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Garland, Weller are Outstanding Doctoral Students

By Kathleen Rounds, Ph.D., doctoral program chair

Eric Garland and Bridget Weller were selected by the doctoral program committee to receive this year’s Outstanding Doctoral Student Award. The winners were honored at a doctoral graduation reception May 7.

The following is my attempt to summarize the accomplishments and the many nomination letters for these two outstanding students — now graduates — of our doctoral program.

Eric Garland received his MSW from West Virginia University in 2003 and worked as a psychotherapist until entering the Ph.D. program in fall 2006. Students and faculty who nominated Eric described him as “a prolific scholar, a diligent and dedicated practitioner, and a natural peer mentor.” As a doctoral student, he published 12 peer-reviewed articles, made 14 professional presentations, taught three MSW courses, and received five grants and fellowships. In 2008 he was awarded an NRSA Pre-Doctoral fellowship by UNC’s Program on Integrative Medicine.

In spring 2009, Eric received an award for the Best Graduate Student Oral Presentation at University Research Day. One of his nominators noted that “his manner of working collaboratively with faculty and students made him a much sought after resource to those who were or are interested in issues of mental health or substance abuse.” He was seen as a supportive peer by fellow students as they pursued their own intervention research studies. One student noted that “he provided constructive criticism while remaining respectful of the expression of my own ideas pertaining to research.” Eric’s dissertation study is titled “Biopsychosocial assessment of a mindfulness-oriented cognitive intervention for alcohol dependent adults.”

In July, Eric will be joining the faculty of Florida State University.

Bridget Weller received her MSW from the University of Michigan in 2000.  From 2001 to 2003 she was a Yale University Clinical Fellow, first at the Yale Child Study Center and then at the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence. Bridget entered the doctoral program in 2004. While in the doctoral program, Bridget made significant contributions to social work as a Spencer Education Science and Policy Scholar at Duke, a volunteer coordinator and doctoral student board member for the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), and as a doctoral student representative on the doctoral program committee.

One of her nominators described her as a “young scholar who balances research along with a passion for community service.” Her extensive community service includes volunteering as a tutor with the Blue Ribbon Tutor Program in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools and as a Big Sister through the UNC Campus Y. Her scholarly and practice focus on youth and community is reflected in her dissertation research; the title of her dissertation is “Community capacity and behavior problems among adolescents: A contextual effects study using multilevel logistic regression.”  Bridget is described by her colleagues as “a natural leader among her peers.” She “played a supportive and integrative role across several cohorts of doctoral students and her kindness to others and her generosity of spirit are qualities that make this such an outstanding school of social work for students to attend.”

Bridget was recently awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Child and Family Study Center at Duke University Medical Center.