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Faculty > Riaan van Zyl, M.A., Ph.D.

Riaan van Zyl, M.A., Ph.D.

Michiel Adriaan (Riaan) van Zyl, Ph.D. is Director of the USF School of Social Work. He received his MSW (‘78) from the Rand Afrikaans University and his Ph.D. (‘86) from the University of Natal in South Africa.

Dr. Van Zyl’s academic background and education provided him with an international perspective of social work education and knowledge building, in particular in sub-Sahara Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom. He played a leading role in the enhancement of educational experiences of students at different institutions.

Dr. Van Zyl conducted several studies on new strategies to improve the identification of persons unaware of their HIV-1 infection and successfully link them to HIV testing, treatment, and prevention interventions. He collaborated on studies of STDs, teenage pregnancy prevention, prevention of child abuse and neglect, and other health-risk behaviors. His interest in prevention research also includes chronic disease and health disparities. His research interest in child welfare focusses on the prevention of child abuse and neglect, child welfare practice models and quality improvement in social service delivery. He led initiatives to curtail the crises of over-crowding in prisons and collaborated across sectors in advancing implementation science.  His work on measurement impacted various fields of practice including corrections, education, prevention of behavioral problems in young children, risk reduction, and organizational change. 

Dr. Van Zyl collaborated on 27 funded research projects as an investigator or evaluator.