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Graduate School

Research Attracts Graduate Student

MSW Student Takes Advantage of Her Passion for Research

Chris Woodley  | January 23, 2020  

Research is an important aspect of social work. Some of the benefits include, evaluating the effectiveness of social work services in meeting people’s needs, and understanding the impact of legislation and social policy on clients and communities. Foundation year Master of Social Work student Rachel Carlson has always enjoyed research and is now working with one of the College of Social Work’s top researchers.  

As an undergrad at the University of Georgia, Carlson was a psychology major as well as a research assistant at the motivational and behavior lab. The Atlanta native was interested in continuing research activities after graduating last year. It was the variety of research at the College of Social Work that led her to currently work with Associate Professor Christina Andrews on research related to implications of policy on the opioid crisis. Andrews is a leading researcher on opioid use disorder treatment.

“I visited the school early in 2019 and talked to Lauren (Knottek) in recruiting. I loved the research happening at South Carolina and was excited to explore a new city and try a new program,” Carlson says. “She saw that I had some research experience and how I was interested in substance abuse and connected me with Dr. Andrews. I sent her my resume and during a meeting over coffee, she asked me if I wanted to be her graduate assistant.”

Most of Carlson’s work as a research assistant focuses on compiling data on health insurance coverage for low-income Americans in need of substance abuse treatment. This includes pulling manuals and other types of insurance or healthcare data online and creating data sheets. She also performs literature reviews of disparities in race and ethnicity in healthcare, especially substance abuse treatment. Carlson is currently reviewing managed care data to identify gaps in health insurance coverage for substance use treatment.
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