Focus on Faculty: Amanda Abraham

Original story featured on UGA Today 

Amanda Abraham, an assistant professor in the School of Public and International Affairs, conducts research that addresses the nation’s opioid crisis and gives students real-world perspective on issues related to policy implementation and evaluation.

Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?

I earned an undergraduate degree in sociology at UGA and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in sociology from Louisiana State University. I then returned to UGA and completed a post-doc in health services research. I am currently an assistant professor in the department of public administration and policy in the School of Public and International Affairs.

When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?

I returned to UGA in 2013 after spending a year as an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina. We just couldn’t stay away from Athens. It is a wonderful place to live and raise a family.

What are your favorite courses and why?

My favorite courses are introduction to health policy and research methods. These courses offer me the opportunity to engage with students about current health policy issues such as the opioid crisis and to work with students as they develop the skills necessary to conduct research, both of which are very interesting and engaging topics.

What are some highlights of your career at UGA?

Along with colleagues in the School of Social Work, clinical psychology and the College of Pharmacy, I was awarded a three-year training grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to increase the capacity to address substance use issues throughout Georgia by training students and health professionals in SBIRT (screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment). I am currently part of a research team that includes UGA colleagues in the department of public administration and policy and the department of health policy and management that is investigating the impact of state medical cannabis laws on opioid prescribing in Medicare Part D, deaths related to opioid overdose and access to opioid use disorder treatment. This is a very exciting line of research.

How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?

One line of my research examines the impact of federal and state policy on the organization, accessibility and quality of substance use disorder treatment in the United States. A second line of my research examines the impact of state and federal policies implemented to address the current opioid crisis.

How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?

My research is very closely related to the courses I teach, so it allows me to use real-world examples in the classroom related to policy implementation and policy evaluation. Interacting with students and working with them to develop research proposals gives me the opportunity to think more broadly about the current issues facing the field of public administration and policy.

What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?

I hope that students leave my classroom with the ability to think critically about public administration and policy issues, the tools necessary to become successful public leaders and managers, improved writing and oral presentation skills, and improved analytic skills.

Describe your ideal student.

My ideal student is hard working, inquisitive and open-minded.

Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is …

… Sanford Stadium on game day. I also enjoy a nice stroll around North Campus.

Beyond the UGA campus, I like to …

… eat at at all the great local restaurants in Athens and enjoy the amazing local art and music.

Community/civic involvement includes …
For the last few years, I have participated in the Athens Well-Being Project. I am also on the Executive Committee of the Substance Abuse Research Alliance, a state organization that working to address the opioid crisis in Georgia.