Jennifer Swanberg

Professor + Capstone Coordinator

JWU Faculty Since 2020

Contact Info


About Jennifer

Jennifer E. Swanberg, Ph.D. MMHS, OTR/L, is an internationally-known scholar dedicated to improving the work life and well-being of vulnerable working populations through research and policy interventions. She comes to JWU with 25 years of experience in higher education as a teacher, researcher, founding director of an academic research center, and school dean; she has also spent roughly half as many years as a community-based occupational therapist.

Swanberg’s research focuses on the development of workplace and public policies that promote worker health and work-life fit. Her research expertise includes low-wage work, occupational health disparities, worker health, and work-life balance; she has also designed and implemented community- and industry-engaged studies utilizing innovative qualitative and quantitative research designs. She has worked with diverse employee populations, regularly engages employers and key industry and community stakeholders in the research process and is committed to translating research findings into resources that employers and policy makers can use to improve occupational health and safety and employee well-being. Such entities as the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, the Ford Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation have funded her research studies.

Swanberg’s current research explores breast cancer survivors’ experiences managing the cancer-work interface. She is also leading a study that is examining the meaning of work in womens’ lives.

She serves on the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Health Work Design and Well-being (HWD) Cross-Sector Council, an initiative of the Center for Disease Control’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. She has published extensively in top-tier research journals; provided testimony in support of federal and local labor-related policy initiatives; in addition, media often consults her about matters pertaining to low-wage work and work-family issues. She is the recent past U.S. editor of the academic journal Community, Work and Family. In 2010, she was invited by President and First Lady Obama to attend the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility.

She holds a Ph.D. in Social Policy and a MMHS in Management, both from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, and a B.S. in Occupational Therapy from the University of New Hampshire.

Swanberg enjoys art, as well as spending time in nature and with her dog, Bodhi. She is a hobby photographer, and an avid yoga and mindfulness meditation practitioner. She is studying to become a mindfulness meditation teacher with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield via the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training program.


  • Ph.D., Social Policy, Brandeis University
  • MMHS, Management, Brandeis University
  • B.S., Occupational Therapy, University of New Hampshire

In my role as capstone coordinator, I aim to ensure students have a customized, research-informed experience that offers them an opportunity to deepen their skills + knowledge in one specific area of occupational therapy.


  • OTD8320: Research III