School of Social Work welcomes 5 new faculty members

Clockwise from top left, meet the newest School of Social Work faculty: JoAnn S. Lee, D. Michael Applegarth, Tonya Myles-Day, Alexander Rubin and Amanda Aykanian. Photos: Onion Studio.

By Matthew Biddle

Published September 18, 2023


Five new faculty members joined the University at Buffalo School of Social Work in 2023, contributing to the school’s research in such areas as emerging technologies, children and families, homeless services, social policies, and trauma and human rights. They’re also part of the largest faculty-hiring initiative in recent history at UB.

JoAnn S. Lee, PhD, associate professor, focuses her research on improving public systems to help all youth successfully transition to adulthood. Inspired by the diverse youth and families she worked with in California and New York, Lee uses traditional statistical methods alongside agent-based modeling and complexity theory in her work. Lee joins UB from George Mason University, where she received the Master Teacher Award for a senior faculty member. She holds a PhD in social welfare from the University of Washington and master’s degrees in social work and public administration from Columbia University.

Through his research, Assistant Professor D. Michael Applegarth, PhD, aims to increase our understanding of how mental illness and criminal legal involvement are connected for both juveniles and adults. His dissertation focused on the connection between mental illness and recidivism for individuals on parole. Applegarth earned his PhD in social welfare from UCLA and his MSW from Brigham Young University, and previously held research fellowships with both the National Institute of Justice and Rand Corp.

Amanda Aykanian, PhD, assistant professor, centers her research on homeless service system and workforce issues. She is the national co-lead for the Grand Challenge to End Homelessness and the principal investigator for the National Homeless Services Workforce Study. Previously, she led studies examining the intersection of geographic mobility and homeless service use, with a focus on implications for service and policy implementation. Aykanian holds a PhD in social work from the University at Albany and an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

In addition to her role as clinical assistant professor, Tonya Myles-Day, LMSW, serves as faculty support liaison for racially underrepresented students in the UB School of Social Work. Her research focuses on how the implicit and explicit racism that students of color experience at predominantly white institutions may affect their learning environment. Myles-Day is a DSW candidate at Simmons University and an alumna of the UB School of Social Work’s MSW program.

Alexander Rubin, LCSW, another MSW alumnus from the UB School of Social Work, joined his alma mater in April as clinical assistant professor for field education. In his role, Rubin helps to link students with enriching and robust field placements. Previously, he served as a therapist for individuals, groups and families in a variety of settings. He also has extensive experience as a trainer for evidence-based practices and clinical skills.

Media Contact Information

Matthew Biddle
Director of Communications and Marketing
School of Social Work
Tel: 716-645-1226