Caitlin Elsaesser, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Caitlin Elsaesser is an Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. She is a licensed clinical social worker and completed her MSW and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. The overall aim of Dr. Elsaesser’s work is to work in partnership with youth and communities to create health promotion efforts that are empowering and accessible for youth living in disinvested urban neighborhoods. Dr. Elsaesser’s work is guided by critical race and feminist theories, including French (et. al 2020)’s framework of radical healing, which draws on a collective approach, critical consciousness, radical hope, strength and resistance, and clear self-knowledge and authenticity of identities. With an understanding that those with lived experience hold key expertise in health, she works in partnership with young people and community-based agencies, with the ultimate goal to build authentic knowledge, encourage collective action, and promote systemic social change (Ginwright and James, 2002). Her career as a researcher is built on a decade of direct experience working with adolescents in Chicago, first as a high school teacher and later as a social worker.

Dr. Elsaesser is currently the Principal Investigator of a CDC-funded K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award. Working in partnership with Hartford violence prevention agencies as well as a youth board, this project will design the core components of health supports for youth to navigate social media conflict implicated in offline violence. The work builds on Caitlin’s past research focused on cyberbanging, an emerging form of youth violence occurring on social media, also implicated in other forms of youth violence. In partnership with Hartford violence prevention agencies, she conducted a study to develop a measure of cyberbanging, critical to understanding the connection between cyberbanging and youth violence, as well as to identifying mechanisms for intervention.

Dr. Elsaesser is a motherscholar (Valdovinos et al, 2021), with two young children, who are her greatest teachers. She is also a Buddhist mindfulness practitioner and mindfulness teaching-in-training through the Teacher Training Program at iBme. Her perspective as a mother and mindfulness practitioner inform all parts of her work.

Research Interests

Adolescent development and well-being
Youth participatory action research and community participatory methods
Community, school, and family contexts of development
Victimization, violence, and perpetration
Role of technology in interpersonal violence
Mindfulness based approaches to well-being

Curriculum Vitae

View Caitlin Elsaesser’s CV

Contact Information
Phone(959) 200-3671
Office LocationRoom 221 HSSW