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UTA Social Work professor elected fellow of prestigious international society

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 • Media Contact: Bridget Lewis

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Alexa Smith-Osborne, a University of Texas at Arlington associate professor of social work and expert in resilience research, military and veterans’ health and mental health issues, has been named a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research, the premier worldwide social work research organization.


UTA is the only Texas institution to have a new Fellow among the organization’s 53-member Class of 2016. The class includes universities in 21 states and Canada.

The Society invited Smith-Osborne because she has “served with distinction to advance the mission of the Society – to advance, disseminate, and translate research that addresses issues of social work practice and policy and promotes a diverse, equitable and just society.”

Smith-Osborne was formally inducted as a Fellow during a Jan. 16 ceremony at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.

“I am honored to be inducted as a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research and consider it a privilege to participate and serve this organization,” said Smith-Osborne, who has been a SSWR student volunteer, abstract reviewer, one of the initiators of the military track and a session moderator.

“It is at SSWR annual conferences that I met my external dissertation committee member and gained valuable research skills over the years,” she added. “The Society is a pivotal organization in advancing knowledge to support social justice and evidence-based practice in social work.”

Scott Ryan, dean of the School of Social Work, commended Smith-Osborne on her induction into the Society, calling the honor well deserved.

“Dr. Smith-Osborne has worked tirelessly to bring about better understanding of mental health issues and mental health care through research and practice,” Dean Ryan said. “She has helped community partners, social work students and others through the Center for Clinical Social Work by enhancing the evidence base on stigma reduction and improved health care access.”

State Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, a UTA alumnus, also offered his congratulations.

“Dr. Smith-Osborne’s work on behalf of military veterans who return to college to earn their degrees is inspiring. She is providing critical insight into the needs of our veteran community as they return to civilian life,” Sheets said. “It is fitting to see her work recognized by such a prestigious organization.”

Smith-Osborne has studied post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries extensively with her collaborator Hanli Liu, a bioengineering professor in UTA’s College of Engineering. They have developed a portable brain-mapping device that allows them to “see” where memory fails student veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.  Smith-Osborne has used the findings to guide treatment recommendations for some veterans through her work as principal investigator for UTA’s Student Veteran Project, which offers free services to veterans who are undergraduates or who are considering returning to college.

The Student Veterans Project last year earned a $122,000 grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to fund educational opportunities for military veterans. Smith-Osborne received a $200,000 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health as co-investigator of the Recovery to Practice-Social Work project is dedicated to improving understanding of mental health and resilience of diverse groups. She also earned funding as a subcontractor from Hogg Foundation awards to The Potter’s House of Dallas and Dallas City Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Last May, she earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers-Tarrant County Chapter.

The Society for Social Work and Research represents more than 200 universities and institutions and 1,300 individuals from 45 states in the U.S. as well as from Australia, Canada, Cyprus, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and the United Kingdom. Eligibility for the SSWR Fellow designation is determined by a point system established by the SSWR Board of Directors under which individual members are awarded points for participation in various activities.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at