DR. MICHELLE ABRACZINSKAS
McCarty Hall D
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611
Dr. Michelle Abraczinskas is an Assistant Professor of Youth Development and Prevention Science in the Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences at the University of Florida. Before coming to UF, she completed a NIDA funded T32 post-doctoral fellowship at the REACH Institute at Arizona State University focused on Prevention, Dissemination and Implementation Science, and closing the Research to Practice gap. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology with a Quantitative Concentration from the University of South Carolina's APA accredited program in 2018. Her clinical specialty is child and adolescent trauma and the majority of her work has been with families living in poverty. She completed her APA accredited pre-doctoral internship in Clinical and Community Psychology at The Consultation Center in the Division of Prevention and Community Research, School of Medicine, Yale University. On internship, Dr. Abraczinskas conducted community based participatory research and service system evaluation, as well as therapy with uninsured and Medicaid enrolled families.
Research & evaluation interests:
As a clinical-community psychologist, Dr. Abraczinskas uses applied developmental and ecological-systems frameworks to engage in community-partnered research to prevent health disparities of diverse children and families living in poverty. Her research has three aims: 1) increasing the engagement of under-served youth and families in settings that promote health, 2) understanding processes necessary to create equitable, health promoting systems in which youth and families thrive, and 3) determining the readiness of systems to uptake and sustain evidence based programming. Across these aims, she uses participatory methods to involve community members as equal partners in research.
Related to engagement, Dr. Abraczinskas seeks to understand predictors of program engagement, and develop engagement interventions to recruit and retain under-served youth and families in services/programs. Dr. Abraczinskas also uses participatory methods to adapt services/programs to align with youth and families’ values, needs, and cultures. Related to health promotion, Dr. Abraczinskas studies processes, especially those that are youth- and community-led, that can create equitable systems. To date, her work has involved collaborations with (a) middle/high school students and staff to increase school engagement and physical activity, (b) consumers of behavioral health services in service system evaluations, and (c) community coalitions building communities of health.
Dr. Abraczinskas specializes in youth participatory action research (YPAR). In YPAR, youth are trained as researchers to identify areas for improvement in their schools/communities and take action for change based on the findings. Dr. Abraczinskas conducts research to understand what is necessary at the policy and systems level to support and sustain youth-led initiatives, such as YPAR. She also examines individual and community outcomes that result from youth and community led initiatives. Dr. Abraczinskas is a Co-Investigator on a Use of Research Evidence grant funded by the W.T. Grant Foundation (PI: Emily Ozer). In six school districts across the United States, their team is working to understand what is necessary at the school and district level to use research evidence, and youth generated research evidence, in policy and programmatic decision making.
In addition to research, Dr. Abraczinskas also has extensive contract experiences in program evaluation; specifically, empowerment, participatory, and service system evaluation. Her evaluation team won the Outstanding Evaluation Award from the American Evaluation Association in 2017. She is a faculty affiliate of the Wandersman Center, and has been a previous affiliate of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
Michelle likes to spend her free time outdoors. She loves walking her two dogs around her neighborhood, hiking, surfing, and attending festivals and farmer's markets.
Dr. Abraczinskas' research is focused on conducting community partnered research to prevent health disparities and promote the engagement of youth and families living in poverty.
Participatory Action Research