondary analysis, literature reviews or other time-limited structured research activity with the direct aim of producing scholarship that will better position investigators to obtain funding from extramural sources. In 2016, awards were made to the following faculty:

“Transnational Families of Mothers who Parent From a Distance: Their Service Needs.”

Deedee Drachman will investigate the recent phenomenon of the transnational family, in which mothers parent their children across national borders. In these families, parents (often mothers), move to a country with better employment prospects and send money back to their children in their countries of origin, where they have left them under the care of relatives or friends. This study will gain knowledge of the service needs of parents who have moved to the United States as well as the needs of the caregivers living in the Dominican Republic, Barbados, and Jamaica. This summer, Didi will work on materials for submitting an IRB protocol as part of a larger grant submission.

drachman photo

Diane Drachman, Ph.D.

“Completing Research on the Community Organisers Programme & Advancing Research on Diversifying Community Organizing Funding.”

Robert Fisher seeks funding to continue work on his research to advance publications on the Community Organisers Programme in England as well as Diversifying Community Organizing Funding Sources. The publications will focus on the relationship between the Community Organisers Programme and broader tensions in the welfare state, civil society, and community organizing, as well as the need to diversify funding for social change.

Fisher head shot

Robert Fisher, Ph.D.

“The Politics of Advocacy and Human Service Provision for Syrian Refugees: A View from Turkey.”

Kathryn Libal will initiate a pilot study to examine the efforts of national and international humanitarian organizations to address the ongoing “refugee emergency” affecting Middle Eastern and European states, with a focus on Turkey. The pilot study will assess the feasibility of a multi-sited research study which will evaluate advocacy strategies and decision-making processes for service delivery, how organizations respond to changes in migration routes by refugees, and how groups work to shape an international response to this emergency.

Kathryn R. Libal, Ph.D.
Kathryn R. Libal, Ph.D.

“A Fatherhood Intervention: Changes in Parenting for Young African American and Hispanic Fathers.”

Cristina Wilson will evaluate the effectiveness of FatherWorks, an intervention aimed to increase father involvement and improve parenting practices. By analyzing data from a randomized controlled trial in Hartford from 2010-2016, Wilson will examine the effectiveness of the intervention and determine differential effects on parenting outcomes between Latino and African American young fathers.

Cristina Wilson
Cristina Wilson, Ph.D.

SSW Faculty Receive InCHIP Seed Grants


Lisa Werkmeister Rozas, PhD
Lisa Werkmeister Rozas, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Lisa Werkmeister Rozas, Ph.D., Associate Professor, and Caitlin Elsaesser, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, were each recently awarded prestigious InCHIP Seed Grant Awards from the UConn Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy.

Dr. Werkmeister Rozas received a $15,000 faculty seed grant for her study “Innovative Diabetes Prevention & Disease Self-Management Intervention for Latino Families.” This highly scored application uses a Community-Based Participatory Research approach and works through neighborhood churches to develop innovative interventions to address Type II Diabetes, a highly prevalent problem in inner city, minority populations.  According to the UConn SSW Associate Dean for Research, Michael Fendrich, “this proposal is highly innovative and has the potential to move the growing area of health social work forward in a crucial direction. This project involves impressive collaborations with Hartford community partners and with the UConn School of Nursing.” Dr. Werkmeister Rozas is an Associate Professor and a member of the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project in the School of Social Work.

Caitlin Elsaesser, PhD
Caitlin Elsaesser, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Elsaesser received a Junior Faculty Summer Stipend, which carries $2500 of support for building grant funded research. Funding will support secondary analysis of data that will address the linkage between violence victimization exposure and health in adolescents. This project, titled “Exposure to Multiple Forms of Victimization and Health Outcomes: An Integrative Approach,” builds on Dr. Elsaesser’s expertise and experience in complex multivariate modeling and her substantive focus on urban violence. Dr. Elsaesser is completing her first year as an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work.