Sonia Minnes, PhD

Verna Houck Motto Professor
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences
Research Director
Schubert Center for Child Studies
Interim Chair, Doctoral Program
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Sonia Minnes is the Verna Houck Motto Professor of Social Work at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS) and Research Director at the Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University. She holds bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in psychology and a doctorate in social welfare from the Mandel School. Her research interests are in the study of child development, the multiple factors that affect cognitive and mental health outcomes, and the development of problematic substance use. Dr. Minnes studies risk and protective factors, both biological and environmental, that interact to affect developmental outcomes. Biologic risk factors of interest include prenatal drug exposure (opioid, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco) and elevated blood lead levels. Environmental factors of interest include exposure to ongoing stress, maternal psychopathology and substance use, out-of-home placement, and other conditions related to compromised opportunity and socioeconomic status.

Dr. Minnes was the Principal Investigator of a longitudinal study of prenatal cocaine exposure funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This study has now completed its fifth phase of data collection after 21 years. She and her colleagues followed a group of over 400 caregiver infant pairs since the children were born (1994-1996). Dr. Minnes is currently analyzing data from across childhood development and emerging adulthood and will evaluate participant substance use and antisocial behaviors, the development of mental health problems, and adaptive functioning. Through her work with multi-risk, prenatally drug-exposed children, she has recognized the importance of health disparities among inner-city children, particularly in regard to exposure to environmental hazards, including lead found in old housing stock and water in US cities. 

Most recently, Dr. Minnes became the Research Director of the Schubert Center for Child Studies (September 2020), where she has collaborated with partners from CWRU’s Department of Environmental Health and has worked to evaluate supportive after-school programming for middle and high school children in Cleveland and community programs that support families with young children (Louise Stokes Scholar House, Family Space, and Cuyahoga Safe Babies Court). Dr. Minnes has also joined the collaborative efforts of First Year Cleveland and the Mandel School to reduce disparities in infant mortality by serving as an advisor. 

The Verna Houck Motto Professorship supports a faculty member involved in family and community research with a focus on early childhood development.

Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar

Research Information

Research Interests

  • Child development
  • Biologic risk factors
  • Prenatal drug exposure
  • Mental health


Recent Publications

Peer Reviewed

Singer, L. T., Powers, G., Kim, J. Y., Minnes, S., & Min, M. O. (2023). Cognitive and functional outcomes  at age 21 after prenatal cocaine/polydrug exposure and foster/adoptive care. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 107151.

Min, M. O., Minnes, S., Kim, S. K., Kim, J. Y., & Singer, L. T. (2022). Prenatal cocaine exposure and  substance use disorder in emerging adulthood at age 21. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 242, 109736.

Freedman, D. A., Ciesielski, T. H., Yamoah, O., Borawski, E. A., Ross, K. R., Nock, N. L., ... & Tisch, D. J. (2022). Improving Surveillance and Epidemic Response in Ohio Childcare Settings. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(24), 16927.

Powers, G., Lewis, B., Min, M. O., Minnes, S., Kim, J. Y., Kim, S. K., & Singer, L. (2022). The association
of prenatal cocaine exposure with expressive and receptive language skills, phonological processing and reading ability at age 17. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 95, 107135.

Kim, J. Y., Minnes, S., Min, M. O., Kim, S. K., Lang, A., Weishampel, P., ... & Singer, L. T. (2022). Self-reported mental health outcomes in prenatally cocaine exposed adolescents at 17 years of age. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 94, 107132.

Kim, J. Y., Minnes, S., Min, M. O., & Ridenour, T. A. (2022). Co-occurrence of Psychopathology Problems in At-Risk Adolescents. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 1-16.

Min, M. O., Kim, J. Y., Minnes, S., Kim, S. K., Musson Rose, D., & Singer, L. T. (2022). Substance use and individual assets in urban adolescents: Subgroups and correlates in emerging adulthood. Journal of Adolescence, 94, 684-697.

Kim, J. Y., Minnes, S., Ridenour, T. A., Perzynski, A. T., Min, M. O., & Singer, L. T. (2022). Attitudinal Tolerance of Deviance in At-Risk Early Adolescents. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 13(4), 691-714. DOI:

Min, M. O., Lewis, B. A., Minnes, S., Gonzalez-Pons, K. M., Kim, J. Y., & Singer, L. T. (2022). Preschool blood lead levels, language competency, and substance use in adolescence. Environmental Research, 206, 112273.

Burkhart, K., Minnes, S., Yamoah, O., Doernberg, E., Balser, S., Ciesielski, T., ... & Freedman, D. A. (2021). The effects of COVID-19-related stress among parents and children in Ohio child care programs: a mixed-methods study. Children's Health Care, 1-23.

Min, M. O., Albert, J. M., Lorincz-Comi, N., Minnes, S., Lester, B., Momotaz, H., Powers, G.,* Yoon, D., and & Singer, L. T. (2021). Prenatal substance exposure and developmental trajectories of internalizing symptoms: toddlerhood to preadolescence. Drug and alcohol dependence, 218, 108411.

Min, M.O., Minnes, S., Momotaz, H., Singer, L.T., Wasden A., and Bearer, C.F. (2021). Fatty 
acid ethyl esters in meconium and substance use in adolescence. Neurotoxicology and Teratology, Jan-Feb, 83.


Doctor of Philosophy
Case Western Reserve University
Master of Arts
Cleveland State University
Bachelor of Science
Pennsylvania State University

Additional Information


  • Undergraduate Minor in Social Work