Senior Director of Research
Jennifer Middleton is an Associate Professor in the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville (UofL) and Director of the UofL Human Trafficking Research Initiative. Dr. Middleton’s research, teaching, and service activities all focus on partnering with communities to develop trauma-informed approaches to working with children and families impacted by trauma, substance abuse, and other adverse childhood experiences. In addition, her collaborative efforts aim to address the cumulative impact of working with traumatized populations on the professionals and organizations who serve them. Dr. Middleton leads multiple federally-funded, interdisciplinary research projects examining the impact of trauma-informed organizational change interventions within systems of care that serve sex-trafficked populations and address community violence within refugee, Tribal, urban, and rural community contexts. She recently completed a five-year $3.9M federal grant project that created a trauma-informed system of care for children directly impacted by the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Middleton is currently the Director of Implementation for a new five-year $5M SAMHSA grant aimed at addressing community violence, trauma, and inequities in west and south Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Middleton is also the Principal Investigator of two recently funded research projects which aim to address child sex trafficking: 1) Project STAAR: Survivors of Trafficking Creating Art, Advocacy, and Resilience, a qualitative study that utilizes photovoice methods to explore the lived experiences of child sex trafficking survivors, and 2) Project PIVOT: Prevention and Intervention of Victims of Trafficking, a comprehensive case review of all reported child sex trafficking cases over a 5-year period in Kentucky. Middleton is an active member of numerous local, state, national, and international human trafficking initiatives and is fully trained in the Sanctuary Model. During her forensic social work career, Dr. Middleton interviewed and provided services to over 4,000 sexually exploited and trafficked children and youth.