Staff Spotlight: Beth Gerlach, CFRI Associate Director

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Describe in your own words what you do at UTCFRI: 

My primary roles at CFRI are to develop research strategy, supervise current projects, conduct qualitative and quantitative data collection, write and edit reports, and build community partnerships. 

What are your professional areas of interest/ research interests? 

I tend to think that everything sounds interesting, but currently my research interests revolve around developing and evaluating systems that can best support children and parents that have experienced trauma. These systems include schools, medical practices, child welfare and juvenile justice. I think exciting avenues exist in each of these systems to prevent, heal and reduce the intergeneration transmission of trauma within families. 

If you had to pick one important or exciting thing about your work at UTCFRI what would it be? 

I love that CFRI embraces a team approach to research and program development. I think one reason our institute is successful is because we collaborate, communicate and support one another. It makes each of us stronger and our projects benefit from our combined knowledge. 

What is the most exciting or rewarding thing about your work at UTCFRI? 

I appreciate that I can combine my clinical social work experience with my research training in order to best evaluate systems and practices that serve vulnerable children and families. I feel that my practice knowledge is one of my most important assets and I find it rewarding that it is also valued at CFRI. 

Before working at UTCFRI what was the most unusual or interesting job you had? 

I have had several wonderful jobs in the social work field. My favorite was serving as a social worker at a high school through CIS-Central Texas. Outside of social work, I worked in a book store just after college and I occasionally dream about the simplicity and pace of that job. 

What are the three things you can’t live without? 

My family, friends and fresh air. My favorite days include all three – especially if it is fresh cool mountain air in the summer! 

What is the best book you ever read? 

I love to read a good book, and my favorite probably depends on the day…today my answer is Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner or Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Or maybe A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. But, I like funny books, too! And, strangely, I like to read cook books from cover to cover.

In the upcoming months, our social media platforms and the CFRI blog will be highlighting the staff and students of CFRI. Get to know us and learn more about the passionate people behind the quality research that is used to guide policy and social work practice created and developed by The Child & Family Research Institute. #meetCFRI