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Catherine Burnette, PhD, LMSW

Areas of Research Expertise: 
Intimate Partner Violence
Mental Health Disparities and Trauma
Resilience at the Individul
Family, and Community Levels
Indigenous Populations
Culturally Sensitive Research and Social Work Practice
Historical Oppression

Dr. Burnette joined our faculty immediately after completing her PhD in Social Work at the University of Iowa in 2013. With her came her two children and husband, Matt. She also brought her research agenda of extending her dissertation research on the people of Mississippi Choctaw to include another Native American people, the people of the Houma Nation. She has spent more than four years in the field conducting interviews and thoroughly mixing with the people their families and gaining insight into the systemic interrelationships among these people to determine how best to help after gaining the necessary knowledge. The next phase of her study will focus on the infrastructure necessary for supporting and sustaining resilience in the face of health disparities and other identified risk factors that facilitate human development and thriving. Dr. Burnette's research is supported by the Tulane University School of Social Work Research Fund, the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation, and the Silberman Faculty Grant Program (FGP). These funds have helped her not only collect and analyze the data. They enabled her to also transform the data into very useful reports. Just in the last year, she has presented her work at eight national presentations attended by leaders in her field of research and more than 14 articles and chapters. These are found in the joint list of scholarly productivity els ewhere in this report.

See the story about her work that was published in New Wave.

Research Projects: 

Dr. Burnette is working on cross-tribal research to identify culturally specific risk and protective factors related to family violence and mental health disparities among Indigenous peoples of the Southeast. This research will uncover a model of family resilience to bolster individual, familial, and community resilience among Indigenous populations and beyond. She isdeveloping collaborations with tribes across the U.S. to uncover universal and culturally specific factors.

Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice

This research will develop an innovative, culturally relevant, and culturally grounded intervention to prevent and treat the epidemic rates of violence and mental health disparities experienced by U.S. Indigenous populations. By focusing on risk and protective factors across societal/community, familial, and individual levels, a holistic understanding will be gained. Finally, by developing an intervention model of family resilience, this research aligns with the centrality of family in Indigenous support systems, and builds upon existing strengths within this underserved population.