Issue 12 | Fall 2023

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The Department of Criminology celebrated a large milestone this past academic year—50 years since the establishment of a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at USF.

criminology faculty at 1992 tree dedication ceremony

Spearheaded by the “big three,” which included faculty members William Blount, PhD, the late Mitchell Silverman, PhD, and the late Manuel Vega, PhD, the Criminal Justice program's curriculum was developed to support a wide variety of career paths for its once predominately cops-and-veterans student base. Today, the department covers many current and emerging topics including macro- and micro-level models of criminal behavior, victimology, race, violence, juvenile justice, corrections, and radical and green criminology.

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Criminology faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends filled the Gibbons Alumni Center on Sept. 9, 2022 to kick off a new academic year filled with celebrations of the department's 50th anniversary. With a tailgate theme for the next day's football game against Howard, the event included game day foods, a visit from the spirit squad, and an update on USF athletics and its new facilities from Athletic Director Michael Kelly. There was also a raffle of various items, including a USF football helmet and a collection of police challenge coins. Speakers reflected on the history of the department, its remarkable growth, and their hope for the future.

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Last year's USF Homecoming Parade saw the active involvement of our graduate students (pictured above), who received enthusiastic support from the CBCS watch party located just outside the Social Sciences building.



Criminology professor and graduate students star in Hulu docuseries

ABC News Studios' new docuseries “The Lesson Is Murder” follows Department of Criminology Professor Bryanna Fox, PhD and her class of graduate students as they study convicted murderers and evaluate their personality traits to develop psychological profiles. In the three-part series, the team interviews witnesses, police, families of victims, and three murderers. The docuseries is now available to stream on Hulu. 

Watch the trailer

TIP Lab named statewide repository for anonymous human trafficking data

Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that makes the USF Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Risk to Resilience Research Lab the statewide repository for anonymous human trafficking data. As part of the larger Senate Bill 7064, which supports victims of human trafficking and strengthens penalties for human traffickers, the provision appoints the TIP Lab with collecting and analyzing statewide data to better understand the magnitude and trends in human trafficking across the state and over time. Learn more.

Watch the Fox 13 feature

USF launches BRIGHT Network to help human trafficking victims

An online platform developed by researchers at the University of South Florida, in close collaboration with anti-trafficking professionals and survivors, will help victims of human trafficking escape their situations and get back on their feet by streamlining efforts to connect them with organizations and resources in Tampa Bay.

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More than 30 USF graduate programs ranked among the nation’s best by U.S News & World Report

According to 2024 rankings released by U.S. News & World Report in April 2023, the USF Criminology graduate program is ranked at No. 18.

See the full list


Welcome New Faculty!

Last fall, four faculty members joined us on our Sarasota-Manatee campus as Assistant Professors. YongJei Lee, PhD, SooHyun O, PhD, Rustu Deryol, PhD, and C. Jordan Howell, PhD have seamlessly integrated into our department and have proven to be exceptional assets.


This fall, we welcome the arrival of two new faculty members at our Tampa campus: Professor Thomas Loughran, Ph.D., and Visiting Instructor Cary Hopkins Eyles, M.A.


We are thrilled to have these new faculty members join our campuses, as they contribute to the continued growth and success of our department.

Richard Dembo PhD

Criminology professor named AAAS Fellow

Richard Dembo, PhD, was named a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – one of the world’s most prestigious honors for academic research. Dr. Dembo was selected for his pioneering contributions in advancing criminology theory/practice, substance abuse, mental health, and STD services.

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Criminology assistant professor discusses recidivism reduction in roundtable summit

Chae Jaynes, PhD, participated in the Tampa Bay Reentry & Translational Services Roundtable Summit in Hernando County this past November. Hosted by LIFEline and the End Recidivism Project, the summit aimed to find ways to combat the challenges of reentry and focus on opportunities to improve the outcomes of those returning to society after incarceration.

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Criminology associate professor nationally recognized for outstanding mentorship

Ráchael Powers, PhD, received the Outstanding Mentor Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. This award recognizes faculty who have made significant contributions to the development of graduate students and junior faculty members in the field

of criminal justice. Dr. Powers is one of just six honorees from across the country.

CBCS faculty receive grants for research projects 

Multiple criminology faculty were selected by the USF Research Advisory Board to receive the Interdisciplinary Research Grant, which supports collaborative research projects. This grant aims to leverage the faculty talent across the university's research enterprise and lead them to external funding. For the list of faculty and information on their projects, read the full article.  

Cybersecurity foundation to fund an endowed faculty position in CBCS 

As part of a $1.5 million investment to create a cyber threat intelligence laboratory at USF, the Rapid7 Cybersecurity Foundation will fund an endowed faculty position within the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS). The position will be part of the interdisciplinary leadership team of the lab and will be the first time the Department of Criminology will be home to an endowed professor, an investment in faculty and student success.

Learn more. 


Graduate student awarded fellowship 

Danielle Thomas, MA, received the Graduate Student Success Fellowship, which supports first-generation doctoral students who have overcome adversity and financial hardships in the pursuit of their degree. 

Thomas is also a lead research assistant for the CREATE Lab where she facilitates a life-skills reentry program at a state prison and collaborates with various criminal justice stakeholders in the Tampa Bay area to promote successful reentry for returning citizens.

Vanessa Centelles.jpg

Criminology student named 2023 ASC Ruth Peterson Fellow 

Vanessa Centelles, MA, was selected as a 2023 American Society of Criminology (ASC) Ruth Peterson Fellow. The Ruth D. Peterson Fellowship for Racial and Ethnic Diversity Award encourages students of color, especially those from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the field, to earn their degrees and enter the field of criminology and criminal justice. The money from the fellowship will help defray the costs of data collection for her dissertation on gender-based victimization of Hispanic/ Latina women. 

Criminology students recognized for outstanding research

Taylor Fisher, MS and Emily Walker, MA received the USF Sarasota Manatee Trailblazer Research Scholarships. Fisher is mentored by Assistant Professor Roberta O’Malley, PhD, and Walker is mentored by Associate ProfessorFawn Ngo, PhD,and Assistant ProfessorDasha Rhodes, PhD, LCSW

Read more about the Trailblazers program here.  

Criminology student received 2023 Golden Bull Award 

Caitlyn Deam, a double major in cell and molecular biology and criminology, was awarded the Golden Bull Award and the Marshall Student Center Hall of Fame Award. The Golden Bull Award recognizes students who embrace and exemplify exceptional leadership and service to the university and its surrounding communities and embody the values of USF.

USF's chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma supports Crisis Center of Tampa Bay 

In celebration of National Criminal Justice Month, members of the Sigma chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma (the national Criminal Justice Honor Society) identified a way to give back to the Tampa Bay community. The group partnered with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay to raise money for the Crisis Center and assist with clean up around their facility last March. Learn more.

Criminology student receives Kosove Scholarship 

Incoming criminology graduate student Maria Ramirez has been selected as a recipient of a two-year scholarship from the Kosove Society at USF. Ramirez was selected as the sole graduate student to receive the scholarship.


Criminology alum appointed as chief of Tampa Police Department 

Criminology alum Lee Bercaw, Ph.D., was recently named Chief of the Tampa Police Department. He earned his bachelor's degree in criminology and master's degree in criminal justice administration from USF, and his doctorate in criminal justice, with a specialization in homeland security, from Saint Leo University. 

Boundless Bulls: Manley Jaquiss is one of USF’s most actively involved alums 

Since receiving his undergraduate degree in criminology in 1986, Jaquiss continues to remain involved with USF and make an impact on students.

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Boundless Bulls: Sarasota’s first Hispanic police chief wants to leave a bigger legacy  

Rex Troche, a USF criminology alumnus — and dad to three current USF students — is the city of Sarasota’s first Hispanic police chief.

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Criminology alum makes MLB debut 

David Villar, a 2020 criminology graduate and former USF baseball captain, was recently called up to play third base for the San Francisco Giants. Villar was drafted by the Giants in 2018 as the 316th pick in the 11th round. Throughout his time in the minor leagues, he played 347 games with a .274 batting average and 67 home runs. Villar hit his first MLB career home run in the July 8 game against the San Diego Padres.

Watch the video

Criminology honors 2023 Wall of Fame inductees 

The Department of Criminology hosted its annual induction of its Wall of Fame honorees in April in the Gibbons Alumni Center. See the full list of inductees here

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Criminology Alum named Assistant Special Agent in Charge at FDLE - OROC  

Jason Cook, Class of 1998, was recently promoted to Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) at Orlando Regional Operations Center (OROC). ASAC Cook is a third generation Florida law enforcement officer and joined FDLE in 2006. He has been recognized as the FDLE Special Agent of the Year, the State Law Enforcement Chief’s Association Investigator of the Year, the FDLE Excellence in Leadership Award and twice led the MEPIC Task Force of the Year.


Faculty members and doctoral student publish in most influential journal 

Assistant Professor Mateus Rennó Santos, PhD, Associate Professor Chae M. Jaynes, PhD, and doctoral student, Danielle Thomas, MA, recently published their article, “How to Overcome the Cost of a Criminal Record for Getting Hired” in Criminology.

Read the article

Our Top-Ranked Criminology Program Leads in Peer-Reviewed Article Publications 

Our rate of peer-reviewed article publication greatly exceeds the national average among Ph.D-granting criminology/criminal justice programs where we are ranked in the top 2-3. Annually, the faculty and graduate students in the Department of Criminology publish an average of approximately 80 peer-reviewed articles; we also publish several books, over a dozen book chapters, and numerous other published documents each year. We have published in all of the top-tier journals in the discipline including: Criminology, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Crime and Delinquency, Journal of Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Criminology and Public Policy

Full list of publications



The Crime Research Etiology and Treatment Evaluation “CREATE” Lab seeks to identify the causes and consequences of crime and establish evidence-based prevention efforts. CREATE is comprised of 2 faculty advisors, graduate students, undergraduate students, supporting faculty, and always growing community of alumni. Founded by Associate Professor Chae Jaynes, PhD and Assistant Professor Mateus Rennó Santos, PhD, the lab seeks to provide students with an immersive research experience to promote their understanding of key criminological issues and research practices. The lab has numerous ongoing projects dedicated to providing significant contributions to the community and discipline at large.

Sarasota Cybersecurity  

Sarasota Cybersecurity is a true interdisciplinary research laboratory with cybersecurity experts from around the globe. Founded by Assistant Professor C. Jordan Howell, PhD, the new lab mitigates and prevents cyberattacks by offering holistic and evidence-based cybersecurity solutions derived from nuanced understanding of the latest technological innovations, advances in cyber-intelligence gathering, and insight into the humans (both offenders and victims) behind the keyboard. They are the only cybersecurity group in the country with expertise across these areas and, as such, are uniquely equipped to improve national and business security posture.

A growing rate of online crime has led to high demand for cybercrime professionals. The USF Department of Criminology offers programs at all levels, including a master’s degree in cybercrime, a digital forensics graduate certificate, an undergraduate concentration in cybercrime, as well as training for professionals who are already working in the field.

Learn more


Through the incredible generosity of our esteemed alumni and friends, we had the privilege of granting $15,000 worth of scholarships to deserving students in our undergraduate and graduate programs this past academic year. In addition, these contributions provided us the opportunity to successfully organize our inaugural alumni night, along with the cherished annual Wall of Fame luncheon. We believe by joining together, we can create a brighter future for our students and department.  


We kindly request you to consider making a contribution to any of our numerous programs and scholarships.




Stay connected with the department and informed about the latest updates on faculty, students, alumni, upcoming events, and much more. Simply use the link below to register, and follow us on social media. 

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USF DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINOLOGY | 4202 E. FOWLER AVE., SOC 107, TAMPA, FL 33620 | 813-974-9708