Learning/Graduate/Alumni profiles

Brian Lawton, PhD

Currently I am serving as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University.  I graduated from Temple in 2006 with my PhD in Criminal Justice, but had already taken my first academic position at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.  I worked there for four years before taking the current position at GMU.  As an undergraduate I had been exposed to the work of a number of scholars whose research had intrigued me, and upon further examination I found that several of them were working at the same institution, Temple University.  I had the pleasure of working with Dr. George Rengert, Dr. Ralph Taylor (who also served as my dissertation chair), and Dr. James J. Fyfe who has since passed, and is sorely missed. My time at Temple taught me a number of important lessons, some of which I chose to ignore and I’ve paid for those, and many of which I took the time to heed, and I’m grateful for the faculty who taught these lessons to me.  The current focus of my research is on geographic distributions of crime, and I’m pleased to have worked with police agencies in cities such as Philadelphia, Houston, Arlington and Dallas among others.  My publications have appeared in such journals as the Journal of Criminal Justice, Justice Quarterly, the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.  I credit Temple for providing me with the foundational skills necessary for a successful career.  The opportunities that I had working as a research assistant, a Dean’s Appointment, as well as my time in the data library taught me the challenges of teaching, conducting research and working with criminal justice organizations.  While I’ve since moved on, I’m proud of the opportunities I had, the people I worked with, and the friends I’ve made and kept from my time at Temple.

Ellen Kurtz, PhD

I defended my dissertation in May of 2000, and was the second graduate of the department’s doctoral program.  Soon after graduating, I took a post-doctoral position at Temple as the manger of a research project evaluating emergency department based violence prevention programs.  When that project ended, I was hired in 2005 by Philadelphia’s Adult Probation and Parole Department (APPD) to do an evaluation of their gun court supervision program.  Within months of starting, I realized that APPD had access to a ton of data that no one was using – a true academic’s dream!  I am now the director of research, a position that did not exist when I started.  I am basically able, in consultation with the Chief, to design and carry out whatever research projects I think will best help the department operate both efficiently and effectively as it struggles to supervise 50,000 offenders with 250 officers.  In 2007, we did a randomized control trial (with partners at Penn) to determine if low risk offenders could be safely supervised in caseloads of 400.  Based on the positive results of that study, we restructured the department using a statistical tool to stratify our caseload by risk.  This allows the department to focus more resources on the high risk offenders, thereby maximizing our potential impact on public safety. Currently, we are redoing our training curriculum to incorporate evidence-based practices.  A career in public service has been very gratifying for me – I get plenty of intellectual challenge and I also get to directly see the impact of my work.  It does require a high tolerance for frustration, but raising two sons with my husband Steve (who I met in graduate school) has helped me be a more patient person.

Michael D. White, PhD


I graduated from the doctoral program in Criminal Justice at Temple University in 1999. I was the first student to graduate from the program, and the knowledge I gained during my time at Temple has shaped my career over the last 13 years. It has been quite a journey. I spent five years during graduate school and two years after graduation working for Dr. John Goldkamp at the Crime and Justice Research Institute. I accepted my first academic position at the University of North Florida in 2001, and two years later I moved to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (where I spent the next five years). In 2008 I accepted my current position as an Associate Professor of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University, where I also serve as the Associate Director of the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety. My research interests continue to involve the police, especially use of force, misconduct and the role of technology. I have written two books on the police (one solo authored for Pearson and another with Dr. Robert Kane for NYU Press) and edited another (with Dr. Steve Rice for NYU Press). I have also published 36 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Justice Quarterly, Crime and Delinquency, Criminology and Public Policy, and the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. I have also been active in securing competitive grants. My current projects include an examination of the impact of the TASER on cognitive functioning (National Institute of Justice, with Robert Kane and Justin Ready) and an evaluation of the Smart Policing Initiative in Glendale, Arizona (Bureau of Justice Assistance). On a personal note, my wife Alyssa and I have been married for almost 16 years, and we have three wonderful children – Devon (14), Gabi (11), and Logan (9). My time in the doctoral program at Temple is a distant memory now, but the skills and knowledge I gained during that time are the foundation of my work and continue to influence my thinking today.

Robert J. Kane, PhD

I am currently an Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Baltimore, and a Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety at Arizona State University. When I graduated from Temple in 2001, I was already working as a tenure track assistant professor at American University. It wasn’t supposed to be that way; I was supposed to have finished my degree before joining the AU faculty, but working as a visiting professor at another institution while ABD brought my dissertation progress to a slow grind. Fortunately, the folks at American were patient enough to give me until the end of my first semester to finish my degree. I then spent six great years in DC; and to this day, I stridently counsel students against taking jobs before they have their degrees in hand. As a police scholar with an urban ecological perspective, I have spent my career working and living around great cities with distinct characteristics. In addition to Philly, and DC, I have worked and done research in New York City, Boston, Phoenix, and now Baltimore. I love learning about cities, riding their trains, observing their people, and working with their police. Most recently, I have focused on urban health as a matter of justice, hoping to identify the ways in which police might function as a public health screening and referral system. I have been fortunate to publish my work in our discipline’s top outlets, such as Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Criminology & Public Policy, Crime & Delinquency, and Criminal Justice & Behavior. I recently broke into the public health literature with a paper in Social Science & Medicine, one of the highest impact health journals in the U.S. and Britain. Without a doubt, I credit the training and urban experience I received at Temple for the success I have had in this job. Temple offered a great mix of scholars who worked with agencies, scholars who tested theory, and those who did both. I came away with an ability to work effectively in a police department one day, and get a manuscript out to a peer review journal the next. Of course, the best part of my Temple experience was the trucks. Despite the great settings in which I’ve lived and worked, no place can rival the food trucks at Temple!

Mary Poulin, PhD

Since I left Temple, I have been employed at the Justice Research and Statistics Association (almost 10 years!).  While there, I have worked on a variety of primarily federally-funded efforts to evaluate criminal and juvenile justice programs and help advance the capacity of practitioners and policymakers to use research and evaluation results or participate in research and evaluation.  This has taken me all over the country to work with state-level criminal and juvenile justice funding agencies, participate in meetings of national criminal and juvenile justice organizations, and train the staff of local programs designed for people who are in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.  Much of this work has been focused on narrowing the gap between research findings and practice.  I have not had the role of a traditional academic or a practitioner, but have been a policy-oriented researcher outside of academia. As a student I was sent by Phil Harris and Peter Jones all over Philadelphia and Pennsylvania to visit juvenile justice programs to convince them to collect data and discuss how to use results from our evaluation to improve their programs as well as to meetings with staff making juvenile justice program funding decisions.  Little did I realize what a unique opportunity it was to learn about how a juvenile justice system really operates or how well it would serve me after leaving Temple.  I would never trade that experience for a clean data set to use to write my dissertation.  Because of that experience I decided I wanted to do research “in the field” and for that I am ever grateful. 

Rob D'Ovidio, PhD

I completed my Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at Temple in August 2004.  I started my post-Temple career at Drexel University in Philadelphia, where I am currently a tenured associate professor in the Criminal Justice Program.  My research work centers on computer crime and digital forensics.  I have received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, National Institute of Justice, and U.S. Department of Education to support this work.  My most recent research focuses on crime in virtual and online video games worlds and the development of digital forensic methods and tools for examining video game consoles. One of the many things that attracted me to Temple’s Ph.D. Program in Criminal Justice was the support I received in pursuing my interests in computer crime, despite it not being among the expertise of the Department’s faculty.  I worked with various faculty members to ensure that my interests in computer crime were built on a strong foundation in criminological theory, research methods, data analysis, and the criminal justice system.  I received tremendous support and encouragement from the CJ faculty at Temple in my pursuit of an area that was not being researched in the Department as I pursued independent research ties, consulted with experts from the criminal justice system and private industry who worked in computer crime units, and immersed myself in the computer crime literature independent of any formal class offerings.  I credit this approach to the easy transition I had in going from a Ph.D. student who studied under faculty mentors in a structured degree program to a successful junior faculty member who was immediately faced with the job of growing his research program, developing and teaching new classes, and mentoring students all on his own. My current involvement with the National Governors Association’s Strategic Policy Council on Cyber and Electronic Crime and the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Computer Crime and Digital Evidence Committee stems from a commitment to apply my research in a way that affects public policy and the response of the criminal justice system to the problem of computer crime.  Such a commitment was fostered early-on during my studies at Temple by assisting CJ faculty who were working side-by-side with criminal justice professionals at all levels of government to make positive change that was informed by their research. Over the past few years, my work has ventured into the technical realm, where I find myself publishing in journals and speaking at conferences geared towards the information and computing sciences.  My education at Temple prepared me for a lifetime of learning and has made the adoption of the information and computing sciences in my work seamless.