Visiting Scholars Program

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Applications for the 2021-2022 Visiting Scholars Program are now closed.

The Visiting Scholars Program provides a unique opportunity for academic researchers working in the social, educational, and behavioral sciences to pursue their research in collaboration with PHMC researchers and practitioners. We invite applications from a diversity of Scholars and disciplines, but for the 2021-2022 program year we prioritized Scholars whose research is focused on early childhood education or criminal justice.

For 2021-2022, PHMC is pleased to announce four new Visiting Scholars who will be working with the Research & Evaluation Group. You can read more about them below.

Christine M. Forke, Ph.D., MSN, CRPN

Christine M. Forke, Ph.D., MSN, CRPN, is part of the core teaching faculty in the Master of Public Health Program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). She is affiliated with the Center for Public Health Initiatives and the Ortner Center for Family Violence at Penn as well the Center for Injury Research and Prevention and the Center for Violence Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Dr. Forke is a member of the Steering Committee and Co-Chairs the Research Workgroup for the Philadelphia Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Task Force. Her primary areas of interest include childhood and adolescent trauma, interpersonal and teen dating violence, reproductive health, and access to care. Her current work focuses on delineating individual, family, and neighborhood stressors and protective factors that impact health, particularly in marginalized communities, and identifying low-cost, evidence-based, and sustainable approaches that may improve health outcomes by mitigating risks associated with childhood adversity.

Dr. Forke has extensive experience leading, designing, and managing studies that utilize small samples through large population-based datasets and that incorporate quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches at the local and national levels. She has conducted research in a variety of settings including public K-12 schools, colleges, juvenile detention centers, clinical sites, and local communities.

Dr. Forke received her BA in Psychology with a minor in Chemistry from Penn; her clinical BSN and MSN degrees from Penn’s School of Nursing; and her PhD in Epidemiology from the Perlman School of Medicine at Penn. She is a licensed and nationally certified nurse practitioner in pediatric primary care and specializes in adolescent health. 

As a PHMC Visiting Scholar, Dr. Forke will examine the relationship between ACEs and health using a social-ecological model that considers the potential impact of ACEs at the individual, family, and community.

Matthew Hiller, Ph.D.

Matthew Hiller, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University and is a co-investigator and study director on a project that is conducting a randomized trial of a Contingency Management intervention with probationers. Dr. Hiller previously served as an assistant research professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Center on Drug and Alcohol Research at the University of Kentucky and an associate research scientist at the Institute of Behavioral Research at Texas Christian University.

Dr. Hiller’s research focuses broadly in the areas of substance abuse treatment in community and criminal justice settings, HIV/AIDS, and implementation science. He is particularly interested in understanding the substance abuse treatment process, seeking to understand the intra-individual changes made, as well as the internal and external contextual factors that influence whether change occurs and whether it is sustained following treatment. He has worked on behavioral change related to HIV/AIDS with individuals in community-based methadone maintenance treatment, in prison, and on probation and parole. Dr. Hiller has studied organizational barriers related to improving the HIV/AIDS services continuum and has examined the effectiveness of organizational change interventions for this, as well as for improving the screening, assessment, and treatment referral processes for inmates with substance use disorders in prisons and jails.

Dr. Hiller has been a principal investigator on several funded projects, including evaluations of adult and juvenile drug courts in Kentucky and a DUI Court in Wisconsin. He has been a co-investigator on several high-profile projects, including the Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Study I and II (CJDATS I and II) and Juvenile Justice Translational Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal System (JJTRIALS).

Dr. Hiller received his PhD and MS degrees in Experimental Psychology from Texas Christian University.

As a PHMC Visiting Scholar, Dr. Hiller will work with the PHMC Community Engagement team to conduct a rigorous evaluation of the Forensic Intensive Recovery program in the Philadelphia criminal justice system. FIR is a prison deferral initiative that offers eligible participants substance abuse treatment in lieu of incarceration.

Sylvia Morrison, Ed.D.

Sylvia Morrison, Ed.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Education, Health and Social Work at the University of the District of Columbia. Her research interests include instructional teaching strategies, parent engagement and educational equity. With experience in educational leadership, research methodology, and classroom teaching strategies, Dr. Morrison has extensive knowledge in Grades Pre-K-12 programs. Dr. Morrison has taught students in general and special education classes at the elementary and secondary levels. She has experience as a placement specialist, resource teacher, assistant principal, and principal in racially, ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse school districts. As Director of Instructional Programs, Dr. Morrison addressed the needs of students enrolled in Pre-K/Head Start, Title I, and Title III programs. As a facilitator, Dr. Morrison has delivered professional training in the areas of instructional strategies, educational leadership, parent engagement, strategic planning, and race and equity.

Dr. Morrison received her Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from Bowie State University and her Master of Education from Loyola University.

As a PHMC Visiting Scholar, Dr. Morrison will examine how online teaching methods in reading affect PreK students’ schooling and reading progress. Her research will determine if remote learning has sustained or improved student performance in reading and will identify resources that educators will need to bridge the technological equity gaps among PreK students. The pilot study will evaluate if structured, online remote reading activities can sustain and/or increase the literacy skills of preschool children in the digital environment.

Marva E. Williams, Ph.D.

Marva E. Williams, Ph.D. is a research consultant with CDFI Friendly and an adjunct at University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers-Camden, teaching community development, alleviation of poverty and research methods. Dr. Williams has a 30-year history in applied research and the practice of community development.  Since relocating from Chicago to Philadelphia in 2019, Dr. Williams has been a research consultant on projects focused on expansion of early childhood education revenue from state and local governments; and exploring ways to reduce poverty in Philadelphia communities.

Dr. Williams previously served as the Economic Development Director in the Community Development and Policy Studies division of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Previous research studies have focused on the migration of African Americans to Iowa, the need for comprehensive affordable housing policies, opportunities for financial institutions to support mental health programs and the nexus of immigration and community development. Prior to her work at the Chicago Federal Reserve, Dr. Williams was the Senior Program Officer at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Chicago. As the Senior Vice President of the Woodstock Institute for more than a decade, Dr. Williams conducted research on the role of alternative deposit institutions and their financial structures.

Dr. Williams was selected by LaSalle Bank to receive the Tom Gobby Community Leadership Award for her commitment to helping lower-income households access the financial mainstream and develop assets. Dr. Williams is also a former trustee of two Chicago area foundations and numerous non-profit agencies and is currently on the Board of Directors of Mission Housing First.

Dr. Williams received her Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Public Policy from Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Pittsburgh.

As a PHMC Visiting Scholar, Dr. Williams’ research will focus on the social determinates of health and specifically how discrimination has affected affordable housing in Delaware County.  


You can find more information about the Visiting Scholars Program below, including program eligibility, selection criteria, and information about past Visiting Scholars and their work.

Program Summary, Eligibility, and Selection Criteria

Summary of the Visiting Scholars Program

Our goal is to work closely with Visiting Scholars to collaborate on new research, pursue grant funding in support of the research, and disseminate the findings of this research through publication. Scholars will receive Visiting Scholar distinction and have access to data, resources, and accommodations; they are able to participate in departmental meetings, training opportunities, and other events as appropriate. Each Scholar will receive a stipend in the amount of $5,000 to support their work at PHMC.

Although the amount of time committed may vary, we anticipate that Scholars will devote approximately 1-2 days per month to this work. This may include work conducted at PHMC’s office (1500 Market Street, Philadelphia) or remotely. For complete information about the program please view the PHMC Visiting Scholar Program FAQ.


All Scholar applicants must have a Ph.D. or comparable terminal degree and a career background that demonstrates their ability to conduct high-level, peer-reviewed research. Preference will be given to applicants with several years’ experience beyond the Ph.D. Please see complete details in the PHMC Visiting Scholar Program FAQ.

Selection Criteria:

The selection of the Visiting Scholars is based on both an individual’s demonstrated record of research accomplishments and the merit of the applicant’s proposed project. Preference will be given based on alignment of the proposed research with the priority focus areas described above. We are also committed to including scholars from underrepresented populations and we highly encourage scholars from diverse backgrounds and experiences, scholars of color, and scholars who have been the first in their families to pursue postsecondary or postgraduate education to apply. We aim to promote racial, ethnic, gender and disciplinary diversity in each year’s cohort.

Meet Our Past Visiting Scholars



Jeffrey T. Ward, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Criminology, Law & Society (2011) and is a past recipient of the prestigious Harry Frank Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship. Dr. Ward’s research focuses on addressing critical research problems in two overarching and complementary areas—developmental and life-course criminology and measurement of criminological constructs. This work formed the foundation for his visiting scholar research at PHMC which focused on a multi-site data effort to further validate the Risk and Needs Triage (RANT®), a web-based tool designed to help criminal justice professionals place adult drug offenders into appropriate programs and settings. His research takes a developmental and life-course approach to understand stability and behavior change, including investigating the roles that social, psychological, health, role attainment, and criminal justice system contact play in these processes. 


Russell McIntire, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor at the Jefferson College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. McIntire, an epidemiologist, researched the eligibility of lung cancer screenings among residents in various Philadelphia neighborhoods and sought to address disparities in access. He utilized data from the 2018-2019 PHMC Household Health Survey, along with other local datasets, to examine gaps in lung cancer screenings in Philadelphia neighborhoods and population groups.

Brittany R. Schuler, PhD, LSW, is an Assistant Professor at the College of Public Health School of Social Work, Temple University. Dr. Schuler’s research aims to understand and improve daily household routines in an effort to improve well-being and protect children of parents with substance use disorders. Dr. Schuler is currently a member of the PHMC/Turning Points for Children Coalition on Children and Opioids, and brings firsthand knowledge of the child welfare system to her work as a former child welfare social worker.