UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work Faculty Highlight

I always encourage individuals thinking about applying to any school for any program to take a look at the School’s faculty directory. It is worth taking the time to do this background research because these are potentially the people who will be shaping your learning experience. Another reason this could be beneficial is if you are interested in doing research while in your social work program, you can look into faculty members research interests. For today’s post I wanted to highlight some of the faculty members I’ve personally had as professors, am doing research with, and overall think are really awesome.

The relationships you develop during your time in your program–be it with your peers, professors, and community members–are invaluable.

UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work Faculty Directory:  http://ssw.unc.edu/about/faculty

*Faculty members below are not listed in any specific order! This list is not extensive. I could rave about so many professors but it’d take many, many posts. The Contact Magazine often does Faculty & Staff highlights: http://ssw.unc.edu/contact2/2015/01/faculty-and-staff-briefs-7/

**Please note each of the web links will provide you with a list of the courses that faculty member has taught/teaches, their research interests, and other relevant information. 

Denise’ Dews (http://ssw.unc.edu/about/faculty/dews)

Denise’ is a clinical assistant professor and has served as my field supervisor (through Field Education Office) for the past two years. She is a passionate and kind individual who has helped me in my journey of discovering where I want to go with my career. She has offered me countless words of advice, encouraged me to strive to be a better social worker, and affirmed me in my journey.

Professional interests involve: Social work intervention at end-of-life; medical social work; child welfare, child abuse & neglect, child protection; &  social work education.

Dr. Cindy Fraga Rizo (http://ssw.unc.edu/about/faculty/rizo)

Dr. Cindy Fraga Rizo was one of the first professors I met at UNC-CH SSW. I am currently serving as her research assistant and we focus on an array of issues affecting Latina IPV survivors (i.e. coping strategies, best practices for direct service providers). It has been great having her as a research supervisor and working alongside her. She has an extraordinary work ethic! I had never engaged in research prior to this position (which was intimidating) but she has kindly taught me along the way. Also, she is one of the only Latina professors in the School of Social Work!

Recently was the recipient of a UNC Junior Faculty Development award for her project, “Developing North Carolina Practice Guidelines for Latina Survivors of Partner Violence.”

Professional interests involve: Intimate partner violence (particularly among Latina survivors); child exposure to intimate partner violence; trauma; coping; social work with the Latino community; cultural competency; intervention development; community-based research.

Dr. Lisa de Saxe Zerden (http://ssw.unc.edu/about/faculty/lisazerden)

There are not enough positive things I can write about Dr. Zerden! If you get admitted to UNC-CH’s SSW she will definitely be someone you want to make sure you cross paths with. She serves as the Social Work Student Organization (SoWoSO) faculty member and advocates on behalf of all the students in the program (this is only one of her many roles). I am currently taking Health Access and Health Disparities Policy with her…GREAT course! Definitely recommend it if you are interested in public health, health equity, and medical social work.

Dr. Zerden along with Dr. Jones recently received $1.4 million federal grant for integrative healthcare project: http://uncnews.unc.edu/2014/10/30/school-social-work-receives-2-2-million-federal-funding-prepare-students-integrated-healthcare/

10 Questions to get to know Dr. Zerden: http://ssw.unc.edu/contact2/2014/03/10-questions-get-to-know-lisa-zerden/

Professional interests involve: Health Equity, HIV/AIDS Prevention, Substance Abuse, Social Welfare Policy, and Social Work Education

Dr. Paul Lanier (http://ssw.unc.edu/about/faculty/lanier)

I had Dr. Lanier in my first semester of the full-time program for the course: Social Welfare Policy. He is genuinely one of the funniest people in the School. He made difficult material “easy to digest” and kept us updated on relevant current events. I see him throughout the building often and can always catch him with a smile.

He was recently awarded a grant to study the effectiveness of a parent support program: http://ssw.unc.edu/contact2/2015/01/lanier-awarded-grant-to-study-effectiveness-of-parent-support-program/

Professional  interests involve: Child maltreatment prevention; parenting interventions; strengthening families; maternal and child health; evidence-based practice; program evaluation; implementation science; policy development.

Dr. Iris Carlton-LaNey (http://ssw.unc.edu/about/faculty/carlton-laney)

Hands down…an amazing social worker, professor, and overall human being! If you have an opportunity to take a course with her–do it! I took Confronting Oppresion & Institutional Discrimination (Discrimination & Inequality) with her in Spring 2014 and it remains as one of my favorite classes (definitely heart wrenching material..).

Recently named NASW Social Work Pioneer: 



Professional interests involve: Social Welfare History (especially African-Americans and the Progressive Era); Rural Elderly African-American Women and Social Support.


About MitzyG

I'm a 2nd year Full-Time graduate student at the UNC School of Social Work. I'm on the direct practice track and am interested in pursuing a career in healthcare social work. My favorite kind of self-care is staying in and having a 'pamper night' with a Netflix show playing on the side. My current Netflix addiction is the show New Girl (hilarious--how great is Schmidt?!)
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