Brown School Welcomes New PhD Students

Public Health; Social Work; Students

Eleven extraordinary students have joined the Brown School’s doctoral programs – eight pursuing a PhD in Social Work and three pursuing a PhD in Public Health Sciences. The Brown School is delighted to welcome them to our community.

New Students in Social Work

Phylicia Allen holds a BSW from Saginaw Valley State University and an MSW from the University of Michigan. Her most recent position was as the project manager of a scholars program that aimed to prepare MSW students for work in African-American communities. Allen’s research interests include academic outcomes for Black youth, K-12 urban education and community-school relationships.

Sara Beeler-Stinn previously worked at a family behavioral health center, where she oversaw the performance management and financial reporting of grant funded programs, facilitated psychoeducational groups, assisted with research and led organizational quality improvement initiatives. Her research interests include women with histories of trauma and substance use who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Beeler-Stinn earned her BSW from SIU-Carbondale and her MSW and MPA degrees from St. Louis University.

Darejan Dvalishvili earned an MD degree from Tbilisi State Medical University, after which she became one of the first social workers in the country of Georgia. As a social worker and program manager, she emphasized the prevention of child abandonment, family strengthening and child deinstitutionalization. She also earned an MSc degree in Social Work/Social Policy from Columbia University, and she has worked with UNICEF and other non-governmental organizations in Georgia to reform child welfare and juvenile justice processes. Dvalishvili’s research interests are child welfare, child maltreatment, gender-based violence, poverty, social policy and social protection.

Andrew Foell’s research interests include neighborhood effects, community building processes, community-engaged research methods, interdisciplinary research, and the use of multi-media tools such as geographic information systems, photovoice and digital storytelling to engage residents in local development. Prior to matriculating at the Brown School, Foell worked as a community development professional in low-income neighborhoods and elementary schools on various initiatives including leadership development, youth programming and deliberative dialogue projects. He earned a BSW from Missouri State University and an MSW and MPP from the University of Minnesota.

Eleni Gaveras has participated in academic research emphasizing international social welfare at several universities, including the University of Copenhagen and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA). Gaveras has also worked for the International Organization for Migration Tanzania in regional and national migration health advocacy and research. Gaveras earned an MSW from SSA and an MscPH degree from Lund University in Sweden. Her research interests are global mental health; complex trauma; and improving quality of life outcomes for those with serious mental illnesses, both globally and in the US.

Joonmo Kang earned his BA in International Area Studies (East Asian Focus) and Economics from Washington University in St. Louis and his MA in Social Welfare from Seoul National University. After completing his master’s degree, he served as a faculty officer at the Department of English at Korea Military Academy. His areas of interest include urban/community development and environmentally sustainable welfare systems.

Lara Markovitz served as a social worker at a social medicine clinic in the South Bronx where she focused on children and families, patients with HIV and substance use disorders, and people transitioning to the community post-incarceration. Her clients inspired her to want to address the dynamics of poverty, race and mental health. Her interests include kinship foster care and fatherhood initiatives. Markovitz earned a BA from the University of Michigan and an MSW from Columbia University.

Thabani Nyoni earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Development Studies and a master’s degree in Development Studies from Midlands State University in Zimbabwe, as well as an MSW from the University of California-Berkeley. He has worked in the nonprofit sector in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United States. Nyoni’s research interests include interventions in migrant health and rights in Southern Africa.

New Students in Public Health Sciences

Natalicio Serrano earned a BS in Health Sciences and an MPH in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences from San Diego State University. Serrano recently completed a two-year, NIH-funded diversity supplement where he examined the relationship between the neighborhood environment and travel behaviors in Latinos. His research interests include chronic disease prevention and the role of the built and social environment on health behaviors and outcomes, with the ultimate goal of reducing health disparities among disadvantaged communities.

Sara Small earned a BS in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology from Centre College and an MSW from Washington University in St. Louis. Since then, Small has practiced social work in a pediatric emergency department, working to understand implementation in critical care environments. Small’s interests are the dissemination and implementation of interventions in health and hospital settings.

Xiaoyan Wang earned her bachelor’s degree in Preventive Medicine from Shandong University in China, and a master’s degree in Molecular Medicine from Sun Yat-sen University in China. After graduation, she became a research associate in Guandong Institute of Gastroenterology at Sun Yat-sen University and focused on the genetics of colorectal cancer. Her research interests include cancer epidemiology and genetics.