Skip to content

U. professor chosen as research fellow in Society for Social Work and Research

Cassandra Simmel, an associate professor in the School of Social Work and program director of the department's Ph.D. program, was recently announced as a 2024 research fellow for the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR). – Photo by Courtesy of Cassandra Simmel

Cassandra Simmel, an associate professor in the School of Social Work and program director of the school’s Ph.D. program, was recently selected as a research fellow for the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), according to a press release.

In an interview with The Daily Targum, Simmel discussed her work with the SSWR and the University. The SSWR is a nonprofit organization focused on developing social work research by supporting academics, according to the organization's website.

Simmel's research focuses on child welfare programs and the association between childhood trauma and child development. She has specialized in this area of study since long before her tenure at the University.

During her undergraduate years at the University of California, Berkeley, Simmel said she worked as a research assistant focused on the San Francisco public school system and as a court-appointed special advocate for adolescents in foster care.

Simmel was also a Society for Research in Child Development Child Policy research fellow in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for three years. During her time as a fellow, she said she analyzed how the federal government endorses child welfare and how to supplement existing programs.

Additionally, Simmel was the lead consultant for research and evaluation at the New Jersey Department of Children and Families from 2010 to 2014, according to her faculty page.

"It was a great learning experience for me to just get that first-hand exposure at the state level," she said. "I would also like to think that I helped (the department) grow and think about research and how research can help inform them to make program improvements and policy improvements."

As a professor, Simmel said that it is vital for her students to think about the outcomes and effects of children living in alternative environments and to critically analyze how these situations impact children in developmental stages.

She said teaching also provides her with a wider perspective on social welfare for adolescents lacking familial support. She said she teaches graduate and doctoral courses at the University, with her favorite course being "Adolescence: Understanding Risk and Resilience."

"I just thought it would take understanding research at a deeper level to really help further the knowledge about the challenges (adolescents) face as well as how resilient they can be," she said.

One of the initiatives that Simmel has launched is the certificate program in Promoting Child and Adolescent Well-Being within the School of Social Work's master's program, her faculty page read. She also commented on her director position in the Ph.D. program.

"We have students from all over the country. We have students from different parts of the world who are in our Ph.D. program who bring just fabulous perspectives from all of their research experience and their different clinical experiences or other types of practice experiences," she said. "It's a lot of fun to direct this program."

After Simmel received the notification that she was selected to be a fellow, she said that she was surprised by the announcement.

She said she wants the field of social work to be representative of diverse perspectives both nationally and globally. She said one of her long-term goals in this role is to aid researchers newly entering the field.

"It is part of our responsibility to really try and help make the SSWR scientific organization really something that is useful and effective for students, for the communities that we serve, to help disseminate research, to be a voice of policy and advocacy," Simmel said. "So, I was very pleased that my efforts and the efforts of my fellow awardees were recognized."

Related Articles

Join our newsletterSubscribe