About Maria

Email: mgandarillaocampo@wustl.edu

Maria is from Long Beach, CA. She received her BASW and MSW from the California State University, Long Beach School of Social Work (Go Beach!). Since graduating, Maria has worked as a case manager for families experiencing homelessness, an Emergency response Social Worker with families interacting with the child welfare system, as a Medical Social Worker with individuals and families receiving end of life care. She has also served as a preceptor and field instructor for BSW and MSW interns.

Maria loves group work practice and is actively involved in the International Association for Social Work with Groups (IASWG). She has varied experience facilitating different types of groups, and is a co-author in a group work textbook, Inclusive Group Work.


Maria is a fellow of the Chancellor’s Graduate Fellowship Program (CGFP). She is also a graduate research assistant for the Center for Innovation in Child Maltreatment Policy, Research, and Training (CMCI).

Maria serves as a Peer Mentor for the 2019 PhD Student Cohort and as the Programing Officer for the Graduate and Professional Advisory Council (GPAC) for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion.


This Summer (2019), Maria was one of the recipients of the ICPSR Diversity Initiative Scholarship- a competitive, fully funded scholarship for training at the ICPSR Summer Program of Quantitative Methods in Social Science Research at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. During the program, Maria attended the following courses:

  • Rational Choice Theories of Politics and Society
  • Machine Learning: Applications in Social Science Research
  • Multivariate Statistical Methods: Advanced Topics
  • Introduction to the R Statistical Computing Environment

Maria was also a recipient of a scholarship to attend the 2019 Kempe Interdisciplinary Summer Research Institute in Denver, CO. There, she attended the “Challenges & Opportunities in Child Maltreatment Research” course and received training from leading child maltreatment scholars.



Maria is working with her advisor, Dr. Brett Drake, and Dr. Melissa Jonson-Reid on:

  • A study using the NCANDS Child File and Missouri integrated longitudinal child maltreatment data to analyze differences in child maltreatment report source and child welfare outcomes.
  • A book chapter on the use of integrated data in child welfare research. 
  • A book chapter on predictive risk modeling (PRM) in child welfare.

She is also working with Dr. Lindsay Stark on the SALaMA Project.

  • Maria engaged in data collection via co-facilitating focus groups and in depth interviews with adolescents, caregivers, and key informants.
  • She is currently working on manuscript development.

Maria is working with Dr. Patricia Kohl on the Parents and Children Together–St. Louis (PACT-STL).

  • Maria is responsible for the administrative data component of the project, which includes: 
    •  Completing IRB paperwork to access  data at the child welfare population level and the PACT STL program participant level.
    • Linking and managing administrative data.
    • Conducting analyses, including the use of Predictive Risk Models (PRM) to evaluate risk of child maltreatment and the impact of program participation on families’ child welfare system interaction.

Research Interests

Child maltreatment epidemiology, well being across the life-span, and use of big data in child welfare research.