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Two doctoral alumni receive grants for work seeded in UNC coursework

Recently, two 2009 doctoral alumni received substantial grants for projects — and both contacted Professor Mark Fraser to relay the good news and to tell him how much his Development of Social Intervention Models course helped prepare them for this work.

Eric Garland, Ph.D. ’09, was awarded a $670,000 R34 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to conduct a randomized control trial of mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement as a treatment for chronic pain and prescription opioid misuse in active duty soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo.

When he took Fraser’s class on social intervention research, Garland identified the R34 from NIDA as the funding mechanism that he would target with the proposal he wrote for class. “Although the proposal I submitted was quite different than the one I wrote for class, it still contained the seeds of the original one I submitted to [Fraser] for my final assignment,” said Garland. “Everything I did in that class, from the proposal to the treatment manual, came to fruition as real and meaningful pieces of work that have allowed me to make a positive impact on society.”

“[Professor] Matthew Howard provided invaluable intellectual expertise in reviewing the proposal and stimulating the ideas contained therein,” he added.

Garland is an associate professor at the College of Social Work at the University of Utah; and associate director of Integrative Medicine Supportive Oncology Program at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Johanna Greeson, Ph.D. ’09, was awarded a two-year $133,576 grant for a pilot test of “Caring Adults ‘R’ Everywhere (CARE): A Natural Mentoring Intervention for Older Youth in Foster Care.”

Child welfare agencies have a significant role to play in facilitating the development of growth-fostering relationships between foster youth and supportive adults. Greeson developed the original practice model for implementing a natural mentoring intervention, the treatment manual, and the initial grant proposal in Fraser’s social intervention course. CARE uses the natural mentoring relationship as the mechanism for teaching foster youth independent living and self-sufficiency skills.

Her intervention is being piloted as part of a larger grant that Philadelphia Department of Human Services received from the USDHHS’ Administration for Children & Families for development of a model intervention for youth/young adults with child welfare involvement at-risk for homelessness.

“Dr. Fraser’s course was among my favorites at UNC and among the most challenging and demanding,” said Greeson. “Next to my dissertation, the treatment manual and grant project continue to give me a sense of great pride and accomplishment. I have been working toward this goal for a long time and its tremendously exciting to see it start to come to fruition. The experience in his class definitely sets UNC students apart on many levels and I’m confident it helped to distinguish me from my competitors on the job market.”

Greeson is an assistant professor at the Penn School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

“Coupled with our strong quantitative methods courses, my course contributes to the School’s commitment to designing and developing innovative programs to solve the nation’s social and health problems,” said Fraser, associate dean for research. “In this course, we integrate creative thinking with rigorous scientific methods. It is unique in challenging students to develop concrete solutions to really tough social issues. Every year, I look forward to and am amazed by what the students develop.”

“We’re tremendously proud of the talent of our students and the strength of our doctoral program in preparing them to develop and test new interventions,” said Sheryl Zimmerman, associate dean for doctoral education. “The seeds of Johanna’s and Eric’s projects began in their coursework, and these are surely one of many future contributions they’ll be making to the field. We’re thrilled for their success!”

For more information on the design and development of social and health programs, see the book “Intervention Research: Developing Social Programs,” by UNC School of Social Work faculty Mark Fraser, Jack Richman, Maeda Galinsky and Steve Day.