Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Chair
Ph.D. North Carolina State University
Areas of Specialization:
My general research interests are in the sociology of crime/deviance/social control and the sociology of mental health. Currently, my work follows three directions. First, I study in law violation and well-being among adolescents and young adults. For example, in a recently published article, I analyzed the impact of high school extracurricular participation on well-being during the transition to young adulthood, with attention to social psychological characteristics as mediating mechanisms. Current projects include: (1) an examination of the effects of physical health on delinquency using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health; (2) a mixed-method study of health, well-being, and exposure to crime among young adults, with particular emphasis on head injuries; (3) the association between domains of extracurricular activity involvement and risk behaviors.
Second, I study representations of crime and justice in the media, how consumers perceive such messages, and the potential impact on perceptions of crime and on criminal justice policies. For example, in a series of articles, I reported the results of an ethnographic content analysis of children’s superhero cartoons for messages about crime causation, crime control, and criminal justice. Current projects include: (1) an analysis of the presence and depiction of crime-related issues in presidential campaign commercials from 1952-2008; (2) a content analysis of criminology and juvenile delinquency texts (ca. 1890-2012) that focuses on the presentation of the purported relationship between media and criminal behavior.
Third, I recently conducted in-depth interviews with citizens who volunteer in prisons. The correctional system relies heavily on volunteers, but there is very little known about who they are and why they volunteer. In addition to expanding the very limited research on citizen volunteers, the qualitative study lays the foundation for a broader research initiative about citizen volunteers in prison.