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Graduate Research Fellowship: Featured Fellows

Date Published
April 7, 2016

Review below a selection of Graduate Research Fellows or view a complete list of past and present fellows since 2000.

Jennett Chenevert Aijala
Jennett Chenevert Aijala is working toward her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry with a concentration in forensic chemistry at Florida International University. She is the senior member of a research group working with human head hair as a matrix for forensic toxicology. “Since the NIJ GRF has allowed me to travel to conferences, I have been able to make professional connections that I previously did not have,” she says. “This has resulted in a number of contacts for future employment or postdoctoral positions. This has encouraged me to become more serious about following a career in forensic toxicology, whereas before, I was considering a career outside of forensics upon completion of my degree.” Learn more about Jennett’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Stephanie Basiliere
Stephanie Basiliere is a Ph.D. candidate in Forensic Science at Sam Houston State University. Her research in forensic toxicology primarily focuses on improving the detection and identification of mitragynine (kratom) and related alkaloids. She is also examining the stability and metabolism of these compounds. “Mitragynine is a drug of growing importance because of the opioid epidemic, and this award will help provide timely information to the scientific community,” Stephanie says. “The GRF allowed me to focus on this research and disseminate my findings in peer-reviewed journals and at scientific meetings. The GRF has also exposed me to the federal grant-funding system, which will be beneficial for any future research projects I pursue in the future.” Learn more about Stephanie’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Kevin Beaver
Kevin M. Beaver (2006 Fellow) is a professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University. His research focuses on unpacking the biosocial foundations to criminal, delinquent and anti-social behaviors. He credits the GRF for allowing him to pursue his research agenda using the most scientifically rigorous methodologies available and in a way that allowed for him to reach his full potential on the project. “My transition from graduate student to faculty member was made seamless, in large part, because of the experiences and support provided by the GRF,” he says. Learn more about Kevin Beaver's GRF award.

Brandon Bills
Brandon Bills is working toward his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He is developing new tests to screen for THC, synthetic cannabinoids, and fentanyl analogs. “The NIJ GRF has been a useful tool beyond just funding for research,” Brandon says. “It enabled me to go to conferences to network with other scientists and get feedback on my research. The extra time enabled me to co-found a graduate student organization in our chemistry department to help graduate students plan their careers and facilitate community involvement through volunteer events.” Brandon also notes, “Even the application process was helpful, as it gave me experience in grant writing.” Learn more about Brandon’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Nancy Hirschinger Blank
Nancy Hirschinger Blank (2001 Fellow) is an associate professor and chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Widener University. She focuses on program development and evaluation for young, urban individuals who commit offenses, service-learning pedagogy and mental health among convicted females. Her teaching interests focus on diversity and civic engagement; academic service-learning allows her students to work with justice-involved individuals providing reciprocal learning opportunities. She says that the GRF fellowship “truly shaped her academic perspectives.” Her dissertation focused on identifying risk factors for female-on-female violence among urban women presenting to emergency departments. “GRF provided the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of multiculturalism and community-based perspectives that I currently integrate into my academic perspectives,” she says. Learn more about Nancy’s GRF award.

Mary Elizabeth Cole
Mary Elizabeth Cole is a Ph.D. candidate in Biological Anthropology at The Ohio State University. According to Mary, “The NIJ GRF has enabled me to push at the technological boundaries of my field, moving from traditional histology to cutting-edge, high-resolution micro-computed tomography. I was able to gain technical skills that are highly desired within skeletal biology research but are not typically available to most graduate students because of the cost of this technology. I am currently applying for postdoctoral positions, and I am a much more competitive candidate because of my familiarity with cadaveric dissection, X-ray-based imaging technologies, and automated image analysis — all made possible through the NIJ GRF.” Learn more about Mary’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Jennifer Cobbina
Jennifer Cobbina (2008 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, where she focuses on the issue of prisoner re-entry and the understanding of recidivism and desistance among recently released females. Included in this area of research are the study of the best predictors of female offending and recidivism, the factors that shape long-term post-release success and desistance from crime among formerly incarcerated females, and women’s perceptions of the effects of incarceration on their lives and reintegration. “The GRF provided me with the funding needed to collect my own data on incarcerated and paroled women, allowed me to focus all my time on finishing my dissertation, and opened up professional opportunities in my academic career,” she says. Learn more about Jennifer’s GRF award.

Zhengming Ding
Zhengming (Allan) Ding is a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Computer Information and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. His research interests include transfer learning/domain adaptation, deep learning, and multi-view learning. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Engineering from Northeastern University with funding from a 2016 NIJ GRF-STEM fellowship. Allan says the GRF “provided a perfect chance for me to explore the advanced deep learning techniques for forensic face recognition. The GRF funding also allowed me to attend academic conferences and visit other research groups.” He notes that “the research completed under my NIJ GRF greatly impacted my career path. As a tenure-track assistant professor now, I am eager to continue exploring research on forensic scenarios.” Learn more about Allan’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Shady El Damaty
Shady El Damaty is a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center. He works with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to research the developing teenage brain in relation to violence exposure and antisocial attitudes. Shady says, “The NIJ GRF provided kindling that allowed me to start my own research project, fusing neuroimaging with prevention research to benefit developing adolescents. The support for research expenses covered participant fees and MRI scanning costs and supplies, allowing me to fully self-fund my dissertation research.” He adds, “I hope that my research can be translated into tools for parents, guidance counselors, and prevention science practitioners.” Learn more about Shady’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Justin Wade Firestone
Justin Wade Firestone is pursuing his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a sub-specialty in software engineering and its potential applications to synthetic biology and bioinformatics. “The GRF allowed me to pursue my doctoral research by supporting me financially, so I did not have to work part time at another occupation and did not have to take on any teaching assistantships,” he says. “It has made me more seriously consider pursuing a research professorship upon graduation. I enjoy being able to pursue my own interests, which leads to more satisfying and more valuable results.” Learn more about Justin’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Kristen Fowble
Kristen Fowble is earning her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University at Albany-SUNY. Her research focuses on developing a novel ambient ionization imaging mass spectrometry technique for the forensic detection of small-molecule spatial distributions. Kristen says, “The research completed so far under the NIJ GRF has expanded my view of potential career paths. I have always been interested in a career in forensic science, but this particular project has shown me other avenues of research that can eventually be utilized in crime laboratories.” Learn more about Kristen’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Christine Gardiner
Christine Gardiner (2007 Fellow) is an associate professor at California State University, Fullerton in the Division of Politics, Administration, and Justice where she studies policing and criminal justice policy. She has written one book, Policing for the 21st Century: Realizing the Vision of Police in a Free Society (2016, Kendall Hunt) and edited two books, California's Criminal Justice System, 2nd edition (2014, Carolina Academic Press) and Criminal Justice Policy (2014, Sage). Learn more about Christine’s GRF award.



Katherine Gettings
Katherine Gettings (2012 Fellow, Katherine Butler at time of award) is currently a staff scientist with the Applied Genetics Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where she evaluates DNA analysis methods using next-generation sequencing. Katherine’s GRF award provided a stipend and paid for the equipment and printing services necessary to complete the data analysis portion of her doctoral work and finish writing her dissertation. “The research completed under the NIJ GRF involved selecting and interpreting data generated from ancestry and phenotype SNP [single-nucleotide polymorphism] markers. Because SNP loci are not commonly used in forensic casework in the U.S., my dissertation research was the first opportunity I’d had to work with this marker type. I now use this background on a regular basis in evaluating SNP assays and interpretation models designed for next-generation sequencing,” says Katherine. Learn more about Katherine’s GRF award.

Matthew Go
Matthew Go is currently completing his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Matthew has also worked as a forensic anthropologist with the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, helping to identify the remains of service members from past U.S. conflicts overseas. “The NIJ GRF is an incredibly prestigious award within the forensic science community, and I am honored to be a recipient,” he says. “Aside from financial relief, the award provides validation to the quality of my work, which my peers and employers have recognized. Because of the collaborations, presentations, and publications that have benefitted from NIJ backing, I have gained professional credibility as a forensic anthropology researcher and practitioner.” Learn more about Matthew’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Cory Haberman
Cory Haberman (2014 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati, where he researches and teaches about issues related to policing effectiveness, criminal justice policy and the geography of crime. “The GRF taught me many lessons about preparing and executing large scale, funded research projects that I will draw on throughout my career, but it specifically facilitated my mixed-methods dissertation on the impact of police enforcement in micro-level high crime places that might not have been possible without the GRF,” says Cory. Learn more about Cory's GRF award.

Lallen Johnson
Lallen Johnson (2010 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Justice Studies at Drexel University, where he conducts research on illicit drug markets and the violence that occurs around them. His most recent work considers how community, race and social structure correlate with spatially clustered violent crime outcomes. “Writing a dissertation is an intellectually difficult and stressful process,” he says. “The support of GRF, however, allowed me to focus on producing high-quality work without worrying about how to finance my research. That added benefit put me in a good position to begin my career as a viable junior scholar.” Learn more about Lallen’s GRF award.

Rachel Eblen Keiser
Rachel Eblen Kieser is a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Genetics at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Her work addresses the challenge of analyzing highly damaged and degraded DNA recovered as forensic evidence. “Many attempts to overcome the limitations of highly fragmented DNA have proven to be unsuccessful. Due to the funding received through the NIJ GRF award, I have been able to explore novel approaches and discover promising solutions to impact the field of forensic genetics,” Rachel says. “The NIJ GRF award has allowed me to solely focus on my doctoral work, thus enabling me to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate novel research and produce high-quality work, without the devastating financial burden often experienced in graduate education.” Learn more about Rachel’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

David Kirk
David Kirk (2004 Fellow) is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and a professorial fellow of Nuffield College at Oxford University, where he conducts research on neighborhood effects, prisoner re-entry, and crime and the life course. One ongoing project involves an experimental housing mobility program for ex-prisoners. “The GRF not only provided an important source of funding for my dissertation research, it also facilitated contact with some of the leading researchers and practitioners of crime and justice issues in the country,” he says. Learn more about David Kirk's GRF award.

Ahmed Eissa Fathy Khorshid – 2016 Fellow
Ahmed Eissa Fathy Khorshid is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Irvine, where he performs research in the field of body area networks. “NIJ supported me during the last three years of my Ph.D.,” he says.  “The stipend that I got enabled me to fully focus on my research during that period, so I was able to progress through my research, get good results, and work toward getting my degree in a timely manner.” Learn more about Ahmed’s GRF-STEM fellowship.



Alex J. Krotulski
Alex J. Krotulski is a Ph.D. candidate in Analytical Chemistry at Temple University, focusing on analytical methods for the detection and monitoring of novel psychoactive substances (NPS). “My GRF allowed me to develop and submit a research proposal on the topic of my choosing, and conduct meaningful research that I knew would be applicable to other areas and disciplines associated with current drug problems,” Alex says. “Under my GRF, I was able to understand NPS and their role in forensic science more completely, showing me that career options within forensic toxicology and forensic chemistry were suited to my interests.” Learn more about Alex’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Aaron Kupchik
Aaron Kupchik (2001 Fellow) is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Delaware, where he studies the policing and punishment of children in schools, courts and correctional facilities. He is the author of Homeroom Security: School Discipline in an Age of Fear (2010, NYU Press) and Judging Juveniles: Prosecuting Adolescents in Adult and Juvenile Courts (2006, NYU Press); the latter book was a winner of the American Society of Criminology Hindelang Book Award. “The GRF award allowed me to conduct the in-depth, multimethod research that my dissertation required and that gave my career a boost from the beginning,” he says. Learn more about Aaron’s GRF award.

Ryan M. Labrecque

Ryan M. Labrecque (2014 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department at Portland State University. His research interests focus on the evaluation of correctional interventions, the effects of prison life, and the transfer of knowledge to practitioners and policy makers. Ryan’s GRF award supported his dissertation research on the effect of solitary confinement on institutional misconduct. “The GRF award I received was instrumental to my experience in graduate school at the University of Cincinnati,” he says. “This award not only gave me the financial ability to focus on my dissertation, but also provided me with invaluable experience in the grant funding process, and increased the visibility of my research.”
Learn more about Ryan's GRF award.

Kevin Legg
Kevin Legg (2011 Fellow) is currently a research fellow at the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education. As a current NIJ-funded lead scientist at the Center, Kevin is focused on developing and validating the bodily fluid screening methodology that he established during his graduate work. This methodology identifies forensically relevant bodily fluids based on a panel of protein markers. Kevin’s strong scientific work as a GRF and NIJ-funded postdoctoral researcher have led to two recent partnerships, one with NMS Labs and the other with Agilent Technologies. The latter partnership has yielded a rapid blood screening method that is now being implemented by the Brasilia civil police. “These postgraduate opportunities and collaborations would not have been possible without the GRF funding,” says Kevin. Learn more about Kevin Legg's GRF award.

Andrew Lemieux
Andrew Lemieux (2009 Fellow) is a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement. He has spent his postgraduate years studying wildlife crime, a unique and challenging problem, integrating criminological theory to the study and prevention of wildlife crimes in Africa and Asia, such as elephant and tiger poaching. Andrew has spent his postgraduate years working on a unique and challenging problem. As a GRF, Andrew determined the risk of violence in everyday activities and places. He used time-based risk assessments to see which activities and places were the most dangerous hour for hour. Learn more about Andrew’s GRF award.

Jeffrey Lin
Jeffrey Lin (2005 Fellow) is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Denver. His research focuses on crime and punishment in the United States, with specific emphases on juvenile justice, community correctional policies and media coverage. Jeffrey’s work highlights the complex interactions between criminal justice institutions and offending behaviors, providing theoretical and empirical contexts that deepen our understanding of crime and punishment. “The NIJ GRF award allowed me to focus completely on conducting my doctoral research on the New York City juvenile justice system,” he says. “In so doing, I was able to fully develop my skills as a correctional researcher. I would not be where I am today without the opportunity the GRF provided me. I am a better researcher and teacher because of it.” Learn more about Jeffrey’s GRF award.

Sarah N. Lum
Sarah N. Lum is a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry at the University of Notre Dame, where she is developing bioanalytical systems utilizing capillary zone electrophoresis, particularly with forensic applications. Sarah says, “At an institution without a forensics department, the NIJ GRF has been vital to my doctoral research. It has allowed me to pursue an original idea in developing a technology for rape kit analysis as my full-time dissertation work.” She continues, “This award has opened the doors to a welcoming community of colleagues in academia, who have provided the collaborations necessary to carry out my project — along with encouragement, constructive feedback, and new perspectives on the field. Thanks to the holistic support from the NIJ GRF, I have been able to visit crime laboratories to gain vital feedback from analysts who have significantly influenced the optimization of my technology.” Learn more about Sarah’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Christy Mancuso
Christy Mancuso (2014 Fellow) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biology at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Before beginning her doctoral program, Christy earned an M.S. in biomedical forensic sciences from the Boston University School of Medicine. Christy’s doctoral research focuses on the use of stable isotope analyses to reconstruct individuals’ region of origin and travel history, to aid investigators as they trace the movement of, for example, undocumented noncitizens and victims of human trafficking. “Receiving the GRF-STEM award from the National Institute of Justice has allowed me to take my doctoral research in a new direction. The award has given me the opportunity to ask questions related to human movement and identification and the financial ability to investigate those questions,” says Christy. Learn more about Christy’s GRF award.

Carrie Mayes
Carrie Mayes is pursuing her Ph.D. in Forensic Science at Sam Houston State University. She is researching molecular techniques for forensic body fluid identification and the application of these techniques on environmentally challenged samples. “The funding from the GRF allowed me to purchase reagents and consumables used for my project that were specialized and not usually carried in our lab,” says Carrie. “Through the NIJ GRF, I was afforded the opportunity to present my research at several conferences and engage with people from academia, industry, various levels of government, and consultants. These interactions helped me understand how these fields work together in the forensic community and my potential role in the future.” She notes, “My research has allowed me to contribute to the foundation of knowledge necessary for the forensic community to move forward with a confirmatory method for body fluid identification.” Learn more about Carrie’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Ewelina Mistek
Ewelina Mistek is working toward her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University at Albany-SUNY. Her research focuses on the identification and analysis of forensic body fluid traces, using ATR FT-IR spectroscopy with statistical data analysis. “The NIJ GRF enabled me to perform more independent research and manage the grant funds,” she says. “Moreover, it confirmed the importance of my project to the forensic community.” Ewelina continues, “This enabled me to travel to disseminate my results at a number of local, national, and international conferences. This is a great way for me to network and interact with experts in the field which, I hope, will help my future career.” Learn more about Ewelina’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Jonathan Moss
Jonathan Moss is a Ph.D. candidate in Infrastructure and Environmental Systems at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he is developing and validating a blast simulation framework. He started his doctoral research as a graduate research assistant in an NIJ-funded project that was already in progress. According to Jonathan, under that project he was able to “collect an extensive experimental database for my dissertation as well as develop the computational framework for the numerical simulations … for post-blast structural forensics.” He continues, “The GRF is enabling me to build on this prior work in order to complete my doctoral dissertation on this topic, which due to the challenging nature, I would likely not have been able to do without the external support that has allowed me to focus my time and energy exclusively on this research.” Learn more about Jonathan’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

David Pyrooz
David Pyrooz (2011 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University. His research focuses on gangs and criminal networks, developmental and life-course criminology, and criminal justice policy and practice. David’s GRF award supported his dissertation research on the economic and educational consequences of gang membership in the life course. “It was a great honor to receive the GRF, which was instrumental in establishing a research agenda that moved beyond static views of gang membership, that is, uncovering different pathways into and out of gangs and the implications of these pathways for both crime and achievement in the life course,” he says. David is currently an investigator on two NIJ-funded projects, where he is applying the lessons learned from his GRF award to the study of the overlap between street and prison gangs and a comparative study of gangs and domestic extremist groups. Learn more about David Pyrooz's GRF award.

Matt Ruther
Matt Ruther (2010 Fellow) is an assistant professor of urban and public affairs at the University of Louisville and the director of the Kentucky State Data Center. He carries out policy-oriented and population-related research that is important to cities. His recent work has focused on immigration and domestic migration, crime policy and the structural determinants of crime, and neighborhood growth and development. “The NIJ GRF was instrumental in my dissertation research, as it allowed me time to fully explore the immigration-crime nexus and further develop the spatial modeling skills required for my work,” he says. “It’s also a great opportunity for an early career researcher to become exposed to the federal grant-funding mechanism.” Learn more about Matt’s GRF award.

Lori Sexton
Lori Sexton (2010 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where she conducts research on punishment and social control. Her areas of emphasis are micro-level theories of punishment, the lived experience of incarceration and the unique challenges faced by transgender prisoners. “Being a GRF fellow has been an incredible experience — one that began with my dissertation, but didn’t end there,” she says. “The GRF program has provided me an opportunity to become embedded in a strong network of policy-minded scholars working on diverse topics, across methodological divides, at all stages of their careers.” Learn more about Lori’s GRF award.

Natalie Shirley
In addition to holding two current faculty appointments, Natalie Shirley (2007 Fellow) also works as a forensic anthropologist with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. In her first position after completing her graduate studies, Natalie was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, where she used three-dimensional CT scans of crania to improve sex estimation. “The NIJ GRF funding alleviated the need for external funding as a graduate teaching assistant, which allowed me to devote 100 percent of my time to completing my doctoral research …. The honor and recognition associated with NIJ GRF funding opened doors for professional opportunities and collaboration that I have enjoyed to this day,” she says. Natalie further credits her past NIJ funding, in the form of several additional research awards, with her opportunity to negotiate time for research in addition to teaching responsibilities at Lincoln Memorial University. Learn more about Natalie’s GRF award.

Jaromir Savelka
Jaromir Savelka is currently a data scientist at Reed Smith LLP, an international law firm. He continues to pursue his Ph.D. in Intelligent Systems at the University of Pittsburgh. “NIJ GRF provided me with two years of funding for pursuing my research in the multidisciplinary field of Artificial Intelligence and Law. The funding enabled me to focus on the issue of computer support for the interpretation of statutory concepts in the area of cybercrime.” Learn more about Jaromir’s GRF-STEM fellowship.



Jonah Siegel
Jonah Siegel (2012 Fellow) is the research director of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, a legislatively mandated agency responsible for setting minimum standards for the delivery of indigent defense services in adult criminal court. In this capacity, Jonah is responsible for identifying institutional research priorities, measuring local compliance with minimum standards, and translating findings into recommendations for best practice. Learn more about Jonah’s GRF award.



Kelly Socia
Kelly Socia (2010 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. His research interests include re-entry and recidivism, those registered for a sex offense, public policymaking and spatial analyses. He received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in criminal justice from the School of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York, Albany. “The GRF program was an amazing opportunity that gave me the ability to focus on my dissertation research,” he says. “As a result, I was better able to use my dissertation as a starting point for my research agenda as a tenure-track faculty member.” Learn more about Kelly’s GRF award.

David Stoney
David Alan Stoney (1982 Fellow) is the chief scientific officer at Stoney Forensic, Inc., and a past director of forensic sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He says that the GRF affected his career path “tremendously. My dissertation was in the application of statistical methods to fingerprint comparisons. Forensic statistics and fingerprints have remained a major focus throughout my career.” Ultimately, David credits the GRF with providing the funding necessary to acquire the materials and equipment that were needed to complete his doctoral degree.

Naomi Sugie
Naomi Sugie (2013 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine, where she studies the collateral consequences of incarceration for convicted persons and their families. Naomi’s work also examines the social science implications of new technologies for data collection and criminal justice research, and her GRF award supported a project that used smartphones to contribute a detailed study of prisoner re-entry. She credits the program with helping her complete this novel and resource-intensive data collection effort. “The NIJ GRF program is unique as one of the few sources of salary support for doctoral students,” she says. “As a fellow, I was able to focus my time entirely on completing my dissertation. I also appreciate how my grant officer reached out with helpful information and advice throughout the year.” Learn more about Naomi’s GRF award.

Harish Swaminathan
Harish Swaminathan (2014 Fellow) is a Ph.D. candidate at the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology at Rutgers University. Harish recently worked as an intern at the National Institute of Standards and Technology on the development of population-related computational methods for the analysis of repetitive sequences in the human genome known as short tandem repeats (STRs). He is expanding on these computational methods for his dissertation research, applying his algorithm to the interpretation of complex forensic DNA samples. “One of the aims we stated in our NIJ award proposal was to develop a method to determine the number of contributors to a DNA sample by characterization of the heights in the [electropherogram] signal,” says Harish, who recently published his algorithm, known as NOCIt,and his associated experimental results as first-author in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. Read the article abstract. Learn more about Harish’s GRF award.

Sean Tallman
Sean Tallman (2014 Fellow) is currently a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, where he specializes in human skeletal biology and forensic anthropology. Sean’s GRF-STEM award is covering research expenses associated with travel to Asia during the summer of 2015, to access three rare and understudied documented skeletal collections housed in major research universities in Japan and Thailand. Sean’s dissertation work will provide revised, population-specific methods to improve the accuracy of forensic-related identifications of individuals belonging to East and Southeast Asian groups. This work is particularly important because Asian individuals “represent the fasted growing ancestral demographic in the U.S.,” explains Sean. To date, most skeletal morphometric methods in forensic science rely on data developed from Caucasian groups, so research like Sean’s dissertation study is particularly important for the future of forensics science in the United States. Learn more about Sean’s GRF award.

Melinda Tasca
Melinda Tasca (2013 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University. Her research focuses on correctional policy; incarceration and families; and race and ethnicity, gender, and crime. “The Graduate Research Fellowship I received has opened the door to collaborations with criminal justice agencies to further explore prison visitation and its effects on inmates and families,” she says. “I am grateful for this award, as it provided me with time to focus on my research and an opportunity to share my work with a national audience.” Learn more about Melinda’s GRF award.

Lois Stacy Taylor
Lois Stacy Taylor is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science (BESS) at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Her research is interdisciplinary, combining course work from the BESS and the Entomology and Plant Pathology departments. “The GRF-STEM award provided the resources necessary to perform a long-term, high-resolution study of the human decomposition process, investigating the simultaneous effects of soil chemistry, microbial interactions, and responses of other soil biota,” says Lois. “Without the financial resources that the GRF award provided, a combined study of this size and scope simply would not have been possible. As a result of current findings in this ongoing study, three further research projects have been proposed, one of which is a national collaboration.” Learn more about Lois’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Lydia Brashear Tiede
Lydia Brashear Tiede (2007 Fellow) is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston in the Department of Political Science where she conducts research on judicial behavior in U.S. district courts and high courts in Latin America and other countries. She also does comparative work on the rule of law. "The GRF allowed me to conduct research on several topics dealing with sentencing laws in the United States and England,” she says. “It allowed me to interview lower court judges in the United States and England and Wales, which provided important insights to use in conjunction with my empirical studies. Further, my work on sentencing has provided me with an expertise in this area and the ability to work as a consultant in developing countries on sentencing. Most importantly, my GRF let me attempt to do research in untested areas, which has proved very rewarding in my career." Learn more about Lydia’s GRF award.

Caitlin Vogelsberg
Caitlin Vogelsberg is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Forensic Anthropology at the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner in Tucson, Arizona. She manages the agency DNA backlog, interprets DNA results, and assists in forensic anthropology casework. Caitlin earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Michigan State University. “My dissertation research completed under the NIJ GRF directly impacted my postgraduation career plans, as it provided me with the necessary research and experience to be a competitive candidate for my postdoctoral fellowship,” she says. “The travel and professional meeting funding provided by the GRF allowed me to stay on top of my research and that of others in the field. This allowed me to understand the larger scope of my research and how to present it to a wider audience.” Learn more about Caitlin’s GRF-STEM fellowship.

Shun-Yung Kevin Wang
Shun-Yung Kevin Wang (2009 Fellow) is an associate professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, where he researches labor market participation and delinquent and criminal behaviors. He published a book, How Career-Ladder Jobs Increase Employment Prospects: Redeeming Lives from the Consequences of Youth Delinquency, in late 2013. “With NIJ GRF grants, I was able to consult experts of career/occupation counselors across the country to scientifically quantify the job quality in an aspect that suppresses criminality among youths,” he says. “The fund enabled me to finish the dissertation with quality inputs from cross-discipline collaborations.” Learn more about Kevin Wang's GRF award.

Nora Wikoff
Nora Wikoff (2013 Fellow) is a lecturer in criminology at the University of Manchester’s School of Law, where she studies the relationship between work and crime among serious and violent former prisoners. Her research focuses on how interventions can improve individuals’ financial wellbeing and promote beneficial outcomes. Nora says, "Had it not been for the support of the NIJ GRF program, I would not be in the position that I am today. It gave me access to resources needed to strengthen my research and methodological skills, and the financial support enabled me to carry out a more ambitious project than would have been possible on my own. The lessons I learned continue to inform my research and teaching." Learn more about GRF award.

Gregory Zimmerman
Gregory Zimmerman (2008 Fellow) is an assistant professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, where he studies the intersection of psychological and sociological factors related to criminal offending. His research on the person-context nexus is interdisciplinary. “The NIJ GRF program was instrumental in my work as a doctoral student at the University at Albany, SUNY,” he says. “It enabled me to focus on my dissertation without distraction. It also forced me to work on describing the import of my research in a straightforward, succinct manner.” Learn more about Gregory’s GRF award.

Date Published: April 7, 2016