PhD Students

  • liz byram

    Elizabeth Byram, MSW

    elizabeth-byram@uiowa.edu


    Interests: intellectual and developmental disabilities, health and health disparities, and social networks


    Liz is interested in conducting research in the areas of intellectual and developmental disabilities, health and health disparities, and social networks. She is currently working with Dr. Aislinn Conrad-Hiebner on a project exploring the relationships between adverse childhood experiences and social networks. She has also assisted Dr. Mercedes Bern-Klug with projects on advance care planning.  

    Liz' teaching and TA experience include Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Introduction to Social Work Research, and Social Welfare Policy and Practice.  She has also served as a field instructor for BSW and MSW students.  Prior to joining the PhD program, Liz' practice experience was with children and adults with disabilities and their families.

  • Dana Cheek

    Dana Cheek, MSW, LISW, CADC, MSW, University of Iowa 2005 in Des Moines

    dana-wickwire@uiowa.edu

    PhD Student

    My research interests involve examining the integration of the primary care clinics with behavioral health consultants and/or social workers. My research will look at the role of the social worker to help improve patient wellness and reach health outcomes.  My research will focus on social services necessary for treating the whole person. I hope to identify specific tasks that the behavioral health consultant/social worker performs that are consistently noted to be useful in the setting by other healthcare providers and patients, such as referrals for entitlement programs. 

    I have worked for over 20 years in healthcare. Specifically, I have worked with adults, adolescents, and children on acute mental health units of a general hospital, as a Behavioral Care Manager.  My work activities included reviewing clinical information to identify patient and family needs, reviewing the patient’s diagnosis, and developing a plan for discharge that included coordinating continued care with community providers. 

  • rebecca dickinson

    Rebecca Dickinson, MSW, LISW, RPT-S

    rebecca-dickinson-1@uiowa.edu


    Interests: the effectiveness of Adlerian play therapy and issues related to the outcomes of foster/adoptive youth, including Adverse Childhood Experiences


    Rebecca is interested in conducting research on the effectiveness of Adlerian play therapy and issues related to the outcomes of foster/adoptive youth, including Adverse Childhood Experiences.  She has conducted her own research at a school for children with disabilities in India on the changing perceptions of people with disabilities.  While at the University of Iowa, Rebecca has had the opportunity to assist faculty members on research involving field education and the use of the National Coalition Building institute (NCBI) diversity training.

    Rebecca has teaching experience at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.  She is particularly interested in teaching practice-based courses, diversity and social justice courses, and international social work immersion courses.

    Rebecca is trained in both Adlerian play therapy and AutPlay and specializes in providing play therapy for children in the foster/adoptive system.  As well as experience working in residential youth treatment facilities in Iowa, Rebecca previously worked abroad as a child protection social worker

  • Bhawana

    Bhawana Koirala, MSW

    bhawana-koirala@uiowa.edu


    Interests: the impact of childhood adversities on later outcomes including mental health and substance use disorders


    As an international student from Nepal, Bhawana is currently working on her dissertation on the impact of childhood adversities on later outcomes including mental health and substance use disorders. In this study, she also examines factors that may mitigate the impact of the adversities on negative outcomes like family or peers.

     

    “ My faculty, especially the dissertation committee members, have been really supportive. From allowing me to work off-campus temporarily to providing me directions and feedback on my research, they have been there for me.”

  • Amy Lemke

    Amy Lemke, MSW, LISW, LCSW, MSW University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana

    amy-lemke@uiowa.edu

    PhD Student

    Interests: psychosocial issues for individuals living with serious, chronic illnesses as well as their families and significant others; social work and palliative care; end of life communication and decision making.

    Amy is interested in conducting research in the area of end of life communication and advance care planning. She is currently working on a project evaluating the impact of a personalized goals of care communication tool on feelings of anxiety and depression experienced by individuals living with End Stage Renal Disease. She is also assisting Dr. Mercedes Bern-Klug with the Service Learning in Aging Studies course offered within the School of Social Work.

    Amy's clinical experience base includes over 15 years working as a clinical social worker in an outpatient hemodialysis clinic. Presently, she works within an acute inpatient palliative care program. Amy is a certified facilitator and instructor in the Respecting Choices First Steps & Last Steps Advance Care Planning process.

     

  • Emily Martin

    Emily Martin, MSW

    emily-martin-2@uiowa.edu


    Interests: educational equality, school culture and climate’s effects on educational outcomes, trauma-informed care approach and cultural competency among school personnel


    Emily’s background of teaching at-risk, underprivileged populations has instilled in her a passion for educational equity. As a social worker, she’s in a unique position to influence school policy from a socioemotional perspective – to make more culturally competent learning environments that utilize a trauma-informed care approach to classroom interactions. Her research interests include school culture and climate’s effects on educational outcomes, how to better train educators to use a trauma-informed care approach, and ways to increase cultural competency among school personnel.

  • Cris Meier

    Cristian Meier, MSW

    cristian-wallace@uiowa.edu


    Interests: community and neighborhood environments in relating to health and access to resources, spatial mapping and analysis that may contribute to policy decisions affecting social equality issues


    Cristian Meier’s primary research interests include community and neighborhood environments and associations with health and access to resources. She is especially interested in how spatial mapping and analysis can contribute to policy decisions that focus on social equality issues. Cristian works with Professor Megan Gilster utilizing secondary data from Chicago and New York City to examine the impacts that neighborhood structural and social characteristics have on residents outcomes, specifically health. She also works at the Public Policy Center with Professor Natoshia Askelson conducting evaluations of state programming including school lunch and SNAP-Ed. Her dissertation focuses on examining the equality of food environment availability among both rural and urban residents, with specific interest on availability depending on specified distance bounded areas near a residents home. 

  • Nadia Sabbagh

    Nadia Sabbagh, MSW

    nadia-sabbagh@uiowa.edu


    Interests: how cumulative social disadvantage influences health and health outcomes in vulnerable populations


    I am interested in examining how cumulative social disadvantage influences health and health outcomes in vulnerable populations.  I have been a part of a research team that has examined low income Iowans’ understanding of their health insurance and one that looked at factors that influence adolescent well-visits.    For me, some of the most important and essential components of my experience in the program thus far have been the opportunities available and the mentorship provided.  I have had opportunities to further both my research and teaching skills and have benefited from mentorship from several faculty members with different perspectives.

    As a graduate of the University of Iowa with my BA and MSW degrees it was an honor to be able to further my education in the PhD program at the School of Social Work. I spent four years in the field working as a medical Social Worker at the VA and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics encountering health disparities first hand.  I consider this time invaluable as it further fueled my passion for not only better understanding why disparities in health exist, but also wanting to create change.