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Student Profiles

Preparing graduates to conduct interdisciplinary research and become exemplary social work scholars and educators

Learn more about our current students by reading their profiles listed below.  This is a growing list and more current students, over 40 in all, will be added in the coming weeks and months. 

bethany backes

Bethany L. Backes

Previous Education
MSW, University of Michigan
MPH, University of Michigan
BA, Rutgers

Research Interests
incidence and prevalence of victimization, victim help seeking strategies and experiences, underserved victim populations, victim interaction with the criminal justice system

Recent Publications

Backes, B. (2013). Building a solid foundation for sexual violence research: Applying lessons learned to inform research priorities. Violence Against Women, 19(6), 737-755).

Auchter, B. & Backes, B. (2013). NIJ’s program of domestic violence research: Collaborative efforts to build knowledge guided by safety for victims and accountability of perpetrators. Violence Against Women, 19(6), 713-736.

Backes, B. & Rorie, M. (2013) Partners in research: Lessons learned in Los Angeles. National Institute of Justice Journal, (272), 47-52.

McNamee, C. & Backes, B. (2012) Special Edition: Criminal Justice Response to Sexual Violence. Violence Against Women, 18(2), 135-144.

Backes, B. (2009). NIJ seeks to strengthen the researcher-practitioner bond. Corrections Today.

Gielen, A., McDonald, E., Frattaroli, S., McKenzie, L., Backes, B., Glenshaw, M., Shields, W., Bulzacchelli, M. (2009). If you build it, will they come? Using a mobile safety center to disseminate safety information and products to low-income urban families. Injury Prevention, 15(2), 95-99.

bailey kloch

Marie Bailey-Kloch

Previous Education
MSW, University of Maryland, Baltimore
BSW, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Research Interests
Microenterprise interventions with vulnerable populations; Prostitution Diversion Courts; Adolescent Reproductive Health in foster care system; HIV and STD harm reduction.

Sherman, S. G., German, D., Cheng, Y., Marks, M., & Bailey-Kloch, M. (2006). The evaluation of the JEWEL project: An innovative economic enhancement and HIV prevention intervention study targeting drug using women involved in prostitution. AIDS Care, 18(1), 1-11.

Memberships/Professional Affiliations
National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
Harm Reduction International

Peggy Howell Beall

Peggy Howell Beall

Previous Education
MSW, California University Pennsylvania
MPM, Carnegie Mellon University
BS, St. Peter's College, New Jersey

Research Interests
Resilience, trauma and grief, military families, formal and informal systems of care, evidence-based multidisciplinary interventions that promote health and well-being for children and families, rural social work.

Currently is a graduate research assistant working with Dr. Jodi Jacobson on the school's Financial Capability Research Initiative that is taking a leadership role in integrating social work into the evolving fields of individual and community wealth building.

Previous Experience
For more than 18 years she worked with youth and families experiencing a range of behavioral health challenges and led the development of an array of behavioral health programs, collaborated with schools to implement new support services, and partnered community organizations to increase housing options. She was a successful applicant for many public and private grants to initiate and sustain new services. Most of this work was accomplished as the Director of Children’s Services WPIC, Beaver County and Director of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic Community Mental Health Services, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

Memberships/Professional Affiliations
Society for Social Work Research (SSWR)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)


Melissa L. Bessaha

Previous Education
MSW, New York University
MA, Stony Brook University
BS, Stony Brook University

Research Interests
Adolescent and young adult mental health, psychoeducation, multicultural issues, social justice, and resiliency; program development and evaluation

Klein, D. N. and Bessaha, M. L. (2009). Depressive and Self-Defeating Personality Disorders. In T. Millon, P.M. Blaney, & R.D. Davis (Eds.), Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Bessaha, M. L. (2011, June). Leadership and Power of Great Social Networking. Presented at the City University of New York (CUNY) Office of Special Programs Student Leadership Academy: Developing Leaders for a Changing World, Glen Cove, NY

King-Toler, E., Bessaha, M. L.., Diaz, V., Son, M., and Franks, C. (2011, March). Using Social Media to Engage Students. Presented at the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education 11th Biennial Conference: Assessing Our Past and Planning Our Future in a Changing World, Tarrytown, NY

King-Toler, E., Bessaha, M. L., Diaz, V., Son, M., and Franks, C. (2010, December). Using Social Media to Engage Students. Presented at the Sharing What Works Conference: Contemporary Needs of Students in Higher Education, CUNY Lehman College, Bronx, NY

Karen Burruss

Previous Education
MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University
BS, Virginia Commonwealth University

Research Interests
I'm interested in looking at community health from a social justice lens. I want to explore how social work, public health, and other disciplines work together to reduce health disparities and social injustice. I enjoy going to wine festivals and am a volunteer at a Virginia winery. I also enjoy volunteering with animal rescue organizations. I honeymooned in Ireland and hope to do more international travel in the future.


Anusha Chatterjee

Previous Education
MSW, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
BA, Presidency College, Kolkata (now Presidency University)

Research Interests
International social work, gender-based violence, cultural competency of interventions and health

I am a traveler, a bookworm, a web-crawler, and a dreamer. I love reading and that is probably a reason (I tell myself) I am in love with research.  I love travelling and exploring and am always up for any new challenge thrown my way.  I have lived and worked in different parts of India and I look forward to my stint here! I look forward to a lot of fun, learning, challenges and new opportunities (not necessarily in that order)!


Seokho Hong

Previous Education
MSW, University of Seoul
BA, University of Seoul

Research Interests
Aging services and programs (especially HCBS and the services network), acculturation of immigrants and cultural competency for health care providers, and advanced statistical methods.

Brenda JordenBrenda J. Jorden

Previous Education
MSW, Salisbury University
BASW, Salisbury University

Research Interest
Homelessness, Mental Health, Social Work Education including Field Education, College Campus Safety

Hyun-Jin Jun

Previous Education
MSW, Washington University in St. Louis
MSW, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea
BSW, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea

Research Interests
Alcohol use, gambling, substance abuse, and medical social work

Judith Leitch

Previous Education:
MSW, University of Maryland
BA, Johns Hopkins University

Research Interests:
Intimate partner violence, perpetrator help-seeking strategies, pedagogy of social work, identity creation and maintenance, glbt studies, qualitative research methods

Kyla Liggett_Creel

Kyla Liggett-Creel is a Clinical Instructor at the School of Social Work, University of Maryland. She has served as a senior clinical social worker at the Center for Infant Studies for three years. She was previously a supervising clinical social worker at Kennedy Krieger Institute for nine years (1999-2008). Her BS is from the University of Maryland, College Park and MSW is from Smith College School of Social Work. She is a third year doctoral student at the School of Social Work.

Research interests include early childhood development, parent/child interaction, and child welfare

Currently, Ms. Liggett-Creel is creating parent education curriculum for adolescent parents in foster care.


Fatima Mirza

Previous Education
MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University
BAIS, George Mason University

Research Interests
family and child well-being, trauma and its effects on individuals and groups, the Muslim community in the United States, and Community-based Participatory Research methodologies. Her dissertation will focus on factors related to risk behaviors among Muslim youth who are children of immigrants or child immigrants of South Asian and Arab decent. 

In Press
Tirmazi, M. T., Husain, A., Mirza, F. Y., & Walsh, T. R. (In Press). Muslim migrant youth: Descriptive factors related to acculturation and psychosocial adaptation. In: M. S. Sedon & F. Ahmad (Eds.) Muslim youth: Challenges, opportunities and expectations. (pp. 57-77). New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Mirza, F. Y. (2010). [Review of the book Racialized bodies disabling worlds: Storied lives of immigrant Muslim women by P. Dossa]. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 5(1), 134-136.

Doyle, O., Miller, S. E., & Mirza, F. Y. (2009). Ethical decision-making in Social Work: Exploring personal and professional values. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics. Available:

Mirza, F. Y. & Tirmazi, M. T. (2011). Tobacco use among Muslim adolescent girls of Arab and South Asian descent. In: Mirza, F. Y. (Organizer). Social work with an emerging population: Muslim American youth. Symposium at the Society for Social Work Research 15th Annual Conference, Tampa, Florida.

Mirza, F. Y. (2008). Engaging Muslims in research. Presentation at the Council on Social Work Education 54th Annual Program Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Doyle, O., Miller, S. E., & Mirza, F. Y. (2007). Ethical decision-making in Social Work: Exploring personal and professional values. Presentation at the Council on Social Work Education’s 53rd Annual Program Meeting, San Francisco, California.

Jacobson, J., Rothschild, A., Wooten, N., & Mirza, F. Y. (2007). Universities and faith-based organizations: Partnering to study a community’s needs. Presentation at the Council on Social Work Education’s 53rd Annual Program Meeting, San Francisco, California.

DePanfilis, D., Girvin, H., Hayward, A. & Mirza, F. (2006). Combining social work education and interventions research: Lessons from a multi-methods course. Special Presentation at the Council on Social Work Education’s 52nd Annual Program Meeting, Chicago, Illinois.

Mirza, F. (2005). Literature review on children’s reactions to natural disasters. Presentation at the Graduate Research Conference, University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Memberships/Professional Affiliations


Hyeshin Park

Previous Education
MSSA, Case Western Reserve University
BA, Dartmouth College

Research Interests
Child welfare, adoption


S. Colby Peters

Previous Education
MSW, University of Maryland School of Social Work
BA, Art History and BA, Psychology, College of William and Mary

Research Interests
organization, efficiency, and effective service development and delivery in social work agencies and programs; program research, development, and implementation; social work theory

Graduate Research Assistant with Dr. Mike Woolley, focusing on implementation and effectiveness of educational programs and social capital.

SchulerBrittany Schuler

Previous Education
Temple University, MSW, BSW

Research Interests
I am interested in child welfare, inlcuding child negelct and abuse and the systems that provide services to this population. I also have an interest in the relationship between child welfare and incarcerated parents. Aside from child welfare related issues, I have more recently spent time researching the psychological impact of chronic disease.  I love being active- hiking, biking, exercise, etc. I also love to travel and see the way systems work in other places- for example, I traveled to Jamaica and Germany to study the way their social service systems work.

Naeem Shaikh

Naeem Shaikh

Previous Education
MSW, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
BSc, University of Mumbai

Research Interests
Cultural Competence; NASW Code of Ethics; Social Dominance; Social Policy; Social Work Education, Administration, Practice and Supervision

Research Projects
Shaw, T. V., Barth, R. P., Svoboda, D. V., & Shaikh, N. (December 2010). Fostering Safe Choices. Final report for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, Family Investment Administration.

Shaw, T., Ahn, H., Reiman, S., O'Connor, J., Michalopolos, L., & Shaikh, N. (July 2011). Evaluating the Implementation of Family Centered Practice in Maryland, July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011. Annual report for the Maryland Department of Human Resources, Social Service Administration. 

UretzkyMathew Uretsky

Previous Education
MSW, San Diego State University
MPH, San Diego State University
BA, University of California, Santa Cruz

Research Interests
Improving educational outcomes for underserved youth; especially youth experiencing homelessness and youth in foster care. Parent engagement and support programs. Program development and evaluation.

Work History
Mathew was a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa and ran the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program at Oakland Unified School District in California. Currently he is a Program Manager here at the University of Maryland working on multiple projects including the Maryland KEEP program and Evidence2Sucess.

Uretsky, M, Matheisen, S. (2007). The effect of years lived in the United States on the general health status of California’s foreign-born populations. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 9 (2), 125-136.