Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Ph.D. Students


Current Ph.D. Students

David Apopo
Research interests: Equity, Social Justice, Social and Public Policy, Poverty, Inclusion.
Prior to starting the PhD program at Loyola, David Apopo worked with various international nonprofits in Kenya-CLC Kenya, World Vision International and ChildFund international for a combined period of 12 years. This experience included serving in a variety of roles that included: Teaching and management of secondary education for vulnerable youths, Project planning and management and Grants Acquisition and management. He graduated with MA in Social Justice & Community Development and Advanced master’s certificate in Non-profit Management & Philanthropy from Loyola University Chicago, and Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education from Kenyatta University, Kenya.

Yigermal Demissie Ayalew
Research Interests: Intergenerational poverty, urban poverty, social welfare and social protection policy and practice, maternal and child nutrition, affordable healthcare, African indigenous knowledge, program development, evaluation and assessment, participatory service models, and international development.
Juli Chaffee, MSW
Research Interests: Non-abuse-oriented attachment trauma in children, adoption attachment trauma, mental illness, neuropsychology, improving education and therapeutic interventions regarding attachment for social workers in macro, mezzo, and micro levels.
Marjorie E. Colindres, Bilingual MSW, LCSW
Research Interests: School social work, history of mental health in school settings, education of school social workers, Latinx students and bilingualism, social workers working with immigrants and refugees, mental health counseling, psychotherapeutic process, child development, adolescent mental health
Bridget Colacchio, MA, LCSW
Research Interests:  Well-being, belonging, love, attachment, foster care, child welfare, adolescence, emerging adulthood, youth violence
Larry (Leo) B. Davis, MPH, MSW. (He/Him/His)
Interest: Auto mechanics, Cooking, Architecture, Gardening, Basketball & Traveling
Larry (Leo) Davis is an active Ignatian Fellow for Social Justice and dual degree Graduate student currently pursuing his Ph.D./ MBA at Loyola University Chicago- School of Social Work and Quinlan School of Business. Leo received his MSW from the University of Michigan- School of Social Work and his MPH from the University Wisconsin Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health. His interdisciplinary research interest is informed by both his lived experience as a father and foster care scholar who studies the nexus of Black fatherhood engagement, child/ foster youth development, social policy, mass incarceration, Social Determinants of Health, homelessness, mental health, social entrepreneurship, poverty, and racism. He is interested in expanding the literature, creating programs, and developing models to inform research, policy, and clinical/ treatment practice.
Patrick Decker-Tonneson
Research Interests: Organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices; Boardroom and board member development, strategy, and purpose; Internal and external stakeholder organizational experience.
Patiya Freely, MSW
Research Interests: Racial Minority Youth, Violence Prevention, Spirituality, Faith-Informed Practices, Complex Traumatic Stress, Restorative Justice, Critical RaceTheory and Pedagogy
Katrina Herweh, MASW, LISW, CDCA
Research Interests:  Pediatric medical trauma; pediatric trauma; screening tool for pediatric trauma; hospital discharge and mental health treatment referral; and the impact of medical events on children and adolescents
Anthony Johnson, MPH
Research Interests: HIV Prevention; Health Disparities; Health Behavior; Psychological Self-Sufficiency; Resilience; Intersectionality; Minority Health
Ruri Kim, MA, LPC
Research Interests: Mental Health and Social Justice; Individuals Experiencing Mental Health Problems; Mental Health and Workforce Development; Community Mental Health; Culturally-Responsive and Anti-Oppressive Mental Health Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention; Clinical Practice and Supervision; Social Work Education; Field Education
Whitney Key Towey, MPH, MSW
Research Interests: Health literacy, social determinants of health, public health, health disparities
Sungsim Lee, MA, MSW
Research Interests: Spirituality, Religion, and Mental Health for Older Adults, Eco-Spiritual Social Work, Spiritually Based Practices/Interventions (e.g., Mindfulness, Gratitude) for Human Service Organizations, Spiritually Based Gratitude Practice from a Won Buddhism Perspective and Its Implications for Social Work Practice.
Kevin Miller, MA
Research Interests: Community-based Critical Youth Participatory Action Research; Resistance; Resilience; Critical Consciousness; Humanistic Group Therapy; Youth and Adolescent Mental Health; Human Rights; Structural Violence; Youth Participatory Practice Models; Critical Civic Inquiry; Photovoice; Community-based Youth Interventions; After School Programs; Participatory Program Evaluation; Mixed Methods; Emancipatory and Liberatory Science; Decolonizing and Anti-Racist Research Methodologies; Education and Social Policy; Social Work Education; Critical Pedagogy
Margaret Ann Paauw
Research Interests: Community mental health, serious mental illness, homelessness, library social work, and animal-assisted interventions.
Sharitza Rivera, AM, LCSW
Research Interests: First-generation college students; low-income college students; peer mentorship; program development and evaluation; community college student persistence; macro social work; social justice; social work education; sense of belonging; social and cultural capital; poverty and welfare in the United States; social class; systematic change and innovation
Celeste Sanchez, MSW
Research Interests:  Social work with immigrants and refugees; Social work education; Immigrant and Latinx social work students; Social work with Latinx communities
Alanna Shin, MSW
Research Interests:  Financial Capability and Economic Well-Being; Financial Social Work; Psychological Self-Sufficiency; Poverty
Brianna Sorensen, MSW, LCSW, CADC
Research Interests: LGBTQ studies and their acknowledgment within social work education and clinical practice. The implications of internalized trans/homophobia on countertransference in the clinical setting and bias in the classroom. 
Adriane "Addie" Van Zwoll, MJ, LCSW
Research Interests: School-Based Mental Health; Juvenile Justice; Trauma-Informed Care; Interprofessional Practice
Heather Watson, MSW
Research Interests: Mental health; individual and environmental factors that lead to healthy child development; evidence-based clinical practice; disadvantaged youth and families; social justice; disparities in social services and communities among various minority groups.
Diane Williams
Research Interests: Aging and social welfare; aging social policy; barriers to housing stability for older adults; housing security and aging; the role of senior housing on successful aging; productive aging among older adults
Nora Wynn, AM
Research Interests: Adolescent sexual health and development; sex education; peer-led education; positive youth development; feminist theory; participatory research methods
Rachel Young
Research interests: Advancement of human rights through social uprisings, the development of social work, social policy, food systems, and art as a method for social change.
Rachel Young has more than 10 years of experience working in a variety of settings at the intersection of positive youth development, workforce development, transitional living programs for youth experiencing homelessness, college access, and civic engagement among young adults ages 14-25 years old. Additionally, she has experience working in EdTech managing educational operations for technical education boot camps, most recently working as a business process analyst for a technical recruiting company. Rachel is passionate about learning from the perspectives of others and brainstorming creative solutions to address complex social issues.