Congratulations to Three CSSW Faculty on Their Promotions

July 26, 2015 @ 8:29 pm

professor promos 2015 congrats

The Columbia School of Social Work would like to recognize three faculty who have been promoted by the Trustees of Columbia University to full professorships: Neeraj Kaushal, Fred Ssewamala and Julien Teitler.

Professor Neeraj Kaushal joined CSSW in 2002 as an assistant professor. Based upon her solid record of scholarship and other accomplishments, she was promoted to associate professor (without tenure) in 2007 and was approved for tenure in 2008. Associate Professor Kaushal teaches in both the master’s and doctoral program and serves as the chair of the latter.

Kaushal has been a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2009 and a research fellow with the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany, since 2007. Kaushal was an invited visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (2012–2013), a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics (2011), and has served as a country expert/consultant for the International Organization for Migration based in Brussels, Belgium. In addition, she has been a co-chair of the Developmental Infrastructure Core and a co-convener for the Migration/Immigration Signature Research Area Group, both for the Columbia Population Research Center.

professor kaushalAs a citizen of India, she is one of five legally designated directors for the Columbia Global Center–India and a faculty member with the Global Center South Asia board (2010–present).

Professor Kaushal’s publications appear in the Journal of Labor Economics, Health Economics, Journal of Urban Economics, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Human Resources, Social Services Review, World Development, and others. Several of her publications have received extensive press coverage in U.S. and international media. A 2007 publication on mothers and their adaptations related to welfare and work, for which she was the first author, received the 2008 Frank R. Breul Memorial Prize as the best article published in the Social Service Review. A publication for which she was lead author in 2013 on food insecurity and the SNAP participation of Mexican immigrant families caught the attention of the National Review, among other media outlets. Her work has been noted by policymakers and academics in China, India, Turkey, and other countries as well as in the U.S.

Kaushal’s cutting-edge global research has included cross-national examinations of immigration and the policy and program effects in developing countries of social and economic interventions via public pension extensions, food subsidy programs, and education policies. She is examining the assimilation and integration of immigrants in the U.S. and of selective return migration of immigrants from Mexico. Amidst polarized views about the Dreamers, she has studied the DREAM Act and its impact on Mexican young adults in the U.S., discovering that the Act increased their attainment of a college education. Her single-authored article on research on in-state tuition for undocumented Mexican young adults was covered extensively by CNN and Science Daily in 2012. In subsequent research, she has been examining the health and mental health effects of the Act along with determinants of local enforcement decisions relative to immigrants. She has investigated a question that many have had, but that no one had pursued before; that is, how much immigrant labor may or may not constrain the earnings of U.S.-born workers?

In addition, Kaushal is examining whether gender biases continue as gender preferences (for boys) among East and South Asian families who are immigrants to the U.S.

With funding support from the USDA, Kaushal is also studying the connections among children between income, poverty, and low food security. Other research analyzing how low income and obesity may be related in children is underway in collaboration with NYC’s Department of Education and its Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. An aim of her study is to improve how parents’ involvement in decisions and behaviors can be strengthened in order to decrease the risk of obesity among their children.

In India, she has a project examining the effects of public pension extensions upon family expenditures, poverty, and the mortality of older persons.

In Turkey, through her research on a law that increases the number of years of mandatory education, she has found that contraception is used more often, pregnancies are fewer, and that prenatal visits have risen in number while child mortality has decreased from levels that existed before the law was enacted.

professor ssewamalaProfessor Fred Ssewamala joined the School as an assistant professor in 2003. He was promoted to associate professor by the School in 2008 and was awarded tenure in 2011.

Ssewamala has distinguished himself as a leading international scholar with expertise on asset-based social programs for vulnerable children and their families. His aim is to enable the world’s vulnerable children, particularly those who are orphaned, to achieve health, mental health, and educational outcomes that will result in improved life chances. This work is fueled by his own personal and family experiences in Uganda. While his research is important fundamentally from a human rights and social justice perspective, it offers concrete avenues for interventions to developing nations, where the “demographic dividend” of large populations of youth presents the promise of essential human resources for national economic growth and development.

What Ssewamala’s systematically conceptualized and implemented interventions enable is the education and financial inclusion in developing countries of youth who are poor and thus are undernourished, suffer from preventable health and mental health conditions, lack access to primary school education, are unable to advance to secondary school, and are shut out from the possibility of developing skills essential for employment. He has used a tested educational opportunity program with a financial savings component to intervene and facilitate access to primary education, nutritious daily meal​s​, advancement to secondary schooling, and the establishment of savings accounts for children.

Additionally, poor, at-risk children and youth learn invaluable financial management skills and participate in mentorship programs that  lift them from depression and hopelessness.

To lead and implement his programs in Africa, Ssewamala established an office for his program staff at the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda. He travels frequently to Africa as well as other parts of the world and within the U.S. to share his work by invitation at international and national conferences and government or NGO sponsored meetings (UN, International Labor Organization, USAID, PEPFAR, South African Ministry of Social Development, New America Foundation, Save the Children, etc.) and private sector foundations.

Ssewamala’s peer-reviewed papers, books, and working papers or reports, when not single authored, are written with students whom he is mentoring and promoting or with international colleagues. His scholarship, supported by externally-sponsored research, has focused on four questions representing​ a natural  research ​progression from the development of a theoretically informed asset-based social intervention ​to randomized controlled trials​ funded by the NIMH:

  1. The cost-benefit and comparative effectiveness of his asset-based intervention in order to enable scaling and disseminating the program.
  2. Mechanisms of change via which the intervention operates and moderators of effects.
  3. Conditions for sustainability of large-scale programs in the developing world and the settings for reaching the most vulnerable children.
  4. Long-term impacts of his intervention as measured with biomarkers and tracking technology that enables a focus on measurable biomedical indicators.

In his 2014 International Journal of Social Welfare article, Ssewamala presented the case for turning the large number of poor, uneducated, low-skilled youth in poor developing countries into an important, productive workforce via the provision of innovative education and public-private financial inclusion programs. Ssewamala’s article points to at least five ongoing​, research-driven​ programs that are succeeding in their communities: Fundisa South Africa, Suubi-Uganda Child Savings Accounts, YouthInvest in Egypt and Morocco,Youthsave on ​three continents, and Apollo Assurance in Kenya. His arguments and evidence point to promising ​programs capable of fueling ​a sea change in under-resourced communities.

Ssewamala’s funded research also bears significant implications for the well-being of children​ living in impoverished communities hard hit by AIDS. Among his contributions are articles co-authored with junior faculty, students, and beginning researchers who have had the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills used in conducting ​groundbreaking research ​for his projects in Uganda.

Ssewamala has been principal investigator (PI) for several R01s received post-tenure from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and other ​external ​sources. These include:

  • his R01 for Suubi+Adherence: Evaluating a Youth Focused Economic Empowerment Approach to HIV Treatment. NICHD, September 30, 2012–August 31, 2017. $3.84 million.
  • his R01 for Bridges to the Future: Economic Empowerment for AIDS-Orphaned Children in Uganda. NICHD, August 1, 2011–July 31, 2016. $3.34 million.

Ssewamala is associated with the African Institute at SIPA​, is on the Global Centers-Africa​ faculty steering committee​, and ​has been a consultant for UNICEF and UNAIDS, a board member for the Center of Excellency at Makerere University, a technical advisory board member for ASPIRES, and a reviewer for top-tier journals including the American Journal of Public Health, Children and Youth Services Review, and ​Social Science and Medicine. He is guest editor (2015) for a special issue on economic strengthening and social protection for the Child and Youth Services Review.

professor teitlerProfessor Julien Teitler earned his doctorate in demography and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. He was a post-doctoral research fellow at Princeton University, Office of Population Research (1997–2000), and joined the CSSW faculty as an assistant professor in 2000. Teitler was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2007. He teaches in both the master’s and the doctoral program.

Teitler’s scholarship has focused on family structure and more recently on neighborhood and social environments and health in relation to the life course. In each of these three areas, Teitler’s work has led to new insights and in several cases has upended prevailing assertions. In his research pertaining to family structure, he helped to differentiate new associations (versus causal effects) in marriage rates and cohabitation. In the case of new parents, for example, he found that low marriage rates are even further reduced (by 30 percent) when mental illness is present. Teitler also found that in periods when welfare benefits are being received, marriage is less likely, but receipt is not associated with changes in marriage.

Along with colleagues, Teitler has offered publications on the effects of the neighborhood and social environments on health, behaviors, and socioeconomic and health disparities that have advanced the field and methods of inquiry. With Columbia colleagues from sociology and statistics, and others, He tested an innovative method for estimating social network homophily, the results for which were disseminated in two publications. Their findings point to race, religion, and political orientation as segregating social networks, even though trust in social networks is sustained. Particularly novel is Teitler’s NIH-funded research, conducted with a Columbia MSPH–Epidemiology professor and others, to determine the effects of physical disorder and built neighborhood environments on health in several Fragile Families Project cities. Rather than employing on-the-street surveyors, Teitler and his colleagues used Google Street View to data gather virtually. The validity, reliability, cost, and quality of data associated with the method were compared with the utilization of in-person surveyors.

The impact of Teitler’s scholarship towards generating a more accurate understanding of the health status of the U.S. population can be felt in reports by national bodies such as the Institute of Medicine. Teitler and his colleagues in their article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) concluded that, when compared to the U.K., life in the U.S., particularly life in the earlier years, contributes to poorer health outcomes in this nation, despite the lack of measurable health differences at birth comparatively. As might be expected, this resulted in significant attention and interest within the academic community and thus was followed by invitations for further discussion and rejoinders issued by the AJE. In comparing children of Mexican ancestry with those who are native-born white children, Teitler and his colleagues found that only immigrants who come to the U.S. as young children tend to suffer from negative health disparities and adversities. In contrast, those immigrants who come as adults tend to experience positive health effects. Once again, he and colleagues’ research points to early life interventions as most likely to guarantee good health.

Teitler has been a principal investigator (PI) or co-principal investigator (co-PI) on six grants and a co-investigator on a grant to NIH, NSF, and several foundations. The externally sponsored research for which he has been a PI are:

  1. R03 for Immigrant Selectivity and Disparities in Birth Outcomes. NIH, March 1, 2010 to February 29, 2012.
  2. Columbia University Migration Project. President’s Global Innovation Fund, September 2013 to August 2014.

Teitler has an outstanding record of service to the University and the School. At the level of the University, he served on the Task Force on Fringe Benefit Programs, Ad Hoc tenure review committees, and chaired the Morningside IRB for three years, later serving on the Search Committee for the executive director of the IRB. He has co-directed the RWJ Health and Society Scholars program since 2008. Teitler has continued as the director of the Columbia University Social Indicators Survey Center since 1999. In more recent years, he has provided invaluable leadership to the Columbia Population Research Center in his role as co-director of methodology and the computing core. Teitler also chaired the School’s doctoral program for seven years during which time he served on more than 30 dissertation committees and sponsored 12 dissertations. Columbia University acknowledged Teitler’s exemplary mentoring with the GSAS Faculty Mentoring Award in 2010.

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