Brian and Randi Schwartz University Professor, University of Pennsylvania; SAFElab Director

Desmond Upton Patton

Desmond Upton Patton, a Data & Society advisor, studies the impact social media has on well-being, mental health, trauma, violence, and grief for youth and adults of color. He leverages social work thinking, data science, qualitative methods, and community partnerships to develop strategies to support digital grief and trauma and reduce on and offline gun-related violence. 

Patton is the Brian and Randi Schwartz University Professor and the thirty-first Penn Integrates Knowledge University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He has joint appointments in the School of Social Policy & Practice and the Annenberg School for Communication, and a secondary appointment in the department of psychiatry in the Perelman School of Medicine. His groundbreaking research into the relationship between social media and gang violence — specifically how communities constructed online can influence often harmful behavior offline — has led to his becoming the most cited and recognized scholar in this increasingly important area of social science. 

Patton is a member of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility at AAAS, and a member of the scientific board for Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development. Before joining Penn, Patton was professor of social Work and sociology at Columbia University, senior associate dean at Columbia School of Social Work and associate director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Columbia’s Data Science Institute.

All Work