Skip to main content

Meet our new doctoral students

By Brenda Vawter

Jaime Hughes received her MPH and MSW degrees from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 2009. During this time, Hughes completed clinical and research training at the Turner Geriatric Clinic, Turner Senior Resource Center, and Mobility Research Center/Ann Arbor VA Hospital. She also served as a research interventionist for a dyadic-structured falls program serving Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. Following her time at Michigan, Hughes worked as a project coordinator at the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) of the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System where she conducted survey and intervention research around sleep in frail older Veterans. Her research interests include the intersections of sleep, trauma, cognition and functional outcomes as well as the implementation of stepped care and brief behavioral interventions for sleep in primary care settings. She plans to return to health services and rehabilitation research in the VA Hospital upon completion of her doctoral program. While at UNC, Hughes is working with Dr. Sheryl Zimmerman on a variety of translational research projects for older adults in the community.

Teresa Ilinitch received her MSW from San José State University in 1994 and her BA from Stanford University in 1984. She is a clinical instructor and field advisor at the UNC School of Social Work. Prior to joining the faculty in 2009, Ilinitch was the program administrator for staff development at the North Carolina Division of Social Services. Her 20-year career in public child welfare encompassed direct service provision and supervision at the local level and management, training, and administration at the state level. She has served as a national consultant and trainer for groups such as the Children’s Bureau and American Humane Association, and has trained child welfare workers and leaders in more than 15 states. While in the doctoral program, she plans to focus on organizational interventions to prevent compassion fatigue and secondary trauma to front-line trauma workers as a means to improve program outcomes.

Todd Jensen received his MSW in April 2013 from Brigham Young University, where he also received his BS in Family Life in 2011. As a clinical intern, Jensen engaged prison inmates in individual and group therapy, conducted mental health assessments, counseled couples, and provided individual and group treatment to court-ordered sex offenders. In terms of research interests, Jensen intends to study stepfamily and repartnership functioning, stepchild perspectives, and stepfamily intervention strategies. He has already published one manuscript as first author in Social Work, another manuscript as second author in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, and three others as a co-author. While attending BYU in 2011, Jensen was awarded a Graduate Student Mentoring Grant, and he is a current recipient of the UNC Graduate School’s Royster Fellowship Award for Doctoral Study.

Brianna Lombardi received her MSW from the University of Pittsburgh in May 2011. She received a BA in Psychology from Ohio State University in 2009. Lombardi was employed as a psychiatric social worker at Western Psychiatric Institute in Pittsburgh, working with adolescents and families. Aside from her experience as a psychiatric social worker, Lombardi has comprehensive experience in both research and clinical practice. She is interested in studying the continued development and refinement of evidence based practice for children and their families across systems of care and exploring the role of implementation science in social work. She is working as a research assistant with Dr.

Betsy Bledsoe examining neurodevelopmental outcomes related to trauma of individuals in the child welfare system.