“In social work, research is a means to an end. Through my research, I aim to improve the lives of immigrant and refugee populations in the U.S. by understanding their needs and designing culturally responsive intervention approaches to address those needs.”
Immigrants and refugees; adjustment and integration; community-based research
As co-founder and director of the School of Social Work's Immigrant and Refugee Research Institute (IRRI), Associate Professor Wooksoo Kim is committed to developing and sharing practical knowledge that can contribute to improving lives of immigrants and refugees. Since founding IRRI in early 2014, her research and teaching interests have expanded from an earlier focus on Asian immigrant populations to the broader topic of refugees and the issues they deal with as they resettle in their new living environments in the U.S.
Her research is grounded on the practical application of evidence-based knowledge to improve people’s lives. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from medicine, pharmacy and engineering, she is working to develop a culturally responsive intervention based on mobile app technology. The team is testing the app’s effectiveness in increasing health literacy among refugee populations.
With her research, she hopes to both contribute to the knowledge base about the populations for social work practitioners, researchers and policymakers and, more importantly, to bring about changes to the lives of these populations.
In her teaching, she is committed to helping students learn the practical applications of theoretical and methodological knowledge. She has been teaching a year-long research class, in which students learn research methodology and program evaluation techniques by carrying out a service learning project with a community agency.
In her earlier research, Kim studied Asian immigrant behavioral changes within a macro structural context of the host society; one focus was on subgroups of Filipino Americans living in California and Hawaii and their gambling behaviors. Her focus group study and subsequent survey among older Korean immigrants living in Toronto, Canada closely examined behavioral adaptation of drinking behaviors among this population.
These and other studies, investigating understudied and underestimated behavioral issues among Asian immigrant populations, contributing to debunking the prevalent American “model minority” myths surrounding of Asian immigrants.