Video Transcript: Meet the Fellow - Translational Criminology

Still image of Jessica Shaw from video

Watch "​Meet the Fellow: Translational Criminology"

Learn more about Dr. Shaw's work during her fellowship in the grant report Translational Criminology Research Fellowship.

In this video Jessica Shaw, Ph.D., describes her work as a translational criminology fellow at NIJ. She discusses what motivated her to apply, her fellowship experience and how it impacted her career development, as well as, the benefits of pursuing a fellowship with NIJ.


I'm trained as a community psychologist and received my PH.D. from Michigan State University.

Community psychology isn't so much defined by specific substantive areas but rather to its commitment to social justice and change. Specifically, I use community psychology in investigating community and system responses to sexual assault. This includes the justice system. In my work, I tend to collaborate with: law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, medical personnel, victim advocates and other community leaders.

I'm really interested in how we can use research and evaluations to provide the empirical foundation for making sustainable change within a community.

So my background really ties in well to NIJ's translational criminology mission to bridge science and practice. So that both practitioners and researchers can benefit from each other's work.

Honestly, I wasn't sure if my application would be competitive because I didn't have formal training in criminal justice or criminology. I'm really happy that my mentor back in Michigan State, encouraged me to apply. It ended up being a very rewarding experience. 

So when this translational criminology fellowship opened up, I saw an opportunity to work on something I was already deeply invested in - bridging the gap between science and practice. And I was interested in learning more about what it was like to work in a federal agency.

So even though, I'm not a criminologist by training, I thought that if NIJ was looking for somebody with an interdisciplinary background and commitment to fostering practice and policy relevant research, I might be a good fit. I relied on research, processes, theories and methods, from a wide range of disciplines to guide the work I was doing alongside NIJ staff.

So in the end, the concerns I had about my background perhaps not lining up directly with that of NIJ staff was actually a benefit. It really allowed for an interdisciplinary collaborative process that I think produced a stronger, more innovative product in the end.

Date Modified: December 13, 2016