Desmond Upton Patton
Associate Professor of Social Work
Courtesy Appointment in Sociology
PhD, University of Chicago
Focus: Community violence and social media- focusing on the ways in which youth and young adults of color navigate violence in their communities and on social media platforms.
Research: Utilizes qualitative and computational methods—e.g., interview based studies, collaborative projects with data scientists—to examine how youth and young adults living in violent urban neighborhoods experience, navigate and respond to community violence in their neighborhood as well on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Two current projects: 1) Mixed method study utilizing qualitative interviews with Chicago youth to develop algorithms to detect “ Internet Banging” and other forms of trauma on social media; and 2) Analyzing a corpus of social media data from Chicago neighborhoods to examine how street life moves online.
Dr. Desmond Upton Patton is an associate professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and the Data Science Institute. He is the founding director of the SAFE Lab research initiative, which focuses on the way youth of color navigate violence on- and off-line. Dr. Patton’s research utilizes qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine how and why youth and gang violence, trauma, grief and identity are expressed on social media and the real world impact they have on well-being for low-income youth of color.
His current research projects examine:
- How gang involved youth conceptualize threats on social media
- The extent to which social media shapes and facilitates youth and gang violence
- Developing an online tool for detecting aggression in social media posts in partnership with the Data Science Institute at Columbia.
Dr. Patton’s research on Internet Banging has been discussed on several media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NPR, Boston Magazine, ABC News, and Vice; it was most recently cited in an Amici Curae Brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in the Elonis v. United States case which examined the issues of interpreting threats on social media. Before coming to Columbia in July of 2015, Dr. Patton was an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and School of Information. He received a BA in Anthropology and Political Science, with honors, from the University of North Carolina- Greensboro, an MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and a PhD in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.