Dr. Danielle Boisvert and her colleagues will study relationships among genes, environment and criminal behavior.
Faculty from the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology received Enhancement Research Grants from Sam Houston State University to continue their research projects on genes and criminal behavior and domestic violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Enhancement Research Grants, ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 each, are designed to allow faculty to continue a project beyond the designated timeline to help bolster the opportunity for external funding. Faculty have one year to complete their grant projects.
Dr. Lisa Muftic will continue research on domestic violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.The grants were awarded to Dr. Danielle Boisvert for “Biological and Environmental Factors Related to Stalking” and Dr. Lisa Muftic for “Identifying the Needs of Domestic Violence Victims.” In a related field, Sibyl Bucheli of the Department of Biological Sciences also received funded for “Ultra-Fine Scale Bacterial Sampling of Human Cadavers” to continue her research at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility, one of only six “body farms” in the U.S.
Drs. Sibyl Bucheli and Aaron Lynne will study bacteria in human decomposition.Dr. Boisvert, along with her colleagues Drs. Todd Armstrong, Brian Boutwell, Matt Nobles, Sheree Hughes-Stamm and David Gangitano, will use the funds to process DNA samples in an ongoing series of biosocial experiments linking genes to criminal and anti-social behaviors. The College had a unique opportunity to collect DNA samples and surveys from an inmate population in a Southern correctional institution and wants to compare those results with 550 samples and surveys from college students.
The Department of Forensic Science will analyze DNA samples,While the grant is focused on stalking, the DNA samples and survey results also will be used in other biosocial projects to examine the relationship among genes, the environment and criminal or antisocial behavior. The data will compare 14 genetics factors linked to behaviors such as aggression, callousness, unemotionalism and empathy. Among the other issues under investigation are substance abuse, recidivism rates, and the relationship between low resting heart rate and criminal behavior.
The project includes graduates students Jessica Wells, Rick Lewis, Melissa Petkovsek, Yi-Fen Monica Lu, Mathias Woeckener and Tri Keah Henry, and undergraduate students Claudia Vasquez and Crystal Lara.
Dr. Muftic studies victimization issues in BiH.Dr. Lisa Muftic will use the funds to study the needs of domestic violence victims in Bosnia and Hergezovina (BiH). By interviewing domestic violence victims in the country, she hopes to discover the perceived barriers to getting assistance from police or social service agencies.
Dr. Muftic has worked extensively in BiH, formerly part of Yugoslavia, since 1996, studying issues of domestic violence, human trafficking and international criminal justice issues. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Muftic was a Fulbright Scholar and visiting faculty member at the University of Sarajevo.
As a doctoral student, Dr. Muftic began work in the country, comparing intimate partner violence experienced by Bosnian women who relocated to the U.S., and those who remained in their native land. While the study showed no differences in victimization and perpetration among the two groups of women, in the U.S., the Bosnian women tended to be more conservative on the issue and conformed more to traditional gender roles. Dr. Muftic has also studied police response and attitudes toward intimate partner violence in BiH.
Faculty and students conduct research at STAFS.Drs. Bucheli and Aaron Lynne of the Department of Biological Science have been studying the use of bacteria to determine time of death in homicide cases. Working at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility, the pair are involved in a long term study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, to examine the changes in bacteria colonies during human decomposition to see if they could help establish the time of death. The enhancement grant with allow them to take short range sample, using facial tissue, to determine daily changes in bacteria at different intervals of the day.
“We now sample every day or every other day,” said Dr. Bucheli. “This grant will allow us to sample four times a day. We don’t know if the bacteria composition changes daily and whether it is relate to exposure to sunlight or temperatures.”
The study will include undergraduate and graduate students in biological sciences, including Daniel Haarmann, Lauren Smith, Courtney Miller, Kaylin Hensen, Keli King and Raymond Berry.