I am an Associate Professor at Georgia State University in the Department of CJ and Criminology and Center for Research on Interpersonal Violence (CRIV). I recently moved from the Dept. of Sociology at the University of Washington, where I spent four enriching years (2 assistant, 2 associate) as faculty. My primary research interest is in developmental and life-course sociology/criminology, and my research focuses on elucidating the psychosocial mechanisms through which social inequalities influence social behaviors (e.g., criminal, health-risk), with a particular emphasis on understanding racial disparities. In particular, I seek to understand why some people who face challenging life circumstances (poverty, abuse, discrimination, dangerous environments) often seem to respond in ways that only seem to exacerbate their situations. My research is motivated by the desire to understand how experiences of social adversity, profoundly shaped by social position, influence development and risky behavior, focusing on psychosocial orientations that induce “choices” shaping short-sighted behavior and perpetuating inequalities.
In my recent research I have examined a number of social risk and protective factors for criminal and health-risk behaviors, including racial discrimination, racial socialization, supportive parenting, community crime, and deviant peers. A related line of research focuses on stability and change in social schemas associated with health-risk and reckless behaviors in adolescence and emerging adulthood. For example, in a 2017 study published in Criminology, I develop and test a life-course model illuminating the individual mechanisms and social pathways through which childhood exposure increases the risk of adult crime, while highlighting the enduring protective effects of familial racial socialization. Earlier works explored these processes in adolescence (American Sociological Review, 2012), investigated the individual mechanisms through which racial socialization buffers the effects of crime (Social Problems, 2017), and examined sex/gender differences in these processes (Justice Quarterly 2015). In other research, I explore the development, stability, and effects of social factors and interventions on self-control processes and their relationship to crime.
In prior work, I have debated the merits of heritability studies in sociology, discussed gene-environment interplay, and future directions for biopsychosocial scholarship. With the support of a Mentored Research Scientist Development K01 award from NICHD (2018-2023), I am currently studying genomics in order to incorporate gene-environment interplay (esp. epigenetic mechanisms of embodiment) into my research.
In addition, I have a longstanding interest in socio-legal issues around sex and gender, with a particular interest in how gender–as a set of social norms imposed on male and female bodies–limits the full humanity of males and females and constrains female bodies in subordinate (caregiving, passive) roles. In my first research project, started as an undergrad with my mentors as the lead, we examined how rape law reforms influenced rape reporting over time. In my master’s thesis, I examined how gender norms influence sex differences responses to stress and the sex gap in delinquency.
My research has been published in various outlets, including the American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Criminology, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Forces, Social Problems, and Justice Quarterly. My research on racial inequality and resilience has been supported by a Du Bois Fellowship for Race, Gender, Crime, and Justice from the National Institute of Justice. In 2014 I was awarded the Ruth Shonle Cavan “Young Scholar” Award from the American Society of Criminology.