Social Welfare Professor Receives National Award from the Department of Justice

Michelle Ballan recognized for research related to intimate partner violence against those with disabilities

Michelle Ballan, professor and associate dean for research in the School of Social Welfare at Stony Brook University, has received the Building Knowledge Through Research Award from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a program of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Ballan is among only eight individuals or organizations honored nationally by the DOJ for their outstanding work as crime victim service professionals during the 2024 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

The Building Knowledge Through Research Award recognizes individual researchers or research teams that made a significant contribution to the nation’s understanding of crime victim issues. Through her individual and collaborative research projects, Ballan centers her investigations on the identification and amelioration of barriers impacting the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities and their families. Her pioneering research explores intimate partner violence, a public health concern that disproportionately impacts individuals with disabilities.

“Receiving this award from the Office for Victims of Crime is a high honor, and I am happy to have been selected along with other professionals who are doing such important work around the country to benefit people who are victims of crimes and injustices,” said Ballan, also a professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine at the Renaissance School of Medicine; research director for the Stony Brook Early Childhood Clinic; and director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) Center at Stony Brook University.

Ballan and the other awardees were recognized during a National Crime Victims’ Rights Week ceremony in Washington, D.C., in late April. Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon and Office for Victims of Crime Director Kristina Rose presented the 2024 winners with their awards.

Ballan ceremony
Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon, left, and Kristina Rose, Office for Victims of Crime Director, presented Ballan with the award. Credit: Office for Victims of Crime.

“Since 1981, the Nation has formally honored victim service providers and allied professionals, many of whom were driven to this work because of trauma they experienced personally,” said Kristina Rose, Director of the OVC. “It is an honor to recognize these individuals and organizations for dedicating themselves not only to making a difference to victims and survivors of crime, but to entire communities and society as a whole.”

The awardees were selected from public nominations in multiple categories, including allied professionals, research, victim services, survivor voices and tomorrow’s leaders.

At Stony Brook, Ballan pursues research alongside colleagues with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who she has trained and supported in their role as research team members. She mentors professors across different schools and numerous predoctoral and postdoctoral LEND trainees in 10 healthcare disciplines, in addition to families and self-advocates. She also works with outside practitioners and nonprofit organizations to better understand the needs of their clients with disabilities.

Her collaborative work and ongoing research have yielded insight into the factors motivating people with disabilities to seek assistance from domestic violence agencies and has highlighted the societal need for increased interdependence and self-efficacy to enable individuals to find alternatives to violent relationships.

Group photo
All of the award recipients.

For more about the award, Ballan’s research focus, how it impacts victims of crime, and collaborative work at Stony Brook University, see this OVC webpage and video.

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