Maria Tcherni-Buzzeo, Ph.D.

Maria Tcherni-Buzzeo Headshot
Associate Professor
Director of the Ph.D. Criminal Justice Program

Criminal Justice Department
Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences

Research Director of the Liberty Initiative, a student-focused collaboration between the Lee College and Pompea College of Business.

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Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, University at Albany, SUNY, 2011
M.S. in Criminal Justice, Northeastern University, 2002
B.A./M.A. in Psychology, Moscow State University (Russia), 1998

About Maria

Maria Tcherni-Buzzeo is an expert in crime trends and patterns, the causes of violence, juvenile crime, and the connections between poverty and violence.

Her research focuses on the structural causes of violence and homicide: poverty, education, and family structure. She also studies the interplay of these factors with family-level issues, like child abuse and neglect, and with individual circumstances, including mental health issues, tendencies towards risky behaviors, and life valuation.

She has also conducted a systematic analysis of major criminological theories and their empirical tests to explore the role of poverty in explaining crime. With National Institute of Justice funding, she examined how changes in school accountability laws impacted juvenile delinquency.

With the support of the National Institute of Justice, Dr. Tcherni-Buzzeo also examined whether the decreases in violent crime in recent decades could be attributed to the rising rate of psychotropic medications being prescribed to children and adolescents to treat ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental health disorders.

Analyzing state-level data over the last 25 years and using official statistics and findings from longitudinal surveys of youth, Dr. Tcherni-Buzzeo found no clear evidence that psychiatric medications played a role in the decrease in violent crime.

Her study found that two factors did play a role in the decreasing violent crime rate: decreases in child poverty at the state level – that were associated with state-level decreases in juvenile violence – and increases in school-based services for children with learning and cognitive disabilities that led to decreases in juvenile violence.

Dr. Tcherni-Buzzeo’s findings correlate with current studies that show truancy prevention programs decrease delinquency and crime among adolescents. She continues to study the impact of school-based services. Her objective is to develop findings that can be translated into effective policy solutions.

She has published extensively, authoring many peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and commentaries. Her work includes the chapter "The Great American Crime Decline: Possible Explanations" in the Handbook on Crime and Deviance; "The Dark Figure of Online Property Crime: Is Cyberspace Hiding a Crime Wave?" in Justice Quarterly; and "Food for Thought: Ideas for Those Teaching Criminology" in ACJS Today. A frequent op-ed contributor on topics including gun control and crime rates and juvenile crime, she is regularly asked by the media to speak on issues around violent crime.

She received her B.A. and M.A. from Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia, her M.S. from Northeastern University, and her Ph.D. from the University at Albany’s (SUNY) School of Criminal Justice.

Recently Published Books and Articles

Tcherni-Buzzeo, M. (2019). The "Great American Crime Decline": Possible explanations. In M.D. Krohn et al. (Eds.), Handbook on Crime and Deviance (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer.

Pyrczak F., & Tcherni-Buzzeo, M. (2018). Evaluating research in academic journals: A practical guide to realistic evaluation. Routledge (Taylor & Francis). ISBN: 978-0815365662

Tcherni-Buzzeo, M. (2018). Measuring juvenile crime to compare trends among U.S. states: Secondary data analysis. SAGE Research Methods Cases. 10.4135/9781526436962

Gottschalk, P., & Tcherni-Buzzeo, M. (2017). Reasons for gaps in crime reporting: The case of white-collar criminals investigated by private fraud examiners in Norway. Deviant Behavior, 38(3), 267-281.

Tcherni, M., Davies, A., Lopes, G., & Lizotte, A. (2016). The dark figure of online property crime: Is cyberspace hiding a crime wave? Justice Quarterly, 33(5), 890-911.

Bystrova, E., & Tcherni, M. (2015). Juvenile Justice in Russia. In M. D. Krohn & J. Lane (Eds.), The Handbook of Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice (pp.40-48). Wiley Blackwell.

Tcherni, M. (2014). Structural determinants of homicide. In A. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer.

Tcherni, M. (2011). Structural determinants of homicide: The Big Three. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 27(4), 475-496.

Recent Conference Presentations

Tcherni, M. (2018). IDEA-mandated school services for children with disabilities as an important factor in juvenile violence declines. American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA.

Tcherni, M., Spano, R., & O’Brien, D. (2016). The role of poverty in explaining crime. American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.

O’Brien, D., Tcherni, M., & Spano, R. (2016). Operationalizing delinquency: An analysis of the most common methodologies used for criminological theory testing. American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.


Tcherni-Buzzeo M. (2015). DOJ NIJ Data Resources Program.

Courses Taught
  • CJST 2205 Introduction to Forensic Psychology
  • CJST 2250 Scientific Methods in Criminal Justice
  • CJST 3311 Criminology
  • CJST 6605 Theories of Criminal Behavior
  • CJST 6611 Research Methods in Criminal Justice
  • CJST 7719 Psychology of Crime
  • CJST 7772 Theories of Crime
  • CJST 7773 Crime Prevention Programs

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