Members of the Research Team

Dr. Danielle Cooper

Dr. Danielle Cooper, Director of Research, Tow Youth Justice Institute

Dr. Danielle Cooper is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and the Director of Research at the Tow Youth Justice Institute at the University of New Haven. Dr. Cooper received her BS in Justice Systems (with a minor in Business Administration) in 2009 and her M.A. in Criminology from the University of Florida in 2011. She received her Ph.D. in Criminology (with a minor in Organizational Leadership for Nonprofits) from the University of Florida in 2015. During her time in school, she was selected to serve as a McNair Baccalaureate Scholar (as an undergraduate) and a McKnight Doctoral Fellow (as a graduate student), both of which are programs focused on increasing minorities in academia. She currently conducts research in the areas of youths and young adults, juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, criminological theory, and sex offending. In addition to her work as a Professor and the Director of Research at the University of New Haven, she is also a Certified Prevention Professional who works with nonprofits and community organizations as a prevention trainer and evaluation consultant. Through her work in the community, she has collaborated with key stakeholders, such as youth and their parents, law enforcement, mental health professionals, and youth serving organizations.

Graduate Students
Sarah J. Giarrusso

Sarah J. Giarrusso is a Ph.D. Fellow (Criminal Justice) who plans to graduate in December of 2019. Sarah was working as a Fellow with forensic research when she was recommended to the TYJI based on her interest in juvenile justice. She has been a Research Fellow for the TYJI for the past two years. Sarah has a dual career plan: 1to pursue a career in academia within the fields of criminology/criminal justice with a special interest in youth justice and 2to work as an analyst for the government. The exposure to practitioners through the TYJI has shaped her future career goals.

Sara R. Jefferies

Sara R. Jefferies is a Criminal Justice Ph.D student who is expected to graduate in the year 2020. Sara has been a part of TOW for four years, she I started as a volunteer and developed the first webpage for TYJI at the University of New Haven, and then moved into a Fellowship/Student Research position. TYJI has enabled Sara the ability to build research, writing and policy skills in juvenile justice to aid in her future career plans. After graduating from the University of New Haven, she plans to research, become a professor and obtain a position in policy reforming.

Lanmeng Ma

Lanmeng Ma is a Criminal Justice, Ph.D. student who is expected to graduate May of 2019. Lanmeng was assigned to the research team as a Ph.D. fellow for two semesters. Outside of TOW, she teaches and researches with other professors here at the University of New Haven. Lanmeng has much experience with studying juvenile justice related issues and got chances to attend JJPOC and its workgroups' meetings to have first-hand information of juvenile justice system reforms in Connecticut. Her experiences as TOW has enhanced her interests in preventing juvenile delinquency. In the future, she hopes to conduct additional research related to Criminal Justice issues and become a professor.

Melissa Pierre

Melissa Pierre is a graduate student who is expected to receive her M.S in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Forensic Psychology in May of 2018 and has been serving as a graduate intern here at Tow Youth Justice Institute for three semesters. She is also a part of the nationally known Criminal Justice Honor Society, Alpha Tau. Melissa has been working on multiple research projects and is also part of the social media team for the Development and Communications content of TYJI. In the future, she plans to receive her Ph.D. in hopes that she will be able to advocate, advise, and counsel children and families. Juvenile justice is important to her, and she enjoys learning about the mental health aspect of criminal behavior and plans to integrate at-risk youth back into their communities with adequate treatment.

Yasmin Ramadan Yasmin Ramadan is a graduate student who is expected to graduate in May of 2020. She has been a part of TYJI research team for two semesters and joined TOW because she found the institution to be of interest to her future career goals. Yasmin prior job experiences involved working with the Center for Analytics. Yasmine future endeavors include volunteering with the FBI or police department and focusing on investigating crimes that are relevant or not so relevant to youth. Yasmine believes being on the research team has given her many opportunities and has also given her the ability to open her eyes to many different perspectives when it comes to dealing with youth and thinking about ways to rehabilitate them and divert them in the right direction.

Undergraduate Students
Victoria Cone

Victoria Cone is an undergraduate student studying Criminal Justice (Family and Juvenile Justice) and minoring in Psychology. She is expected to graduate in May of 2018 and has been a part of TOW for two semesters. She is an active member of Alpha Lambda Delta First Year Honor Society, a sister of Phi Sigma Sigma, on the E-Board for Gamma Sigma Alpha Greek Honor Society, and a member of the Honors Program here at the University of New Haven. Victoria’s ultimate goal is to be a Juvenile Probation Office. She has also recognized that working at TOW has affirmed for her that working with juvenile offenders is the path I want to take/continue.

Other research contributors

 Kendell L. Coker

Dr. Kendell L. Coker, J.D., Assistant Professor

 Kevin Barnes-Ceeny

Dr. Kevin Barnes-Ceeny, Assistant Professor

Kento Yasuhara

Dr. Kento Yasuhara, Associate Professor

Student Experiences

Sarah J. Giarrusso is a Ph.D. Fellow

"I've learned advanced analytic skills from the projects I've worked on - skills that go beyond the classroom. I've managed undergraduate interns on a research project; been a note-taker for numerous focus groups; assisted in the department's revision of the juvenile justice course; led video review sessions on restraint in juvenile facilities; and worked other various projects for the TYJI. The TYJI has provided field exposure to practitioners I would not have received through my studies."

Melissa Pierre

"Tow Youth Justice Institute’s (TYJI) research team has given me many transferrable skills such as coding data, oral presenting, contributing to manuscripts, and researching. As a master student, I have had the opportunity to work besides undergraduate and Ph.D. students, as well as with faculty and staff at the University of New Haven and TYJI. Many of the tasks I worked on involved analyzing data and written reports, I was also granted the opportunity to present my research on "Mental Health Symptoms, Delinquency and Recidivism among Justice-Involved Minority" at the American Criminology Society (ASC). TYJI has given me the opportunity to work with many people in the field of Criminal Justice. I hope to use research as a way to implement behavioral plans that will help children and families transition and ultimately succeed in life despite psychological, developmental, or behavioral issues they may face."

Victoria Cone

"Being a part of the research team has taught me and helped me develop so many valuable skills, including time management, effective communication, and has helped me develop critical thinking skills. Within my position, I have been a part of various research projects where I have needed to search for relevant information, provide outlines, enter data onto SPSS, review others' work, and more. Working with the Tow Institute and learning so much more about the juvenile justice field has benefited me in the sense that it has affirmed that I do, in fact, either want to work with justice-involved youth or continue to do work that impacts them."