Faculty comes forward for social work

Kathleen Ell made her gift to advance mental health research for military veterans.

To bolster innovative, impactful research at the USC School of Social Work, Professors Kathleen Ell and Bruce Jansson have dedicated some of their own resources, providing monetary support to two key areas of social work study.

Ell, Ernest P. Larson Professor of Health, Ethnicity, and Poverty, donated $10,000 to the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans Military Families (CIR), which recently hosted a colloquium with Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter, who addressed more than 100 people on his personal struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I thought he gave one of the most moving presentations,” said Ell, who made the gift to advance veteran mental health research. “He didn’t have any notes. He was doing it from the heart.”

Ell, who also serves as CIR’s behavioral health research director, has seen through her research and family connections how PTSD can be a lifelong struggle. She has conducted extensive research on major depression, psychological distress, health care-seeking behavior, quality of life and morbidity, and mortality associated with life-threatening illness and chronic illness.

Ell said that despite major advances, there remains much to learn about the disorder.

“My whole career has been focused on underserved populations, and, at this point, it includes the military,” she said.

Bruce Jansson

Jansson, Margaret W. Driscoll/Louise M. Clevenger Professor of Social Policy and Administration, also has focused on improving the well-being of vulnerable populations, and he has written extensively about patient and policy advocacy in health settings, particularly to help the underserved.

Jansson is currently engaged in a study, funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, to obtain empirical data on the extent to which nurses, social workers and medical residents in acute-care hospitals engage in advocacy for their patients.

To facilitate work on this and other related research, Jansson has given $38,000 to fund a postdoctoral position, in combination with additional funds from the school’s Management, Organizations and Policy Transformation research cluster.

He hopes this gift, funded with royalties from two of his books, will support this research as well as the career of a young scientist.

“If I can help a promising researcher who will contribute to work on this grant and who will engage in the scholarship of social work for years to come, then I am happy to do so,” he said. “The work we are doing at the School of Social Work is important, and I am proud to do my part to support it.”