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Behavioral sciences professors represent Liberty at research conference in Portugal

Drs. Fred Volk (left) and Fred Milacci

Drs. Fred Volk and Fred Milacci from the Liberty University School of Behavioral Sciences, along with doctoral student Jennifer Smith Ramey, participated in the World Conference on Qualitative Research in the Algarve, Portugal, Jan. 25- 27, joining scholars from over 40 countries.

The annual gathering drew scholars with the most effective practices and recent developments in evaluating research. Liberty’s group presented its ongoing work in evaluating grants awarded to Horizon Behavioral Health, a local agency that develops and implements evidence-based services to help increase years of life and reduce disparities in health outcomes among individuals with serious mental illness and substance use. They also led two group discussions.

Volk was the co-principal investigator and project evaluator on an $800,000 grant Horizon received from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 2021, and he fulfilled the same role in 2022 for a $500,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). He and Dr. Milacci also provide project evaluation on a $2 million dollar grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on Family Treatment Drug Court.

Left to right: Milacci, Jennifer Smith Ramey, a conference participant, and Volk in a workshop discussion.

The group said they realized that the work they were doing was rare in the world of program and grant funding evaluation, and they wanted to share their process with others in addition to publishing their work in an academic journal. As a secondary benefit of their participation in the conference, all three said they were grateful for the chance to represent Liberty University well on an international scale by lending additional credibility to the university’s research and scholarly faculty and presence in academia as a Christian institution.

“The School of Behavioral Sciences is so proud of Dr. Fred Milacci, Dr. Fred Volk, and counseling doctoral student Jennifer Smith-Ramey for their research collaborations that they were able to present at the prestigious World Conference on Qualitative Research,” said School of Behavioral Sciences Dean Dr. Kenyon Knapp. “The multimillion-dollar federal grants that they work on to help provide mental health and drug court services through collaboration with Horizon Behavioral Health has been a great service to our community, and we could not be any more proud and grateful for their work.”

The trip was funded by Liberty’s Center for Research & Scholarship.

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