Joshua Mersky, PhD

Social Work

Dr. Joshua Mersky is a professor of social work in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and founding co-director of the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being (ICFW). Dr. Mersky’s research interests include the study of adverse and traumatic experiences that undermine health and well-being over the life course. He applies his expertise to developing, testing, and disseminating effective strategies in community settings to promote resilience.


  • Ph.D., Social Welfare, Minor and Certificate in Prevention Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2006
  • MSW, Social Work, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2001
  • B.A., History, University of Mary Washington, 1995

Professional Interests:

  • Trauma and resilience
  • Prevention and intervention
  • Program evaluation
  • Translational science

Current Funding:

  • 9/30/19-9/29/21: Principal Investigator, Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant Program (Lead Partner Agency: Wisconsin Department of Children & Families). Funding: U.S. DHHS, Health Resources and Services Administration.
  • 1/1/19-6/30/20: Principal Investigator, Family Connects Racine County: Impact Evaluation (Lead Partner Agency: Central Racine County Health Department). Funding: Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board.
  • 10/1/18-10/1/21: Co-Principal Investigator (with James Topitzes), Family-Centered Systems: A Two-Generation Strategy (Lead Partner Agency: Higher Expectations for Racine County). Funding: Strive Together.
  • 9/30/17-9/29/22: Principal Investigator, Trauma and Recovery Project (Lead Partner Agency: Wisconsin Department of Children & Families). Funding: U.S. DHHS, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • 9/30/17-9/29/22: Principal Investigator, Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment Capacity in Family Treatment Drug Courts (Lead Partner Agency: Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division). Funding: U.S. DHHS, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • 4/3/17-4/2/20: Principal Investigator, Addressing Polyvictimization in a Family Justice Center Setting Demonstration Initiative (Lead Partner Agency: Sojourner Family Peace Center). Funding: U.S. DOJ, Office for Victims of Crime.
  • 1/1/17-12/31/19: Principal Investigator, The Prevention and Family Recovery Initiative (Lead Partner Agency: Milwaukee County District Court). Funding: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
  • 1/1/17-12/31/21: Co-Investigator with James Topitzes (PI) and David Pate, Healthy Workers, Healthy Wisconsin (Lead Partner Agency: Community Advocates Public Policy Institute). Funding: Wisconsin Partnership Program, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

Select Publications (last three years):

  • Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Britz, L. (in press). Promoting evidence-based, trauma-informed social work practice. Journal of Social Work Education.
  • Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., Mueller, D. J., Bacalso, E., & Williams, C. (in press). Implementing Trauma Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (T‐SBIRT) within employment services: A feasibility trial. American Journal of Community Psychology.
  • Mersky, J. P., Plummer Lee, C., & Gilbert, R. M. (2019). Client and provider discomfort with an adverse childhood experiences survey. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 57(2), e51-e58.
  • Blair, K., Topitzes, J., & Mersky, J. P. (2019). Do parents’ adverse childhood experiences influence treatment responses to Parent-Child Interaction Therapy? An exploratory study with a child welfare sample. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 41(2), 73-83.
  • Janczewski, C. E., Mersky, J. P., & Brondino, M. J. (2019). Those who disappear and those who say goodbye: Patterns of attrition in long-term home visiting. Prevention Science, 1-11.
  • Mersky, J. P., & Janczewski, C. E. (2018). Adverse childhood experiences and postpartum depression in home visiting programs: Prevalence, association, and mediating mechanisms. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 22(7), 1051-1058.
  • Mersky, J. P., Janczewski, C. E., & Nitkowski, J. C. (2018). Pathways to poor mental health among low-income women in the U.S.: Exploring the role of adverse childhood and adult experiences. Social Science and Medicine, 206, 14-21.
  • Mersky, J. P., & Janczewski, C. E. (2018). Racial and ethnic differences in the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences: Findings from a low-income sample of US women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 76, 480-487.
  • Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Blair, K. (2017). Translating evidence-based treatments into child welfare services through community-university partnerships: A case example of parent-child interaction therapy. Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 427-433.
  • Topitzes, J., Berger, L., Otto-Salaj, L., Mersky, J. P., Weeks, F., & Ford, J. D. (2017). Complementing SBIRT for alcohol misuse with SBIRT for trauma: A feasibility study. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 17(1-2), 188-215.
  • Mersky, J. P., Janczewski, C. E., & Topitzes, J. (2017). Rethinking the measurement of adversity: Moving toward second-generation research on adverse childhood experiences. Child Maltreatment, 22(1), 58-68.
  • Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., & Reynolds, A. J. (2017). Maltreatment prevention programming in early childhood: A review of models delivered in center-based settings. In R. Alexander (Ed.), Research and practices in child maltreatment prevention. St. Louis: STM Learning.

Curriculum Vitae