News Details

Two SAFELab researchers named to faculty of SP2

members of SAFElab meet around a table

Authored by: Juliana Rosati

Faculty & Research


Dr. Aviv Landau and Dr. Siva Mathiyazhagan are being appointed research assistant professors at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2). The two researchers have been affiliated with Penn since 2022, when they relocated to the University as members of SAFELab, a research initiative focused on examining the ways in which youth of color navigate violence, grief, and joy online and offline.

In addition to serving in their new appointments as research assistant professors at SP2, Drs. Landau and Mathiyazhagan will continue their roles with SAFELab, which was established by Dr. Desmond Upton Patton at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. When Dr. Patton joined SP2 and the Annenberg School for Communication as a Penn Integrates Knowledge professor in 2022, he brought SAFELab to the University. He continues to oversee it as founding director in addition to holding appointments at SP2 and Annenberg as the Brian and Randi Schwartz University Professor.

Research by Drs. Landau and Mathiyazhagan includes a paper they recently coauthored with Dr. Patton offering recommendations for addressing the ethical challenges of artificial intelligence in social science research.

“We look forward to the ways in which the work of Drs. Landau and Mathiyazhagan to address ethics, bias, and inclusion in technology increases the impact of SP2’s efforts to advance social justice,” said SP2 Dean Sara S. Bachman.

Dr. Landau, the co-director of SAFELab, conducts research focused on developing and implementing interdisciplinary computational and social work approaches. His main topics of interest lie at the intersection of health equity and emerging tech. His research explores the lived experiences of marginalized youth and communities experiencing adverse social and health disparities.

In his research on child abuse and neglect, Dr. Landau developed ethical recommendations for implementing machine learning-based models for detecting child abuse and prioritized the reduction of racial bias while developing a phenotype for child abuse and neglect.

Dr. Landau worked for several years as a social worker in Israel with youth from diverse and marginalized backgrounds. He received his BSW, MSW, and PhD from the University of Haifa, Israel.

Dr. Mathiyazhagan is the associate director of strategies and impact at SAFELab. He is also faculty associate at The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Previously, he was a Rebooting Social Media Assembly Fellow (2022-23) at the Institute for Rebooting Social Media at Harvard University. He strategizes and facilitates local and global partnerships to scale SAFELab innovations and research projects, with the aim of accelerating impact with local communities and transnational tech-social work researchers.

Dr. Mathiyazhagan’s research focuses on child rights in emerging technologies, social media and youth mental health, and emerging media and technology for community wellbeing and development. He employs youth-led transdisciplinary computational social science approaches to prevent caste and racial bias and counter misinterpretation of social media content to promote safe and inclusive off and online communities.”

He co-creates tech social policies and social work ethical considerations for artificial intelligence, machine learning, the metaverse, and Web3. He is the founder-director of the youth-led nonprofit Trust for Youth and Child Leadership International, based in India and the United States, and serves as a representative of the organization to the United Nations. He has an MSW as well as a PhD in social work, specialized in child-centered community development, from Pondicherry Central University, India.