Elizabeth Byram, M.S.W.

Liz Byram is interested in conducting research in the areas of intellectual and developmental disabilities, health and health disparities, and social networks. She is currently working with Dr. Aislinn Conrad-Hiebner on a project exploring the relationships between adverse childhood experiences and social networks. She has also assisted Dr. Mercedes Bern-Klug with projects on advance care planning.  

Kara Carter in pink jacket

Kara Carter, M.S.W., L.M.S.W.

Ph.D. Student

Kara Carter is interested in studying issues pertaining to end-of-life with an emphasis on the unique characteristics of rurality.  She plans to examine the upstream drivers of health disparities and mesosystem level interventions that promote health equity.


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, 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.


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.


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, M.S.W., L.M.S.W.

Before joining the doctoral program at the University of Iowa, Christine Sherrod served as the Residential Empowerment and Advocacy for Children’s Health (REACH) Program Coordinator at Youth Emergency Services & Shelter in Des Moines, Iowa. In this role, she was a member of the clinical team conducting outpatient therapy services for community clients while also supervising a team of social services professionals who provided innovative programming based upon healing centered engagement for child victims of crime.