Desmond U. Patton, PhD, MSW

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Desmond U. Patton, PhD, MSW, is a social worker with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Appointments and Referrals: 1-800-TRY-CHOP (1-800-879-2467)

Education and Training

Undergraduate Degree

BA in Anthropology and Political Science - University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Graduate Degree

PhD in Social Service Administration, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice - University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
MSW - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Titles and Academic Titles

Social Worker

PIK Professor, Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania

Brian and Randi Schwartz University Professor

Departments and Services

Research Interests

Gun violence
Social media
Trauma, grief and loss
Data science




Landau**, A.Y., Ferrarello, S., Blanchard, A., Cato, K., Atkins, N., Salazar, S., Patton, D.U., & Topaz, M.: Developing machine learning-based models to help identify child abuse and neglect: key ethical challenges and recommended solutions. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 29(3): 576- 580, 2022 Notes: ** denotes trainee/mentee.

Mathiyazhagan, S., Salem, M., Willis, H., Patton, D.U.: Social work in metaverse: addressing tech policy gaps for racial and mental health equity. Internet Policy Review February 2022.


Anguiano, K. ,Darkwa, E., Patton, D.U.: Recommendations to end 21st century online "stop and frisk" policing. Tech Policy Press. March 2021.

Mathiyazhagan, S, Kleiner, S., Patton, D.U.: Social work in data science: Tech policy gaps and addressing harm. Tech Policy Press. March 2021.

Boxer, P., Brunson, R., Harden-Gaylor, N., Kahn, K., Patton, D.U., Richardson, J., Rivera, L, Smith-Lee, J., Staller, M.: Addressing the inappropriate use of force by police in the United States and beyond: A behavioral and social science perspective. Aggressive Behavior. 47(5): 502-512, 2021.

Elsaesser, C., Patton, D.U., Kelley, A., Santiago, J., Clarke, A.: Avoiding fights on social media: Strategies youth leverage to navigate conflict in a digital era. Journal of Community Psychology. 49(3): 806-821, 2021.


Patton, D.U., Frey, W., McGregor, K., Lee, F., McKeown, K.: Contextual analysis of social media: A qualitative approach to eliciting context in social media posts with natural language processing. Proceedings of the 2020 AAAI/ACM Conferences on AI, Ethics and Society. 2020: 337-342, February 2020.

Patton, D.U., Blandfort, P., Frey, W., Schifanella, R., McGregor, K., Chang, S.F.: VATAS: An open-source web platform for visual and textual analysis of social media. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. 11(1): 133-155, 2020.

Zhong, R**., Chen, Y., Patton.D.U., Sealous, C., McKeown, K.: Detecting and reducing bias in a high stake domain. 20' Proceedings of the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing. 2020 Notes: ** denotes trainee/mentee23% acceptance rate.


Blandfort,P., Patton, D.U., Bhargava, S., Chang, Shih-Fu.,., Frey, W., , Gaskell, M., Karaman, S., Schifanella, R., McKeown, K., Chang, S.: Multimodal detection of aggression, loss and substance use in tweets of Chicago gang members. MM '18 Proceedings of the 2018 ACM on Multimedia Conference. 2019.

Crosby, S.**, Patton, D.U., Duncan, D., Smith Lee, J.: Framing neighborhood safety and academic success: Perspectives from high-achieving black youth in Chicago. Children, Youth and Environments. 29(1): 1-19, 2019 Notes: ** denotes trainee/mentee.

Patton, D.U., Blandfort, P., Frey, W., Gaskell, M., Karaman, S: Annotating social media data from vulnerable populations: Evaluation disagreement between domain experts and graduate student annotators. In the Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on Systems Science52. 2019.

Patton, D.U., Frey, W., Gaskell, M.: Guns on social media: Complex interpretations of gun images by Chicago youth. Nature, Palgrave Communications 5(1): 1-8, 2019.

Patton, D.U., Leonard, P., Eschmann, R.D., Patel, S., Elsaesser, C., & Crosby, S.: What's a threat on social media? How Black and Latino young men in Chicago navigate threats online. Youth & Society. 51(6): 756-772, 2019 Notes: DOI: 10.1177/0044118X177yout20325.

Patton, D.U., Pyooz, D., Decker, S., Leonard, P., & Frey, W.: When Twitter fingers turn to trigger fingers: A sociolinguistic study of internet-mediated gang violence. International Journal of Bullying Prevention. 1: 205-217, 2019.

Patton, D.U., Sodhi, A., Lee, J., Affinati, S., & Crandall, M.: Post-discharge needs of victims of gun violence in Chicago: A qualitative study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 34(1): 135-155, 2019 Notes: DOI: 10.1177/0886260516669545.


Blandfort, P., Hees, J., Patton, D.U.: An overview of computational approaches for interpretation analysis. arXiv 2018 Notes: preprint arXiv:1811.04028.

Chang, S**., Varia, S., Lee, Fei-Tzin., Kedzie, C., Patton, D.U., Frey, W. McKeown, K.: Detecting gang-involved escalation on social media using context. 18' Proceedings of the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing. 2018 Notes: ** denotes trainee/mentee10% acceptance rate.

Frey, W**. Patton, D.U., Gaskell, M., McGregor, K.: Artificial intelligence and inclusion: Formerly gang-involved youth as domain experts for analyzing unstructured Twitter data. Social Science Computer Review. 38(1): 42-56, 2018 Notes: ** denotes trainee/mentee Awarded *Abstract with Distinction* from the Society for Prevention Research.

Hollingsworth, L.D., Patton, D.U., Allen, P.C., & Bryant, K.E.: Racial microaggressions in social work education: Black students' encounters in a predominantly White institution. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work. 27(1): 95-105, 2018 Notes: DOI: 10.1080/15313204.2017.1417942

Patton, D.U., Macbeth, J., Shoenbeck, S., Shear, K., McKeown, K.: Accommodating grief on Twitter: An analysis of expressions of grief among gang involved youth on Twitter using qualitative analysis and natural language processing. Biomedical Informatics Insights. 3(10): 1178222618763155, 2018 Notes: DOI: 10.117/117222618763155.

Patton, D.U., McGregor, K., & Slutkin, G.: Youth violence prevention in a digital era. Pediatrics. 141(4): e20172438. 2018 Notes: DOI: 10.1542/peds.2017-2438.

Patton, D.U., Rambow, O., Auerbach, J., Li, K., & Frey, W.: Expressions of loss predict aggressive comments on Twitter among gang involved youth in Chicago. Nature Partner Journal: Digital Medicine. 1(11): 1-2, 2018 Notes: DOI: 10.1038/s4176-018-0020.

Tan, K., Patton, D.U., & Cordova, D.: School factors and adolescent substance abuse: Are there differences by population density? Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions 18(2): 153-167, 2018 Notes: DOI: 10.1080/1533256X.2018.1450263.


Patton, D.U., Brunton, D., Dixon, A., Hackman, R.J., & Miller R.: Stop and frisk online: Theorizing everyday racism in digital policing in the use of social media for the identification of criminal conduct and associations. Social Media + Society. 3(3): 2056305117733344, 2017 Notes: DOI: 10.1177/2056305117733344.

Patton, D.U., Dungy, L., Hong, J.S., & Leonard, P.: Gang violence, crime and substance use on Twitter: A snapshot of gang communications in Detroit. Violence and Victims. 32(5): 919-934, 2017 Notes: DOI: 10.191/0886-6708 VV D-16-00040.


Patton, D.U*., & Roth, B*.: Good kids with ties to deviant peers: Network strategies used by African American and Latino young men in violent neighborhoods. Children and Youth Service Review 66: 123-130, July 2016 Notes: * denotes equal authorship. DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2016.04.020.

Blevins, T., Kwitakowski, R., Macbeth, J., McKeown, K., Patton, D.U., & Rambow, O.: Automatically processing tweets from gang-involved youth: Towards detecting loss and aggression. Proceedings of COLING 2016, the 26th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Technical Papers Page: 2196-2206, 2016 Notes: Authors are in alphabetical order.

Hong, J.S., Lee, J., Espelage, D.L., Hunter, S.C., Patton, D.U., & Rivers, Jr., T.: Understanding the correlates of face-to-face and cyberbullying victimization among U.S. adolescents: A social-ecological analysis. Violence and Victims. 31(4): 638-663, 2016.

Patton, D.U., Eschmann, R.D., Elsaesser, C., & Bocanegra, E.: Sticks, stones and Facebook accounts: What violence outreach workers know about social media and urban-based gang violence in Chicago. Computers in Human Behavior 65: 591-600, December 2016 Notes: DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.052. 16. Patton, D.U., Leonard, P., Cahill, L., Macbeth, J., Crosby, S., & Brunton, D.: "Police took my homie I dedicate my life 2 his revenge": Twitter tensions between ganginvolved youth and police in Chicago. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment 26(3-4): 310-324, 2016 Notes: DOI: 10.1080/10911359.2015.1127738.

Patton, D.U., Leonard, P., Lane, J., & Macbeth, J.: Gang violence on the digital street: A case study of a South Side Chicago gang member's Twitter communication. New Media and Society 19(7): 1000-1018, 2016 Notes: New Media and Society's most-read article in February 2016DOI: 10.1177/1461444815625949.

Patton, D.U., McKeown, K., Rambow, O., & MacBeth, J.: Using natural language processing and qualitative analysis to intervene in gang violence: A collaboration between a social work researcher and data scientist. Proceedings of the Second Annual Data for Good Exchange Conference. 2016.

Patton, D.U., Miller, R.J., Garbarino, J., Gale, A., & Kornfeld, E.: Hardiness scripts: High-achieving African American boys in a Chicago charter school navigating community violence and school. Journal of Community Psychology. 44(5): 638- 655, 2016 Notes: DOI:10.1002/jcop.21791.

Smith, J.R., & Patton, D.U.: Posttraumatic stress symptoms in context: Examining trauma responses to violent exposures and homicide death among Black males in urban neighborhoods. Journal of Orthopsychiatry 86(2): 212-223, 2016 Notes: DOI: 10.1037/ort0000101.


Patton, D.U., & Miller, R.J.: Examining the relationship between adolescent violence exposure and adulthood violence perpetration among urban Black and African American men. Academy of Violence and Abuse Research Review 5: 1-4, February 2015.

Miller, R., Miller, J., Djoric, J., & Patton, D. U.: Baldwin's mill: Race, punishment, and the pedagogy of repression, 1965-2015. Humanity and Society 39(4): 456- 475, 2015 Notes: DOI: 10.1177/0160597615609188.

Miller, R.J., Patton, D.U., & Williams, E.: Rethinking prisoner reentry. Offender Program Reports 19(1): 1-4, 2015.

Patton, D.U., Sanchez. N., Fitch, D., Macbeth, J., & Leonard, P.: I know God's got a day 4 me: Violence, trauma and coping among gang-involved Twitter users. Social Science Computer Review 35(2): 226-243, 2015 Notes: DOI: 10.1177/0894439315613319.


Patton, D.U, Eschmann, R.D. & Butler, D.A.: Internet banging: New trends in social media, gang violence, masculinity and hip hop. Computers in Human Behavior 29(5): A54-A59, 2013 Notes: DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.035.


Patton, D.U.: Evaluation of safe passage in Chicago. Children's Memorial Hospital. 2012.

Patton, D.U., Woolley, M.E., & Hong, J.S.: Exposure to violence, student fear, and low academic achievement: African American males in the critical transition to high school. Children and Youth Service Review 34(2): 388-395, 2012 Notes: DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.11.009.


Imai, R., Patton, D.U., Rodkin, J., & Small, M.: Qualitative evaluation of the CPS 2010- 2011 Mentor and Advocacy Program. Chicago Public Schools. 2011.

Patton, D.U.: Listening sessions final report. Children's Memorial Hospital. 2011.


Patton, D.U., & Johnson, D.W.: Exposure to community violence and social capital: African American students in the critical transition to high school. Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy 16: 53-72, January 2010.


Roderick, M., Nagaoka, J., Moeller, E; with Roddie, K., Gilliam, J., & Patton, D.U.: From high school to the future. Consortium on Chicago School Research. March 2008.




Patton, D.U. Landau, A., Mathiyazhagan, S.: Meet them where they are: A social work informed considerations for youth inclusion in AI violence prevention systems. Algorithmic rights and protections for children. M. Ito, R. Cross, K. Dinakar, & C. Odgers (eds.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021.


Miller, R. J., Delva, J., & Patton, D. U.: Using groups in criminal justice settings. Handbook of social work with groups (2nd ed.). C.D. Garvin, L.M. Gutierrez, & M.J. Galinsky (eds.). New York: Guilford. Page: 417-430, 2017.


Hong, J.S., & Patton, D.U.: Gangs in schools. Encyclopedia of human services and diversity. L.H. Cousins (eds.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Page: 573-574, 2014.


Patton, D.U., & Garbarino, J.: The hurting child inside the young Black male. The psychology of black boys and adolescents. K.C. Vaughans & W. Spielberg (eds.). Page: 541-552, 2013 Notes: Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Patton, D.U.: Between two worlds: Resilient African American adolescent males navigating community violence. African American perspectives: Family dynamics, health care issues and the role of ethnic identity. M.S. Harris (eds.). New York: Nova Science Publishers. 2013.


Woolley, M.E., & Patton, D.U.: School violence. Encyclopedia of the life course and human development, Vol. 1: Childhood and Adolescence D. Carr (eds.). Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA. Page: 416-420, 2009.

Posters and Presentations

Invited Lectures


Patton DU. "Algorithms, Bias and Fairness." Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference. Washington, DC. Jan 2022.


Patton DU. "The Promise and Ethical Challenge of Using AI for Gang Violence Prevention." The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Nov 2021.

Patton DU. "Developing Empathetic Tech with Community of Color for Gun Violence For Gun Violence Prevention: A Social Work Approach." New York University Silver School of Social Work, New York, NY. Nov 2021.

Patton DU. "AI for Innovative Social Work." Twitter. Nov 2021.

Patton DU. "Community Data Science Approaches for Gang Violence Prevention." Spotify. Nov 2021.

Patton DU. "Bias in AI: Why it's a problem and what should be done about it." Barnard College, New York, NY. May 2021.

Patton DU. "Confronting Race in Data Science." Harvard Data Science Initiative, Cambridge, MA. Mar 2021.

Patton DU. "Social Work Research and Technology: Leveraging AI, Topic Modeling and Community Based Research for Research on Human Services, Violence and Grief." Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference. Virtual. Jan 2021.


Patton DU. "National Social Work Teach-In." #SWEduActs. Virtual. Oct 2020.

Patton DU. "Doctoral Education in Social Work." University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Chicago, IL. Oct 2020.

Patton DU. "AI for Innovative Social Work." Alan Turing Institute. Virtual. Aug 2020.

Patton DU. "Confronting Racial Bias in Social Media Data and AI tools against Gun Violence." University of Pittsburg Center on Race and Social Problems. Pittsburg, PA. Apr 2020.

Patton DU. "Social Work and Emerging Technology, AI and Virtual Reality (Keynote)." National Association of Social Workers, Virtual. Apr 2020.

Patton DU. "Bridging the Digital Divide During Covid-19." Manhattan Borough President's Office, Virtual. Apr 2020.

Patton DU. "Can AI solve gun violence or is it part of the problem?" Carr Center for Human Rights. Harvard Kennedy School. Cambridge, MA. Mar 2020.

Patton DU. "Contextual Analysis of Social Media." Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Comparative Media Studies. Cambridge, MA. Feb 2020.

Patton DU. "Social Work and the Future of Policing." Congressional Briefing. Virtual. Jan 2020.

Awards and Honors

2019, Fellow, Google Next Generation Policy Leaders
2019, Award, First Prize, Creative Technology, New York City Media Lab
2019, Presidential Leadership Scholar
2018, Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award, Society for Social Work and Research
2018, Obama Foundation Fellowship, Finalist
2016, Certificate of Appreciation for Educators, Manhattan Borough President
2014, Commencement Speaker, University of Michigan School of Social Work
2013, Michigan Road Scholars Awardee, University of Michigan
2013, Golden Apple Award Nominee (outstanding teaching), University of Michigan
2008, Doctoral Theory Fellowship, University of Chicago
2006, Education Pioneers Fellowship, University of Michigan
2006, Olivia P. Maynard Fellow, University of Michigan
2006, Merit Scholar, University of Michigan
2004, Honors College Graduate, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
2004, Undergraduate Research Fellowship, University of North Carolina-Greensboro

Editorial and Academic Positions

Academic and Institutional Committees

2017-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Nature Partner Journal: Digital Medicine
2015-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Justice Quarterly
2014-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Criminology
2014-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Pediatrics
2014-present, Ad hoc reviewer, New Media and Society
2013-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Journal of Health Psychology
2013-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Qualitative Health Research
2013-present, Ad hoc reviewer, City and Community
2013-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Journal of Black Psychology
2013-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Social Work
2013-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Violence and Victims
2013-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Journal of Orthopsychiatry
2013-present, Ad hoc reviewer, International Journal of Men's Health
2012-present, Ad hoc reviewer, Computers in Human Behavior
2012-present, Ad hoc reviewer, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

Leadership and Memberships

Memberships in Professional Organizations

2022-present, Spotify Safety Advisory Council
2022-present, Social Science Research Council
 - 2022-present, Just Tech Advisory Council
2022-present, Axon, Community Advisory Coalition
2021-present, Future of Work Working Group, Verizon
2020-present, Twitter Academic Advisory Board
2019-present, Society for Social Work and Research, Fellow
2013-present, Academy of Violence and Abuse
2012-present, Society for Research on Adolescence
2012-present, National Association of Social Workers