JoAnn S. Lee.

JoAnn S. Lee

Associate Professor

“I have worked with many talented and resilient youth who reached adulthood unprepared to be independent despite prior contact with a public system. My research focuses on providing the right supports to help all youth successfully transition to adulthood.”

Contact Information

653 Baldy Hall
Amherst, NY 14260
Phone: 716-645-1244
Fax: 716-645-3456

View map

Contact Information

653 Baldy Hall, Amherst, NY 14260 (view map)
Phone: 716-645-1244; Fax: 716-645-3456


  • PhD, Social Welfare, University of Washington (2012)
  • MS, Social Work, Columbia University (2005)
  • MPA, Public Administration, Columbia University (2005)
  • BA, Psychology, Stanford University (1999)

Professional/Research Interests

Transitions to adulthood; juvenile justice; child welfare; youth aging out of foster care; agent-based modeling


JoAnn S. Lee, associate professor, joined the UB School of Social Work in 2023 from George Mason University’s Department of Social Work. While at Mason, she was awarded the Master Teacher Award for a senior faculty member in 2023 and earned her graduate certificate in Computational Social Science 2021.

Her work is inspired by the diverse youth and families she worked with in both East San Jose, California, and New York City. Her research focuses on improving public systems to better support the transition to adulthood for all youth. While she uses traditional statistical methods (including logistic regression and latent class analysis), she has advocated for the use of agent-based modeling (ABM) and complexity theory to apply a positive youth development lens to the study of transitions to adulthood. (ABM uses computer simulation to explore how agents — like individuals, families, even atoms — interact with each other and their environments.)

Her projects include social network analysis of the support networks of older teens in foster care; ABM to explore the accumulation of risk and protective factors among adolescents; and an experimental test of a quality improvement process to implement community supervision guidelines in partnership with Massachusetts Probation Service, funded by Arnold Ventures.