Liana Petruzzi is a doctoral candidate at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work and she is a recipient of UT Austin’s Graduate Recruitment Fellowship. She received her MSSW from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016 and her BA in Psychology from Brandeis University in 2009. She was a recipient of the UT Health Education and Leadership Scholarship during her master’s program, where she trained on an interdisciplinary care team at an inpatient hospital.

Liana also has 2 years of clinical experience as a medical social worker at an interdisciplinary, transitional care clinic working with uninsured and underinsured people. This clinical experience illustrated the significant impact that social factors such as insurance status, income and zip code have on health outcomes and quality of life. This experience also required a comprehensive understanding of healthcare systems and policies, which directly informs her research on access to health insurance and health services.

Her current research interests are at the intersections of social work and public health with a particular focus on social work interventions in healthcare settings. Her research is also grounded in theoretical frameworks such as social determinants of health, critical race theory and ecosocial theory. She operates within an antiracist framework, and recognizes the role that systemic racism such as redlining, Jim Crow laws, federal immigration policies and mass incarceration has played on health outcomes within Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. She is also interested in utilizing intersectional approaches to data analysis that recognize the combined impact of multiple social identities on health inequities.

Liana has over 5 years’ experience with qualitative and quantitative research in interdisciplinary hospital settings at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She has co-authored multiple publications in journals such as Schizophrenia Research, Psychological Assessment and Qualitative Health Research. She has presented at national conferences such as the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). She has also served as a reviewer for several journals including Advances in Social Work.

Liana’s scholarship has been multifaceted. She has trained in advanced statistical methods such as hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) and conducted multivariate regression analyses with large national datasets such as the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Specifically, Liana has focused on racial and economic disparities in access to healthcare among women. She has also been engaged in community based participatory research with Dr. Carmen Valdez in the Population Health department at Dell Medical School. The focus of their work has been the psychosocial impact of COVID-19 on the local community, and a program evaluation of a community health worker intervention. Lastly, she has worked closely with Dr. Barbara Jones, the chair of the inaugural Department of Health Social Work at UT Health Austin on several scoping reviews related to social work interventions in healthcare settings.

After receiving her PhD, Liana hopes to bring her clinical and research skills to an academic hospital setting in order to 1) identify local health disparities, 2) assess social work and social care intervention efficacy, and 3) develop and implement interdisciplinary programs that foster health equity in the local community.

Research Statement

Teaching Statement

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement


Curriculum Vitae

Professional Interests

Racial and economic health disparities; social determinants of health; healthcare policies, social work in healthcare, care coordination and interdisciplinary care