Introducing the 2019 Cohort of PhD Students

July 16, 2019

Ruvimbo Thuli Katerere-Virima

Research Foci:  I'm interested in addressing the dearth of local research informing evidence-based community mental health programs in Southern Africa (Zimbabwe and South Africa, specifically). I also hope to contribute to the further development and application of standardized mental health care for incarcerated adults, especially in the American South. My intention is that my research will spur policy change  and  subsequent targeted funding of programs  that  increase  access to contextually- appropriate interventions in these isolated or marginalized communities.


Personal Foci:  I'm originally from Zimbabwe, but grew up in the U.S. I've lived all  over  the country and on several continents and thus, have embraced a variable concept of home. I'm a newlywed as of February; my husband is also a Zimbo and has been Stateside for about 6 months. We like to travel and watch historical dramas/documentaries in an effort to unravel the mystery that is America.


Introvert, music enthusiast, scared and excited in equal measure about this next chapter!


Nicole McNish

Research Interests: Behavioral Health Help-Seeking, Race, Veterans Issues. I am most interested in the confluence of factors that impact the help-seeking behaviors of African-American veterans and service members. For research purposes, I want to explore determinants of behavioral health treatment utilization of Black troops and veterans, when we control for access within the military health system. Ultimately, I would like to generate or influence research-informed policy initiatives that enhance how we conduct patient engagement for military behavioral health patients.


Personal Life: Family-oriented, Soldier, Clinician. I am in transition from my assignment as an active duty therapist at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia. I will remain on active duty while attending the program full-time. My wife and I love hiking with our one-year old son, Teigen, and 7 year old dog, Vegas. We also frequent festivals, concerts, and basketball games. I enjoy running, traveling to new countries, and watching the occasional reality show (for psych content of course). We hope to relocate somewhere between Baltimore and Prince George’s County to keep Teigen’s Grandma happy.



Lujie Peng

My research interests mainly focus on public attitudes towards social welfare with special attention to excluded social groups.


I enjoy classical music and concerts. I am also a big fan of stage play, musical, and film. Besides, I like exploring new software, hardware, and cloud services.








Everett Smith Jr

Research Interests: My research interests are organized around three areas: use of critical reflection in social work practice, interprofessional practice to improve health and mental health outcomes, and applications of family stress theory. I am interested in understanding the impact of critical reflection as a tool for anti-oppressive practice and actualizing the core values of the social work profession. With growing attention on the social determinants of health and mental health, I desire to further understand the role of interprofessional practice to improve health outcomes for people in complex social situations. Lastly, I am interested in applications of family stress theory for supporting caregivers with complex dependents across the lifespan and promoting bonadaptation.


Personal Life: I reside in Baltimore City with my 16 years and counting partner in crime, our 10-year-old son, and our 8-year-old daughter after previously living in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. I enjoy backpacking on the Appalachian Trail with my kiddos and attending indie rock, Americana, folk, blues, and outlaw country concerts with my wife. I am an avid runner, cyclist, and beer nerd. I write poetry and enjoy reading philosophers primarily focused on existentialism or theories of justice. I enjoy traveling to scenic mountains and visiting new cities. A few of my favorite places are Spruce Knob, West Virginia; Dublin, Ireland; Ozark Mountains; San Diego, California; and Chicago, Illinois. Humor is my coping mechanism.


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2017 University of Maryland School of Social Work

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