Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned a B.S. in Psychology (University of Florida), MSW (Florida State University), Ph.D. in Social Work (University of Georgia), and MPH in Quantitative Methods (Harvard School of Public Health – to be conferred Dec. 2012).
I am currently an associate professor and director of the Ph.D. program in the School of Social Work.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
This is my second stint at UGA. The first was as a Ph.D. student between 1998-2001. After obtaining my Ph.D., I served on the faculty of the College of Social Work at the University of Tennessee for three years. When an assistant professor position became available in 2004, I jumped at the chance to return to UGA. My decision was guided by both professional and personal reasons. My wife and I had just had our first child and Athens is just a great place to raise a family. On the professional side, UGA has the infrastructure that I desired to launch a successful research career in the social and behavioral sciences.
What are your favorite courses taught and why?
I would probably say that SOWK 7222: Assessment and Psychopathology is my favorite course. Students have great enthusiasm for the course, which makes it more interesting to teach. In addition, psychopathology is a complex and ever-changing field, which makes it intellectually challenging for me to stay abreast of the current research in order to convey the latest knowledge and controversies to the students.
What interests you about your field?
I was first drawn to social work because of its commitment to social justice in many forms. Social work is such a broad field that I know I will never be bored professionally. For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about assisting individuals who experience mental health problems. Early in my career, I contributed by working as a clinical social worker in psychiatric settings, suicide prevention, and substance use disorder treatment programs. Now, I am able to contribute through my research and training of the next generations of clinical social workers.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
During my time at UGA I have had the pleasure of serving on a variety of university committees such as the Executive Committee of University Council and the Faculty Affairs Committee. Service on university-wide committees is perhaps the best way to become acquainted with the many wonderful things occurring on campus and to meet colleagues from a wide range of disciplines. I also have been very involved with the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research.
A particular highlight has been the opportunity for international engagement related to my scholarship on traumatic stress. In 2004, I traveled with a faulty delegation to Israel to learn about that country's strategies for responding to terrorist attacks. In 2007, I co-lead, with Dr. Nancy Rothenberg, a study-abroad program focused on Trauma Recovery and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I would like to think that students come out of my classes with greater knowledge and appreciation of the subject matter. More importantly, however, I hope that they gain a commitment to lifelong professional learning and an ability to think critically and develop innovative solutions.
Describe your ideal student.
Inquisitive, motivated and willing to challenge me.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus…
When the weather is nice and classes are in session, I enjoy getting out of my office and walking around campus. The energy of the many students shuttling between classes is palpable and invigorating.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
…spend time with my family and friends attending the many community events and resources that Athens offers such as walking through the Botanical Garden, riding bikes on the Greenway, attending Athfest and the Human Rights Festival, running in the Athens Half Marathon and many other shorter races.
Community/civic involvement includes…
I spend a lot of time conducting trainings and workshops for social service agencies and schools, especially on the topic of self-care for professionals.
Favorite book is Lord of the Rings and favorite movie is Memento.
Proudest moment at UGA?
My proudest moment at UGA came this past spring when I was awarded the Creative Research Medal for my research on secondary traumatic stress.