Doctoral Students

Alexis Cooke, MPH (See CV)

Alexis Cooke is a doctoral student in the Fielding School of Public Health. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill and she received her MPH from the University of California, Berkeley. Alexis' research interests are related to health inequities in urban populations. Her research and professional interests revolve around understanding the interplay between residential/social environments, and municipal policies/decisions in shaping health. Alexis' work is focused on understanding urban environments as dynamic systems that influence social differences in health and identifying ways communities and decision makers can impact this process.

Susanna Curry, MSW (See CV)

Susanna Curry received her BA from Earlham College and her MSW from UCLA.  She is a current doctoral student in the Department of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research has primarily focused on the relationship between child welfare system involvement and homelessness/housing instability across the life course. She is interested in understanding how prevention efforts can be better targeted to support the transition to adulthood among youth who are unstably housed, live in resource-poor neighborhoods, or have little family support. Susanna’s research interests stem from a range of direct practice, policy and evaluation experience in government and non-profit settings in child welfare, education, and homeless services.

Elinam Dellor, MPH (See CV)

Elinam Dellor received her BA from the UC Berkeley and her MPH from UCLA. She is a doctoral student in the Fielding School of Public Health and the recipient of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Health Psychology and Populations Sciences fellowship. The fellowship trains students to incorporate biomedical methods and evidence into a behavioral or population science study of health. Her own research is on the social determinants of health and the effects of child abuse and neglect on the physical health of children.  Elinam has over 8 years of experience working with families involved in the child welfare system as well as with young adults transitioning out of the foster care system.

Marquita Dorsey, MSW (See CV)

Marquitta S. Dorsey is currently a doctoral student. She received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Throughout her career, Marquitta has worked with many community based organizations and public service agencies, including the Los Angeles City Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development. Through 15 years of working with underserved populations such as foster care youth, homeless youth, at-risk youth and adolescent girls, Marquitta has developed a research interest related to the life experiences of women and the relationship between certain parental factors and timing of a daughter’s birth outcomes. 


Kristina Lovato-Hermann, MSW (See CV)

Kristina Lovato-Hermann, MSW is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College (BA, Sociology/Anthropology) and San Francisco State University (Master of Social Work). Her research primarily focuses on immigrant families with a specific expertise in Latino immigrant youth. Her written work explores the themes of transnational migration, gender, immigration policy, child welfare involvement, family separation and reunification. Kristina's dissertation examines how immigrant families cope with the unique stressors associated with living at risk of deportation and how schools, and social service systems respond to the needs of these families.

She has worked on research projects where she gained skills in conducting survey-based data collection, process evaluation, literature review, data analysis, developed and disseminated publications, and implemented a technology-based intervention, the DCFS Needs Portal; a web-based tool designed to link child welfare involved clients to community services in Los Angeles County.

Kristina has 8 years of experience as a social work clinician in the San Francisco Bay Area in which she served as a public child welfare worker, therapist, and bilingual school-based mental health clinician. Immediately prior to entering academia, Kristina served as the Project Coordinator for the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Program and as a lecturer in the School of Social Work at San Francisco State University.

Christina Tam, MSW (See CV)

Christina Tam received her double Bachelor’s in Psychology and Criminology from UC Irvine in 2008 and her MSW from UCLA in 2011.  Christina’s undergraduate research focused on gender differences in the effects of parental incarceration on children, which fostered her current interests in the criminal justice system.  During her MSW studies, Christina was involved in the non-profit sector serving formerly incarcerated women.  She was later engaged in public service at the Los Angeles Mayor's Office as a Michael S. Dukakis Fellow and with the Human Services Division at the City of Santa Monica.  Christina currently works with Western Youth Services to provide case management and workshops for at-risk youth to increase their abilities to successfully navigate the transition to adulthood.  Although Christina primarily identifies as a quantitative researcher, she also has experience with qualitative data collection and analyses—specifically with formerly incarcerated youth to understand their circumstances following their reentry into the community. 

Christina’s prior work experiences led her to her current dissertation topic, which focuses on examining the disproportionate rate of entry into the juvenile justice system among Southeast Asian youth.  Christina’s dissertation research adopts an ecological approach by considering the environments in which these youth live.  More specifically, this research disaggregates Los Angeles County administrative data by ethnicity to investigate the neighborhood characteristics that may or may not be related to these youths’ contact with the juvenile justice system.  In sum, Christina’s goal is to contribute to informing a person-in-environment approach for underserved youth from racial/ethnic minority families.

Crystal Thomas, MSW (See CV)

Crystal Thomas received her BA in International Development Studies from UCLA in 2007 and she received her MSW from UCLA in 2011. As an undergraduate student, Crystal worked at the UCLA Sloan Research Center on Everyday Lives of Families where she assisted in research on working middle-class family life. Post-graduation, she re-located to New York City where she worked in the Mayor’s Office under the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services first as a New York Urban Fellow and, subsequently, as Special Assistant to the Deputy Mayor. Her current research interests involve examination of the environments in which at-risk youth succeed academically.

Jenna van Draanen, MPH (See CV)

Jenna is a third year doctoral student in the Fielding School of Public Health. She received her MPH from the University from Toronto, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo. Jenna’s research interests include mental health, substance use, and homelessness – and the intersection of all three of these issues. She is also interested in better understanding the social determinants of mental illness and substance use disorder. Her previous research experience includes conducting program and policy evaluations with community-based organizations and large NGOs and doing participatory research with homeless individuals.