SP2 ranked #8 among Schools for Social Work
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Areas of research

Children, Women & Family Well-Being

SP2’s Centers and Faculty, working through an interdisciplinary approach with other Penn Schools, focus on critical reform to the child welfare system, improving the lives of children and women who are victims of abuse, and advocate for policy and practice reform at the local, state, and national levels.

Featured Centers

Ortner Center on Violence and Abuse

The Field Center Children’s Policy, Practice & Research

Desmond Patton


Desmond Upton Patton, PhD, MSW

Professor; PhD, University of Chicago, 2012. Activism & social justice; qualitative methods; youth; gun violence; big data; digital culture; public health; race & ethnicity; social media.

Dr. Jennifer J. Prah


Jennifer J. Prah, PhD

Professor; PhD, Harvard, 1998. Health and social policy; health equity and policy; global health justice and government; health and social justice; health financing; economic evaluation; political economy of health; cost analyses.

Headshot of Johanna Greeson


Johanna K.P. Greeson, PhD, MSS, MLSP

Associate Professor; PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009. The transition to adulthood among youth who age out of foster care; natural mentoring and other supportive adult relationships for youth who age out of foster care; child traumatic stress; applied community-based intervention research and translation of research to practice; resiliency, risk and protective factors; neurobiological mechanisms of resiliency-focused interventions; life course theory; domestic minor sex trafficking

Abigail Ross


Abigail (Abby) M. Ross, LICSW, MPH, PhD

Associate Professor; PhD, Boston University. Intervention research, implementation science, mental health, interprofessional practice, public health social work, youth suicide prevention, social care integration, evidence-based practice.

Milan Abinader


Millan AbiNader, LMSW, PhD

Assistant Professor; PhD, Boston University. Gender-based violence; intimate partner violence; intimate partner homicide; rural communities; community-level risk; vicarious trauma.

Demarcus A. Jenkins


DeMarcus A. Jenkins, PhD

Assistant Professor; PhD, University of California, Los Angeles. Education policy, housing policy, criminal/juvenile justice, school safety & discipline, gentrification, anti-Black racism, Critical Race Theory, social movements.

Noor Toraif


Noor Toraif, PhD, MA

Assistant Professor; PhD, Boston University. The intersection of the child welfare and juvenile legal systems, crossover youth, criminal legal system, youth and emerging adult reentry, youth-engaged research.

Related News

members of SAFElab meet around a table

Two SAFELab researchers named to faculty of SP2

Dr. Aviv Landau and Dr. Siva Mathiyazhagan are being appointed research assistant professors at SP2. The two researchers have been affiliated with Penn since 2022, when they relocated to the University as members of SAFELab.

Dr. Patton stands with arms folded behind a window with the word

SP2’s Dr. Desmond Patton elected to National Academy of Medicine

SP2’s Dr. Desmond Upton Patton of is one of five Penn experts among the 100 new Academy members elected this year to one of the highest honors in health and medicine.

Millan AbiNader giving a presentation

Working to understand & prevent intimate partner violence: A Q&A with Assistant Professor Millan AbiNader

A long-time advocate for survivors of gender-based violence, Millan AbiNader, MSW, PhD, is a mixed-methods researcher and macro social worker who seeks to understand how systems and communities affect individuals' experiences of gender-based violence. AbiNader began working as a victim services advocate as a college student and aims to stay connected to those roots as she leads research that supports survivor healing and perpetrator change.