Associate Professors Rainier Masa and Will Hall were named L. Richardson Preyer Early Career Scholars in February 2023. The social work colleagues are the first to be selected for the new awards, which recognize faculty who have demonstrated service to the state of North Carolina and for their significant contributions in scholarly research and teaching at UNC School of Social Work.
The awards were created thanks to the generosity of philanthropist Rich Preyer, who along with his wife Marilyn Jacobs Preyer, has been a long-time supporter of the School of Social Work. Preyer currently serves on the School’s Board of Advisors.
Candidates for the L. Richardson Preyer Early Career Scholars are tenure-track faculty members whose work supports children and families. Selected scholars also have a record of integrating teaching, research, and community service and have demonstrated a commitment to student mentoring and a willingness to train students to engage in community-based research.
Preyer scholars also are provided with training and mentoring and receive research funding to support their own community-based research.
More on the award winners
Rainier Masa is a lead researcher with the Global Social Development Innovations Center at UNC School of Social Work. He is also a research fellow at the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg, a faculty affiliate of the UNC African Studies Center and a member of the UNC Center for AIDS Research.
Masa’s research focuses on the economic and social aspects of health in low-resource communities. He conducts research on the intersection of economic security and HIV among adolescents and young adults. He examines how food access, economic vulnerability, and stigma affect risk for HIV transmission and progression along the HIV care continuum, particularly among key populations.
Will Hall centers his research on understanding mental health disparities that LGBTQ adolescents and young adults face (i.e., depression, anxiety, and suicidality), as well as developing and evaluating interventions that address these problems. He is interested in interventions at multiple socio-ecological levels, such as clinical practice guidelines for LGBTQ issues, group counseling and psychotherapy with LGBTQ clients, education and training to improve the cultural competency of mental health service providers regarding LGBTQ clients, school-based interventions to improve the school climate for LGBTQ youth, and policy interventions to protect the rights and well-being of LGBTQ people.
Hall’s clinical practice and advocacy work with the LGBTQ community have helped to inform his research.