Professional Biography

Dr. Aikins joined the faculty of Penn GSE in Fall 2013. A native Californian, he received his Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011, and specializes in collegiate substance abuse and student health research. Dr. Aikins has teaching, administrative, and research experience in K-12 and postsecondary settings, including the University of Southern California, Carnegie Mellon University, UCLA, and Occidental College. 

Prior to joining Penn GSE, Dr. Aikins received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Institute of Health (NIH) Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Development and Research Institutes (NDRI) in New York City, and lectured at CUNY Brooklyn College. He also served as a development consultant for The Freedom Writers Foundation in Long Beach, authoring more than $730,000 in grants from foundations including The Sherwood Foundation and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

In his current role, Dr. Aikins advises over 50 full- and part-time master’s students in the Higher Education Division, and oversees the graduate assistantship program for full-time M.S.Ed. students. Additionally, Dr. Aikins teaches graduate classes, supports admissions functions of the Higher Education Ph.D., Ed.D., and M.S.Ed. programs, and manages the Higher Education Division.


Research Interests and Current Projects


Ph.D. (Higher Education and Organizational Change) UCLA, 2011

M.A. (Higher Education and Organizational Change) UCLA, 2005

B.A. (English and Comparative Literary Studies; Education Minor) Occidental College, 2003

Areas of Expertise

College student health

Alcohol and other drug use

Student veteran populations

Mental health

Admissions and college access


Selected Publications