The Columbia School of Social Work congratulates Associate Professor Desmond Upton Patton for being awarded tenure at Columbia University.

Dr. Patton examines pathways to violence, both online and offline, among low-income young people of color. He is the founding director of Columbia’s SAFElab, where, in partnership with the Data Science Institute, he has developed an online tool for detecting aggression in social media posts. He is a faculty affiliate of the Social Intervention Group  and holds a courtesy appointment in the department of Sociology.

A prolific scholar, Dr. Patton has published 30 papers in the last three years alone, 17 of which are first-authored. His research has also gained traction in the mainstream media, with reports in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NPR, Boston magazine, Nature, and Vice. His work was cited in an amici curiae brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, which examined the interpretation of threats on social media.

Dr. Patton’s investigations have earned him the 2018 Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR), and he and was named a 2017–2018 fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

“The Columbia School of Social Work is fortunate to have an incredibly promising scholar like Desmond in our tenured ranks,” says Interim Dean Irwin Garfinkel. “I look forward to seeing his continued contributions grow and shape the future of Social Work and our school.”

Dr. Elwin Wu, who served as Dr. Patton’s faculty mentor, adds, “Desmond is carrying out exciting, innovative, and important research that involves many disciplines.  His approach and his focus on representation, equity, and social justice represent exactly why social work needs to be driving the methodology, interpretation of data and results, and promulgation of implications of this research.”

Dr. Patton’s appointment was endorsed by several committees, external reviewers, and university administrators, and was officially approved by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger.

Before coming to Columbia, Dr. Patton was an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and School of Information. He holds a BA in Anthropology and Political Science with honors, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; an MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work; and a PhD in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.


Related links:

Related external links:

  • Support Dr. Desmond Patton’s Gang Violence Research and Intervention (Columbia University-sponsored crowd-funding campaign)
  • CSSW’s SAFElab Initiative Featured in Leading Science Journal (CSSW news feed, 9/18/18)
  • Formerly Gang-Involved Youth as Domain Experts for Analyzing Unstructured Twitter Data (Social Science Computer Review, July 18, 2018)
  • Accommodating Grief on Twitter (Biomedical Informatics Insights, April 3, 2018)
  • Upcoming event: Gun Emoji Panel at SXSW 2019
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