Desmond U. Patton

Director

Dr. Desmond Upton Patton is an Assistant Professor at the Columbia School of Social Work, a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center, and a Faculty Affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and the Data Science Institute. His research utilizes qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine how and why gang violence, trauma, grief, and identity are expressed on social media and the real world impact they have on well-being for low-income youth of color.


His current research projects examine:

  1. How gang-involved youth conceptualize threats on social media
  2. The extent to which social media shapes and facilitates youth and gang violence
  3. Developing a natural language processing tool for detecting aggression and grief in social media posts in partnership with the Data Science Institute at Columbia University.

Dr. Patton’s research on Internet Banging has been discussed nationally on media outlets to include the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NPR, Boston Magazine, ABC News, and many more. Dr. Patton also provides expert witness testimony using social media during court trials. He was recently cited in an Amici Curae Brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in the Elonis vs United States case which examined the issues of interpreting threats on social media.

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Social Service Administration, University of Chicago - Chicago
  • M.S.W., Social Work, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  • BA, Anthropology & Political Science, University of North Carolina - Greensboro