Susan B Sorenson, PhD

Susan B Sorenson, PhD
Senior Fellow

Professor, School of Social Policy and Practice; Executive Director of the Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships

Public Health Interests

Epidemiology, Policy, Violence/Injury Prevention

Current Public-Health Related Activities

Professor Susan B. Sorenson is a Professor of Social Policy, Professor of Health & Societies, and Executive Director of the Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships. She has a unique interdisciplinary background in epidemiology, sociology, and psychology. She moved to Penn in 2006 after more than 20 years at the UCLA School of Public Health. Since 1986, she has taught a graduate course in family and sexual violence – the first violence prevention course in a school of public health in the nation. She teaches three public health courses that she developed. With nearly 150 publications to her credit, Professor Sorenson has published widely in the epidemiology and prevention of violence, including the areas of homicide, suicide, sexual assault, child abuse, battering, and firearms. She helped establish violence against women as a public health issue and furthered the study of firearms as a consumer product. A primary focus of her work is the social context in which violence occurs, specifically, the norms that shape whether and how violence is tolerated. In addition to her academic work, Dr. Sorenson has served on the board of directors and advisory boards of local community-based organizations, state government agencies, and university injury prevention centers. In 1991, she co-founded the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, a broad coalition of agencies and individuals which continues to this day. She has provided invited testimony on violence prevention at the local, state, and federal levels. Professor Sorenson has served in multiple advisory roles. She was a member of the National Academy of Science’s Panel on Research on Violence Against Women, a consultant to President Clinton’s National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, a consultant to UNICEF’s May 2000 report on Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls, a member of the advisory panel for the 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence, author of a 2008 WHO report on health indicators of violence against children in low- and middle-income countries, and a member of the 2013 Institute of Medicine committee on Priorities for a Public Health Research Agenda to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-related Violence. She currently is serving a second term on the Committee on Law and Justice for the National Academy of Sciences. She also serves on the advisory board for the Biden Foundation in their efforts to end violence against women.

Select Publications:

Sorenson SB. Assessing views about gun violence reduction policy: A look at type of violence and expected effectiveness. Preventive Medicine, 2015, 79: 50-54.

Berk RA, Sorenson SB, Barnes G. Forecasting domestic violence: A machine learning approach to help inform arraignment decisions. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2016; 13(1): 94-115.

Sorenson SB. Guns in intimate partner violence:  Comparing incidents that involve a gun, other weapon, or no weapon. Journal of Women’s Health, 2017;26(3):249-258.

Cardoso L, Sorenson SB. Violence against women and household ownership of radios, computers, and phones in 20 countries. American Journal of Public Health, 2017;107(7):1175–1181.