Professors Davis and Patton Receive Provost’s Diversity Grants

June 9, 2020 @ 9:53 pm
By Communications Office

The Office of the Provost at Columbia University has recognized two faculty members at the Columbia School of Social Work, Assistant Professor Alissa Davis and Associate Professor Desmond U. Patton, with awards for exciting new research projects that contribute to the diversity goals of the University.

A social epidemiologist by training, Davis has received a Junior Faculty Award to support a project titled “Developing Just-In-Time Mental Health Interventions for Racially/Ethnically Diverse Adolescents,” proposing to deliver real-time mobile mental health interventions to adolescents from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds. And now, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis will be re-focusing her research to ensure that “mental health resources for COVID-19 be appropriately tailored for adolescents from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds and delivered in ways that are acceptable and accessible to them,” as she states in an addendum to the grant application, in light of the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on racial/ethnic minority populations.

Patton has received a Mid-Career Faculty Award Grant to support his proposal “What Happens After Trauma Is Posted on Social Media?” Building on Patton’s research into social media activity among gang-involved youth, the project aims to develop real-time tools for intervening when young people respond to traumatic losses with threats of violence and retribution. Patton, too, sees his study as being affected by the pandemic, saying that what he learns “may be scaled to other populations and events, in particular, current harmful speech and attacks on social media related to COVID-19.” The founding director of SAFELab, Patton also serves as Associate Dean for Curriculum Innovations and Academic Affairs as well as MSW Program Director at the School of Social Work. He received a Junior Faculty Award in 2015 and last year was named a Provost Leadership Fellow for 2019–2021.

“This generous funding from the Provost’s Office provides valuable support to advance these important and timely research agendas,” said Dean Melissa Begg. “I am proud of Davis’s research on health disparities among vulnerable and marginalized populations, and Patton’s research on youth violence, trauma, and grief. Both are central to the School of Social Work’s mission of social justice, pursuing better science for a better society.”

The Provost’s Grants Program was initiated 15 years ago in support of the University’s core values of inclusion and excellence. Grantees for Junior and Mid-Career Awards are selected via a competitive process, with all applications reviewed by a committee of faculty from both the Morningside and Medical Center campuses.