Faculty Directory

Robert O. Motley Jr.

Assistant Professor


Assistant Professor Robert O. Motley Jr., PhD, MSW, joined the School of Social Work in 2021. He obtained his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis Brown School of Social Work, where he was a National Institute of Mental Health (T-32) Pre-doctoral Fellow. His research examines the intersection of racism, violence, and trauma for Black emerging adults ages 18-29 and associated adverse mental and behavioral outcomes.

With support from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (F31MD013386), and Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation, his most recent research employed qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the relationship between exposure to perceived racism-based police use of force, racism-based trauma symptoms, and substance use in a sample of Black emerging adults in St. Louis, Missouri. He looks to identify risk and protective factors that can be targeted by behavioral health intervention programs and advance personal safety practices and policies in America that are respective of equity and human dignity for marginalized emerging adult populations.

Dr. Motley served as the lab manager for the Race and Opportunity lab at the Brown School for five years where he developed administrative processes for lab recruitment and research, oversaw all research projects and events, supervised undergraduate/graduate students, and conducted data analyses and manuscript development for publication. He also coordinated the speaker series for the Journal Club on Race in Science at the Brown School, an interdisciplinary group of doctoral students, postdocs, and faculty who critically examine racial statistics, ethnicity, and culture in social and behavioral research.

Dr. Motley received a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from Northeastern Illinois University. He has presented research findings at national scientific conferences and submitted manuscripts that were accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.


Motley, R., Simmons, E., Azasu, E., Clifton, M., Walker, D. T., & Carnayla Johnson. (2022). Utilizing a Mediation-Moderation Model to Examine Exposure to Videos of Police use of Force in Media, Police Contact Anxiety, Grit, and Suicidality among Black Emerging adult College Students. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1086/722584

Motley, R. O., Jr., Byansi, W., Siddiqi, R., Bills, K., & Salas-Wright, C. P. (2022). Perceived Racism-based Police Use of Force and Cannabis Use among Black Emerging Adults. Addictive Behaviors Reports. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2022.100430

Motley, R. O., Jr., Joe, S., McQueen, A., Clifton, M., & Carlton, D. (2022). Development, Construct Validity, and Measurement Invariance of the Modified Classes of Racism Frequency of Racial Experiences Measure (M-CRFRE) to Capture Direct and Indirect Exposure to Perceived Racism-Based Police use of Force for Black Emerging Adults. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000525

Motley, R. O., Jr., & Joe, S. (2021). Exposure to Police use-of-force, Perceived Police Legitimacy, and Personal Safety Interventions Among Black Emerging Adult College Students. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. Advance online publication. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1086/717586

Motley, R. O., Jr, & Rogers, C. (2021). Insights on Neural Response to Racist Threats. JAMA Psychiatryhttps://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.1254

Motley, R. O., Jr., Finner, A., Walker, M., & Joe, S. (2020, June). Accountable policing: Policies to advance the personal safety of Black boys and young men (Race and Opportunity Lab Brief Report No. 3). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development, Race and Opportunity Lab. https://doi.org/10.7936/b0kj-hn71

Motley, R., Chen, Y. C., Johnson, C., & Joe, S. (2020). Exposure to community-based violence on social media among black male emerging adults involved with the criminal justice system. Social Work Research, 44(2), 87-97. https://doi.org/10.1093/swr/svaa002

Pettus-Davis., C., Renn, T., Lacasse, J. & Motley, R. (2019). Proposing a population-specific intervention approach to treat trauma among men before and after incarceration. Psychology of Men and Masculinity. doi:10.1037/men0000171.

Motley, R. & Banks, A. (2018). Black males, trauma, and mental health service Use: A systematic review. Perspectives on Social Work, 14(1), 4-19.

Motley, R., & Joe, S. (2018). Police use of force by ethnicity, sex, and socioeconomic class. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 9(1), 49-67.

Motley, R., Sewell, W., & Chen, Y.C. (2017). Community violence exposure and risk-taking behaviors among black emerging adults: A systematic review. Journal of Community Health, 42(5), 1069-1078.


August 2022-July 2024: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Evidence for Action Grant Award ($395,560) Principal Investigator: Robert O. Motley Jr., PhD. 

May 2019-April 2021: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award Individual Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Award (F31MD013386; $60,936) Principal Investigator: Robert O. Motley Jr., PhD. 

February 2019: Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation Doctoral Dissertation Grant Award ($5,000) Principal Investigator: Robert O. Motley Jr., PhD.

March 2019: Researcher Resiliency Training Program Fellowship, National Institute of Mental Health (R25MH118935; $4,000) Principal Investigators: Mary McKay PhD, Sean Joe, PhD, Fred Ssewamala, PhD.


July 2022: Appointed as a member of BCSSW Academic Standards Review Committee

May 2022: Selected to serve on the BCSSW Executive Board

June 2021: Selected to serve on the BCSSW Doctoral Committee

November 2020: Appointed as a Teaching Fellow with the Brown School for the spring 2021 semester. Developed and taught course S31-5182.01 Special Topics: Trauma of Policing Among Marginalized Populations in America