Graduate Students

Amber Alaniz

Amber Alaniz, M.S.W., L.M.S.W.

Ph.D. Student

Amber is interested in contributing to research in the areas of sexuality, health disparities, and mental health of people with disabilities. She is currently working on a project with Dr. Mercedes Bern-Klug evaluating the impact of quality of services for people in end-of-life care in nursing homes with family support. 

Kara Carter in pink jacket

Kara Carter, L.M.S.W.

Ph.D. Candidate

Kara Carter is completing her dissertation, studying the lived experiences of COVID-19 hospitalization for older adults in Iowa.

Dana Cheek

Dana Cheek, M.S.W., L.I.S.W., C.A.D.C.

Ph.D. Student

Dana Cheek's research interests involve examining the integration of the primary care clinics with behavioral health consultants and/or social workers. Her research will look at the role of the social worker to help improve patient wellness and reach health outcomes. It will focus on social services necessary for treating the whole person, and she hopes to identify specific tasks that the behavioral health consultant/social worker performs that are consistently noted to be useful in the setting by other healthcare providers and patients, such as referrals for entitlement programs. 

Alyssa Clayden

Alyssa Clayden, M.S.W., L.I.S.W.

Ph.D. Student

Alyssa Clayden is interested in research that identifies the barriers that refugees face when pursuing mental health supports. This includes issues of education, fear, and prejudice in mental health practitioners and systems, as well as the complexity of intergenerational struggles as refugee youth grow up in the U.S. without access to cultural and social brokering and guidance at home.

Abigail Heaton

Abigail Heaton, M.S.W., L.M.S.W., C.A.D.C.

Ph.D. Student

Abigail’s research interests include how food security, poverty, and housing status impact health and health disparities.

Amy Lemke

Amy Lemke, M.S.W., L.I.S.W., L.C.S.W.

Ph.D. Student

Amy Lemke is interested in conducting research in the area of end of life communication and advance care planning. She is currently working on a project evaluating the impact of a personalized goals of care communication tool on feelings of anxiety and depression experienced by individuals living with End Stage Renal Disease. She is also assisting Dr. Mercedes Bern-Klug with the Service Learning in Aging Studies course offered within the School of Social Work.

Photo of Carrie Means.

Carrie Means, M.S.W., L.I.S.W.

Ph.D. Student

Carrie is interested in conducting research in caregiving, withplans to focus on caregivers of children, adolescents, and younger adults who have complex medical issues. Carrie is an advocate for experiential learning opportunities.

Meg Ronnenberg

Megan Ronnenberg, M.S.W.

Before returning to school to earn her M.S.W., Megan Ronnenberg worked in a number of social work-related positions, including field organizing for political campaigns, volunteer coordinating for non-profits, and teaching in a daycare center. As an early childhood educator, she saw firsthand how caregivers and teachers can impact child development. She would like to contribute research to the early childhood field to help agencies and caregivers be more aware and responsive to the needs and barriers faced by marginalized children and families.

Christine Sherrod

Christine Sherrod, M.S.W., L.M.S.W.

Christine would like to further explore the intersection of design, moral leadership, and social work education in the hopes of preparing future professional social workers for the unique policy, political, and environmental issues that comprise the context of our collective lived experience.

Morgan Stangl

Morgan Stangl, M.S.W., L.M.S.W.

Ph.D. Student

Morgan's primary research interests involve examining the role of multi-cultural competency in higher education student services and counseling services.