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A New Sports Frontier

New Course Introduces Students to Emerging Field of Sport Social Work
Portraits of Ken Marfilius nd Rachel Hamilton

Professor of Social Work Ken Marfilius (left) and master’s of social work student Rachel Hamilton collaborated to create the new Introduction to Sport Social Work course.

The idea of merging social work principles and practices with the sports industry is an emerging field, and Syracuse University is at the forefront with a new undergraduate course scheduled to start this fall in the School of Social Work at the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.

Introduction to Sport Social Work is an elective course created by Associate Teaching Professor of Social Work Ken Marfilius in collaboration with Rachel Hamilton, a master’s of social work student who’s currently interning with the Syracuse Athletics Department. Marfilius will teach the course and Hamilton will be his research assistant, and here’s an excerpt from the course description:

Introduction to Sport Social Work: Applying a strength-based perspective to promote the health and wellbeing of student-athletes through a social justice framework. Through course readings, students will learn about sport social work theory, interprofessional collaboration, and understanding well-being issues of athletes. Course assignments will help students gain knowledge in applying strength-based perspectives within engagement, assessment, and interventions with athletes.

In recent years, more professional and collegiate sports teams have added mental health professionals to their staffs. But a professional with a social work degree provides teams with what Hamilton describes as a “macro and micro mix.”

“You’ve got an individual who can see something from the micro level of the individual who’s right in front of them, but also can zoom out and look at the societal trends, the trends within athletics, and the policies in place to evaluate what can be done to improve those policies and make it easier for athletes to feel supported in their mental health and well-being,” Hamilton says.

“With social workers, it’s that vast scale and scope of skill sets that makes the difference,” Hamilton adds. “It’s not just a clinical degree. It can be, if that’s what you want it to be, but as an advanced clinical student, I’m also having to take classes like social welfare policy that are more organizationally based and macro-based. With that knowledge, even if I do just want to work one-on-one with an individual, I still have the ability and the skill set to look at it from the macro perspective.”

Jon Mitchell portrait
Jon Mitchell is the senior associate athletics director, sports medicine, for the Syracuse University Athletics Department.

Jon Mitchell joined the Syracuse Athletics Department in the newly created position of senior associate athletics director, sports medicine, in October 2022. Mitchell oversees sports medicine, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and mental health, and he says he’s learning from Marfilius and Hamilton the many ways in which social work principles benefit student-athletes.

“It’s never been a part of our program before, and Rachel and Ken are educating me about utilizing it because we want to have as many tools in our toolbox as possible,” Mitchell says. “In college athletics, we are continually challenged to identify new ways to best serve our student-athletes, and this program has the potential to provide us with another resource to help serve the bigger purpose.”

‘Mental Health Linchpin’

Marfilius and Hamilton are both former athletes; Marfilius was a member of the rowing team at Syracuse University, and Hamilton was a member of a varsity cross-country team in Maine that won multiple high school state championships. Hamilton’s husband is former Syracuse football player Macky MacPherson, who went on to play for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and coach Division I college football.

“We have many dinner conversations about the effects of college sports on student-athletes,” Hamilton says, smiling.

Hamilton, a student member of the Alliance for Social Workers in Sport and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, is the first social work student to intern in the Athletics Department. Marfilius, an Air Force veteran whose primary research focus has been on military populations and veterans, had started building a course on social work and sports and was assigned as Hamilton’s field placement supervisor for her internship with athletics.

Together, they refined the course that Marfilius had started to build by incorporating that “macro” strength-based view that goes beyond general mental health support.

“It could be a student-athlete who comes from a challenging background with adverse childhood experiences and what we find, just like with the military, is that at 18 years old those experiences aren’t left behind,” Marfilius says. “They bring those with them–in addition to the pressure and the competition and the academics–and we look at both individual needs and systemic and structural needs of student-athletes and organizations.”

Marfilius says social workers can serve as a team’s “mental health linchpin,” helping directly with mental health-related issues or making referrals to other mental health professionals when appropriate. Mitchell says he views social workers as another potential source of education for student-athletes who don’t know what resources are available or have tried to cope privately with their problems because they didn’t want to seek help.

“We want to build trust by educating them and letting them know we have their best interests at heart,” Mitchell says. “If they can trust us when everything is going great, it increases the trust when things are not going as well.”

David sits amidst a crowd of people in a stadium.
David Sobczak, who was a student assistant coach for the Syracuse University football team and is now a coach at the University of Akron, pursued a Social Work degree at Falk College because it taught him how to communicate with players who didn’t come from the same background.

A Growing Demand

In addition to student-athletes, Marfilius says the new course is ideal for any student across campus who’s interested in sports administration, coaching, or working in some way with athletes from high school through professional. Falk College is a natural fit for the course because it houses the School of Social Work along with sports-related programs such as sport management, sport analytics, health, and exercise science, and starting in 2024, esports.

“I was interested in working with student-athletes, but there were not a lot of universities, if any, that have a social work program that’s so heavily integrated into a school that offered sport management and sport analytics and all those things,” Hamilton says. “I believe that’s why I was able to break into the athletics department for my internship hours.”

Hamilton says her internship started with her interest in working with student-athletes on their mental health challenges but has evolved to look at how student-athletes can be supported from a systemic level. With a guest speaker list that includes athletics administrators and coaches from inside and outside the university, Marfilius says the Sport Social Work course will provide students a similar opportunity to explore both sides.

“Just that exposure alone, and to have that understanding of what sport social work really is at a macro level, allows them to then look at their career trajectory in a different way,” Marfilius says. “But also, as a career choice, we have more folks who are entering this niche of a field.”

Indeed, the marriage of social work and sport may be the next frontier for the sports industry, which is always seeking a competitive edge. Hamilton says her long-range goal is creating a sport social work program at Syracuse that will meet what will eventually be a growing demand for social workers in the industry.

“Sports acts like a microcosm; there are leadership positions and administrative positions where you can utilize your social work skills to perform well,” Hamilton says. “There are support roles, mental health roles, and your traditional counseling roles, but also this skill set is invaluable to help navigate personality dynamics and group dynamics, and understanding the ways in which you can integrate and use those skills.”

Beyond the Battlefield

Social Work Assistant Professor Xiafei Wang Provides a Broader Understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Xiafei Wang Portriat
Xiafei Wang, assistant professor of social work

Since 2014, June has been designated by the federal government as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, bringing attention to the serious mental health condition some individuals develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening or traumatic event.

While PTSD is often discussed as it relates to the veteran population, data from the National Center for PTSD show that veterans are only slightly more likely to experience PTSD than the general population. Around 7% of veterans and 6% of all adults will have PTSD at some point in their lives and approximately 12 million adults suffer from it in any given year.

To shed further light on this important topic, SU News interviewed Xiafei Wang, an assistant professor of social work in Falk College. Wang studies the transmission of intergenerational trauma, how trauma-affected individuals and families can develop resiliency, and how such factors as race, gender, disability, and military service impact trauma and resilience. Wang shares her insights and research on these topics and more in this Q&A.

New Program Connects Law and Social Work Disciplines to Assist Veterans

Goidel Law Group Internship Fund seeks applicants for 2023-24 academic year. Graduate social work students encouraged to apply by June 30.
Three students talk in front of a Veterans building.

Syracuse University law students at the VA Headquarters in D.C.

Veterans often face a unique set of legal issues related to their service that require specialized knowledge and understanding to resolve. Those issues can become increasingly complex as veterans age, further intersecting with various aspects of physical, social and emotional well-being. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 80% of U.S. military veterans are over the age of 55.

At Syracuse University, the College of Law and the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics have formed a partnership to help veterans, and especially aging veterans, access the legal services they need and obtain the benefits they have earned and deserve.

Staffed by attorneys from the College of Law’s Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic, law students and graduate social work students, the Legal-Social Work Partnership program provides free, high-quality legal services for veterans, such as assistance with disability claims and discharge upgrades, benefits counseling and more. The partnership also works to educate veterans about their rights and how to navigate the legal system.

The partnership operates under the College of Law’s Office of Clinical Education, where Syracuse law students apply doctrinal law while representing clients under the supervision of faculty-mentors.

The Legal-Social Work Partnership places an emphasis on addressing the social determinants of health. By assisting veterans with housing, employment, aging and other issues, the Legal-Social Work Partnership can help reduce veteran homelessness and suicide rates and improve the lives of veterans and military families.

Elizabeth Kubala, teaching professor in the College of Law, is the executive director of the Betty and Michael D. Wohl Veterans Legal Clinic. “The veterans we assist often have needs and challenges outside the scope of our legal representation,” she says. “Bringing a social work perspective into our legal clinic will not only result in better overall outcomes for our veteran clients, but also a better understanding by the students of how to best serve veterans.”

As Syracuse law students and social work students learn how their respective disciplines interact in real-world practice settings, this program is building a stronger legal system that can address the holistic needs of clients.

Wendy Goidel Portrait
Wendy Goidel

While there are law firms that employ social workers in their practices, it is still quite uncommon. Syracuse University alumna Wendy Goidel ’84, Esq., the founding and managing member of Goidel Law Group PLLC and its Estate Planning & Elder Law Center, is one of the few who is leading the way. Goidel is the founder and co-developer of Concierge Care Coordination, a holistic practice model, which merges geriatric social work with legal planning.

“While the interdisciplinary model in an elder law context is natural and essential, it should be replicated and embraced in other practice areas—such as matrimonial, family, medical malpractice, personal injury and criminal—where legal problems are intertwined with social, medical and emotional issues. There is no doubt that clients and their family members receive far superior services, strategies and solutions when attorneys and social workers advocate and collaborate,” says Goidel.

Goidel established the Goidel Law Group Internship Fund to support social work graduate students interested in working at the intersection of law and social work, particularly with older adults, through the Legal-Social Work Partnership program at Syracuse University. Students will receive $5,000 stipends for their internship year while working within the Legal-Social Work Partnership.

A person is giving a lecture
Goidel gives a lecture

“Collaborations between law students and social work students are essential in addressing the legal problems impacting the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans,” says Ken Marfilius, Falk College assistant dean for online and distance education and associate teaching professor in the Falk College School of Social Work. “Social work students will play a key role in connecting veterans to community resources beyond those typically addressed through legal representation, having a direct and immediate impact on veterans and their families.”

“In addition to addressing the critical needs of veterans, this project illuminates the needs of one of the fastest growing populations on our planet, and that is of aging individuals,” says Carrie Smith, chair of the Falk College School of Social Work. “Collaborative work among an increasing number of experts at the intersection of law and social work will be essential in addressing the myriad needs and concerns of this population.

“We are very appreciative of the pioneering work being led by Wendy Goidel in addressing these aims,” she adds.

Through the Goidel Law Group Internship Fund, two social work graduate students at Syracuse University will be selected annually for the Goidel Law Group Internship Fund. Students do not need to be enrolled in Syracuse University’s J.D./master of social work dual degree program to be selected. Interested students must apply online by June 30, 2023, for the 2023-24 academic year.

For more information about the Legal-Social Work Partnership program or the Goidel Law Group Internship Fund, please contact Elizabeth Kubala, 315. 443.8420 or, or Kenneth Marfilius, 315.443.5586 or

Class of 2023 Social Work Awards

Class of 2023 Honored with School of Social Work Awards
View of and auditorium with students

Undergraduate Director and Assistant Teaching Professor Nadaya Brantley (left) asks award winners to stand and be recognized during the School of Social Work awards ceremony in Grant Auditorium.

The School of Social Work in Falk College would like to recognize and congratulate its Class of 2023 undergraduate and graduate award winners! Here’s a list of the winners, a description of the award, and comments about the awardees from Social Work faculty:

Keith Alford Diversity and Inclusion Award – Khin Aung and Ashley Homer

The Keith Anthony Alford Diversity and Inclusion award is named in honor of Dr. Keith Alford, formerly the Syracuse University Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (2018-2021), M.S.W. Program Director (2016-2018), B.S.S.W. Program Director (2008-2012), and Director of the School of Social Work (2016-2019).

Khin Aung (undergraduate)
“Khin came from a Thai refugee camp. Her native country is Myanmar (Burma), and she now lives with her family in Syracuse. Khin is doing her social work internship at Interfaith Works to gain work experience and serve the immigrant and refugee populations. Her goal is to make the best of her education and use the skills she has acquired to best serve the immigrant and refugee populations as a social worker.”

Ashley Homer (graduate)
“Ashley, a native of Syracuse, is focusing on clinical practice. Ashley currently works as a social work intern at Corcoran High School in Syracuse, where she attended. Ashley intends to work in a position that will enable her to continue supporting youth who face social challenges and serve as a liaison between this population and community resources.”

Elizabeth Brown Thoreck Undergraduate Student Achievement Award – Chevon Janczuk

Awarded to a non-traditional aged undergraduate student who is in good academic standing in the academic arena and field placement setting.

“Chevon is currently employed with Liberty Resources in its developmental disabilities department as a direct support professional who provides community habilitation. She is also employed with Community Action Partnership in Canastota, New York, as a housing facilitator who supports the homeless population. Her interests in the social work field are within the criminal justice system and military population. Chevon will complete her M.S.W. at Syracuse. She will intern at the Veteran Justice Outreach program in Auburn, New York, where they provide services to veterans within, and recently released from, the criminal justice system.”

Bachelor of Science in Social Work Award – Alexandra Vroman

Awarded to a School of Social Work graduating senior in good academic standing who is involved in social work activities, serves the community, and makes meaningful contributions to Syracuse University.

“Alexandra has loved spending her senior year interning at Webster Elementary School and discovering her passion for school social work. After graduating with her B.S.W. and bachelor’s in psychology, she will attend Syracuse University’s Advanced Standing M.S.W. program and intern at SUNY Upstate’s Child and Adolescent Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic. She is excited to continue her social work education and work toward clinical licensure.”

Scholastic Excellence Award, Undergraduate – Emily Clapper

Awarded to the student with the highest cumulative GPA among graduating seniors.

“Emily is a current intern at Toomey Residential and Community Services, where she spends most of her time engaging with clients in the Children’s Community Residence program, a residential facility for children and adolescents with significant mental and behavioral health diagnoses. Upon graduation, Emily will continue her education at the Boston College School of Social Work in their Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program with a concentration in children, youth, and families.”

Catherine Mary Esposito Achievement Award – Emily Schaefer and Kallie Minarik

The Catherine Mary Esposito award is presented to outstanding undergraduate and graduate students who have demonstrated a commitment to clients with developmental disabilities and are in good academic standing, but more importantly have had success working with people with developmental disabilities.

Emily Schaefer (undergraduate)
“Emily is a social work intern at the Jowonio School, an inclusive preschool serving children of all needs. Upon graduation, Emily will continue her education at Fordham Graduate School of Social Service in their Advanced Standing Master of Social Work program. Emily is extremely passionate about creating a more inclusive environment for all children.”

Kallie Minarik (graduate)
“Kallie took part in the behavioral health department for her field placement. She worked with clients individually, with families, and with groups. Kallie currently wants to work with clients and families between infant mental health and veterinary social work. She states that although this will be working with ‘two completely different areas, that is the beauty of social work.’”

Rhonda B Cohen Prize in Gerontology Award – Jacob Handanyan and Peter Hernandez

The Rhonda B. Cohen Prize in Gerontology is named in honor of Rhonda Cohen, who graduated from the M.S.W. program in 1983 and passed away at a young age. She was an advocate for the elderly. The award criteria include cumulative GPA, community service, and an interest in working with older adults.

Jacob Handanyan (undergraduate)
“Jacob is currently completing his undergraduate field placement at Syracuse Jewish Family Services, working with the aging population and differently abled individuals, and conducting group and individual visits. Jake intends to continue his education at Syracuse University to complete his master’s in social work.”

Peter Hernandez (graduate)
“Peter’s first placement was working with the elderly at an assisted living home, and his second placement was working with children with disabilities. He has worked with high-needs children and on suicide prevention with veterans. Peter is currently the Social Services Director for a nursing and rehabilitation home, and his future plans involve pursuing his L.C.S.W. and providing services to adults.”

Virginia Insley Award – Andrew Carroll (graduate)

Awarded to an outstanding Social Work M.S.W. Health Care Concentration student who is interested in maternal and child health.

“Andrew is currently interning at the Upstate Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinic. This pertains to his interest and goals and has been very helpful in cultivating an enriching learning environment that he intends to use in clinical practice going forward. Andrew has found this to be an invaluable experience and plans to apply the plethora of knowledge he has gained to his future work, always striving to identify and implement unique treatment modalities to best meet the unique needs of his clients.”

Carrie Jefferson Smith Social Justice Award – Kathryn Scully (graduate)

Awarded to a student who has demonstrated a commitment to social justice, particularly in improving the lives of victims impacted by the continuum of domestic violence.

“Kathryn is currently interning at Elmcrest Family Transitions (EFT), a program that is a specialized sexual abuse service. Kathryn works with youth in the community who have a history of problematic sexual behaviors and those who have been victims themselves. She recently interviewed for a full-time position at EFT, where she hopes to begin working after graduation.”

Mary Pat Cotter Remembrance Award – Malika Nobles (second-year graduate student)

Awarded to a School of Social Work graduate student for contributions to substance abuse and HIV/AIDS.

“Malika works at ACR Health, where she has held many different positions working with high-risk individuals with infectious diseases such as HIV/HCV. She currently interns at Credo Community Center in Watertown, New York, where they provide outpatient treatment services for individuals struggling with addiction. Credo’s mission, values, and philosophy on client-centered care spoke volumes to Malika and resonates with the type of social worker she hopes to become. Malika would like to one day open her own women’s safe haven, a nonprofit organization that epitomizes the lessons and experiences that both ACR Health and Credo Community Center have provided.”

Kenneth J. Marfilius Student Veteran Award – Jazmin C. Avila and Robert Ryan

The Kenneth J. Marfilius Student Veteran Award is presented to a graduate student in good academic standing who is a military veteran. The award is based on grade-point average, community involvement, and contributions to Syracuse University contributions.

Jazmin C. Avila (undergraduate)
“Jazmin completed her field placement at a therapeutic crisis response program that worked with youth who did not meet the criteria for inpatient but needed additional support navigating anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. Jazmin is an U.S. Army veteran hoping to work with adolescents who have experienced trauma, more specifically youth that are victims/survivors of sex trafficking.”

Robert Ryan (graduate)
“Robert is a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and he is completing his M.S.W. internship at Confidential Help for Alcohol and Drugs (C.H.A.D.). He is president of Social Workers United, a member of the Student Veterans Organization, and a member of the University’s Diversity Committee. Robert is employed as the Cayuga County Democratic Deputy Elections Commissioner, and has future goals of becoming an L.C.S.W., earning a doctorate, and working in higher education.”

Interested in a career in social work? Visit the School of Social Work to learn more about its academic programs, experiential learning, and career opportunities.

Syracuse a Good Place for Veterans

Syracuse Ranked #5 on LawnStarter’s Best Cities for Veterans
Kenneth James Marfilius Portrait
Kenneth Marfilius

To commemorate Veterans Day this year, LawnStarter ranked 2023’s Best Cities for Veterans, where they looked at cities with high populations of veterans and determined it by ease of navigation of resources, housing affordability, employment, educational opportunities, and other metrics. The city of Syracuse was ranked #5 overall on this list of 200.

Kenneth J. Marfilius, DSW, LCSW, assistant dean of online and distance education and associate teaching professor of social work at Falk College, spoke to why Syracuse is ranked so high on the list. “Here at Syracuse University, we are committed to distinguishing Syracuse as the premier university for veterans, military-connected students, and families. We have a National Veterans Resource Center that cultivates and leads innovative academic, government, and community collaborations. This serves as the center of Veteran life on the campus of Syracuse University, the local community, and across the Central New York region.”

Read the interview below:

What are three of the best but undervalued programs or nonprofits benefiting veterans?

Veterans have the drive to succeed, and their experience in the military helps them develop leadership skills and learn new skillsets that are valuable in the civilian world. Unfortunately, veterans often face high unemployment rates, housing instability, and other challenges when they return to civilian life.

There are a plethora of programs providing support for veterans who want to find a good career path after leaving the military. These organizations provide important resources such as education, housing, occupational opportunities, and counseling.

Here at Syracuse University, we are committed to distinguishing Syracuse as the premier university for veterans, military-connected students, and families. We have a National Veterans Resource Center that cultivates and leads innovative academic, government, and community collaborations. This serves as the center of Veteran life on the campus of Syracuse University, the local community, and across the Central New York region.

Syracuse University is also home to the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). IVMF is higher education’s first interdisciplinary academic institute, singularly focused on advancing the post-service lives of military veterans and their families.

Across the nation, there are also local Vet Centers and VA Hospitals and a robust VA benefits and claims system. This system is designed for those veterans who may be diagnosed with military-related mental health or physical challenges and may be eligible for service-connected disability compensation and treatment.

In addition, there is a program called Support Services for Veteran families serving low-income veterans, providing supportive services and case management to prevent the loss of a veteran’s housing or identify new safe, stable, and affordable housing for the veteran and their family.

Our local communities are often the strongest advocates and assets for our veteran populations, as they are our neighbors and support systems. For example, in the Central New York region, an organization called Clear Path for Veterans offers art programs, canine programs, peer support programming, and culinary programs for veterans. These types of programs can be found across the nation, and I encourage our veterans and their families to engage in these types of programs as they assist in finding strong support among social connections and like-minded people—serving as protective factors against the many challenges our returning Veterans face.

These programs play an essential role in helping veterans reintegrate into society after serving our country proudly. Veterans looking for help can find information on their local facility’s website or call the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, and press 1, or text 838255 to connect with a VA responder.

What is one way local and state governments can better support their veterans?

Local and state governments can support veterans by providing resources and programs specifically tailored to their needs. Some examples of government-sponsored programs for veterans include job training, financial assistance, and mental health counseling. By supporting military veterans and their families, we are investing in the future of our nation and showing our appreciation for their service.

To really sustain improvement in veteran health, we must first understand the need to sustain improvements in overall public health. Before an individual raises their right hand to become a service member, they are a civilian. Upon completion of their service, they transition out of the military and end up back in our local communities, part of the social fabric of our society.

I have previously served as an active-duty Air Force officer as a mental health clinician and worked for the Department of Veteran Affairs Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Team. As a result, I have seen firsthand that serving in the military in and of itself is not necessarily the sole reason a veteran may be experiencing mental health challenges. While military service may be a contributing factor, we must understand that prior adverse childhood experiences, including pre-military trauma, are a significant risk factor for the development of PTSD or mental health disorders.

Our local communities and state governments must work together on preventing society’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences and build the capacity to create knowledge around ongoing resilience-building when faced with adverse experiences. This can be done through the implementation of parent support programs, peer support systems, family-centered schools, and access to quality and safe education.

Furthermore, access to medical care; stable, safe, and affordable housing; food, transportation; and internet for the technological advancements in our society are critical for the public health of our nation. The single most important factor in developing resilience in children is to a have stable, safe, and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.

Programming must be done on a local, county, state, and national level. Our children will eventually become service members and we want them to not only survive but thrive in the face of adversity before, during, and after their time in service.

What is one thing civilians can do to show support this Veterans Day and beyond?

There are many ways civilians can show support for our veteran community and their families. Educating oneself about the unique challenges that veterans face and how you can best support them is the first step.

Volunteering with organizations that help support veterans and their families and actively listening, without interruption, to what a veteran has to say about their experiences or struggles advances all our understanding. Patience is critical when communicating with a veteran, as they may have experienced things beyond your comprehension.

We must continue to work on reducing the stigma around mental health issues among veterans. There is strength in reaching out, and social support protects all of us. Sometimes the best thing to do is simply call a veteran and ask how they are doing, expressing that they are not alone. It is important to engage in this messaging, so our veteran community and their families do not feel othered and begin to isolate, which only perpetuates the risk involved for those experiencing mental health challenges.

What is the best way to prevent veteran homelessness?

When mental health is left untreated for extended periods of time, there could be several consequences. For example, waiting to seek treatment could impact relationships and occupational function, which are risk factors for homelessness. Individuals with untreated mental illness make up a significant portion of Americans experiencing homelessness.

The VA is committed to ending homelessness among veteran populations. There are coordinated outreach efforts across the nation that connect homeless or at-risk veterans with housing opportunities, employment services, and health care.

We have engaged state and local leaders that have committed and implemented efforts focused on ending veteran homelessness. The VA implemented a housing-first approach, ensuring veterans experiencing homelessness can move into housing with wrap-around services, as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Housing first intently focuses on removing barriers to housing and accepts veterans regardless of financial history, substance use or abuse, and even criminal history. Transitional housing must act as a bridge in an effort to house our veterans as quickly as possible.

Partnerships with local landlords is critical to moving veterans out of homelessness. These partnerships increase housing supply and secure housing units more efficiently. Once the veteran is housed, we must work to maintain the housing unit by connecting the veteran to employment opportunities, health care, legal services, and community programs.

Falk College Welcomes New Faculty and Staff


Syracuse University’s Falk College is pleased to welcome 14 new staff members who have joined Falk College in the past academic year: Peter Ashworth, Social Work Internship Placement Coordinator; Rebecca Berard, Marriage and Family Therapy Internship Placement Coordinator; Jennifer Coughlin, Social Work Program Manager; Kim Fudge, Admissions Operations Coordinator; RoQueHarmon, Exercise Science Internship Placement Coordinator; Chandice Haste-Jackson, Associate Dean of Student Services; Kara Hughes, Social Work Administrative Assistant; Timothy Lamey, Exercise Science Internship Placement Coordinator; Matt Michael, Communications Manager; Kim Mura, Human Development and Family Science Office Coordinator; Matthew Murphy, Nutrition and Food Studies Procurement Specialist; Beth Perez, Sport Management Internship Placement Coordinator; Ian Richardson, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, and; Tyler Sliker, Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic Director.

In addition, Falk College is pleased to announce 12 new faculty appointments:

Kylie, Harmon Portrait

Kylie Harmon

Assistant Professor, Exercise Science

Kylie Harmon joins the Department of Exercise Science as an assistant professor. Her position is part of the Aging, Behavioral Health, and Neuroscience research cluster.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Harmon was a graduate research assistant at the University of Central Florida (UCF) within the School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy. There, she taught undergraduate kinesiology classes in exercise science, assessment techniques, and health and wellness. While at UCF, she also served as the research coordinator of the Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory within the Institute of Exercise Physiology and Rehabilitation Science. During her M.S. studies, she was the Human Performance Laboratory director within the Department of Kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton.

Harmon’s research focuses on understanding the neuromuscular adaptations that occur in response to aging, immobilization/disuse, fatigue, and strength training, with an emphasis on both changes in motor unit behavior and alterations in the corticospinal pathway. She is particularly interested in how to best preserve muscular strength during periods when resistance training is not feasible, such as during illness, injury, or immobilization.

During her doctoral studies, Harmon was awarded a Richard Tucker Gerontology Applied Research Grant from the University of Central Florida Learning Institute for Elders (LIFE) Group to support her research in older adults. To support her dissertation project, Harmon was awarded the University of Central Florida Graduate Dean’s Completion Fellowship.

Harmon was named recipient of the University of Central Florida Division of Kinesiology Doctoral Scholar Award and Graduate Writing Award supported by the American Kinesiology Association. She is an active member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and was awarded both the NSCA Foundation’s Women’s Scholarship and Challenge Scholarship.

Harmon earned a Ph.D. in education, exercise physiology track, from the University of Central Florida in 2022, preceded by a M.S. in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton, in 2016, and a B.A. in Russian studies from Binghamton University in 2013. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Kristen Konkol Portrait

Kristen Konkol

Associate Teaching Professor, Exercise Science

Kristin Konkol is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Exercise Science. She teaches courses such as structural kinesiology for performance enhancement and injury prevention, structural kinesiology, scientific principles of conditioning, and concepts of fitness. She also runs the internship and experience credits for the department.

She joined Falk College as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Exercise Science in Fall 2020. Prior to joining Falk College in 2020, the Department of Exercise Science was positioned within Syracuse University’s School of Education, where Konkol has served as Assistant Professor since 2018, and formerly as part-time faculty. Previously, Konkol was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Performance, Exercise Science/ Physiology at the Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she taught courses such as individualized exercise, aerobic conditioning, and concepts of fitness, among others. She also held an adjunct faculty position there, as well as coaching positions at the Gustavus Adolphus College.

At the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, Konkol held several titles, including lecturer, lab instructor, manager in the Human Performance Laboratory, and performance specialist for professional athletes. Konkol’s research interests include sport specific training; speed, agility, and quickness training; athletic performance testing; strength and conditioning; exercise immunology; and global perspectives in human performance. Konkol’s work is published in the Cardiovascular Journal of Africa, Sport Sciences for Health, Children, Sports and Exercise Medicine Open Journal, and International Journal of Exercise Science.

Konkol currently serves at Syracuse University as the I-Move Program Coordinator and Dance Minor Coordinator. From 2004 to 2006, she served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Guyana and South America. Konlol is a Certified Performance Enhancement Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Konkol earned her Ph.D. in Sports Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in 2013.

She earned an M.A. in Kinesiology with an Exercise Physiology emphasis and a graduate minor in Complementary and Alternative Therapy and Healing Practices. She earned her B.S. in Exercise Science with a Cardiac Rehabilitation emphasis from the University of Toledo, where she was a Division I collegiate basketball athlete.

Ashleigh Jones portrait

Ashleigh Jones

Assistant Teaching Professor, Human Development and Family Science

Ashleigh Jones joins the Department of Human Development and Family Science as an assistant teaching professor. She teaches classes in human sexuality and intimate relationships.

Jones has over 10 years of teaching experience and has taught courses across various subjects spanning multiple disciplines at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. As an educator, Ashleigh takes immense pride in creating an informative and engaging classroom environment in which students are encouraged to control their own learning experience. Dr. Jones leverages her extensive teaching experience with novel teaching pedagogies to create an immersive and collaborative teaching environment to help future scholars and practitioners apply theory to practice. Recent courses she has taught include families in crisis, cross-cultural research, adolescents and their families, mental health, and human sexuality.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Jones was an instructor at Texas Tech University in 2020 in the Departments of Human Development and Family Sciences and Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences. Prior to Texas Tech, while completing her graduate degrees, she served as an instructor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, teaching courses for the Department of Community Health from 2010-2017.

In addition, Jones worked as an academic coach with Disabilities Resource Education Services at the University of Illinois from 2012-2017. In this role, she worked directly with students and conducted needs assessments; offered career counseling; and created, implemented, and facilitated several skill-based workshops and trainings for students, staff, and faculty across the university campus.

Jones earned a Ph.D. in 2019, an M.S. in 2011, and a B.S. (with honors) in 2008, all from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Tristan Martin Portrait

Tristan Martin

Assistant Teaching Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy

Tristan Martin joins the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy as an assistant teaching professor. He teaches classes in family therapy, including sexual issues for the helping professional.

Prior to Fall 2022, Martin was an adjunct instructor both in Marriage and Family Therapy and Human Development and Family Science at Syracuse University.

Martin’s research focuses on transgender sexuality with the intersections of relational and erotic diversity. He has presented at multiple national conferences and contributed to publications in the field of family therapy and transgender issues, including the “Handbook of LGBTQ-Affirmative Couple and Family Therapy” and “Sexual and Relationship Therapy.”

Martin was a recipient of the Summer Dissertation Fellowship at Syracuse University in 2019 for his dissertation “Transgender Congruence and Sexual Satisfaction in Trans Masculine Adults: The Role of Affirmative Sexual Partners.”

Martin is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and AASECT-certified Sex Therapist. His clinical work focuses on providing support for the LGBTQ community, with specialization in supporting gender transition for youth and adults.

Martin earned a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Syracuse University in 2020, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Sex Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2020, a master’s degree in family therapy from Mercer University in 2016, and a B.A. (with honors) in 2014 from Huntingdon College.

Tracey Reichert Schimpff Portrait

Tracey Reichert Schimpff

Associate Teaching Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy

Tracey Reichert Schimpff is an associate teaching professor in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. She teaches supervision in marriage and family therapy for doctoral students and practicum courses for the master’s program.

Reichert Schimpff has been the director of clinical services for Marriage and Family Therapy since 2013 and served as the clinic supervisor from 2008 to 2013. Prior to working at Syracuse University, Reichert Schimpff was the director of family services at The Salvation Army in Syracuse. She held several clinical and administrative roles in the non-profit organization from 1998 to 2008.

Reichert Schimpff’s focus has been on child welfare and the treatment of trauma. Her research explored therapists’ experiences of trauma and the role of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction. She is also interested in developing community collaborations to increase access to mental health care.

She has collaborated on scholarly articles and grants in the areas of community violence, trauma, and maternal mental health.

Reichert Schimpff has served as chair of the Supervisor Committee, Clinic Committee, Handbook Committee and Clinical Readiness Committee in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. She also provides supervision mentorship to supervisor candidates in the Central New York area.

Reichert Schimpff earned a Ph.D. from Syracuse University in 2019 and an M.A. from SU in 1996. She received a B.S. from LeMoyne College in 1993. Reichert Schimpff is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Fellow of AAMFT, and an Approved Supervisor.

Naomi Shanguhyia portrait

Naomi Shanguhyia

Associate Teaching Professor, Nutrition and Food Studies

Naomi Shanguhyia joins Nutrition and Food Studies as an associate teaching professor. She teaches classes in contemporary food issues, global food politics, and oversees the undergraduate and graduate practicums.

Prior to joining Falk College, Shanguhyia was the associate director of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, where from 2019 to 2022 she oversaw the program’s curriculum and day-to-day operations and taught a course on food security in Africa. She was also a part-time instructor in the Geography and the Environment Department in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, where she taught a class on geographies of hunger, and a faculty affiliate in the international relations program. From 2012 to 2014, Shanguhyia was a lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability at SUNY Oneonta, where she taught courses in introductory geography, food, society and environment, and gender geography. In 2014, Shanguhyia joined the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University as a post-doctoral faculty fellow and taught writing-intensive seminars focusing on the themes of food, society, gender, and environment.

Shanguhyia’s research focuses on the global and local processes that intersect to shape food, nutrition, and health outcomes among communities in Africa south of the Sahara. Her dissertation research, which was funded by an NSF DDRI grant, examined the impact of environmental and economic change on food and livelihood security among rural communities in western Kenya. Her previous work, which is published in Human Geography: A Radical Journal, analyzed the politics of chronic hunger in arid and semi-arid areas in northern Kenya. She has presented her work at the annual conferences of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and the Association for the Study of Food & Society (ASFS), the Cornell University International Studies Summer Institute Workshop, and other forums.

Shanguhyia holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in geography from West Virginia University and a B.Ed. and M.Ed. from Kenyatta University, Kenya.

Nadaya Brantley

Nadaya Brantley

Assistant Teaching Professor, Social Work

Nadaya Brantley joined the School of Social Work as an assistant teaching professor in Spring 2022. She teaches courses in introductory social work and social welfare policy and serves as the baccalaureate of social work program director.

She joined Syracuse University as a member of the field office in January 2011 as an internship placement coordinator and previously served as the assistant director of BSSW field education in Falk College, School of Social Work Field Education Office. She is a New York State Licensed Master Social Worker. Her practice areas include work with adolescents, developmental disabilities, mental health, and incarcerated populations.

As a systems thinker, she believes that, in the words of Bell Hooks, “there must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.”  Brantley’s research interests include exploring intersectional identities and educational equity in higher education through a critical race theory lens.

Brantley serves on several department committees and as an advisor for several student organizations, including SU-NAACP, SU-Special Olympics of New York, Social Worker’s United, and the Juvenile Urban Mentoring Program (J.U.M.P. Nation).

She received a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s of social work (M.S.W.) degree from Syracuse University. She is currently a doctoral student in the Cultural Foundations of Education in the Syracuse University School of Education.

Ting Guan Portrait

Ting Guan

Assistant Professor, Social Work

Ting Guan joins the School of Social Work as an assistant professor. She will teach courses on foundations of social work research.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Guan was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work, where she also served as a research assistant, working with faculty in the School of Social Work, School of Nursing, and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center on federally funded work related to integrated health care and cancer care. Guan has over eight years of clinical experience in hospital settings as a medical social worker in China.

Guan’s research focuses on developing and evaluating family-based psychosocial interventions to improve cancer patient and caregiver quality of life through collaborative and interdisciplinary social work practice in healthcare settings. She has published over 20 peer-reviewed articles in academic journals, including Psycho-Oncology, Supportive Care in Cancer, Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, Social Work in Health Care, and Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.

Guan’s dissertation research was supported by a Royster Dissertation Completion Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021.

Her work has been recognized and funded by the Association of Oncology Social Work, Society for Social Work and Research, and Association of American Medical Colleges. In 2015, Guan was awarded China’s Most Dedicated Social Worker Award, a prestigious national award for social work practitioners.

Guan earned a Ph.D. in social work in 2022 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work, a master’s degree in social welfare in 2009 from Peking University, and a bachelor’s degree in social work in 2006 from China Youth University for Political Studies.

Joseph Smith Portrait

Joseph Smith

Associate Teaching Professor, School of Social Work

Joseph Smith joined the School of Social Work as an associate teaching professor in Spring 2022 and serves as the college online MSW program liaison. He teaches classes in applied research in social work, psychopathology, and alcohol and other drugs in social work practice.

Prior to his full-time faculty appointment at Syracuse University, Smith served as an adjunct faculty member in both the BSSW and MSW programs since 2010. He was heavily involved in online curriculum development and teaching in various content areas. Additionally, Smith comes to this position following 25 years of administrative and teaching experience as Department Chair of Chemical Dependency Counseling and Human Services at SUNY Tompkins Cortland Community College.

Smith has practiced as a licensed clinical social worker and Master CASAC in a wide range of social work settings, including adult psychiatric inpatient, substance abuse outpatient and residential, and children’s psychiatric outpatient programs. Smith has interests in trauma-informed and evidence-based strategies, psychodynamic interventions, and culturally responsive practice.

His research interests focus on the areas of mental health and student success, substance use on college campuses, and academic achievement and job placement with underrepresented and minority college students. Smith’s work has been supported by a Perkins Grant from Assertive Community Intervention and Guided Pathways aimed at providing intrusive and structured supports for undergraduate students experiencing academic difficulties; a New York State OASAS College Environmental Prevention Grant aimed at preventing/reducing underage alcohol and drug use on college campuses; and an ALANA Scholarship Grant from the Park Foundation aimed at increasing educational opportunities and job placement for underrepresented and minority students.

Smith has previously served as an MSW Research/Thesis Advisor at Smith College School for Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts. He also consults and work with NYS OASAS as a statewide trainer in the areas of ethics, cultural competency, and clinical supervision.

Smith earned a Ph.D. in social work from Smith College School for Social Work in 2006, a master’s of social work (M.S.W.) degree from Syracuse University, and a B.S. in psychology from Utica College.

Aviva Vincent Portrait

Aviva Vincent

Assistant Teaching Professor, School of Social Work

Aviva Vincent joins the School of Social Work as an assistant teaching professor. She teaches classes in the online master of social work (M.S.W.) degree program.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Vincent was the program director at Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, a premiere accredited PATH Intl. facility in Ohio. She was also an adjunct at the University of Connecticut and Case Western Reserve University. She is an instructor of animal-assisted interventions at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in its Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program and has served as the program’s community engagement coordinator. Vincent is co-owner of the only Veterinary Social Work private practice in Northeast Ohio, Healing Paws LLC.

Vincent’s research focuses on the bi-directional physiological impact of human-animal interaction. She has published over 15 peer-reviewed publications, of which she is the first author of nine. She is also a contributor to The Comprehensive Guide to Interdisciplinary Veterinary Social Work; Integrating Horses into Healing; The Handbook on Human Animal Interactions, Interventions, and Anthrozoology; and Career Paths in Human-Animal Interaction for Social and Behavioral Scientists.

Vincent recently concluded a study as a co-investigator, Reining in Anxiety, which tested a 10-week manualized CBT-based curricula in adaptive riding sessions. Vincent has also completed research exploring the impact of equine assisted services toward the promotion of mindfulness for veterans. Currently, she is leading a local pilot of the Man O’War Project, a curriculum developed in partnership with Columbia University and PATH Intl. Subsequent research has been supported by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research (Spit Camp, 2017). Later in 2017, Vincent was a recipient of an inaugural fellowship to the Animals and Society Institute for pre-doctoral candidates.

Vincent was awarded a Doctoral Program Research Fellowship from 2015-19 from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. During her tenure, she received the Phi Beta Kappa Research Award (2018), Dr. Dorothy Pijan Student Leadership Award (2018), and Verhosek Fund Award (2016). Prior to her doctoral career, Vincent received the Next Generation Leadership Award (30 under 30) in 2014 from the National Afterschool Association. Vincent is president of the International Association of Veterinary Social Work, board of trustee member for PATH Intl., and an advisory member for the Center for Human Animal Interaction Research and Education at The Ohio State University.

Vincent earned a Ph.D. in 2019 from Case Western Reserve University in social welfare with a concentration in veterinary social work, including a Veterinary Social Work Certificate from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2017. Vincent is a Licensed Social Worker in the state of Ohio and has completed specialized training as a Certified Therapeutic Riding instructor (2016), Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (2019), and Equine Services for Heroes (2018). She has also completed Green Dot Bystander Training (2018), Sustained Dialogue (2018), LGBTQ+ Safe Zone Training (2015), and the Institute For Social Change and Harwood Institute (2012). She earned a master of social work degree in community organizing in 2011, and a B.A. from University of Massachusetts at Amherst in social thought and political economy in 2007. In her undergraduate studies she also completed a semester abroad at the University of Limerick.

Lindsey Darvin portrait

Lindsey Darvin

Assistant Professor, Sport Management

Lindsey Darvin joins the Department of Sport Management as an assistant professor. She will teach classes in research methods and race, gender, and society in sport.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Darvin was an assistant professor from 2018-22 at the State University of New York College at Cortland, where she taught sport ethics, athlete development, and administration of sport.

Darvin’s research centers around the themes of sport industry and esport industry gender equity, with a particular focus on seeking to combat the underrepresentation of women leaders and women and girl participants at the intercollegiate and professional levels of sport and esport competition. She has published in refereed journals across a variety of academic segments in the areas of management, sociology, vocational behavior, organizational behavior, communications, and sustainability science. Her research has been featured across a variety of media platforms, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, New York Daily News, Inside Higher Education, and SB Nation. Darvin was co-editor of a special issue in the Journal of Athlete Development and Experience (JADE), released March 2022, that focused on NCAA Division III athlete wellbeing and experience. Recently, Darvin served as an author of the Women’s Sport Foundation 2022 collaborative report, “50 Years of Title IX: We’re Not Done Yet.”

Subsequent research has been supported by SUNY Faculty Research Program awards in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Professor Darvin serves on the editorial board of several peer-referred journals, including the Sport Management Education Journal (SMEJ), the Journal of Athlete Development and Experience (JADE), and the Journal of Electronic Gaming and Esports (JEGE). Darvin is a member of the Dell Technologies Research Collective and the North American Society of Sport Management, and she serves on the steering committee for the PNC Bank Pittsburgh Knights women in esport group. In Spring 2019, Darvin created and advised the first women in sport management group on the campus of SUNY Cortland.

Darvin earned a Ph.D. in sport management in 2018 from the University of Florida, an M.S. in sport management in 2014 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a B.A. in political science in 2012 from Bryn Mawr College.

Jason Maddox

Jason Maddox

Assistant Professor, Sport Analytics

Jason Maddox joined the Department of Sport Management as an assistant professor in Spring 2022. He teaches sport data analysis and R for sport analytics.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Maddox was a student at Baylor University earning his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., all in statistical science. While a doctoral candidate, he taught introduction to statistics courses and focused research on sport analytics. Maddox also served in the front office of the San Diego Padres as a research and development intern during the summer of 2019.

Maddox’s research focus is on sports data analysis in R, using methods such as regression, machine learning, and Bayesian analysis. His dissertation was focused on creating in-game win probability models for basketball and football.

Maddox earned a Ph.D. in 2022, an M.S. in 2018, and a B.S. in 2016, all in statistical science from Baylor University.

Adrian Simion

Adrian Simion

Instructor, Sport Analytics

Adrian Simion joins the Department of Sport Management as an instructor. He teaches classes on python programming for web scraping and statistical analysis.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Simion was a graduate student at Wayne State University from 2017 to 2022, pursuing his Ph.D. in economics with a focus in econometrics. He taught principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics, intermediate macroeconomics, and intermediate econometrics during his time there. He was also a research assistant working on sport management research projects.

Simion’s research is in applied econometrics and sport management. His thesis is on external imbalances and their ability in predicting future exchange rate movements. His sport-related research has been on the impact of college football on the surrounding lodging industry, and the NCAA transfer portal and its impact on the welfare of transferring athletes.

Simion was awarded the Nancy S. Barrett Endowed Prize in Applied Economics in 2021 for his thesis work.

Simion is a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Wayne State University. He earned a M.A. in economics from Wayne State University in 2022 and earned a B.A. in mathematics from Michigan State University in 2016.

Faculty of the Year Awards

Falk College Honors Faculty for Excellence in Service, Teaching, Research

Awardees Kenneth Marfilius, David Meluni and Latha Ramalingam.
Kenneth Marfilius, David Meluni and Latha Ramalingam were honored with 2022 Falk College Faculty of the Year awards for excellence in service, teaching, and research, respectively. The honorees were nominated by their peers for outstanding teaching, scholarship, and internal and professional service contributions and announced by the Falk Faculty Council in late April.

Matthew Mulvaney, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science and chair of the Faculty Council, thanked all faculty members who submitted nominations and the nominees who provided documentary support for the council’s consideration.

“This is both one of the most rewarding and one of the challenge parts of serving on the Faculty Council,” Mulvaney said. “We had a large number of nominations that came in, all of them were excellent, and all (faculty members) are making very important contributions to the college. It’s always a hard decision and this year was no exception.”

Here’s a look at the 2022 honorees with comments from their award presenters:

Kenneth Marfilius

Director of Online and Distance Education and assistant teaching professor in the School of Social Work
Falk Faculty of the Year Award for Excellence in Service

From presenter Yvonne Smith, associate professor in the School of Social Work:

“In 2021 Dr. Marfilius simultaneously served as director of the Undergraduate Social Work Program and the Online Master of Social Work Program, roles which, in their own right, require extraordinary vision, dedication, organization, and time. In light of his exemplary service, he was named Director of Online and Distance Education. This new position—a first for Falk College—puts him at the helm of five rapidly growing online programs that make Falk College’s graduate curricula increasingly accessible to students across the nation and around the world.

“The significant challenge of designing, staffing, and managing these nascent programs is hard to overestimate. Dr. Marfilius, a veteran of the United States Air Force, has proven to be a steady, competent pilot who can, as we often say at Falk College, ‘build the plane as we fly it.’ In 2021, Dr. Marfilius’ exemplary service was recognized with the Syracuse University Center for Disability Resources 2021 Faculty Recognition Award and the Syracuse University One University Assessment Award for best use of results.

“But his achievements in college and departmental leadership roles are only some of the ways Dr. Marfilius has served our community. He routinely mentors students and serves as a liaison to the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Notably, Dr. Marfilius has emerged as a leading public voice on the mental health needs of returning veterans and their families. He has done all of this while teaching graduates and undergraduates and serving as PI (principal investigator) or co-PI on multiple research and training grants.”

David Meluni

Assistant teaching professor in the Department of Sport Management
Evan Weissman Memorial Faculty of the Year Award for Teaching Excellence

From presenter Jane Burrell, associate teaching professor in the Nutrition Science and Dietetics program:

Dave Meluni is a teacher who consistently receives excellent student evaluations. He is at the forefront of innovations in teaching, both in terms of classroom practices and course development, to meet emerging trends in the field. He also is exceptionally strong at developing collaborations with high-profile industry leaders to complement course content and provide students with real-world engagement opportunities.”

“In 2021 Dave taught seven courses. As his nomination letter highlights, Dave is an exceptional teacher ‘specializing in courses that are challenging to find qualified faculty to teach.’ Dave teaches students to connect to real-world experiences in sales and marketing that prepare graduates to obtain highly competitive and lucrative employment opportunities. Dave is ahead of the curve in teaching and innovation. A prime example includes the rapid development of a new course, Name, Image, and Likeness, which he created in response to the NCAA’s 2021 ruling that enables student-athletes to monetize their name. This was the first and only such course in the country that provides guidance and tangible skills that will prepare student athletes and their advocates to benefit from their name and talents.

“Dave also brings his expertise to bear outside of the classroom by overseeing the sales club, which was very successful in the National Collegiate Sales Competition. As a teaching professor, preparing highly qualified students and graduates is essential. Dave’s experience in the profession, his infectious enthusiasm, and his willingness to help his students grow and interact with industry make him an exceptional teacher.”

Latha Ramalingam

Assistant professor in the Nutrition Science and Dietetics program
Falk Faculty of the Year Award for Excellence in Research

From presenter Patrick Walsh, associate professor in the Department of Sport Management:

Dr. Ramalingam, who is in her second year in Falk College, had an extremely productive 2021. She published eight peer-reviewed articles, several of which are in top-tiered journals in nutrition and one in a highly respected journal in the field of cardiovascular sciences. In addition, she co-authored five conference presentations and was invited by Syracuse University’s Department of Biology to give a research talk titled ‘Early life programming of obesity.’ On top of the publications and presentations, Dr. Ramalingam submitted five internal research grants as PI (principal investigator) totaling $48,000, all of which were funded, and submitted an impressive eight external research grants totaling over $1 million.

“Her commitment to research is also evident through the mentoring of students. Her mentorship as advisor to two master’s students in Nutrition Science and nine undergraduate students in her research lab has led to student publications, SOURCE grant funding, and a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship award from the American Society of Nutrition–the first time a Nutrition Science student at Syracuse University has received this honor.

“Dr. Ramalingam notes that her work ‘focuses on the role of bioactives, specifically fish oil, in preventing maternal and paternal obesity. Approximately 30% of the women of reproductive age suffer from obesity. Dietary intervention during this critical fetal developmental window might provide opportunities to decrease the burden of metabolic disease later in life.’ It is Dr. Ramalingam’s research goal is to provide additional scientific evidence to reduce/prevent obesity using non-pharmacological approaches.”

And the Winners Are…

Nine Posters Selected Among a Record 66 Entries in the 2022 Falk Student Research Celebration.

Two students stand in front of a research poster

Graduate student Abigail Picinich (right) submitted one of the winning posters for this year’s Falk Student Research Celebration. She’s standing in front of her poster with faculty mentor Sara Vasilenko.


With a record 66 poster submissions, picking the winners of the sixth annual Falk Student Research Celebration was more difficult than ever.

“I have to thank the (Research Celebration) committee–that was a tough job to decide,” says Sara Vasilenko, the committee chair and an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. “The incredible participation shows the vitality of the research that’s being done at Falk.”

Held virtually March 29, the Research Celebration highlighted students’ research collaborations with their faculty mentors. Undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students who are enrolled in a Falk degree, minor or CAS (Certificate of Advanced Study) submitted electronic posters of completed or in-progress empirical, exploratory, policy analytic, systematic review, or hypothesis-driving research projects using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods for display.

The committee selected nine winners – three each in the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral categories (the winners are listed at the end of this story). Kathryn Gratien, research operations specialist in the Falk College Research Center and a member of the Research Celebration committee, says the winning posters are displayed on the third floor of White Hall in the Falk Complex, across from the Research Center (Room 344).

“Congratulations to all the students and faculty mentors for an outstanding virtual display of research projects,” Gratien says. “We are so excited that the interest and participation in the Falk Student Research Celebration keeps growing each year and thank you to all the students and their mentors for their hard work and high-quality poster submissions.”

The posters were judged by the Research Celebration committee, which is comprised of faculty and staff. Faculty mentors who are on the committee did not participate in rating their students’ posters.

“I want to thank all of the faculty members who were involved in mentoring the students,” Vasilenko says. “There’s so much great research happening at Falk involving students, and that’s something the faculty should be really proud of.”

Two students pose next to their poster.

The poster from Samantha Jezak (left) and Olivia Templeton was selected as one of the three winners for undergraduate students. Their faculty mentor is Jessica Garay.


2022 Falk Research Celebration Winners

Undergraduate Student Poster Winners

Accumulative Effects of Novel Biomarkers on Identification of Individuals at Increased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)
Names: Nathan Redmond, Jared Rosenberg and Professor Joon Young Kim
Program/Major: Health and Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Joon Young Kim

The Effect of a 3-month Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet Intervention on Diet Quality
Names: Olivia Templeton and Samantha Jezak
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Jessica Garay

Association between Cognitive Function and Metabolic Syndrome in US Firefighters: Does Metabolic Syndrome (MetSyn) Matter?
Names: Sewina Yu, Professor Joon Young Kim and Myong-Won Seo
Program/Major: Health & Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Joon Young Kim

Two students are posed with two professors in front of a research poster

Graduate student poster winners Mariana Perez Lugo (left) and Akriti Shrestha (second from left) with their faculty mentor Latha Ramalingam and Department of Nutrition and Food Studies Chair Lynn Brann (right).


Graduate Student Poster Winners

Risks and Protective Factors for Veterans’ PTSD, Mental Well-being, and Substance use During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Names: Jacqueline Allen, Professor Xiafei Wang and Professor Ken Marfilius
Program/Major: Social Work
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Ken Marfilius

Interparental Conflict in Early Childhood as a Predictor of Adolescent Depression and Anxiety
Name: Abigail Picinich
Program/Major: Human Development and Family Studies
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Sara Vasilenko

Paternal Obesity and Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation on Offspring Metabolic Health
Names: Akriti Shrestha, Mariana Perez Lugo and Professor Latha Ramalingam
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Latha Ramalingam

Doctoral Student Poster Winners

Cardiac Autonomic Modulation in Healthy Young Adults With and Without History of COVID-19
Names: Burak Cilhoroz, Sydney Brackett, Leah Rozumov, Sophia Luchs, Zachary Greely and Professor Kevin Heffernan
Program/Major: Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Kevin Heffernan

Examining Cardiometabolic Disease Risk in Normal Weight (NW) and Overweight/Obese (OB) Individuals: Results from 2017-2020 NHANES
Names: Lindsey Clark, Myong-Won Seo and Professor Joon Young Kim
Program/Major: Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Joon Young Kim

The Effect of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on Cardiorespiratory Function
Names: Andrew Heckel, Danielle Arcidiacono, Kailee Coonan, Jacob DeBlois, Alaina Glasgow and Professor Kevin Heffernan
Program/Major: Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Kevin Heffernan

About the Falk College Research Center

The Falk College Research Center promotes a robust, collaborative research community in which students play an active role. At Falk, graduate and undergraduate students have the opportunity to work directly with faculty to collect data, analyze findings and draw conclusions on relevant topics surrounding public health, food studies, nutrition, sport management, human development and family science, social work, exercise science, and marriage and family therapy.

Earning four degrees with six children and working full-time

“If you can dream it, you can do it. If this mom can do it, you can too.”
A family is posed in front of a house
The Trendowski family, pictured from left, Mike, Ed, Ray, Shirley, Andrea, Tom, Matt and Joe.

When Shirley Trendowski ’05, ’07 (C.A.S.) G’08 was raising her family, everyday life took very careful planning.

Trendowski and her husband, Ray, are the parents of six children. In 1995, after being a stay-at-home mom for 15 years, Shirley came to work for Food Services at Syracuse University with the goal of earning a college degree. She took advantage of the University’s dependent tuition benefit and began taking courses that interested her, two classes per semester. Her youngest child was 2 years old at the time.

A lifelong learner and lover of education, Trendowski didn’t stop there. She went to the University’s Career Services and took a test to determine what career would be best for her. She took that first step and never looked back. Over the next 12 years, she went on to earn an associate degree (2001), a bachelor (2005), and a master (2008) degree in social work from Falk College and a certificate of advanced studies in women’s and gender studies (2007) from the College of Arts and Sciences. She also completed social work internships at Rosewood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the Syracuse Veterans Administration Hospital. And she did it all while working full-time—she has worked in every dining hall and snack bar operation at the University over the past 26 years—and raising six very active, involved children. For many years, Shirley and Ray (who coached baseball and basketball) worked opposite shifts to make it all work.

Trendowski overcame many obstacles over the years—working multiple jobs in food service and changing her shifts five different times—to complete her degree. “I was not going to be deterred from my goal,” she says. She was a pioneer and believes she was the first person in Food Services to receive a master degree after starting from scratch with no college credits.

“I planned out what classes I was going to take each year and how I was going to fit them into my schedule,” Trendowski says. “I would have a calendar on my wall to indicate when assignments were due.” Not a moment was ever wasted during the day. Trendowski took her textbooks to her kids’ sporting events and to study during the 30-minute wait time after the administration of allergy shots. “I also made sure never to miss work,” she says.

Impacting the Whole Family

Coworkers are posed in a cafe
Shirley Trendowski, second from left, is pictured with Otto and her colleagues at Eggers Café.

All six of her children earned a bachelor degree through Syracuse University, all while watching their mom make so many sacrifices to earn her own degrees. “I offered my kids $50 for any semester they could beat my grade point average, and I gladly only paid twice,” she says. Her son, Joseph, skipped his own graduation for his bachelor degree so he could attend his mother’s graduation in Syracuse.

Trendowski is every bit the proud mom when she talks about her children and their chosen life journeys—she is particularly proud that all have gravitated toward education and service to others, calling it the “mind, body, soul connection.” They have even co-authored papers together across different disciplines.

Her oldest son, Edward, earned a bachelor degree in French from Hartwick College. He earned a master degree in religion from St. Joseph’s College and a Ph.D. in theology and religious studies from Catholic University (completing it after 10 years and six children). He is the director of faith formation for the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, and teaches part-time at St. Joseph’s College.

Her second son, Joseph, earned a bachelor degree in business and an MBA at Alfred University, and a Ph.D. in business management and international business at Old Dominion University. He currently teaches at DePaul University in Chicago.

Michael, her third son, earned a bachelor degree in chemistry from Alfred University and a master degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland. He is a high school chemistry and physics teacher and track coach who has led his athletes to state and regional championships (even during the COVID pandemic). He is married to Newhouse alumna and Emmy Award-winning reporter Isabel Sanchez G’17, a reporter at Channel 10 in Philadelphia (the No. 4 media market in the nation).

Trendowski’s daughter, Andrea, tripled majored in communications, psychology and business at Clarkson University. She is a stay-at-home mom of three children, and until recently was a local leader in MOPS International, an organization for stay-at-home mothers.

Her fifth child, son Thomas, earned a bachelor degree in physical education and health from Syracuse in 2012, in the first year of the combined major. He went on to earn a master degree and Ph.D. in kinesiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Thomas played football at tight end for the Orange, was on the Big East All-Academic Team several times and was a member of the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl winning team. Thomas’ affiliation with Syracuse began early—in second grade, he took part in research in remedial reading led by Professor Benita Blachman in the School of Education and participated in a follow-up study 10 years later.

Her youngest child, Matt, earned a bachelor degree in biology from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2014 in three years, earning the Donald G. Lundgren Memorial Award, the biology department’s highest honor. He received his master degree and Ph.D. in cancer biology at the University of Chicago, where he has also earned awards for his research and for volunteering. He is a second-year medical student at Wayne State University. He started his body of research as an undergraduate at Syracuse, presented abroad as an undergraduate and has 31 publications in medical journals on his research.

Trendowski says that she and her husband consistently emphasized the importance of education to their children. “Your education is something that no one can ever take from you,” she told them. They also underscored the importance of understanding that actions have consequences, and it’s your actions and choices that affect your future. “My kids are not smarter than anyone else’s—it’s just that they work hard. Tom came home after a long day of teaching at SUNY Cortland and was also finishing his Ph.D. and looked at my husband and said, ‘It’s your fault I have this work ethic.’ What a great compliment.”

A Strong Work Ethic

Her oldest son, Edward, says his mother instilled values, a strong work ethic and a strong faith in him and his siblings. “When she decided to pursue further education, she did so while still having many young children at home, on top of her hard work at Syracuse University and her domestic responsibilities,” he says. “Through her work, studies and other obligations, she continued to be present to us children and care for us, and others, exhibiting the virtue of charity. Now, with six children of my own, I look to my mother for guidance and wisdom. I certainly drew inspiration from her as I pursued my own studies. But the greatest gift my mom handed onto me was the gift of faith, something that lasts even when fame and fortune vanish.”

Her youngest son, Matt, says his mom is perhaps the hardest worker he knows.

“Whenever my mom went to one of our sporting events, she would watch us when we were playing in the game, and then study for the rest of the time. It is truly amazing how devoted she was in continuing her education while working a grueling and sometimes erratic schedule as a food service employee,” he says. “She always emphasized the importance of an education, and how it could ensure a bright future. The example that she provided to my siblings was truly inspiring and is reflected in the career paths we chose.

“As a fellow alumnus of SU, I am grateful my mom’s sacrifices gave me the opportunity to pursue an education, and it is without question that her guidance and wisdom enabled me to reach the level of success I have attained,” he says.

Trendowski’s maternal nature has extended over the years to the students she comes in contact with through her job and to the student-athletes she tutored in the past. “Three of the football players I tutored were in the National Football League and one has a Super Bowl ring,” she proudly says.

Trendowski and her husband now have 10 grandchildren, ages newborn to 13, to whom they extend the same hopes and dreams they had for their own children.

“Syracuse University has been a great place to work and has offered myself and my children many opportunities,” she says. “My education has broadened my sense of self and community. My life has been intertwined with Syracuse University on many levels, whether I was doing initial personal patient intakes at the VA Hospital, working on a dementia floor with patients at Rosewood, tutoring and mentoring Syracuse University students, or just greeting my customers, I am the same person and treat everyone with a smile.”

Her advice to others? “If you can dream it, you can do it. If this mom can do it, you can too.”

Adapted from a Syracuse University News story by Kelly Homan Rodoski originally published on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

Falk College welcomes new faculty and staff


Syracuse University’s Falk College is pleased to welcome four new staff members who have joined Falk College in the past academic year: Stephen Bonomo, Director of Information Technology; Deborah Golia, Director of Admissions; Kailyn Jennings, Sport Management Internship Placement Coordinator; Danielle Jones, Social Work Internship Placement Coordinator; Donna Sparkes, Budget Associate, and; Emily Williams, Human Development and Family Science Internship Placement Coordinator.

In addition, Falk College is pleased to announce the appointment of six new faculty members, Lastenia-Francis, Catherine García, Esteli JimenezKevin McNeill, Joey Merrin, and Fei Pei.

Lastenia Francis portrait

Lastenia Francis

Assistant Teaching Professor (Online), Department of Marriage and Family Therapy

Lastenia Francis (she/her/hers) joins the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as an Assistant Teaching Professor (Online) in fall 2021. She will teach courses on family systems theories and practice.

Francis is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a certified trauma therapist. She has been practicing since 2014 with an attention to helping minority populations. Francis has provided clinical services in an outpatient clinic in the South Bronx working with low-income communities and communities of color, an intensive preventative program, at the Veterans Affairs as a Readjustment Counselor, and built a private practice that focuses on building strong families in communities of color. Francis previously taught at Mercy College in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program and continues to act as a mentor to developing Marriage and Family Therapists as an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Approved Supervisor.

Francis continues to have an insatiable appetite for helping people of color maximize their potential in how they relate to themselves, their spouse, and their family and demonstrates that in her research interest. Dr. Francis was drawn to academia through her passion for training more social justice clinicians to help strengthen families especially those in minority and underserved communities. Her dissertation research focused on the reintegration experiences of Black veterans and their families.

Francis is the Founder of Meaningful E-Motion Private Practice, Assistant Editor of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) blog, and a member of the AAMFT and the AFTA.

Francis Earned a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University in 2021, a M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mercy College in 2015, and a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Stonybrook University in 2013.
Catherine Garcia portrait

Catherine García

Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Science/Aging Studies Institute

Catherine García (she/her/hers) joins the Department of Human Development and Family Science in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as an Assistant Professor in fall 2021. At Syracuse University she will teach classes in Midlife Development and Gerontology.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, García was an Assistant Professor of Sociology and core faculty member of the Minority Health Disparities Initiative (MHDI) at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she taught quantitative methods and served as a faculty mentor for the MHDI Summer Research Program.

García’s research focuses on Latina/o/x aging and health in the United States and Puerto Rico, applying multidisciplinary approaches to understand how the interaction of biological, environmental, and social factors influence the disease process among older Latina/o/x adults. Her research work has led to 15 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters, including multiple manuscripts in The Gerontologist and The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

Her research has been supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including an R36 Aging Research Dissertation Award to Increase Diversity from 2018-2020 and an R01 Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research from 2021-2023. Her research has led to several awards, including the Emerging Scholars and Professional Organization (ESPO) Interdisciplinary Paper Award, the ESPO Poster Award, and the Minority Issues in Gerontology Poster Award from the Gerontological Society of America.

Currently, she serves as a steering committee member for the Network for Data-Intensive Research on Aging (NDIRA) at the University of Minnesota and is a committee member of the Minority Issues in Gerontology Advisory Panel (MIGAP) of the Gerontological Society of America. In addition, she will serve on the editorial board for the Journal of Health and Social Behavior beginning in January 2022.

She earned a Ph.D. in Gerontology in 2020 from the University of Southern California, an M.S. in Sociology from Florida State University in 2014, and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Human Complex Systems from the University of California – Los Angeles (with college and departmental honors) in 2010.

Estelí Jimenez-Soto portrait

Estelí Jimenez-Soto

Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

Estelí Jimenez-Soto (she/hers) joins the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as a tenure-track assistant professor of food studies in fall 2021. At Syracuse University, she will teach classes in Agriculture and the Environment, including Agroecology, and Climate Change and the Food System. She joins the Syracuse Cluster Initiative in Energy and Environment.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Jimenez-Soto was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Santa Cruz in the Department of Community Studies from 2020-2021, and in the Department of Environmental Studies from 2019-2020, where she taught principles of sustainable agriculture and worked on socioeconomic barriers and opportunities to adopt sustainable practices in strawberry production.

Her research uses interdisciplinary engagements, bridging the fields of agroecology and political ecology to examine environmental problems at the nexus of food, agriculture and the environment in both the U.S. and Latin American contexts. She has published in journals including Ecology and Evolution, Bioscience, and Journal of Peasant Studies and her work has been highlighted in publications such as The Economist.

Her research has been supported by UC-MEXUS, El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT), the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) and P.E.O International. In 2020 she was a recipient of a Peter Ashton Award by Biotropica, a Gentry Student Award by the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation in 2017, and a Mildred Mathias Award for best dissertation proposal by the UC-MEXUS in 2015.

She is an active member of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the American Association of Geographers (AAG), the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), New World Agriculture and Ecology Group (NWAEG) and The Alliance for Women in Agroecology (AMA-AWA).

Jimenez-Soto earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and a M.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2018 and 2014 respectively; and an B.S. with honors in Agroecology in 2012 from Universidad Autonoma Chapingo in Mexico. She is originally from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, México.

Kevin McNeill Portrait

Kevin McNeill

Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Sport Management

Kevin McNeill has been a member of the Department of Sport Management since 2019 in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and will serve as assistant teaching professor beginning in the fall 2021. At Syracuse University, McNeill will teach classes in Sport Technology and Technologies in Game Day Operations.

McNeill previously served as an Internship Placement Coordinator in Sport Management and provided advising for undergraduate students in academics and career exploration. He assisted students through the senior Capstone process and taught classes in Professional Development in Sport Management.

Previously, McNeill worked at Le Moyne College as Associate Athletic Director in the Department of Athletics for 12 years as well as served Syracuse University Athletics as the Marketing Coordinator from 2004 to 2007.

While at Le Moyne, McNeill oversaw the marketing and communications for the Division II athletic program. In that role, he led programming in brand development, revenue generation, digital media, video production, corporate sponsorship, and game day management. In addition to serving on the athletic department leadership team, he co-chaired the College’s strategic plan marketing committee, participated in the College’s integrated marketing committee, and instructed in the Madden School of Business.

Serving as the Marketing Coordinator at Syracuse University Athletics, McNeill supported the department’s broad-based marketing initiatives with a focus on game day promotions, marketing campaigns, ticket sales, advertising, and graphic design.

McNeill earned a Master of Science, Sports Administration and Master of Business Administration from Ohio University in 2004 and a Bachelor of Science, Business Administration from Le Moyne College in 2002.

Joey Merrin

Joey Merrin

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Science

Gabriel “Joey” Merrin (he/him/his) joins the Department of Human Development and Family Science in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics in fall 2021. At Syracuse University, Merrin will teach courses in Child and Adolescent Development and Advanced Statistical Methods.

Merrin was most recently an assistant professor in Human Development and Family Sciences at Texas Tech University from 2019-2021 and taught graduate-level statistic courses where he focused on reproducible research, programmatic programming, and transparent designs using open science frameworks and guidelines. Before Texas Tech University, he held two post-doctoral fellowships, one in the Department of Psychology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and the other in the Department of Health Management and Informatics at the University of Central Florida.

Trained as a developmental psychologist and applied methodologist, Merrin’s research seeks to clarify developmental processes through which adolescents’ experiences with their families, peers, teachers, and communities influence development of problem behaviors and experiences with identity-based harassment and victimization throughout adolescence and in the transition to young adulthood. He is particularly interested in the development of these behaviors among various minoritized and oppressed groups. His work focuses on translating and mobilizing knowledge to inform intervention and prevention efforts to improve the school experience for young people by using applied research designs, leveraging practical implications, and intentional school and community engagement.

His research has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, National Institute of Health, and most recently, Merrin and his colleagues at Boston University launched a three-year National Institute of Justice funded study to examine bias-based harassment among adolescents to identify risk and protective factors across multiple levels of the social ecology.

Merrin was recently awarded the 2020-2021 New Faculty Award at Texas Tech University and selected into the Society of Prevention Research Early Career Prevention Scientists Training Program. Merrin currently serves on the editorial board for Prevention Science and Psychology of Violence.

Merrin earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 2017, an Ed.M. in Human Resource Development in 2011, and a B.A. in Sociology in 2009, all from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Fei Pei portrait

Fei Pei

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work

Fei Pei (she/her/hers) joins the School of Social Work in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as a tenure-track assistant professor of social work in fall 2021. At Syracuse University, Fei will teach Social Welfare Policy and Services.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Fei was a Ph.D. candidate at the Ohio State University College of Social Work where she also served as a graduate instructor and research assistant, teaching research methods, lifespan development, and social welfare.

The overarching goal of Fei’s research is to promote healthy development among vulnerable children, including maltreated and immigrant youths by identifying neighborhood disparities. In particular, her research focuses on community health and child development. She published over 20 peer-reviewed papers in rigorous academic journals including Child Abuse & Neglect, Children and Youth Services Review, Family & Community Health, Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and Trauma, Violence & Abuse.

Fei was trained in all aspects of grant-funded and investigator-initiated research projects, ranging from university-funded projects to federal-funded studies (e.g., NIH funded and UNICEF funded projects). Her research has been acknowledged and funded by various institutions and scholarships such as the 2021 Merriss Cornell Distinguished Researcher Award, 2019 Kempe Interdisciplinary Summer Research Institute, 2018 International Peace Scholarship, Seed Funding for 2016 Clinton Global Initiative University, and 2015 New Brunswick Chancellor’s Scholarship.

Fei actively participated in professional and community services. She was a volunteered social worker for the local agency, Asian American Community Services in Columbus, OH and the president of the College of Social Work’s Doctoral Student Organization. She also serves as an ad hoc peer reviewer for multiple academic journals.

Fei earned a Ph.D. in 2021 from The Ohio State University, College of Social Work, a MSW in 2016 from Rutgers University – New Brunswick, and a LL.B. and a B.S. (double degree) in 2014 from Shanghai University and East China Normal University.

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