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Emily Ihara, PhD, MSW

Department of Social Work

Emily Ihara

Dr. Ihara, Associate Professor of Social Work, teaches courses on social policy and social justice, child welfare, human behavior in the social environment, and the social determinants of health. Her research focuses on the social determinants of health inequities across the life course, particularly for older adults, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations. An overarching goal of her research is to inform the development of contextually-relevant policies and services for non-dominant populations using the social determinants of health framework. She is currently exploring the integration of agent-based modeling as a tool to forecast multiple trajectories that may lead to health inequities and test different policy levers that could be altered to create different possible outcomes.  

Dr. Ihara is the national recipient of the H. Jack Geiger Congressional Health Policy Fellowship (2005-2006), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in Health Policy (1999-2004), and the Okura Mental Health Leadership Foundation Fellowship (2000). She has worked as a researcher and policy analyst for various agencies, including the Center on an Aging Society at Georgetown University, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services in Massachusetts. Dr. Ihara brings her extensive clinical experience as a social worker to children, adolescents, and adults with trauma, health, and mental health issues to her understanding of research and policy. 


  • PhD, Social Policy, Brandeis University, 2005
  • MA, Social Policy, Brandeis University, 2002
  • MSW, Social Welfare, University of California at Los Angeles, 1993
  • AB, Sociology (Minor: Asian American Studies), University of California at Berkeley, 1990