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New Faculty Focus: Tova Walsh

She joins the School of Social Work with a focus on understanding and improving health and wellbeing in families, particularly those that face barriers in developing nurturing parent-child relationships.

by Katie Vaughn October 19, 2018

Tova Walsh

Title: Assistant Professor of Social Work

Hometown: Amherst, Massachusetts

Educational background: BA from Brandeis University, MSW and Joint PhD in Social Work and Psychology from the University of Michigan.

What attracted you to UW-Madison? 

Wonderful students and colleagues and a strong campus community attracted me to UW-Madison. At the School of Social Work and across UW-Madison, students and colleagues are learning about and addressing important social problems that impact lives in Madison, Wisconsin, the United States and the world. It’s exciting to learn from and with people who are deeply committed to the Wisconsin Idea. 

What was your first visit to campus like?  

I got snowed in! When I visited campus to interview for a position in the School of Social Work, it snowed heavily and flights were cancelled. I’d already had a great visit to UW and I got an extra day to explore Madison.  

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with?  

I hope my students will recognize their own potential and responsibility as social workers to contribute to a more equitable and socially just society.  

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.

I am committed to addressing questions that matter beyond the boundaries of the classroom and applying what I learn, in partnership with communities, to impact lives. I have examined the parenting support needs of understudied and underserved groups including new fathers and parents of young children in military-connected families, with the goal of informing efforts to promote positive parenting, build strong and enduring parent-child relationships and enhance child wellbeing. I have also collaborated to develop and test innovative technology-based approaches to meet the specific needs of these groups of parents and help them to support their young children’s development.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?  

Often people think of infancy and toddlerhood as a time when children are unaware of many things happening around them and assume that children will not be deeply impacted by stressors that the family is facing. In fact, early exposures, experiences and relationships provide the foundations for the child’s developmental trajectory and relational capacities across the lifecourse.

Hobbies/other interests: 

Hiking, baking, playing with my two young children.