betsy bowen.

Elizabeth Bowen

Assistant Professor

“My research looks at housing as a social determinant of health, exploring the intersection of homelessness and health issues such as food insecurity, addiction, and HIV/AIDS, with an aim of informing policy. I’m excited about the potential that social work has to advocate for both health and housing as human rights.”

Contact Information

647 Baldy Hall
Amherst, NY 14260
Phone: 716-645-1258
Fax: 716-645-3456

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Contact Information

647 Baldy Hall, Amherst, NY 14260 (view map)
Phone: 716-645-1258; Fax: 716-645-3456


  • PhD, Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago (2014)
  • AM, Clinical Social Work, University of Chicago (2004)
  • BA, Nonfiction Writing, University of Pittsburgh (2002)
  • B. Phil, Psychology, University of Pittsburgh (2002)

Professional/Research Interests

Health disparities for homeless populations; health of permanent supportive housing residents; homelessness in emerging adulthood; recovery capital; trauma-informed social policy analysis


A community-based urban researcher and educator, Assistant Professor Elizabeth Bowen joined the School of Social Work in 2014. Bowen’s research centers on the health and resilience of people experiencing homelessness. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, Bowen’s work examines the pathways that link homelessness and health conditions. A subset of her research focuses on the developmental and place-based experiences of homeless youth and young adults navigating service systems. In a secondary trajectory, Bowen addresses the upstream determinants of health and well-being through social policy analysis, including coauthoring an innovative policy analysis framework based on the principles of trauma-informed care.

Bowen has published widely in journals including the American Journal of Public Health, Children and Youth Services Review, and Public Health Nutrition. Her article “No peace without justice: Addressing the United States’ War on Drugs in social work education” received the 2017 Best Teaching Note award from the Journal of Social Work Education. She was a 2016 Protégé in the American Psychological Association's Cyber Mentors Program for HIV/AIDS and health disparities research. Bowen is the UB School of Social Work liaison to the National Homelessness Social Work Initiative and is the co-convener of the Initiative’s New York-New Jersey regional network. She frequently collaborates with local housing and social service providers, such as the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, Compass House and Buffalo City Mission/Cornerstone Manor.

Bowen’s teaching interests include substance use and addictions, social welfare history and policy, and community social work. Along with colleagues in the School of Social Work and School of Management, Bowen co-teaches the classroom component of the Social Impact Fellowship, a unique collaboration in which cross-disciplinary pairs of MSW and MBA students work together on innovation projects at socially minded businesses and nonprofits in the Buffalo area. Bowen’s research and teaching are rooted in her social work practice experience, which includes managing harm reduction-based supportive housing programs for homeless and HIV positive individuals in Chicago.