top of page

Student Awards and Recognitions

Welcome to the Student Awards and Recognition section of the THRIVE Research Lab at The Ohio State University. Here, we proudly highlight the cutting-edge contributions of our PhD students, who are making significant strides in the field of social work and trauma research. Through their dedicated efforts, our students are not only advancing academic understanding but are also laying the groundwork for innovative interventions. Their work, crucial to our mission, addresses the complex effects of childhood trauma and enhances the resilience and well-being of affected children and adolescents. 

Uwe Wernekinck, Phd

We are thrilled to announce that upon the completion of his outstanding PhD journey at the THRIVE Research Lab, Uwe Wernekinck will join the esteemed team at the Center for Family Safety and Healing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as an Adult Clinician. Uwe's dissertation, guided by Dr. Susan Yoon, meticulously explored the interplay between healing from childhood sexual abuse and addiction recovery in men, providing new insights into the complexities of trauma and substance use. His academic rigor and dedication have been recognized with multiple accolades, including the Selma & Alexander Erlen Award for excellence in service, scholarship, and academics. Uwe's transition into this role is a testament to his deep commitment to enhancing mental health services and his continual pursuit of integrating evidence-based research into clinical practice. His expertise in clinical social work, particularly in the realms of substance use, childhood trauma, and resilience, will undoubtedly contribute to the transformative work being done at the Center to improve the lives of those affected by trauma. We celebrate Uwe’s achievements and look forward to his future contributions to the field.


Lorenzo Benavides, a promising PhD candidate at Ohio State University, has been distinguished as a Columbus-Athens Albert Schweitzer Fellow for the 2024-25 cohort. This prestigious fellowship recognizes graduate students committed to addressing critical health needs in underserved communities through impactful service projects.

Lorenzo’s project involves a partnership with Refugee Women in Action, a local organization focused on supporting refugee communities. His initiative aims to develop an interactive resource list tailored to the specific needs of refugee women, coupled with a comprehensive needs-based assessment. This project not only seeks to provide immediate resources but also aims to understand and address the deeper, ongoing needs of the refugee population in Columbus.

Through his dedicated service, Lorenzo exemplifies the core mission of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship — to mitigate health disparities and foster a community of professionals deeply committed to public service. His work not only benefits the refugee women directly but also enriches his own professional development and expertise in creating effective community health interventions. Lorenzo’s commitment to service and his innovative approach to community health make a significant contribution to the local community and reflect the values and aspirations of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.


Charis Stanek recently accepted a summer intern position with the U.S. Navy’s Office of Force Resiliency, where she will broadly be investigating risk and protective factors among members of the Navy and their families. She will serve as a Prevention Analyst in which she will support the Navy’s Integrated Primary Prevention team’s efforts to develop and evaluate programming and policies aimed at reducing harmful behaviors impacting Navy communities (e.g., child maltreatment, suicide, substance use disorder). More specifically, she will engage in data collection, analysis, and the dissemination of research findings to improve Navy culture and organizational structure in the hopes of ultimately improving the health and well-being of Navy populations. 

Kai Knight.jpg
Kai Knight.jpg

Logan Knight (Kai) has just completed her doctoral studies at the College of Social Work, Ohio State University. We wish to congratulate her for winning the Merriss Cornell Distinguished Scholar Award for her doctoral dissertation, “A Place at the (Academic) Table: Privileging Survivors’ First-Person Knowledge of Resilience During and After Sex Trafficking”. In this study, Kai partners with survivors to gather their insights and strategies for attaining resilience amidst conditions of oppression and struggle, and to use this knowledge to extend resilience theory and improve interventions. Her work to address the exclusionary traditions of research and engage survivors of human trafficking in emancipatory research has also won the Merriss Research Scholarship and the LifePaths Promising Scholars Award. In fall 2024, Kai will join the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas as an Assistant Professor. We look forward Kai’s future contributions to establishing equitable alliances between the academy and communities experiencing marginalization and oppression in order to advance theory and praxis.

bottom of page