Social work faculty Kyeongmo Kim, Nicole Corley earn national SSWR honors

Standing and holding their award plaques are VCU social work assistant professor Kyeongmo Kim; Amanda J. Lehning, University of Maryland, Baltimore; and Richard J. Smith, Wayne State University. They are joined by Ruth E. Dunkle, University of Michigan and SSWR president.
From left, VCU social work assistant professor Kyeongmo Kim, Ph.D.; Amanda J. Lehning, University of Maryland, Baltimore; and Richard Smith, Wayne State University; and Ruth E. Dunkle, University of Michigan and SSWR president.

Two VCU School of Social Work professors were among 37 winners of national awards at the 2020 Society for Social Work and Research conference in Washington, D.C., this month.

Kyeongmo Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor, was part of a three-person research team whose work received an Excellence in Research Award-Honorable Mention; and Nicole A. Corley, Ph.D., assistant professor, was named one of 12 JSSWR Early-Career Mentored Reviewers. VCU social work professor Kia J. Bentley, Ph.D., LCSW, was recognized as Corley’s mentor.

The University of Illinois had the most honorees, four, and VCU tied for second-most with four other universities.

Kim and his research colleagues, Richard Smith, Ph.D., of Wayne State and Amanda J. Lehning, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, were honored for their article, Aging in Place in Gentrifying Neighborhoods: Implications for Physical and Mental Health, which was published in 2018 in the journal Gerontologist.

“This research articulated how social policy and social work practice may address the social problems of gentrification and income inequality and impacts on health and well-being,” Kim says. “We particularly paid attention to the economically vulnerable older adults, and we will continue to examine the consequences of aging in place in neighborhoods undergoing socioeconomic change with particular attention to individual poverty status and race/ethnicity.”

He praised Smith and Lehning: “I was fortunate to have wonderful collaborators and mentors. They have supported me both during my doctoral program and in the years after. We still have a biweekly meeting for our projects,” says Kim, who has also been honored by the Journal of Social Work Education in 2016 for best quantitative article and by the Korea Research Foundation in 2016 with an excellent paper award.

Portrait of Nicole A. Corley, VCU assistant social work professor
Nicole A. Corley, VCU assistant social work professor

Corley’s award recognizes her commitment to becoming expert in the peer-review process that is fundamental to scholarly work and research.

“I was quite excited when notified of my acceptance,” she says. “I pursued this opportunity so that I can immerse myself more deeply in the overall process of scholarship development, sharpen my critical thinking and writing skills, and aid in maintaining the quality, rigor, and integrity of social work research.

“I also wanted to position myself in a way that directly addresses mainstream domination of knowledge construction and dissemination. Research is socially constructed and a culturally-informed endeavor, heavily influenced by reviewers. The peer-review process is one aspect of a system that legitimizes what constitutes as knowledge. It was important for me to learn how to provide constructive feedback that values the effort of the author and the perspectives and contributions of the community being represented in the work.”

Portrait of VCU professor Kia J. Bentley
VCU professor Kia J. Bentley

Her mentor, Bentley, is well established as an award-winning editor and reviewer. She reviews for JSSWR, Psychiatric Services, Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Social Work in Mental Health, Children and Youth Services Review, and Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, among others. Bentley was a founding editor for both Best Practices in Social Work and Research on Social Work Practice and has served two terms as a consulting editor for Social Work. She has also been named “Reviewer of the Year” twice by The Journal of Social Work Education.

“Kia’s keen eye and extensive background in editorial work made her the perfect person to mentor me,” Corley says. “As part of the program, Kia provides individual guidance to me in the review preparation process. Together, we will review up to three manuscripts per year over a two-year period.”

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