Nicole Fava

Associate Professor

School of Social Work, Center for Children and Families, Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, CARES Lab

Office: AHC5-4568

Phone: 305-348-4568



Healthy adolescent and young adult development, sexual health and well-being, trauma, childhood maltreatment, adverse childhood experiences


Dr. Nicole Fava is an associate professor at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work at Florida International University. Her research bridges the childhood adversity and sexuality fields by prioritizing trauma-informed care and resilience-based sexual health promotion for vulnerable youth with histories of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). She was among the first to call for trauma-informed sexuality education to support the sexual health of all youth and to examine positive sexual outcomes and sexual health among youth with maltreatment histories. Fava has examined sexual agency of girls in the child welfare system, impact of social context on developing sexuality, safe sexual behaviors as normative and growth-promoting experiences, and trajectories of sexual health among people with histories of maltreatment, and sexual well-being among Latina farmworkers with histories of sexual trauma.

Dr. Fava’s most recent project, with funding from the NIH and RCMI at FIU, addressed a major gap in knowledge around the sexual health of racial and ethnic minority youth with histories of ACEs. This work is imperative as these youth are over-represented in adverse health outcomes research, but under-represented in examinations of healthy sexuality, leading to potentially inaccurate and over-simplified associations related to their health and well-being. The objective of this research was to develop a universal multidimensional trauma-informed measure of sexual health that would not retraumatize youth with histories of adversity. Guided by trauma-informed principles of trustworthiness and transparency, collaboration and mutuality, empowerment, voice, and choice, and cultural issues, this research departs from a risk-focused framework of sexuality, embraces a comprehensive definition of sexual health, employs trauma-informed principles across all levels of the research process, and focuses on Black and Latinx girls and boys who have experienced childhood adversity. Currently, no trauma-informed measure of sexual health exists. Researchers and clinicians will benefit from a valid and high-utility measure allowing them to more fully understand a critical aspect of development and highlight dimensions of sexual health to target with supportive interventions for individuals from diverse backgrounds.

With additional funding from The Children’s Trust, Dr. Fava leads a project providing trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for youth and families in Miami-Dade, and with funding from the Department of Justice in collaboration with the Miami-Dade Police Department and International Rescue Committee, Dr. Fava is evaluating work being done to address the issue of human trafficking in Miami-Dade.

Overall, Dr. Fava is especially interested in understanding multilevel factors impacting healthy development to inform effective and holistic interventions. She has a strong interdisciplinary background of training in research approaches, methods, and design, as well as training in trauma-specific interventions and holistic evidence-based intervention models.

Dr. Fava joined FIU Stempel College and the Center for Children and Families in 2015. She earned her PhD and MSW from the School of Social Work, University at Buffalo, New York.




  • Bowdoin College, AB
  • University at Buffalo, School of Social Work, MSW
  • University at Buffalo, School of Social Work, PhD
  • Wayne State University, Postdoctoral Fellow


Sanchez, M., Diez, S., Fava, N.M., Cyrus, E., Ravelo, G.J., Rojas, P., Li, T., Cano, M.A., & De La Rosa, M. (2019). Immigration Stress Among Recent Latino Immigrants: The Protective Role of Social Support and Religious Social Capital. Social Work in Public Health, 4, 279-292. doi: 10.1080/19371918.2019

Burke, S.L., Hu, T., Fava, N.M., Cottler, L., Duara, R., O’Driscoll, J., Alvarez, D. (2019). Factors Influencing Attrition in 35 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers Across the United States: A Longitudinal Examination of the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center’s Uniform Data Set. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research. doi: 10.1007/s40520-018-1087-6

Fava, N.M., Trucco, E.M., Martz, M.M., Cope, L., Jester, J., Heitzeg, M.M., & Zucker, R.A. (2018). Childhood adversity, externalizing behavior, and substance use in adolescence: Mediating effects of brain processes. Development and Psychopathology. doi:10.1017/S0954579418001025

Ladis, B., Macgowan, M., Thomlison, B., Fava, N.M., Huang, H., Trucco, E.M., & Martinez, M. (2019). Parent-focused prevention interventions for substance use and youth problem behaviors: A critical review. Research on Social Work Practice, 29(4), 420-442.

Fava, N.M., Bay-Cheng, L.Y., Nochajski, T.H., Bowker, J.C., & Hayes, T. (2018). A resilience framework: Sexual health trajectories of youth with maltreatment histories. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 19, 444-460. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2018.1451974

Burke, S., Hu, T., Fava, N.M., Li, T., Rodriguez, M., Schuldiner, K., Burgess, A., & Laird, A. (2018). Sex differences in the development of mild cognitive impairment and probable Alzheimer’s disease as predicted by hippocampal volume or white matter hyperintensities. Journal of Women & Aging. doi: 10.1080/08952841.2018.1419476

Descilo, T., Fava, N.M., Burke, S.L., Costa, I., Swanson, A., & Figley, C.R. (2017). The Effect of Traumatic Incident Reduction on Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms, Anxiety, Depression, and Success Expectancy in a Community Agency Setting. Research on Social Work Practice. DOI: 10.1177/1049731517745993

Fava, N.M., Li, T., Burke, S.L., & Wagner, E.F. (2017). Resilience in the context of fragility: Development of a multidimensional measure of child wellbeing within the Fragile Families dataset. Children and Youth Services Review, 81, 358-367.

Munro, M.L., Fava, N.M., Ronis, D.L., Darling-Fisher, C.S., Villarruel, A.M., Pardee, M., & Martyn, K.K. (2016). The Effect of a Youth-Centered Sexual Risk Event History Calendar (SREHC) Assessment on Sexual Risk Attitudes, Intentions, and Behavior. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 31, 302-313. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2016.09.004

Fava, N.M., Munro, M.L., Felicetti, I.L., Darling-Fisher, C.S., Pardee, M., Helman, A., Trucco, E.M., & Martyn, K.K. (2016). Patient-Centered Participatory Research in Three Health Clinics: Benefits, Challenges, and Lessons Learned. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 38, 1509-1530. doi: 10.1177/0193945916654665

Fava, N.M., Simon, V.A., Smith, E.P., Khan, M., Kovacevic, M., Rosenblum, K.L., Menke, R. & Muzik, M. (2016). Perceptions of General and Parenting-Specific Posttraumatic Change among Postpartum Mothers with Histories of Childhood Maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 56, 20-29. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.04.007

Munro, M. L., Fava, N. M., Saftner, M. A., Darling-Fisher, C. S., Tate, N. H., Stoddard, S. A., & Martyn, K.M. (2016). What are we missing? Risk behaviors among Arab-American adolescents and emerging adults. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 28, 493-502. doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12352

Simon, V.A., Smith, E., Fava, N.M., & Feiring, C (2015). Positive and Negative Posttraumatic Change Following Childhood Sexual Abuse Are Associated With Youths’ Adjustment. Child Maltreatment, 20, 278-290. doi: 10.1177/1077559515590872

Munro, M.L., Martyn, K.M., Fava, N.M., & Helman, A. (2014). Inter-rater reliability of the Measure of Patient-Centered Communication in health promotion clinic visits with youth. International Journal of Communication and Health, 3, 34-42.

Bay-Cheng, L.Y. & Fava, N.M. (2014). What puts “At-Risk Girls” at risk? Sexual vulnerability and social inequality in the lives of girls in the child welfare system. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 11, 116-125. doi: 10.1007/s13178-013-0142-5

Patterson-Silver Wolf, D.A., Dulmus, C.N., Maguin, E., & Fava, N.M. (2014). Refining the Evidence-Based Practice Attitude Scale: An Alternative Confirmatory Factor Analysis. Social Work Research, 38, 47-58. doi: 10.1093/swr/svu006

Martyn, K. K., Munro, M. L., Darling-Fisher, C. S., Ronis, D. L., Villarruel, A. M., Pardee, M., Faleer, H., & Fava, N. M. (2013). Patient-centered communication and health assessment with youth. Nursing Research, 62, 383-393. doi:10.1097/NNR.0000000000000005. PMID: 24165214.

Fava, N.M. & Bay-Cheng, L.Y. (2013). Trauma-informed sexuality education: Recognizing the rights and resilience of youth. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, 13, doi:10.1080/14681811.2012.745808.

Fava, N.M. & Bay-Cheng, L.Y. (2012). Young women’s adolescent experiences of oral sex: Relation of age of initiation to sexual motivation, sexual coercion, and psychological well-being. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 1191-1201.

Bay-Cheng, L.Y. & Fava, N.M. (2011). Young women’s experiences and perceptions of cunnilingus during adolescence. Journal of Sex Research, 48, 1-12.

Bay-Cheng, L. Y., Livingston, J. A., & Fava, N.M. (2011). Adolescent girls’ assessment and management of sexual risks: Insights from focus group research. Youth & Society, 43, 1167–1193.