About Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee

Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Dr. Smith Lee’s community engaged program of research investigates issues of trauma, violence, loss, and healing among Black boys, men, and families.

Rooted in Baltimore and growing in Greensboro...

Dr. Jocelyn R. Smith Lee’s research examines the health disparities of violent injury and violent death and works to understand how losing loved ones to homicide shapes the health, well-being, development, and family relationships of Black males and their social networks.

Dr. Smith Lee’s interdisciplinary research has been published in top tier journals such as the American Journal of Public Health and the American Journal of  Orthopsychiatry, presented at national scientific meetings and invited talks, and featured in  national news outlets. At UNC Greensboro, she is the founder and director of the Centering  Black Voices research lab (Twitter: @CenterBLKVoices) whose mission is to affirm humanity,  prevent violence, and promote healing in the lives of Black boys, men, and families through  research and action.


(*Graduate student co-author. **Undergraduate student co-author) Peer-Reviewed Articles

Published Since Being on Faculty at UNCG

  1. Addressing the inappropriate use of force by police in the United States and beyond: A behavioral and social science perspective (In Press). Report of the Police Violence Commission International Society for Research on Aggression. Members: Paul Boxer, Rutgers University Rod Brunson, Northeastern University Noni Gaylord-Harden, Texas A&M University Kimberly Kahn, Portland State University Desmond Patton, Columbia University Joseph Richardson, University of Maryland Luis Rivera, Rutgers University Jocelyn R. Smith Lee, University of North Carolina, Greensboro Mario Staller, University of Applied Sciences for Police and Public Administration in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany [Invited].
  2. Smith Lee, J. R., Hunter, A.G., **Priolli, F.P., & *Thornton, V.M. (2020). “Pray that I live to see another day”: Religious and spiritual coping with vulnerability to violent injury, violent death, and homicide bereavement among young Black men. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 70, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2020.101180 [Invited Special Issue: Development of Boys and Young Men of Color: Coping and Adaptation in Challenging Environments].
  3. Roy, K., & Smith Lee, J.R. (2020). Ghosting in safe relational spaces: Young Black men and the search for residence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 70,
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2020.101193 [Invited Special Issue: Development of Boys and Young Men of Color: Coping and Adaptation in Challenging Environments].
  4. Thomas, A., Smith Lee, J.R., Mohammed, M., Caldwell, C. H. (Accepted, February 2020). “Why don’t you reach out to dad?”: Involving fathers in therapy. Research on Social Work Practice [Invited Special Issue: Interventions with Fathers: Effective Social Work Practice for Enhancing Individual, Family, and Civic Well-being].
  5. Patton, D.U., Stevens, R., Smith Lee, J. R., & Frey, W. (2020). You set me up: Gendered perceptions of twitter communication among Black youth in Chicago. Social Media & Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120913877
  6. Smith, C. D. & Smith Lee, J. R. (2019). Advancing social justice and affirming humanity in developmental science research with African American boys and young men. Applied Developmental Science, 24(3), 208 – 214. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888691.2019.1630277 [Invited, peer-reviewed commentary in Sage and Sprout Series edited by V. M. Murry and R. A. Anderson].
  7. Crosby, S., Patton, D., Duncan, D., & Smith Lee, J. R. (2019). Framing neighborhood safety and academic success: Perspectives from high achieving Black boys in Chicago. Children, Youth and Environments, 29(1), 1-19. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.29.1.0001

Published Prior to Being on Faculty at UNCG

  1. Smith, J. R., & Patton, D. U. (2016). Posttraumatic stress symptoms in context: Examining trauma responses to violent exposure and homicide death among Black males in urban neighborhoods. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 86(2), 212 – 223. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000101
  2. Patton, D. U., Lane, J., Leonard, P., Macbeth, J., & Smith Lee, J. R. (2016). Gang violence on the digital street: Case study of a South Side Chicago gang member’s Twitter communication. New Media & Society, 1 – 19. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444815625949
  3. Smith, J. R. (2015). Unequal burdens of loss: Examining the frequency and timing of homicide deaths experienced by young Black men across the life course. American Journal of Public Health, 105(S3), S483-S490. http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2014.302535
  4. Assari, S., Smith, J. R., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Longitudinal links between fear of neighborhood violence, parental support, and depressive symptoms among male and female African American emerging adults. Societies, 5, 151 – 170. doi: 10.3390/soc5010151
  5. Roy, K., Messina, L., Smith, J. R., & Waters, D.W. (2014). Growing up as man-of-the-house: Adultification and transition into adulthood for young men in economically disadvantaged families. New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, 143, 55 –72. doi: 10.1002/cad.20054 [Special Issue: Pathways to adulthood for disconnected young men in low-income communities].
  6. Leslie, L., Smith, J. R., Hrapczynski, K. M., & Riley, D. (2013). Racial socialization in transracial adoptive families: Does it help adolescents deal with discrimination stress? Family Relations, 62(1), 72 – 81. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741 3729.2012.00744.x
  7. Epstein, N. B., Berger, A. T., Fang, J. J., Messina, L., Smith, J. R., Stevenson, Fang, X, & Liu, Q. X. (2012). Applying western-developed family therapy models in China. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 23, 217 – 237. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-25901-005

Scholarly Reports

Published Since Being on Faculty at UNCG

  1. Smith Lee, J. R. (2018). Who gets to be a victim of gun violence?: Examining the marginalized trauma and grief of boys and men in Black families. In Myers-Walls, J. A. (Ed.), NCFR Report – Family focus: Understanding gun violence from a family perspective (pp. F12-F13). Minneapolis, MN: National Council on Family Relations. [Distributed to all members of U.S. Congress by NCFR and forthcoming dissemination by NCFR to legislative bodies in all 50 states.]

Book Chapters

Published Since Being on Faculty at UNCG

  1. Smith Lee, J. R. (2017). Healing from inner city violence. [Invited Submission]. In L. Nelson & L. Padilla- Walker (Eds.), Flourishing in emerging adulthood: Positive development during the third decade of life (pp. 491 – 509). New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Smith Lee, J. R. (2016). A trauma-informed approach to affirming the humanity of African American boys and supporting healthy transitions to manhood. [Invited Submission]. In L. Burton, D. Burton, S. McHale, V. King, & J. Van Hook (Eds.), Boys and Men in African American Families (pp. 85 – 92). Switzerland: Springer.
  3. Roy, K. & Smith, J. R. (2013). Nonresident fathers and intergenerational parenting in kin networks. In N. J. Cabrera & C. S. Tamis-LeMonda (Eds.), Handbook of Father Involvement, 2nd ed. (pp. 320 – 337). New York: Routledge.



Community Trauma and Gun Violence Research (Virtual) Convening Largest gun prevention organization in the United States. Invited Presenter: Solutions that can prevent, intervene in, and solve community trauma.


Headquarters of Everytown for Gun Safety, New York, NY. Largest gun prevention organization in the United States. Invited Presenter: A trauma-informed approach to gun violence research: Seeing and responding to the marginalized trauma and grief of gun violence among Black boys, men, and families.


When They DON’T See Us: A Global Summit on the Embodiment of Racism, Violence, and Trauma. Boston College Summit on Racism and Trauma. Invited Presenter: A community-based participatory approach to addressing homicide in the lives of Black boys, men, and families. Panel Theme: Homicide, genocide, and justice.

Carolina Consortium on Human Development (CCHD), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Invited Talk: I’m on borrowed time: Examining how life course vulnerability to community and police violence shapes the health and wellbeing of Black boys, men, and families.

Society for Research on Child Development (SRCD) Biennial Meeting, Baltimore, MD. SRCD Black Caucus Social Policy Committee, Special Session. Invited Panelist: Unnecessary loss, unresolved grief.

Media Coverage


Disseminated Since Being on Faculty at UNCG

The Atlantic (2021, April). The Burden of Being ‘On Point’. Too often, traumatized Black boys’ behavior is pathologized. It’s actually rational.

UNCG Research Magazine (2020, Winter Issue). Centering Black Voices: Dr. Smith Lee’s Research Lab Explores The Unequal Burdens Of Trauma And Grief In The Lives Of Young Black Men. Feature Story.


UNCG Magazine (2020, October). Policing mental health: Timely research of Dr. Jocelyn Smith Lee.


Smith Lee 6 Division 38 of the American Psychological Association – The Society for Health Psychology. (2020, August). Layered Conversations: Bringing Diverse Perspectives to the Table! Podcast Episode 1: Conversation with Dr. Jocelyn Smith Lee: Contextualizing trauma and its effects on the health and well-being of Black men.


88.5 WFDD, Public Radio for the Piedmont, NPR. (2020, June). Study shows impacts of police violence on young Black men.


Philadelphia Inquirer. (2018, December). Triumph over loss – Warrior spirit: Bullets took their teammate, but on the Boys’ Latin football field, Jahsun Patton’s legacy lives on.


Disseminated Prior to Being on Faculty at UNCG

Reuters Health News. (2017, January). African-Americans suffer inordinate loss of parents, children and siblings.


Poughkeepsie Journal. (2016, February). City youths need safe have from trauma.


Mid-Hudson News. (2016, February). Family services looks at a new program.


Smith, J. R. (2014, February). Not gone but forgotten: The grief of young Black men we often fail to notice. emPower Magazine.