Associate professor Paul Lanier, Ph.D., has been appointed a Wallace Kuralt Early Career Distinguished Scholar. The appointment acknowledges a faculty member’s high level of productivity in teaching, publishing, research, and service, as well as overall contributions to the School of Social Work community, including through mentoring of other junior faculty and doctoral students.
Lanier, who joined the School of Social Work in 2013, also serves as a faculty affiliate with UNC’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and the Injury Prevention Research Center. He is considered an expert in developing, evaluating, and scaling-up evidence-based prevention programs in child welfare, mental health, and early childhood systems.
“Dr. Lanier is very deserving of this special recognition,” praised Dean Gary Bowen. “His engaged research agenda continues to have a strong impact on the science of social work practice and on the lives of individuals and families in North Carolina and beyond. Dr. Lanier’s efforts epitomize the School’s mission to advance equity, transform systems and improve lives.”
The UNC Board of Trustees approved the creation of the Kuralt award in 2016 to help enhance junior faculty salaries and support research and scholarly interests. The distinction, which comes with a combined stipend and research fund of $12,500, is available to recipients annually for five years or until the faculty members are promoted to the rank of full professor. The awards are supported from private donations from the School of Social Work’s Wallace H. Kuralt Early Professorship Fund.
Lanier joins associate professors Gina Chowa, Ph.D., and Trenette Clark Goings, Ph.D., who were the first to receive the award in 2016. Gary Cuddeback, Ph.D., also held the distinction until his promotion to full professor this year.
A graduate of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis (Ph.D. ’13) and the UNC School of Social Work (MSW ’08), Lanier’s work has focused on engaging and supporting low-income families with young children, particularly new fathers. He recently led a statewide needs assessment of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting programs.
Lanier has been honored numerous times over his research and teaching career. In 2019, he was named a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR). SSWR fellows are recognized for exemplary service, leadership and accomplishments in social work research. The School of Social Work recognized him in 2017 for “excellence in mentoring doctoral students,” and in 2016, the School of Social Work Student Organization named him “Most Innovative Professor.”