Erika GonzalezGraduate Student

Erika Gonzalez is a Ph.D. student in the Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program within the School of Human Ecology. Erika’s interest in applied, mixed methods research derives from her work with children and adolescents in low-income public schools. In her roles as an educator and K-12 student support intervention specialist, she observed the chronic stress and trauma that was pervasive in the young students, as well as the lack of effective mental health interventions in schools. Erika’s research aims include seeking effective ways to develop sustainable restorative environments in low-income school systems while partnering with K-12 educators to understand how to best meet the mental health needs of their students. Drawing from the extensive research on the positive impact of nature on a person’s well-being, Erika plans to incorporate elements of the natural environment in the development of restorative spaces.

Education and Relevant Experience

Erika holds a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan and an M.S.W. from Washington University in St. Louis with an emphasis on children, families, and community development. Erika has over ten years of experience working to advance access to high quality education and social services for children and youth. She spent five years working with a large public school district in St. Louis as an educator and student support services district employee before entering higher education as an instructor for graduate level social work students. Through her position with the Brown School of Social Work, Erika has also worked as a manager of initiatives to support educational equity, increase access to mental health services for children, and build partnerships between social service non-profits and low-income public schools.

Teaching Experience

Erika has experience teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Prior to beginning her Ph.D. program, she held a position as an adjunct faculty member and then a full-time Assistant Teaching Professorship at the Brown School of Social Work in St. Louis. In both roles, Erika had the opportunity to teach full-time Master of Social Work students who were taking courses within the Children, Youth, and Family studies concentration track. At the undergraduate level, Erika has been the lead instructor of a course within the HDFS Department, and is a member of the Writing Center Instructor team.

Erika Gonzalez portrait sitting outdoors


  • Human Development & Family Studies

Degree Program

  • PhD Human Ecology: Human Development & Family Studies


  • BA, History, University of Michigan
  • MSW, emphasis on children, families, and community development, Washington University in St. Louis


Phone: 517-918-1334