The University of Alabama

UA Social Work Professor to Serve as Visiting Scholar in Brazil

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell, associate professor in The University of Alabama School of Social Work, will serve as a visiting scholar at the University of Brasilia, beginning May 1.

Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell will begin a visiting scholar term at the University of Brasilia on May 1.

Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell will begin a visiting scholar term at the University of Brasilia on May 1.

Nelson-Gardell will co-teach a 40-hour course titled “Child sexual abuse: identification, evaluation and treatment.”

She will also collaborate in a research project regarding forensic interviews with children suspected to be victims of sexual violence, participate as a member of the University of Brasilia’s doctoral dissertation defense committee, and visit and collaborate with social services offered to victims of sexual violence.

“I find this opportunity to share knowledge about a topic I’ve studied for my entire academic life gratifying and exciting,” Nelson-Gardell said. “Sharing my knowledge and enhancing my own cross-cultural appreciation of child sexual victimization can only improve my research and teaching about this important topic.”

Nelson-Gardell received funding for her visit from Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, a Brazilian government agency.

Nelson-Gardell’s visit will run through May 23.

Nelson-Gardell’s relationship with the University of Brasilia started when Reginaldo Torres Alves Júnior, a doctoral student from Brazil and forensic psychologist for Brazil’s first Child and Juvenile Court of Justice, served as a visiting international scholar at UA in 2012. Alves chose to analyze his interview data at UA because of the chance to work with Nelson-Gardell and UA’s close proximity to the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville.

“My work on issues associated with improving how professionals help children tell their often difficult and painful stories about sexual victimization served as the basis for my involvement with Mr. Torres Alves and the University of Brasilia,” Nelson-Gardell said.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.