Faculty and Graduate Research

Jaime Booth

Research Activities FY20


Jaime Booth, Associate Professor

Neighborhood risk and protection for substance use among low income adolescents  

National Institutes of Health (NIDA)

This project seeks to understand how low income black adolescents’ experiences in activity spaces in their neighborhoods influence their stress and subsequent substance use. This understanding will allow us to identify optimal targets in the neighborhood-stress processes that may be malleable for preventing substance use and develop community based interventions to address them. These aims are being achieved by engaging youth in a study that uses mobile technology to collect real time assessments of their activity spaces and tests the association between exposure to stress and support in their environment and subsequent substance use.


Valire Copeland, Professor

Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

The Edith M. Baker Integrated Healthcare Fellowship is for full-time, second year or Advanced Standing MSW students in Direct Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups (Direct Practice) during their concentration field placements.  The fellow's responsibilities include choosing a concentration field placement at an integrated behavioral/mental healthcare site, registering for Integrated Healthcare Certification courses, developing a poster presentation, participating in a day trip to a regional summit, and attending workshops & bimonthly seminars.


The Lend Center at the University of Pittsburgh (Co-I: Valire Copeland)

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

This program provides intensive interdisciplinary leadership education for health care and education professionals regarding children and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


Fostering Belonging: Women of Color in STEM+Through the Hot Metal Bridge Program (Co-PI:  Jaime Booth)

University of Pittsburgh (Provost Office)

Working with the Hot Metal Bridge program at the University of Pittsburgh help women of color to bridge the gap between undergraduate and graduate training programs in STEM.


Addressing Autism in African American Families

School of Social Work Pilot Program

This project will study the racial disparities in understanding and treatment of black children with autism.  The study addresses autism spectrum disorders in African American families to understand the challenges faced by parents when addressing treatment needs of their children and examine the ways in which developing reasoning and problem-solving skills can improve emotional self-regulation, interpersonal relationships and academic achievements.


Shaun Eack, Professor and James and Noel Browne Chair

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder

National Institutes of Mental Health

The purpose of this project is to conduct the first adequately-powered randomized-controlled trial of cognitive rehabilitation in adults with autism spectrum disorder.  Adults with autism spectrum disorder will be randomized to an 18-month controlled trial of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) or Enriched Supportive Therapy (EST).  Specific aims are to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of CET versus EST for improving cognitive and behavioral outcomes, to examine the impact of CET on underlying neural mechanisms of cognitive enhancement, and to identify personal and neurobiological moderators of treatment response.


Change-Sensitive Measurement of Adult Functional Outcomes in Developmental Disabilities

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The purpose of this project is to develop improved measures of functional outcome for adults with developmental disabilities that are sensitive to change and can be used in clinical trials designed to improve functional outcome in this population.


Cognitive Enhancement for Persistent Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia

National Institutes of Mental Health

The purpose of this project is to conduct a confirmatory efficacy trial of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for schizophrenia patients with persistent negative symptoms to examine the impact of engaging neurocognitive and social-cognitive targets on negative symptom reduction in this population.


Developing a Gold Standard for Tracking Adult Functional Outcomes in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Speaks

The purpose of this project is to develop efficient and validated proxy and self-report measures of functional outcome for adults with autism spectrum disorder in the domains of employment, independent living, and social functioning.


Evidence-Based Chronic Pain Management in Primary Care

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

This project seeks to first, investigate primary care providers’ perceptions of strategies to implement evidence-based chronic pain management strategies and second, to identify existing implementation strategies for evidence-based chronic pain management of primary care providers in Pennsylvania.


Implementation of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Verbal Adults with Autism Throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

The purpose of this project is to develop implementation and dissemination strategies for community implementation of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for adults with autism spectrum disorder throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Web-Based Training and Community Implementation of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy

Community Care Behavioral Health Organization

The purpose of this project is to develop and preliminarily test the usability and effectiveness of a web-based training portal to support the community implementation of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for patients with schizophrenia receiving services in routine community mental health settings.


Center for Interventions to Enhance Community Health (CiTECH)

University of Pittsburgh

This developing Center infrastructure grant is designed to integrate expertise from social work and psychiatry to improve the translation of evidence-based practices to community behavioral health settings. To accomplish this, CiTECH will establish infrastructure to support translational mental health services research through mentorship, strategic expansion of expertise in dissemination and implementation science, pilot awards, methodological and statistical expertise, research staffing, and community engagement.


Dimensional Outcomes and Neural Circuitry Associated with Psychosis Risk

National Institutes for Mental Health

The purpose of this project is to conduct a long-term follow-up of individuals at familial high risk for schizophrenia and to develop dimensional, neurobiologically-based prediction models of the development of psychosis.


Rafael Engel, Associate Professor

From Barely making it To . . .? Effect of Raising Wages among Low-Wage Workers and Their Families (Co-PIs:  Sara Goodkind and Jeffery Shook)

Heinz Endowments

University of Pittsburgh (Office of Senior Vice-Chancellor for Research SSRI Program)

The School of Social Work has partnered with labor unions to examine the impact of wage increases for low wage workers within healthcare and security industries.


Rachel Gartner, Assistant Professor

Translating TGQN Campus Climate Findings into Practice

University of Pittsburgh – Pitt Seed Special Cycle - Prevention of Sexual Misconduct

The study seeks to understand the factors driving the disparate rates of sexual violence observed among TGQN at the University of Pittsburgh.


Sara Goodkind, Associate Professor

Redefining Resilience and Reframing Resistance: Evaluation of a Violence Prevention and Health Promotion Empowerment Program for Black Girls

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program

This project is conducted in collaboration with Gwen's Girls and Point Park University and  supports the development and evaluation of an empowerment-based program for Black girls designed to address social inequities and improve girls’ health and well-being via advocacy, restorative practices, and participatory research. 


Understanding the Effects of the Benefits Cliff on Low-Wage Workers and their Young Children (Co-PI: Jeff Shook)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The purpose of this study is study the effect of raising the minimum wage of low-wage workers and the eligibility of public benefits with increased wages with young children.


James Huguley, Assistant Professor and Interim Director of the Center on Race and Social Problems

African American Students’ Sociocultural Experiences, Motivation, Identity and Performance in Math (Co-PI: James Huguley)  

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The project uses expectancy-value theory to investigate the development of African American students? Math-related motivational components of self-efficacy, interest, and valuing during middle school, and examine the relationship of these beliefs to math outcomes. Four specific aims are used 1) Examine the development between 6th and 8th grade of African American males? And females? Math-related stigma experiences and motivational beliefs 2) Examine how stigma experiences related to math learning predict African American adolescents 3) Examine whether and what identity formations moderate the associations between stigma experiences and African American adolescents? Motivational beliefs in math 4) Examine whether and to what extent classroom characteristics and racialized parenting practices and beliefs moderate the associations between stigma experiences and students? Motivational beliefs in math among African Americans.


In Spite of Parents? Examining the Value of Family Involvement in Educating African American Adolescents (Co-PI: James Huguley)

Spencer Foundation

Integrate stage-environment fit theory with the cultural wealth model as theoretical frameworks and see to increase sustained academic success in African American adolescents from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds by identifying and leveraging uniquely effective family involvement practices for African American students in middle school. 


The Master of Social Work/Certificate of Advanced Study in Teaching in Secondary Education (MSW/CAST) Scholarship Program

The Pittsburgh Foundation

This MSW/CAST-program is designed to equip schools with practitioners that are prepared to meet the challenges presented in today's urban contexts  This educator training program provides financial support to students aspiring to be teachers with the skills to holistically support students in high need schools.

Just Discipline Initiative and Just Discipline Regional Impact Model

The Heinz Endowments

This project is conducted in partnership with the Woodland Hills School District and aims to address the school to prison pipeline through a multi-prong approach that includes training, and the implementation of restorative practice to build strong and positive relational culture. 


The Pittsburgh Study (Co-I:  James Huguley)

Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital

This study leads the middle school cohort of the Pittsburgh Study in the implementation of a school-wide climate and relational intervention designed to promote youth thriving, favorable behavioral outcomes, and academic achievement for youth involved


Leah Jacobs, Assistant Professor

Substance Abuse Treatment, Neighborhoods and Housing: How Services Social Circumstances Affect Criminal Recidivism

University of Pittsburgh (Central Research Development Fund)

Examines the relationship between behavioral health treatment participation and recidivism, and the way in which treatment participations’ effect on recidivism varies depending on probationers’ neighborhood characteristics and housing status.


Housing Instability and Recidivism: Understanding Risk and Sources of Systematic Discrimination

SSW Research Pilot Grant

The study will clarify the housing circumstances to which formerly incarcerated individuals return and the role of those circumstances in shaping recidivism. 


Debbie Moon, Assistant Professor

Liberation Poetry Workshop with Moor Mother and Social Work Students

University of Pittsburgh – Year of Creativity

This project will provide first year MSW students with an opportunity to bridge social work practice with artistic expression by creating art tied to social justice issues central to their identity as social workers.


Elizabeth Mulvaney, Lecturer

Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (Co-I:  Elizabeth Mulvaney)

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

Recruit social work students for clinical placements; conduct on-site monitoring of students, and co-lead case conferences with Dr. Lingler; work with community partners to identify and respond to training needs related to ADRD.


Christina Newhill, Professor

Families as Partners in Reducing Violence (Co-PI:  Christina Newhill)

National Institutes of Mental Health

Partnering with the department of Psychiatry the project will focus on individuals with serious mental illness living in our communities are at a higher risk than the general population for involvement in violence, as either the perpetrator or victim.  The project will take the initial steps toward the development of a psychoeducational intervention to reduce violence/aggressive behavior among individuals who live with mental illness and who have regular contact with family members or caregivers.  There are currently no specialized programs to assist family members/caregivers in this important and challenging role, yet they are regularly relied upon in crisis situations involving their loved one, and their response is often critical for averting escalation, injury, and adverse community outcomes.


Mary Ohmer, Associate Professor

Research on Barriers to Fair Housing Choice in the City of Pittsburgh (Co-PI: Jaime Booth)

City of Pittsburgh

This project examines implicit and explicit biases in how landlords, realtors, and mortgage brokers make decisions with clients or potential clients using an online survey.  Investigators will also examine perceptions of fair housing opportunities through interviews and focus groups with Pittsburgh residents facing fair and affordable housing issues.  This project is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations.


Strengthening Resident Civic Engagement on Behalf of Equitable Development: Partnering for Community-Based Participatory Research in Homewood

Corporation for National and Community Service

The School of Social Work partners with Homewood Children’s Village to increase understanding of the levers communities can use to increase civic engagement and community capacity to tackle the complex issues facing persistently poor neighborhoods like Homewood who have struggle to revitalize for decades but now face threat of gentrification; to build and strengthen relationships among residents sharing mutual concerns about this issue/ and to increase capacity of Homewood to act strategically on this issue in ways that fosters equitable development that benefits current residents.


Cyber Awareness: PGH Blueprint (Co-I: Mary Ohmer)


The project focuses on online safety, cyberbullying and a general lack of online civility.  Working with Pitt Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security, faculty will develop and launch a series of events and education opportunities to demonstrate Pittsburgh models inclusion and civility, both online and in everyday live.


Preventing Violence and Improving Community Mental Health in Fineview & Perry Hilltop

University of Pittsburgh -Center for Interventions to Enhance Community Health (CiTECH)

Partnering with Fineview and Perry Hilltop Citizens Councils, this project will implement and evaluate the effects of the collective efficacy intervention in the Perry Hilltop and Fineview neighborhoods using a quasi-experimental research design.


Marlo Perry, Research Assistant Professor

Stronger Collaboration with Intensive Family Coaching: A Pilot Study

University of Pittsburgh –Center for Interventions to Enhance Community Health (CiTECH)

This project is conducted with community partner, Wesley Family Services, with the goals of (1) improving the outcomes for young children and their caregivers who are involved in the child welfare system through Intensive Family Coaching (IFC); and (2) to increase access to and uptake of  IFC in the child welfare population.


Daniel Rosen, Professor

Center for Integrated Health Care Delivery and Prevention Program


This program is an inter-professional training program, aimed to create an innovative, shared approach to enhance the skills of current and future health care professionals. 


Expect Respect Middle School: Preventing Severe and Lethal Violence among Youth with Prior Violence Exposure (Co-I: Daniel Rosen)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

This study trains MSW students who will be trained as facilitators of the Expect Respect Support Groups for the intervention schools.  This study will implement ‘communities of practice’ and will lead the development of a ‘community of practice’ that brings together the Center for Victims, Safe alliance (Austin, TX), MSW students and school personnel to strengthen the quality of program implementation as well as sustainability after the research is completed.


Opioid Workforce Expansion: Social Work Initiative for Program Professionals

Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA)

The Opioid Workforce Expansion Program (OWEP) is a training program for second year master of social work fellows.  This program seeks to expand the workforce with professionals trained to provide prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals with Opiate Use Disorders (OUD) and Substance Use Disorders (SUD.)   The Pitt team will design a didactic and experiential education program to increase the number of MSWs equipped to address OUD and SUD in a high need and high demand area.


Jeffrey Shook, Associate Professor

Improving Juvenile Indigent Defense and Health through Holistic Representation

Duquesne University (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

This projects partners with Duquesne University’s Education Law Clinic and Juvenile Defender Clinic. MSW students will be trained to work in the Law Clinic.


Raising the Minimum Wage to $15: Effects on Pittsburgh Nonprofit Human Service Organizations

University of Pittsburgh – School of Social Work Research Pilot Grant

The project will explore how raising the minimum wage will impact human service organizations (HSOs).


Fengyan Tang, Professor

Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia Among Older Chinese Immigrants: The Role of Activity, Engagement, Immigration Experience, and Neighborhood Environments

National Institutes of Health (NIA)

This study investigates the preventive effects of activity engagement profiles (AEP) on cognitive decline and examines whether AEP mitigate immigration-related and neighborhood risks for dementia among community-dwelling US Chinese aging immigrants.


John Wallace, Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and Development, David E. Epperson Chair and Professor, Center on Race and Social Problems Senior Fellow for Research and Community Engagement

Homewood Children’s Village Full-Service Community School Education Pipeline

Homewood Children's Village (HCV) - (Prime:  US Department of Education)

HCV partners with the Pitt-Assisted Communities & Schools (PACS) program of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work.  This program is under the faculty leadership of John Wallace and James Huguley. The mission of PACS is to mobilize University of Pittsburgh’s resources to enrich the lives of Homewood children and youth, while simultaneously advancing the university's commitment to transformative teaching, learning, and community impact. The goal is to improve academic, health, mental health, and social and economic outcomes for the children and families who live, learn, work, and play in Homewood. In this particular project, PACS personnel provide training to HCV staff that supports HCV's understanding and analysis of the Full-Service Community School Project.


Justice Scholars Program

Pittsburgh Foundation

The Justice Scholars Institute at Westinghouse includes an expanded version of our Concurrent Enrollment Plus program. In partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s College in High School (CHS) program, PACS provides a rigorous college preparation program for students in grades 9-12. The program provides scaffolded supports that acclimate students to the expectations of a college environment, even before they make the transition. The Justice Scholars program provides Westinghouse students tutoring, Pitt courses, community development, and tools to attend and excel in college.


Pitt Assisted Communities and Schools Program in Homewood - Program Operational Support

Richard King Mellon Foundation

Pitt-Assisted Communities & Schools (PACS) is a program of the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Social Work under the faculty leadership of John Wallace and James Huguley. The mission of PACS is to mobilize University of Pittsburgh’s resources to enrich the lives of Homewood children and youth, while simultaneously advancing the university's commitment to transformative teaching, learning, and community impact. The goal is to improve academic, health, mental health, and social and economic outcomes for the children and families who live, learn, work, and play in Homewood.


Yan Yuan, PhD Candidate

Exploring the Roles of Trauma and Emotions Dysregulation for Maintaining/Heightening Borderline Personality Disorder Features among a Sample of Inner-city Women

Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation/The New York Community Trust

The project will examine the link between early childhood trauma and BPD development. The study aims to decipher the

role of two important etiological factors (trauma and ED) in the context of a variety of environmental influences, with a long term goal to enhance knowledge on early, effective interventions as well as to improve macro-level policies in response to the problem.


Child Welfare Education and Research Programs, Helen Cahalane, Principal Investigator

Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates (CWEB)/Child Welfare Education for Leadership (CWEL)

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, United States Administration for Children and Families

The intent of the CWEB and CWEL initiatives is to provide programs which will make undergraduate and graduate social work education available to qualified, prospective public child welfare workers and current county child welfare agency employees throughout Pennsylvania. Thus, these programs address both the recruitment and retention problems that currently exist in child welfare and encourage prospective and current child welfare practitioners to pursue academic degrees that will prepare them for child welfare practice in Pennsylvania consistent with the best practice models available. It also increases the number of trained staff in many of the child welfare agencies; provides a critical mass of professional staff to set the tone and standards for good and effective practice; contributes a major ingredient necessary to provide a career ladder so essential to staff retention; and provides a reservoir of personnel from which to draw future supervisors and administrators. Thus, the CWEB and CWEL programs make professional social work education available and accessible throughout Pennsylvania by utilizing seventeen (17) of Pennsylvania’s accredited social work schools, departments and programs.


Child Welfare Resource Center (CWRC)

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, United States Administration for Children and Families

The CWRC provides a continuum of services designed to facilitate and sustain positive change in the child welfare system.  The services include training, transfer of learning, technical assistance, research and evaluation, project management, and organizational development.

The primary strategies include conducting research and evaluation; providing consultation and support; developing and revising tools, materials, and curricula; training child welfare professionals; youth/family engagement and system improvement; and resource coordination.


Allegheny County Department of Human Services Training Program and Student Internships

Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS)

This agreement funds the operations of the Allegheny County DHS training department, which develops curricula and provides education, training and professional development by conducting classes or workshops for Children, Youth and Families (CYF) personnel and DHS subcontracted social service agencies’ employees.  This is also a cooperative relationship between DHS and the School of Social Work to place students at DHS and CYF for internships in order to gain experience in the field and receive exposure to day-to-day agency activities.