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Building Bridges with Joint PhD Student Joyce Lee

Brenda L. Volling, PhD, a developmental psychology researcher and Shawna J. Lee, PhD, a social work researcher at the University of Michigan shared a mutual interest in studying fathers and father involvement. Joyce Y. Lee, Joint PhD student in Social Work and Developmental Psychology was interested in researching fathers from both a psychology and social work perspective. The Joint PhD Program bridges the gaps between theory and action by utilizing social science theory and methods to address significant social problems relevant to social workers.

“It’s been a journey to try to combine both social work and developmental psychology,” Joyce Lee said. “They’re distinct disciplines, but there’s definitely room to bring the two together.” By enrolling in the Joint PhD Program, Joyce Lee has combined her research interests in father involvement and related child outcomes with both Volling and Lee as her academic advisors. “Now I’m in the process of blending the two disciplines together,” she said. “I want to integrate. I want to develop a scholarship that is truly comprehensive.”

While Joyce Lee is benefitting from having faculty advisors from two disciplines, the advisors are benefitting from working with such a dynamic student. “I am a bridge between my advisors,” Joyce Lee said. “I believe they were looking for a student who can bring the two interests together, and I was it.”

This sort of collaborative relationship is the special advantage to a Joint PhD Program. Joyce Lee is able to combine her developmental research with her social work research, departments across the University have been put into deeper dialogue with each other. “I am connecting the two disciplines,” Joyce Lee said.

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