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IFS Affiliate and Associate Faculty
Sarah Battersby, PhD Barbara Hirshorn, PhD
Nathaniel Bell, PhD Rhonda White-Johnson, PhD
Deborah L. Billings, PhD Brett Macgargle
Teri Browne, PhD Patrick S. Malone, PhD
Shauna Cooper, PhD Monique B. Mitchell, PhD
Stephen Gavazzi, PhD Francis Rushton, MD
James Hardin, PhD Bradley Smith, PhD
Kathleen Hayes, PhD Melissa Strompolis, PhD

 Sarah Battersby, PhD

Dr. Sarah Battersby

(PhD and MA, Geography, University of California at Santa Barbara)

Sarah Battersby, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department of USC's College of Arts and Sciences and is an affiliate faculty member of the Institute for Families in Society. Her primary research interests are geographic information science, cognitive and behavioral geography, analytical cartography, and geography education. Specifically, Dr. Battersby focuses on identifying ways in which to make the process of communicating visual spatial information clearer and more efficient. Her recent research covers a variety of topics, including perception in dynamic map displays, the development of spatial thinking skills, the role of GIS in education, and distortion in cognitive maps. Dr. Battersby's teaching assignments currently include cartography, advanced cartography, and cognitive and behavioral geography.

Dr. Battersby is a member of the International Cartographic Association Commission on Map Projections, is cartographic editor for the Journal of Geography, serves on the editorial board for Cartographic Perspectives, and is an Academic Director for the AAG Cartography Specialty Group.

Her research has been published in journals that include Cartographic Perspectives, Cartographica, and Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Nathaniel Bell, PhD

Nathaniel Bell

(PhD, Geography, Simon Fraser University)

Nathaniel Bell is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing. He is also affiliated with the Department of Surgery and the Arnold School of Public Health. He received his doctorate in Geography from Simon Fraser University in 2010. Prior to joining the University of South Carolina, he was a Canadian Institutes for Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Surgery at the University of British Columbia and the research manager for Trauma Services at Vancouver General Hospital.

Professor Bell’s research advances existing knowledge of anticipated and unanticipated effects of health care reform on the US population. Whether a proponent or a critic of many of the reforms occurring in parallel or as a direct result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most scientists and stakeholders agree that a new era in health care in the US has begun. But how should successes of these policies be measured? Using linked administrative datasets, Professor Bell and his colleagues are designing studies to make inferences about the effects of health care policy reform when experimentation is not feasible. Fundamental to these studies is an underlying focus on social and environmental determinants that drive variations in outcomes achieved, such as the reduction of preventable mortality as a result of improved access to integrative primary care; the proportion of hospital readmissions that could be avoided had patients had access to outpatient health care services; the effect of patient socioeconomic status on pay-for-performance risk adjustment; as well as variation in health care outcomes relative to need, geography, and scope of practice restrictions.


Deborah L. Billings, PhD

Dr. Deborah Billings

(PhD, Sociology, University of Michigan)

Deborah L. Billings, PhD, worked as Senior Research and Evaluation Associate with Ipas, collaborating with health systems as well as youth, women’s, and feminist organizations throughout Africa and Latin America to improve sexual and reproductive health services. She served as Assistant Professor in the Arnold School of Public Health and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina before becoming Director of a statewide contraceptive access initiative known as Choose Well. She now works as an independent consultant with local, national, and global agencies, focused on issues including immigration and refugee policies as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights, with an emphasis on preventing violence against women. Dr. Billings has led the process evaluation of scaling-up CenteringPregnancy in South Carolina and served as the co-Chair of the South Carolina State Alliance for Adolescent Sexual Health (SAASH) for four years. Over the past decade, she as worked as a consultant to various global organizations including the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Oak Foundation, UN Women, and UNFPA as well as to national initiatives on sexual and reproductive health with the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) in Mexico. In addition to her Affiliate faculty role at the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina, she is a Senior Advisor to Group Care Global, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Teri Browne, PhD

Dr. Teri Browne

(PhD, University of Chicago; MSW, The State University of New York at Buffalo)

Teri Browne, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the College of Social Work and an affiliate faculty member of the Institute for Families and Society. Her major area of interest is related to patients and families of patients with chronic illness and the related psychosocial barriers to outcomes, particularly disparities. Specifically her work has focused on nephrology social work.

Her recent research has been with social networks and pathways to transplant parity for black hemodialysis patients. Her recent teaching assignments include masters work in foundations of social work practice with individuals and families, social work practice with organizations, communities, and health practices, and doctoral work in the intellectual and historical foundations of social welfare and social work. In 2010, she received the College of Social Work Faculty Spirit Award.

Dr. Browne is a member of the Society for Social Work and Research, the National Association of Social Workers, the Council on Social Work Education, the Council of Nephrology Social Workers and the American Society of Nephrology. She has numerous research publications and book chapters and disseminates her work through both professional conferences and community service.


Shauna Cooper, PhD

Dr. Shauna Cooper

(PhD and MA, Developmental Psychology, University of Michigan)

Shauna Cooper, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and is an Affiliate Faculty Member of the Institute for Families in Society, the Department of Women and Gender Studies, and the Research Consortium on Children and Families. She is also the 2010 recipient of the Andrew Billingsley African American Families Pilot Research Award. Her broad research interests encapsulate understanding the development of African American children and adolescents, with specific emphasis on socio-contextual factors influencing both their educational outcomes and health-related outcomes. Her current research interests include:

  • African American family processes (e.g., parenting behaviors, practices);
  • fathering in African American families;
  • positive development among African American youth
  • race-related experiences (e.g., racial socialization; racial discrimination) and well-being
  • developmental transitions (e.g., transition to middle school) and school adjustment; and
  • gender development among African American youth.
Dr. Cooper teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses and her expertise is disseminated extensively through both a body of published work and her professional service within her field. She is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for Research on Child Development (SRCD), the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and Psi Chi Honor Society.


Stephen M. Gavazzi, PhD

Dr. Stephen Gavazzi

(PhD, University of Connecticut)

Stephen M. Gavazzi is Dean and Director of The Ohio State University at Mansfield, and is a Professor in the Department of Human Sciences within the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Gavazzi has established a research program that identifies the impact of family dynamics on adolescent development, psychopathology, and problem behavior. He has been involved in the development and evaluation of a number of family-based programming efforts, including a multifamily psychoeducation group for families containing children with mood disorders implemented and evaluated through a grant from the National Institutes for Mental Health. A family therapist by training, Dr. Gavazzi also has created the Growing Up FAST Program, a family-based diversion initiative for use with juvenile offenders and their families, that has been implemented and evaluated through a series of generous grants from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services and the State of Ohio Department of Youth Services.

Currently, Dr. Gavazzi’s efforts are largely directed toward the development of a measure known as the Global Risk Assessment Device (GRAD), designed to measure assets and risks related to the adjustment and well-being of individuals involved in the justice system. Originally established through use with over 15,000 adolescents coming to the attention of the juvenile courts, this work most recently has been adopted for use with young offenders (18-25 years) who are incarcerated within the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC). Dr. Gavazzi presently is working with SCDC staff to expand the use of the GRAD in more general populations of male and female offenders.


James Hardin, PhD

Dr. James Hardin

(PhD, Statistics, Texas A&M University; MS, Statistics, Texas A&M University)

James Hardin, PhD, is a Research Professor and Division Director of Biostatistics in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and he is an affiliate faculty member of the Institute for Families in Society. Dr. Hardin devotes time to theoretical research, software design/construction, and methodological pursuits. His books include Generalized Linear Models and Extensions (2001, 2007, 2012), Generalized Estimating Equations (2002, 2013), and Common Errors in Statistics and How to Avoid Them (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012). His current research focuses on correlated data analysis and the application of correlated data models to data from health outcomes (mainly cancer, HIV, and orthopedics). 

He is currently engaged in carrying out statistical analyses for research on multiple myeloma, orthopedics, HIV interventions, smoking cessation (warning labels), cancer screening, and health care (and other) policy issues. In addition, he is currently engaged in basic research of biostatistical methods for analysis of count data, diagnostics for correlated data models, and code development to support fitting measurement error models. With IFS researchers, he assisted in the development of a small area deprivation index, and applies statistical methods and models to examine the social and physical determinants of health as they pertain to the evaluation of health outcomes and health system performance.


 Kathleen Hayes, PhD

Dr. Barbara Hirshorn

(PhD, Experimental Psychology and Child Development, University of New Mexico) Dr. Kathleen Hayes is Associate Director of the Institute for Families in Society. She comes to the Institute following a career in state government that has included serving as the State Director of the Department of Social Services and Chief of Staff at the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Dr. Hayes has a life-long and passionate interest in promoting quality program services for vulnerable children and families. Her own research interests have included work on adoption of special needs children; child abuse/neglect, foster care and delinquency; and child welfare reform. One of her current interests is promoting evidence-based models of family engagement that lead to improved protection of children—and which in turn safely reduce the number of children who must come into the state's foster care program. She also has had extensive experience with working with foundations and federal competitive grant programs.


 Barbara Hirshorn, PhD

Dr. Barbara Hirshorn

(PhD, Urban and Regional Planning, University of Michigan; MA, Syracuse University)

Barbara Hirshorn, PhD, a former faculty member, has rejoined the Institute for Families in Society as an affiliate faculty member. A social gerontologist, her current activities include:

  • with colleagues at IFS as well as state and local organizations, developing an initiative to establish the “Village” model of aging in place in South Carolina communities;

  • with colleagues nationwide, two projects -- one related to a personal developmental approach to civic activity and the other to the enhancement of community capacity through inter-organizational, collaborative alliances responding to older residents’ needs; and
  • narrative essays across historical time and the life course: introducing aging theory into personal experience of spatial and social boundaries.

Dr. Hirshorn has an extensive and accomplished background in the areas of aging and social policy, the demography of aging, the sociology of aging and the life course, applied gerontological research methods, and environmental aging. She has served as Principal Investigator for numerous funded projects related to community-based aging and her work has been extensively published in journals, book chapters, and technical reports. Additionally, she is co-author of the book, Ties that Bind: The Interdependence of Generations. She has been featured at numerous professional conferences as keynote speaker, expert respondent, chairperson, presenter, and moderator. She is a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America and a member of the American Sociological Association.


 Rhonda White-Johnson, PhD

Dr. Rhonda White-Johnson

(PhD and MA, Psychology, University of Michigan)

Rhonda White-Johnson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and an affiliate faculty member of the Institute for Families in Society. Dr. White-Johnson is also the 2012 recipient of the Andrew Billingsley African American Families Pilot Research Award. Her program of research focuses on the well-being of African American women. She places particular importance on understanding how community-level factors, social identity (race and gender), and aspects of social oppression are related to well-being and mental health processes among this population.

She is currently engaged in an intervention project that utilizes a community-based approach aimed at increasing mental health literacy and reducing mental health stigma among African American women facing community and economic challenges. In addition to her primary research interests, Dr. White-Johnson also has expertise focusing on racial socialization processes and identity development among African American families and youth.

In addition to teaching several undergraduate courses at the university, Dr. White-Johnson has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She also presents her work at professional conferences in the field. She is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), and the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA).


 Brett Macgargle

Brett Macgargle

(MPA, University of South Carolina)

Brett Macgargle has worked for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for 21 years in various capacities serving children and families. Currently, as Senior Deputy Director for the Division of Planning and Programs, he is responsible for managing research and statistics, program development, evaluation, volunteer services, chaplaincy, grants development, total quality management, and agency wide strategic planning. In this role he also serves as Senior Deputy to the agency Director providing agency wide management and support.

From 1987 to 1995, Mr. Macgargle served as State Director of Victim Services for the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPS). From 1983 to 1987, he served as a Probation/Parole Officer with SCDPPS, having come into probation and parole from a career as a state constable and police officer at the University of South Carolina.

Mr. Macgargle has an associate’s and bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and a master’s degree in Public Administration and has served as college instructor and adjunct faculty in the Criminal Justice Department of Midlands Technical College and Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina.

Brett has contributed numerous literary publications to the victim service profession and is a national consultant in the field of victim services and juvenile justice services. Brett served as the President of the State’s Victim Assistance Network for 8 years.


 Patrick S. Malone, PhD

Dr. Patrick S. Malone

(PhD, Social Psychology, University of Texas)

Patrick Malone, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and an Affiliate Faculty Member of the Institute for Families and Society. Dr. Malone's specialization is quantitative psychology and his independent research program focuses on developing statistical models of change over time, especially in health behaviors and developmental psychopathology. He is particularly interested in novel approaches to understanding racial, ethnic, and cultural differences in adolescent substance use and other health risk behaviors.

As a methodological specialist, Dr. Malone collaborates broadly across disciplines such as public health, educational policy, and behavioral economics, as well as other areas of psychology, including developmental, social, clinical, and personality research. Dr. Malone is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Society for Research on Adolescence (SRA).


 Monique B. Mitchell, PhD, FT

Dr. Monique Mitchell

(PhD, Family Relations & Human Development, and MSc, Capacity Building and Extension, University of Guelph, Canada)

Monique B. Mitchell, PhD, FT, is an interdisciplinary clinical faculty member in the College of Social Work, and is an Affiliate Faculty Member of the Institute for Families in Society, the Department of Women and Gender Studies, and the Research Consortium on Children and Families. Dr. Mitchell earned a Fellow in Thanatology credential from the Association for Death Education and Counseling and an Academic Associate in Logotherapy credential from the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy. Dr. Mitchell's research focuses on life transitions, trauma, grief and loss, ambiguity, and youth empowerment. For six years, Dr. Mitchell served as the state director for the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) data collection for youth transitioning out of foster care in South Carolina. She developed a nationally recognized methodology that has helped South Carolina and other states approach youth with sensitivity, establish meaningful relationships with them, and ensure that they’re being heard.

Dr. Mitchell teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on grief and loss, and is regularly invited to present at state, national, and international conferences to discuss the lived experience of children and youth in foster care. Her specific expertise involves consulting with children, youth, and invested parties in the child welfare system to inform policy and practice and to develop resources and curricula that serve children and youth in foster care. Dr. Mitchell's recent publications include, The Neglected Transition: Building a Relational Home for Children Entering Foster Care, from Oxford University Press (2016), and  Living in an Inspired World: Voices and Visions of Youth in Foster Care, from CWLA Press (2017). Her research has been published in journals such as Children and Youth Services Review, Child and Family Social Work, Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, and Journal of Social Work.

Dr. Mitchell is a member of the Council on Social Work Education, Association for Death Education and Counseling, National Alliance for Grieving Children, Division 32 (Humanistic Psychology) of the American Psychological Association, Society for Consciousness Studies, International Network on Personal Meaning, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) National Blueprint Implementation Guide Advisory Committee.


 Francis Rushton, MD

Dr. Francis Rushton

(MD, University of Miami)

Francis Rushton, MD, is a clinical professor of Pediatrics at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia (USC) and is an affiliate faculty member of the Institute for Families in Society. Dr. Rushton has been a practicing pediatrician for 28 years. He founded the Well Baby Plus program to provide intensive support for families with infants to help them address the stresses of parenting.

Dr. Rushton is the author of Family Support in Community Pediatrics: Confronting the Challenge as well as several articles on child abuse prevention and the effect of Medicaid on primary care. As the Medical Director for the CHIPRA Demonstration Project at the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, he will develop a learning collaborative focusing on quality improvement and will provide selected primary care practices with technical assistance to help them achieve NCQA PCMH accreditation. Dr. Rushton is past-president of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and currently is on the Board of the AAP. In 2001, South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges awarded Dr. Rushton with the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest citizen honor, in recognition of his child advocacy efforts.


Bradley Smith, PhD

Dr. Bradley Smith

Dr. Bradley H. Smith earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1996 and joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 1998 where he served as Director of the Clinical Community Psychology Graduate Training Program from 2009 to 2012. He is currently Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, School Psychology Program, at the University of Houston.

His current research and teaching are focused primarily on the Challenging Horizons After-School Program (CHP), which serves over 400 students in grades 2 to 8 at six schools in South Carolina through mentoring, after-school, and summer programs. The CHP intervention objectives are to improve academic performance, school attendance, family involvement in learning and health promotion, personal health and wellness, and community engagement. The CHP is made possible to students in low income schools through 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants and dozens of USC service-learning students. The intervention objectives of the CHP and the effects of the CHP on USC student learning outcomes are Dr. Smith’s primary research interests. His primary teaching interest is helping graduate and undergraduate students conduct their own research. Each semester, Dr. Smith mentors 10 to 20 student research projects, including graduate theses and dissertations, Magellan Scholar Projects, and South Carolina Honors College Theses. These independent studies usually complement the mission of the CHP and always represent original, student-initiated community-based research.


Melissa Strompolis, PhD

Dr. Melissa Strompolis

(PhD, Psychology, Community Track, University of North Carolina-Charlotte; Certificate of Graduate Study, Nonprofit Management, University of North Carolina-Charlotte; MS, General Psychology, University of West Florida)

Melissa Strompolis is the Director of Research and Evaluation at Children’s Trust of South Carolina. Children’s Trust is a quasi-governmental agency that focuses on the prevention of child abuse and neglect and the promotion of child well-being. Prior to working at Children’s Trust, Dr. Strompolis was a research associate at the Center for Child and Family Studies in the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. She also worked previously as a research assistant at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and a research associate for the United States Navy.

Dr. Strompolis volunteers as a guardian-ad-litem for Richland County CASA, an organization that advocates for any child referred by family court in Richland County, South Carolina. She was also elected as a member-at-large for awards and membership for the Society of Community Research and Action (SCRA), Division 27 of the American Psychological Association. Previously, Dr. Strompolis served as chair of the international policy committee for SCRA.

Through her work at Children’s Trust, she engages in program evaluation and data integration to drive and improve efforts to prevent child maltreatment and improve child well-being. Additionally, Dr. Strompolis facilitates community-based organizing and action via the South Carolina Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Initiative. The South Carolina ACE Initiative involves data collection, training, prevention planning and action, and legislative policy.