School of Social Work welcomes new faculty

Wednesday, Sep 01, 2021

By Valerie Fields Hill 

School of Social Work


Christian Vazquez 
Dr. Christian Vazquez


The School of Social Work hired a new assistant professor and moved a second professor from a teaching and clinical practice position to a teaching and more researched focused position. 


Both professors are interested in health disparities and other issues affecting Latinos.


Christian E. Vazquez and Marcela Nava both were hired by the School of Social Work as assistant professors, effective Sept. 1.


Prior to moving to this new position, Dr. Nava was an associate professor of practice focusing on teaching clinical practice in the School of Social Work. In her new position she will continue teaching but will now conduct and publish research.


Social Work Dean Scott Ryan said the addition of the two scholars in teaching and research tenure track positions will help expand the School’s study of health care policies and their impact on marginalized communities, immigrants and children.


“Dr. Nava and Dr. Vazquez are both interested in researching areas of Social Work and public policy that have not been widely studied,” Dr. Ryan said. “There is a renewed national focus – partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic - on understanding and eliminating biases in healthcare practices and barriers to accessing quality healthcare.” 


“Our school’s vision is to create a just society for everyone,” he said. “We want to study and publish research on topics helping make this vision a reality.”


Dr. Vazquez earned a doctorate in Social Work in May from the University of Texas at Austin. He received several research and fellowship awards during his studies at UT-Austin.



Prior to doing so, he earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.


Dr. Vazquez, a former child welfare worker in California, now researches childhood obesity and health disparities, particularly among Latino children. 


“My passion for health disparities research comes from wanting youth, particularly Latino youth, to have a long and healthy life,” Dr. Vazquez said. “While the medical professions are also working on this, Social Work researchers are needed in this area to bring their perspective that captures the person's context, such as their home life and community.”


Dr. Nava earned a doctorate degree in public policy and political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas.


She’s earned two master’s degrees, including one in Social Work at UTA and another in public policy at UT-Dallas. Dr. Nava earned a bachelor’s in Social Work at Texas Christian University.


“My current research examines the intersection of political, economic and social contexts of immigrants and other marginalized groups in the United States,” Dr. Nava wrote on her website. 


“I enjoy fusing political economy and public health models to study ways that different structures influence health and identify innovative approaches for community health improvement.”


Dr. Nava previously worked with homeless children, immigrants and refugees. To read more about her, click here: 


To read more about Dr. Vazquez, click here: