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PhD Student Profiles

Katherine Ast

Katherine Ast

Katherine worked as a high school English teacher and volleyball and softball coach for five years, then transitioned to a clinical therapist role at a community mental health center, then to a domestic violence agency, and finally supported individuals with developmental disabilities in the community. She has been at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) since 2013. Her research interests involve implementing PRO-PMs in practice, involving communities and the interdisciplinary team, and elder care for LGBTQ people.   Learn More »

Doug Barge

Doug Barge

While getting his MSW degree Doug interned for a year at the Social Impact Research group at Heartland Alliance, which inspired him to continue down a research path. The Housing First approach was stressed there. He hopes to use that approach in studying housing models for the seriously mentally ill population.   Learn More »

Hyun-Seok (Edward) Cheon

Hyun-Seok (Edward) Cheon

Edward has provided mentoring and advocacy services, championing an education system that upholds equity, cultural awareness, and individual uniqueness. He also interned as a clinical therapist, providing clinical and case management services for people rehabilitating from substance use, and has coordinated a university-community partnership in running a federally funded program of addressing college and career readiness among students of low-socioeconomic status. His research interest is institutional collaboration in the field of social work to create social impact.   Learn More »

Sara Duffey

Sara Duffey

Sara is interested in the intersection of health outcomes for older incarcerated individuals diagnosed with cancer. Sara works for the Lurie Cancer Center in research administration, supporting research programs to promote interdisciplinary research. Her previous experience includes partnering with advocacy groups to conduct clinical trial outreach and provide education to underserved communities and clinical trial management.   Learn More »

Dana Franceschini

Dana Franceschini

Dana is currently employed by Aging Care Connections as the Transitional Care Supervisor, overseeing the coordination and implementation of two care models supporting older adults within primary care settings, as well as their transition home from the hospital. Her research interests include the social determinants of health, social work-led transitional care initiatives supporting older adults, and the partnership between community-based organizations and healthcare entities.   Learn More »

Livvy Gerrish

Livvy Gerrish

Livvy specializes in working with survivors of trauma and is passionate about trauma and violence prevention for individuals, families, and communities. Throughout her social work career, she has served as an advocate, counselor, educator, and organizer. She has relied heavily on the research and development of others and chose to pursue a PhD in social work to help advance the field for fellow service providers.   Learn More »

Emily Giangrande

Emily Giangrande

Emily Giangrande received her master’s degree from the University of Chicago, specializing in Evidence-Based Practice and Substance Abuse Treatment. She is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Illinois. Learn More »

Xochitl Guerreo

Xochitl Guerreo

Xochitl is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 17 years of experience in social work. During her MSW program at UIC, she interned at the UIC Institute for Juvenile Research, providing services to children participating in the Pediatric Mood Disorders Clinic. Most recently, Xochitl worked as a clinical social worker with the Cook County Department of Corrections. Xochitl is a proud first generation college graduate and mother of five. She intends to focus her research efforts on the impact of parental incarceration on children.   Learn More »

Jieun Lee

Jieun Lee

Jieun Lee received her bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s degree in social welfare from Ewha Womans University in South Korea. She is a Korean government-licensed social worker and served as a social worker in a non-government organization, developing suicide prevention education programs for children and adolescents in Korea. Learn More »

Dennise Moreno

Dennise Moreno

Dennise has a BA in Sociology and an MSW from the University of Houston. Dennise has worked with Latinx(o), Hispanic, and immigrant communities for the past 10 and has experience in the areas of community development and civic engagement. Dennise’s areas of interest include social justice, economic justice, and immigrant and Latinx(o) communities.   Learn More »

Shawn Parra

Shawn Parra

Shawn (he/him/his) is a Dominican male, born in the US. He is a firm believer that individuals behave differently depending on their context, and not solely because of their biology. As such, he looks to this PhD to do more than work one-on-one with individuals but also help change oppressive systems themselves. His research and policy interests include mental health and increasing access for marginalized communities, and creating more culturally and linguistically appropriate treatments for the Spanish-speaking community.   Learn More »

Imani Pitman

Imani Pitman

Imani’s prior experience includes working at the local Boys & Girls Club, which led her to pursue her Masters in Social Work and she interned with Voices for Illinois Children. Currently, Imani works as the Program Manager at ChiGivesBack, Inc. Her research interests include economic mobility and racial equity.   Learn More »

Andie Riffer

Andie Riffer

Andie has clinical experience providing specialized sexual abuse services, and has developed and advocated for policy initiatives regarding sexual abuse in housing and preventing sexual violence through education, research, and advocacy. Andie is currently working on a qualitative research project regarding non-binary experiences and serves on the advisory board for the Alliance of Disability and Social Work. Andie values the role of art in social work and hopes to incorporate it into their future work.   Learn More »

Anthony Sanders

Anthony Sanders

Anthony Sanders was born and raised in Chicago. He is a licensed social worker with a passion to pursue research of adolescents, trauma and education within the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system. It is Sanders’ goal to eradicate the noticeable systemic barriers and increase opportunities for the population he serves. Learn More »

Bianca Schindeler

Bianca Schindeler

A graduate of Florida State University’s master’s of social work program, Bianca has practiced in various roles at the nexus of social work and the criminal legal system. Her decision to pursue research was inspired by early mentors and the stories she has heard while in the field.  Learn More »

Alison Stogsdill

Alison Stogsdill

Alison Stogsdill obtained a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from Illinois State University and a master’s degree in social work from DePaul University. Originally from rural, central Illinois, Alison has lived in the Chicago area for more than five years. She has served in positions/areas such as juvenile justice and violence prevention services, Cook County courts, academic access and programming for adolescents and teens, as well as child welfare and foster care. Learn More »

Umair Tarbhai

Umair Tarbhai

Umair has worked as a consultant and researcher in many settings including After School Matters, The Kellogg School of Management, The Aga Khan Development Network, and the Human Development and Social Policy department at Northwestern University. Currently he is a Graduate Research Assistant at UIC’s Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement. His research interests include policy analysis, criminal justice reform, policing, and drivers of economic inequality.   Learn More »

Tracy Templin

Tracy Templin

Tracy is currently an assistant professor at National Louis University, teaching across undergraduate Human Services, Psychology and Social Work majors. She began her career as a middle school teacher before continuing her education in social work to gain a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and political factors contributing to community and educational inequities. Learn More »

Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray

Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray

Chlece is a licensed attorney, and the Executive Director and co-founder of Chicago Advocate Legal, NFP, a not for profit law firm located in Chicago’s Loop focusing on housing, family, DCFS appeals and the Preventive Law Initiative. She also works as a research assistant on child trafficking issues at the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, as well as facilitating a class on Race and Bias, and working as a teaching assistant in the Masters of Jurisprudence program.   Learn More »

Shelton Young

Shelton Young

Shelton Young is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He graduated from The University of North Carolina Greensboro with a bachelor’s degree in social work, with a concentration in school social work and a minor in sociology.  Learn More »

Peipei Zhao

Peipei Zhao

Peipei has worked as a social worker and research assistant in a public health institution in Shenzhen, China for two years, serving on the HIV/STI prevention programs for men who have sex with men (MSM). She also participated in research on LGBTQ services development and evaluation. Her research interests include health disparities, healthcare discrimination, and intimate partner violence among the LGBTQ population in China.   Learn More »

Applying to the PhD Program