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Students Present on Criminology Research at Regional Conference

Published: September 28, 2010
Nine criminology students will present their findings on research they’ve done with UT professors at the Southern Criminal Justice Association conference Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 in Clearwater.

Instructor Kim Schnurbush is sponsoring Sarah McConnell ’11 who will present “Human Rights Issues and Guantánamo Bay,” and Jaclyn Chanudet ’12 and Sara Biron ’13 who will deliver the paper, “Human Trafficking.”

Associate Professor Susan Brinkley is sponsoring Lenary Brown-Parkton ’12 and Antonia Edwards ’11 who will present their paper, “Education Abroad: Faculty and Student Perspectives.”

Audrey Lindeman ’13 and Cecily Wood ’12, along with Associate Professor Tony LaRose, will present information regarding the CSI effect, a courtroom phenomenon where jurors have seen CSI forensic shows and expect their case to proceed in the same way. Lindeman said they interviewed 44 police officers, crime scene technicians, laboratory personnel, forensics personnel, coroners and medical examiners, judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys from Florida’s three largest metropolitan areas (Miami-Dade, Tampa and Orlando) to compare the television show to real life.

“This experience has opened my eyes to the reality of the CSI effect and how it plays a role in and out of the courtroom,” said Wood, a biology major and criminology minor, who accompanied the Tampa Police Department’s Forensics Unit on a ride-along. “What surprised me the most was the extent of the CSI effect, especially among members of law enforcement. The expectations of forensics are simply unrealistic.”

Lindeman said results don’t pop up on high-tech screens minutes within their collections, crime labs often need updated equipment and some methods shown on television are purely nonexistent in reality.

Lauren Jekowsky ’12 and Brianna Welsh ’11, along with Assistant Professor Sean Maddan, will present their research on the connection of childhood gun use and gun use in future crimes. The students placed first in the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education Undergraduate Research Conference in April with their findings. The three surveyed inmates from a maximum security prison in Arkansas and asked them questions about their past criminal activities as well as family history.

“We predicted that if a criminal was exposed to guns and learned how to use them growing up, they were more likely to use a gun in the crime they committed,” Jekowsky said. “Our results did not support our hypothesis. Learning theory did not predict whether offenders were likely to carry a firearm during a current conviction despite the specific indicators of learning theory we used in this research.” 

Most all agree the experience has given them invaluable hands-on experience.

“Participating in this research has given me a different perspective outside of the classroom on how theories apply to our society,” Jekowsky said. “It also has been a unique opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into writing a peer-reviewed journal article as Dr. Maddan and I are working on one to be released in the future.”

For Lindeman, the experience has given her reassurance.

“I think that by being able to do research I have grown personally and academically, as it has opened a lot of doors to me,” Lindeman said. “It has also assured me that I am making the right career choice, because I really do love criminology.” 

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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