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Angela Matijczak

Ph.D. student


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Pronouns: She/they

M.S.W. (expected 2024), Virginia Commonwealth University 
B.A., University of New Haven

Angela Matijczak is a second-year PhD student at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. Angela earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a double minor in sociology and Latin American studies, from the University of New Haven in 2017. They then worked as a lab manager for two years at the Innovative Interactions Lab at Yale University, where she collaborated on research projects that investigated the influence of dogs on child socioemotional development and the benefits of dogs on stress in adults and children. She was primarily responsible for managing an NIH-funded study on the process of emotional contagion between humans and dogs.

During their first year, Angela served as a project coordinator for a collaborative study with Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) on childhood exposure to animal cruelty and its influence on children’s mental health. This project was under the auspice of the Children, Families, and Animals Research (CFAR) Group, LLC, led by Dr. Shelby McDonald. Then, Angela also was the project coordinator for the LGBTQ+ Youth Supports Study that investigates stressors and supports experienced by LGBTQ+ youth and young adults.

Broadly, Angela’s research focuses on risk and protective factors for LGBTQ+ youth. They are particularly interested in the relationships between LGBTQ+ youth and their family members. Additionally, based on her prior research experiences, she is also interested in the role of pets in the lives of LGBTQ+ youth and how pets may be used to facilitate more identity-affirming relationships between LGBTQ+ youth and their caregivers.

In their free time, Angela enjoys reading, playing guitar, listening to podcasts and eating pizza. She cites her dog, Penny, as a constant source of inspiration and support.

Notable awards, honors and appointments

  • Vice President, Doctoral Student Association - July 2021 - present
  • Student representative, School of Social Work Assembly - September 2020 - May 2021

Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Social Work
Academic Learning Commons
1000 Floyd Avenue, Third Floor
Box 842027
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2027

Phone: (804) 828-1030
Fax: (804) 828-0716
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