Faculty Research Interests

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Linda E. Benavides

My research interests have always been guided by my desire to contribute to the practice literature in the area of family violence. During my work with survivors of family violence, I was struck by the resilience of children and adolescents, who despite being exposed to the most harrowing of circumstances, were not just moving forward but in many cases were thriving. This has guided my research on resiliency and protective factors for children and adolescents exposed to violence, focusing on spirituality as a strength individuals possess. I am interested in spirituality not only as a protective factor for children and adolescents but also the process of spiritual development from childhood to adolescence. I have published scholarly articles and presented at international and national conferences on my research interests.

Jill D. Black

Jill D. Black

Associate Dean of College of Health & Human Services

My research interests are in the areas of local community engagement and service-learning, international service-learning and clinical education, global health competencies, pro bono service, student leadership development, and oncological rehab.

Robert Bonk profile picture

Robert J. Bonk

Professor of Professional Writing

My research focuses on writing techniques in healthcare. I've published three books in this area, as well as numerous journal articles, such as analyses of Medicare manuals for their targeted audience of senior citizens. I am also active in the open education movement. Because many of my courses have experiential components, I've also published and presented on applied projects that benefit our community. Fortunately, my research interests have allowed me to travel throughout Europe—from Spain and Italy in the southwest to Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland in central and Eastern Europe. Just like my courses, my research emphasizes the applications of writing in professional contexts.

Bret A. Boyer

Although my research interests are broad, most of my research investigates the relationships between psychological factors and adjustment to chronic physical health conditions. These studies have explored relationships among variables such as family functioning, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress and adjustment, self-management, rehabilitation, and medical outcomes for individuals experiencing diabetes, cancer, spinal cord injury, and cardiac conditions. I am also interested in the development and application of therapies to help individuals, couples, and families who face chronic health conditions, and in the integration of therapeutic methods toward optimal effectiveness for these problems. I have piloted many interventions utilizing imagery as a medium for exploration and intervention. I have also worked in primary care medical settings, specialty care medical settings, and physical medicine & rehabilitation settings over the years, integrating psychological services into the integrated interdisciplinary medical care.

Michelle T. Brandt

Michelle T. Brandt

Director of Field Education - MSW Program

Based on my practice experiences, I have interest in ethics in palliative and end-of-life care, complex family dynamics in palliative and end-of-life care, the role and perception of social workers in the medical setting, and social work field education in online MSW programs.

Briana Bronstein

My research interests include the use of evidence-based practices in school and community-based settings for individuals with disabilities and teacher training, specifically in under-served communities.

Margo M. Campbell

We live in a world where employment is an expectation and often a requirement for accessing certain safety net supports, such as TANF. Yet, we are also in an era where stable work may be fleeting at best. Given this situation, my research interests have centered on the effects that this precarious condition can have on families' material and emotional well-being.

Currently, I am studying the relationship between families' economic vulnerability and children's social-emotional competence with a focus on family processes. In future research, I plan a continued investigation of the impact of economic vulnerability on family well-being, expanding this inquiry to gain a richer understanding of individual families' experiences with, and responses to, economic vulnerability and the consequent influence on family and child well-being. I am also interested in better understanding intersectionality of identities, particularly those identities that are outside of the dominant culture, and experiences of precarity.

By identifying the interactive effects that system, family, and individual-level experiences can have on the well-being of children and families, my research is intended to build policymakers' and practitioners' understanding of policies' and conditions' impact on families, thereby enabling appropriate policy and programmatic responses to be identified and implemented. In particular, I aim to conduct research that informs social workers' micro- and macro-level responses (ideally in an integrated manner), and by doing so, facilitates social and economic justice and social change.

Monique Chabot

My research interests focus primarily on geriatrics and aging in place through home modifications, health promotion programming, smart technology, and designing livable communities.  I am also interested in the impact of international service learning on healthcare students' professional development. I enjoy exploring the  interprofessional collaboration between designers and occupational therapists, including pedagogical best practices to facilitate collaborations within academic programs. Finally, I have been researching the effects of sensory strategies to affect the mental health of two distinct groups of people: older adults in late stage dementia and university students experiencing increased stress and anxiety.

Colleen Chancler

My research interest includes analyzing the effects of hospitalization and discharge on older adults from a biopsychosocial perspective.  Specifically, I am interested in the social determinants of health as related to the ability to return to a full and active lifestyle after acute illness for older adults.

Richard Cooper

Richard M. Cooper

Director of the BSW Program and Co-Coordinator African American Studies

My research interests are culturally centered educational pedagogy, therapeutic methodological frameworks, healing, counseling agency-based practice, and emancipation-oriented paradigms for African Americans and other disempowered populations.

Jennifer Cullen

Jennifer Cullen

Director of Center for Social Work Education

My overarching research agenda is to explore and understand the professional identity development of social work students, how values and personal attributes contribute to that development, and then how courses can be structured to enhance and continue to support the developmental process. My research goal is to examine the process of identity development to provide insight to the process, thereby enabling the development of course content that will further strengthen the students' professional development.

My doctoral scholarship work explored the ethicality of International Service-Learning (ISL) as a teaching model. My interest lies in Global Health and disability issues in low- and middle-income countries.

Robin L. Dole

Robin L. Dole

Dean of College of Health & Human Services

My scholarly interests are closely tied to my work and experiences as a pediatric physical therapist and an academician. Those pursuits have led to collaborations with others who are teaching pediatric content in physical therapy programs where we have explored questions related to critical thinking, curriculum, and knowledge translation. My other primary research collaboration is within the Institute for Physical Therapy Education at Widener, where we are studying a variety of elements related to civic engagement, service learning, and leadership connected to our curriculum and our student-led pro bono physical therapy clinic.

Don Dyson

My research agenda has three major prongs:

  1. Best Practices in the Training of Sexologists—This research seeks to identify and investigate evidence-based practice in the training of sexologists and the ways that practice is applied in the field.
  2. Intercultural Issues in Sexuality Education & Training—A subset of the above, this research explores how complex understandings of culture inform the delivery of sexuality education across a wide spectrum of audiences, situations, and content.
  3.  Identity Intersections in Sexology—This research thread explores the ways in which individual identity markers affect the delivery of sexuality education and sex therapy for both the educator/therapist and the recipient of those services.
Ellen A. Erdman

Ellen A. Erdman

Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Education

My research interests lie in two areas, physical therapy clinical education and hippotherapy/therapeutic use of equine movement. With the globalization of society and changes to healthcare, cultural awareness, inter-professional collaboration, and service learning are key concepts to holistic healthcare. I am involved in the exploration of various models of clinical education to provide learning experiences with high impact. My hippotherapy research has been primarily case studies, but I plan to investigate dosage in the pediatric population.