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.