Meet our PhD students

Will Carlson

Will Carlson

Will Carlson (carl2871@umn.edu) is interested in community-based methods of support and intervention for communities affected by mass-trauma and political violence. After obtaining his BS in Psychology from the University of Minnesota, he worked for the Institute of Child Development on a longitudinal research project in northern Uganda. He then spent five years working for the Human Capital Research Collaborative on the Midwestern Expansion of the Chicago Longitudinal Study. After earning his MSW from the University of Minnesota, he worked as a mental health practitioner at an integrated community health clinic in St. Paul. Will currently works as a research assistant for Dr. Patricia Shannon helping to develop and evaluate improved tools and training for providers who work with refugee communities throughout Minnesota. His academic advisors are Dr. Lynette Renner and Dr. Mimi Choy-Brown.

Amy Dorman

Amy Dorman

Amy Dorman (dorm0039@umn.edu) is a doctoral student interested in feminist cross-sector approaches to gender-based violence prevention policy and practice, particularly in Minnesota. She earned a Master of Public Policy degree with a concentration in Gender & Public Policy from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a BA in Women & Gender Studies from Luther College. Amy has designed and led research projects for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the UMN President’s Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct, the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy, and the Anoka County Violence Prevention Roundtable. Amy currently works as a PhD Research Assistant at the Center for Integrative Leadership and as a Research Assistant with her faculty advisor, Dr. Lynette Renner. Amy also serves in the community as a researcher and project lead at the Minnesota Justice Research Center. Prior to completing her master’s degree, Amy worked for six years as a professional singer/songwriter in Los Angeles, CA.

Shelby Flanagan

Shelby Flanagan

Shelby Flanagan (flana064@umn.edu) received a BA in Psychology and English with minors in Statistics and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Minnesota Morris in 2017, and co-authored a paper titled “Asexual-identified adults: Interactions with health care practitioners” with their undergraduate advisor. In 2019 Shelby graduated with a MS in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Michigan University, where they worked with their advisor on research related to microaggressions against asexual individuals and social perception of women based on sexual orientation. For the next year, Shelby worked as a research coordinator and research assistant at the UMTC Medical School. Shelby’s research interests are in health equity, and efforts toward cultural competence in health care for gender and sexual minorities, as well as other vulnerable groups. Shelby is working as a GRA with Dr. Joseph Merighi on a project focused on family-centered emergency preparedness and with Dr. Wendy Haight on a project concerning out-of-school suspension and child welfare. They also currently work in data management for the Voyager Clinic in the UMTC Medical School, and abstracting for the Minnesota Autism Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network study.

Jamie Fischer

Jamie Fischer

Jamie Fischer (fisch948@umn.edu) received her BA in Psychology from Metropolitan State University, and her MSW from the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. Jamie has clinical experience with co-occurring disorders, assertive community treatment (ACT), and early intervention services for those experiencing first-episode or early psychosis. She has gained research experience through her employment and graduate research assistant activities at the Minnesota Center for Chemical and Mental Health (MNCAMH). Jamie is interested in focusing her doctoral studies and research activities on improving transdiagnostic assessment and interventions for people with complex clinical pictures receiving services in community mental health settings, specifically for people in the early phases of psychosis and for those at risk of experiencing psychosis. Jamie is also interested in studying the use of measurement-based care practices in community mental health settings to enhance the delivery of individualized and strengths-based interventions, as well as to improve overall evaluation of clinical practice.

David Glesner

David Glesner

Dave Glesner (dglesene@umn.edu) has worked most of his professional life in child welfare. He worked in child protection for St. Louis County for 39 years as a family social worker and a social service supervisor. In his time as the supervisor of the Indian Child Welfare Unit, he has developed working relationships with Minnesota tribes. Dave’s interest is in researching strengths of native communities and advocating for resources to assist families to remain strong and thrive. He was a member of the Duluth area Interagency Family Sexual Abuse Treatment Project and facilitated treatment groups. His previous research has included use of psychotropic medication with foster children and the experiences and issues of foster children while in care. He also has used SSIS data to compile reports and measures for administrators and other researchers. He earned his MSW at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Karen Goodenough

Karen Goodenough

Karen Goodenough, (metz0091@umn.edu) MSW, LGSW, is Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, MN Chapter (NASW-MN). She received her BSW from St. Olaf College and MSW from Augsburg College, with a focus on Program Development, Policy and Administration. Karen has a diverse direct practice skill set including numerous years working in youth development and education, family support and case management, child welfare, corrections, and domestic violence. Following her MSW, Karen worked for 12 years as a director for a non-profit agency, honing her macro practice skills in leadership, administration, supervision, program development, policy, fundraising, and evaluation. Karen served as a non-profit consultant for 4 years, and for 10 years has been an adjunct faculty in MSW programs across the state, including the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, the University of St. Thomas/St. Catherine, St. Cloud State University, and St. Olaf College. Her research interests include: social workers' utilization of associations; the role of social workers in philanthropy; collective impact; and international learning. Her adviser is Dr. Ross VeLure Roholt.

Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson (hans7144@umn.edu) received her BS degree in biology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and her MPH in global health epidemiology and disease control from The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. After completing her MPH, Stephanie worked at Save the Children and Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. While there, she also worked at The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on a consensus study examining the long-term neuropsychiatric effects of antimalarial drugs and drove the development of a study to examine the burden of maternal mental health disorders. She is interested in maternal mental health disorders as they occur during the perinatal period from preconception - 5 years after birth. She is particularly interested in understanding social norms and dialogue surrounding pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period as they relate to maternal mental health disorders. Stephanie currently works in the psychiatry department on a study using fMRI and TMS to identify biomarkers for suicidal ideation and/or behavior in adolescents. She also does research with Dr. Susan Mason in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and her faculty advisor, Dr. Lynette Renner.

Bonnie Horgos

Bonnie Horgos

Bonnie Horgos (horgo001@umn.edu)is interested in researching addiction, alcohol use, and recovery through an anti-oppressive lens grounded in critical feminist theory. She is a licensed graduate social worker with clinical experience in co-occurring substance and alcohol use disorders, intergenerational trauma, gender-based violence, and mass incarceration. In addition to her studies, Bonnie works for the University of Minnesota's Department of Psychiatry on the EPINET study and serves as board secretary for Pro-Choice Minnesota Foundation. Bonnie received her MSW from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities and her BA in Music from Mills College. During her MSW, she completed her practicums at the Native American Community Clinic and the Ramsey County Public Defender’s Office, worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium, and was a recipient of the Social Work Interprofessional Training Collaborative for Health Fellowship. Prior to graduate school, Bonnie worked in nonprofits for several years, most recently at the Battered Women's Justice Project, and volunteered as an on-call advocate for the Domestic Abuse Project. Bonnie works as a Graduate Research Assistant with her advisor, Dr. Amy Krentzman.

Dongwook Kim

Dongwook Kim

Dongwook Kim (kim01444@umn.edu) has worked as a researcher and program coordinator over 10 years in global social work practice settings, which led him to pursue his Ph.D. in Social Work. His research interests concern stigma, victimization, and resilience building of people living with HIV/AIDS. He completed his undergraduate studies in English and Political Science from Korea University in 2010. As a Chevening scholar (2010-2011), he received his M.A in Conflict Security and Development at King’s College London. He earned his second baccalaureate, B.Sc. in Statistics and Data Science from Korea National Open University (2017-2020). He has extensive career experience in project management, advocacy, and child protection. He served as a protection officer for Nonviolent Peaceforce South Sudan from 2012 to 2013. In 2014, he joined ChildFund Korea where he worked in the capacity of program evaluation specialist and project coordinator for the Global Program Division until 2020. During this period, he was actively engaged in research-embedded project design and performance management in different project locations (Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania). Between 2016 and 2018, he implemented Early Childhood Education and Care projects to promote school readiness for preschoolers in Gasabo district, Kigali Province, Rwanda as a country manager for ChildFund Rwanda. From 2020 to 2021, he served as a researcher at the Center for Child Welfare Research in ChildFund Korea where he was responsible for several research projects on children, youth, and families in South Korea. He is also interested in mixed methods and leveraging computational social sciences approach on social work research. He currently works as a research assistant for Dr. Kristy Piescher at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (CASCW). His advisors are Dr. Wendy Haight and Dr. Jeff Waid.

Channel Lowery

Channel Lowery

Channel Lowery (lower079@umn.edu) is interested in the intersection of organizational culture and structure and self-care practices among Black women helping professionals. Channel earned a BA in Sociology and MSW degree from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She has professional experience in mental health and community integration, as well as international education work centered on minoritized youth in Colombia, South America. Channel currently works as a research assistant for Dr. Ceema Samimi on their Pushed Out at Home qualitative study evaluating the impacts of COVD-19 and systemic racism in school discipline during online learning. Her Ph.D. advisor is Dr. Amy Krentzman.

Jessica Mendel

Jessica Mendel

Jessica Mendel (mende428@umn.edu) was born and raised in Chicago IL. Her undergraduate degree is in English literature from Beloit College. She then went on to receive her master’s degree in special education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While teaching, she noticed disparities in educational performance and emotional well-being among her students of color. This led Jessica to return to graduate school to pursue her MSW at the University of Cincinnati in 2013, and gain more insight into how to engage meaningfully with historically oppressed communities.

Jessica worked as a clinician in community mental health for four years, before accepting a position as assistant professor at Buena Vista University. Jessica fell in love with teaching at BVU, and this drove her to attain her PhD. At the University of Minnesota, her focus is the examination of white fragility and ownership of privilege. Her advisor is Dr. Joseph Merighi, and she is working with Dr. Jessica Toft on her study of Neolibralism and its impacts on social work practice, and with Dr. Amy Krentzman on her study of alcohol recovery in rural communities.

Ndilimeke Nashandi

Ndilimeke Nashandi

Ndilimeke Nashandi (nashandi@umn.edu) has 14 years of experience in the academic sector and four years in the civil sector. She worked to address social disparities among young men and women; in HIV and AIDS workforce development, and in managing the Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism in Namibia. She taught social change strategies and case management and research in the undergraduate Social Work program at the University of Namibia. She received a BSW from the University of Namibia; a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Namibia University of Science and Technology, and a master's degree in Development Studies from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. She is a research assistant in the University of Minnesota School of Social Work. Ndilimeke’s overall research interests include culturally responsive social services; systems strengthening in child welfare and HIV and AIDS, and educational disparities for young girls and street children. She currently works as a research assistant with Dr. Wendy Haight, who is also her advisor.

Quinn Oteman

Quinn Oteman

Quinn Oteman (he/him) is interested in issues related to aging, gender, and sexual identity differences in individuals who are neurodiverse. Quinn received a BA in music from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee where he studied the clarinet, saxophone, and flute and earned a certificate in autism spectrum disorders. After earning his BA, Quinn worked at an early intervention clinic and as a special education teacher in Milwaukee, WI. He earned a MSW from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where he specialized in issues related to Health, Disability, & Aging. During his MSW program, Quinn completed a graduate minor in public policy, a graduate certificate in Disability Policy & Services, and was a 2020-2021 Pre-Doctoral Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (MN LEND) Fellow. He completed fieldwork in a Federal Setting 4 school and in the Healthy Youth Development – Prevention Research Center (HYD – PRC) in the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also worked as a research assistant in the department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD) and as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the undergraduate class “CPSY 4313W: Disabilities and Development” in the Institute of Child Development (ICD). Currently, Quinn is a research assistant at the Institute on Community Integration’s TeleOutreach Center where he is supervised by Drs. Jessica Simacek and Adele Dimian. Additionally, he is a research member of the Workforce Development and Research Lab housed in the department of OLPD. His advisor is Dr. John Bricout.

Jacob Otis

Jacob Otis

Jacob Otis (otisx055@umn.edu) received his BA in Criminology at the University of Minnesota Duluth. During his BA, he studied moral disengagement, Restorative Justice (RJ), and worked with several RJ organizations. Following his BA, he worked as a Special Education Teacher and for the state of Minnesota in the Family/Civil and Treatment Courts. Currently, he is a dual MSW/PhD student in his third year with a research focus on RJ, specifically within the context of domestic violence. Within the School of Social Work, Jake works as a research assistant for Dr. Jessica Toft and Dr. Lynette Renner, and as teaching assistant to Dr. Mark Umbreit. Alongside pursuing his PhD, he currently works as the Director of Programming at St. Croix Valley Restorative Services in River Falls, Wisconsin.

Sook-young Park

Sook-young Park

Sook-young Park (park2363@umn.edu) received her bachelor's degree in International Studies from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. While earning her master's degree in Social Welfare from Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea, she studied extensively on quantitative research methods. Her thesis is titled "The Relationship between Academic Stress and Depression among Korean Adolescents—The Moderating Effects of Perceived Self-Efficacy and Parental Support." She completed her practicum at Holt Children’s Services, Inc. in Seoul, South Korea, where she researched for the Social Services Strategy Team’s pilot project helping underprivileged children and children with disabilities, and administered in teenage single mother projects. She has worked as a volunteer at Hillsong Africa Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa. Sook-young has also worked as editor-in-chief of Ewha Womans University’s student English newspaper, as a reporter for Guideposts Korea, as an intern reporter at the Korea Times, and as a consultant at a public relations firm aiding Public Relations officers for the Philippine Department of Tourism and Garuda Indonesia. Sook-young has presented on various topics at Social Work related conferences in Beijing (Renmin University, 2017), Dublin (SWSD2018), and Seoul (Yonsei University, 2017). She is interested in adolescent mental health, out-of-home placement care for children, youth aging out of foster and institutional care, child abuse and neglect, crossover youth, implementation science, acculturation, child protection workforce stability perceptions, and advance care directives. Her advisor is Dr. Wendy Haight and she currently works as a Research Assistant for Dr. Wendy Haight and Dr. Mimi Choy-Brown.

Chittaphone Santavasy

Chittaphone Santavasy

Chittaphone Santavasy (sant0175@umn.edu) worked over 15 years with Save the Children and UNICEF in the field of child rights and child protection in Laos. Her professional experiences include youth participatory research, youth peer education, capacity building of practitioners working with young people, and advocacy on various issues: children’s rights and participation, child trafficking, and violence against children. She has a BSc in Pharmacy from the National University of Laos. With a British Chevening scholarship, she completed her Master in Development Studies at the University of East Anglia, UK. She was a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow, at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, USA, where she focused her study and professional affiliation on youth civic engagement. Chittaphone was a Research Assistant to Dr. Michael Baizerman on professional development of youth workers; and to Dr. Helen Kivnick on vital involvement in elder role models. Chittaphone’s research interests are training and education of youth workers, youth and community development, and youth policies. Chittaphone’s academic advisor is Dr. Ross Velure Roholt.

Ruth Soffer-Elnekave

Ruth Soffer-Elnekave

Ruth Soffer-Elnekave (soffe004@umn.edu) received her BSW and MSW from The Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, Israel. She worked in the Israeli Foster Care Services since 2005, both as a case worker and a supervisor, with different minority populations, and developed the foster care services in the Bedouin community in the south of Israel. She is very interested in cross-cultural social work, Indigenous practices and social work with communities in areas of political conflict. Ruth wishes to create substantial knowledge that will have impact on the social work profession and on the welfare services that are being delivered to these populations. She currently works as a research assistant with her advisor, Professor Wendy Haight.

Laura Soltani

Laura Soltani

Laura Soltani (garlo017@umn.edu) received her BA in Romance Languages and Literature from Carleton College and her MSW from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For five years during and after her MSW program, she worked with a refugee mental health initiative at the UNC School of Social Work as a research assistant, intern, and program coordinator. She then worked as a case manager and program manager at a St. Paul nonprofit serving unaccompanied children and immigrant survivors of human trafficking pursuing immigration relief. Her research interests center on the intersection of immigration and labor trafficking, as well as culturally sensitive trauma healing modalities, including Narrative Exposure Therapy. Laura currently works as a research assistant for Dr. Mimi Choy-Brown and Dr. Saida Abdi on their project evaluating Trauma Systems Therapy for Refugees (TST-R) with youth in schools. Laura's advisor is Dr. Patricia Shannon.

Johara Suleiman

Johara Suleiman

Johara Suleiman (sulei024@umn.edu), LICSW, received her BA in Psychology at Carleton College in 2012, and her MSW at Salem State University in 2016. Through her career she has worked with youth and adults ranging from 4-years-old to 75-years-old in school, hospital, home, and community settings as an individual, couples, and family therapist. Johara plans to focus her research on child welfare and the intersecting impact of the child welfare system’s Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism on Muslim BIPOC families living in the United States. Johara’s advisors are Dr. Jessica Toft and Dr. Liz Lightfoot.

Kenneth Turck

Kenneth (Kenny) Turc

Kenneth (Kenny) Turck (turck022@umn.edu) is a doctoral student interested in the intersections of gardening/farming, foods, and the creative arts and children’s mental health, human and community development, neuroscience, and applied theory in practice. Kenny received his BA in Psychology from St. John’s University (Collegeville) and his MSW from St. Cloud State University and has worked in children’s mental health for 35 years. Kenny is the creator of the children’s mental health application DIRT GROUP, a trauma-informed and trauma-responsive children’s mental health application rooted in social and emotional learning, in the context of a gardening, farming, foods, and creative arts project. Kenny is the founder and Executive Director of the non-profit DIRT GROUP Global. Kenny’s advisors are Dr. Wendy Haight and Dr. Jeffrey Waid.

Heejung Yun

Heejung Yun

Heejung Yun (yun020@umn.edu) is a third-year doctoral student in Social Work at the University of Minnesota. She received her undergraduate degree in Special Education from Dankook University in 2015 and a master’s in Public Policy from KDI School of Public Policy and Management in 2017. She worked for Korea Labor Institute (KLI) and Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & Training (KRIVET) as a research assistant for 2 years. After earning her master’s degree, Heejung worked for the Korea Disabled People’s Development Institute (KODDI) as a deputy manager of job development. In 2011, she started volunteering as a Sunday school teacher for children with disabilities. This experience motivated her to the Special Education major and, later, her Public Policy masters. Through her studies and practical experience with students and their families, she realized that policy and social service are important for social integration and self-realization for people with disabilities, so she decided to pursue a PhD in Social Work. Her research interests include social service, education, and labor for persons with disabilities to improve their quality of life. Her current work focuses on financial abuse, caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic, self-directed services, and the special education system. Her advisor is Dr. Elizabeth Lightfoot.