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Boston College School of Social Work

Jessica Black

Jessica Black

Assistant Professor, Children, Youth & Families and Health & Mental Health

Jessica M. Black, PhD, is an Educational Neuroscientist and an Assistant Professor at the Boston College School of Social Work (BCSSW). She obtained her doctorate in Educational Psychology from Stanford University School of Education and then completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research within the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Black’s research integrates the use of neuroimaging (functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging), standard neuropsychological behavioral testing and environmental measures, such as the home supports, to predict outcome in children with risk for school failure. Within this population, Dr. Black focuses primarily on children with diagnosis of or risk for learning disabilities and children learning in non-native linguistic settings. Keenly interested in childhood resilience, Dr. Black has extended her neuroimaging research to better understand the neural underpinnings of humor and the extent to which humor and positive emotion generally may contribute to resilience during pivotal transitions in the lives of youth.

Dr. Black has published in top research journals such as Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, and The Journal of Neuroscience. To learn more about Dr. Black’s publications and research please view her Google Scholar Citation Profile and Research Gate Profile. Dr. Black collaborates with The Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research, Stanford University School of Medicine and The Brain LENS Lab at the University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Black is also engaged in integrating neuroscience into social work research, education and training. She is the Chair of the Neuroscience in Social Work Special Interest Group (SIG) within the Society for Social Work and Research, and is the Chair of the inaugural Social Work and Neuroscience Intersections Symposium and Conference to be held at the Boston College School of Social Work in the fall of 2015.  Dr. Black teaches SCWK7721 Human Behavior and the Social Environment, SCWK7726 Neuroscience of Human Relationships and Development, and SCWK7724 Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience in the Life Course. Completion of these three courses leads to the Neuroscience and Social Work Certificate within the BCSSW. 

In addition she is the faculty advisor to the BCSSW Social Brain Book Club and is working to integrate neuroscience research into several foundation courses within the BCSSW. Dr. Black is thrilled to be on the faculty within such an innovative and transformative environment and looks forward to continuing to provide social work students with education, training, and research opportunities in neuroscience.