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Rachel Smith
Rachel Smith

Rachel Smith, a Ph.D. student in Community Psychology, recently received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. The competitive fellowship, which receives more than 14,000 applications each year, funds only 2,000 applicants. With the fellowship, Rachel will receive tuition and research funding for the next three years, as she completes her Ph.D. program. She is conducting her research under the direction of her advisor, Dr. Eric Mankowski.

Rachel’s research will focus on intimate partner violence (IPV) in the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, with specific emphasis on IPV in female same-sex relationships. Through research she began as an undergraduate at Georgia State University, Rachel determined that current methods for identification and intervention of IPV have been informed by research for heterosexual relationships but not same sex relationships. 

In an effort to resist the exclusion of already marginalized populations, including sexual and gender minorities, Rachel’s approach to intervention and prevention research will systematically examine the casual​ factors and mechanisms ​that underlie violence and how they vary in accordance to a person's marginalized or privileged identity.

With the help of her National Science Foundation Fellowship funding, Rachel will conduct three phases of research, including organizing focus groups along the West Coast to help test the validity of current intervention and prevention strategy tools. Her work will also look to examine how the unique experiences of LGBT communities influence the occurrence of intimate partner and sexual violence.  

In addition to conducting her research, Rachel worked as part of a team to help evaluate a University-wide project aimed at informing students about policies regarding sexual misconduct and is an active member of the intervention and prevention community in Oregon, including working an internship at the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force (SATF). 

Rachel intends to apply her research to help implement more effective intervention and prevention strategies for intimate partner and sexual violence in the LGBT communities. 

Read more of Rachel’s research here.