New Faculty Announced for Fall

New Faculty

The College will add three new faculty members this fall, expanding its expertise in criminal justice and criminology and security studies.

Three new faculty members will join the College of Criminal Justice in the fall, adding to its expertise in biosocial criminology, corrections, and emergency preparedness.

Joining the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology are Eric J. Connolly, an assistant professor from Pennsylvania State University, Abington, and Elisa Toman, a Ph.D. graduate from the University of South Florida. In the Department of Security Studies, Natalie D. Baker from Virginia Commonwealth University will become a member of the faculty for the master’s program.

Connolly specializes in biosocial criminology, which is the study of how biological and social factors work together to create individual differences in anti-social behavior. He is particularly interested in examining how genetic and environmental factors influence anti-social behavior at different stages of the life course. He uses family-based research designs and behavioral genetic methodologies to understand better the origins of antisocial behavior. He will teach a course in Criminology and Special Topics in Biosocial Criminology.

Connolly, who received his Ph.D. from Florida State University, has published widely in such peer-reviewed journals as Child Development, Criminology, Developmental Psychology, Intelligence, Journal of Criminal Justice, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.

He currently serves as president of the Biosocial Criminology Association, an organization of researchers and practitioners devoted to understanding how biology and environment contribute to anti-social behavior. The organization draws from a wide range of disciplines including psychology, criminal justice, criminology, developmental psychology, forensic psychology, neuroscience, social work, and sociology.

Toman specializes in theories of punishment, trends in criminal sentencing, and individuals' experiences with the correctional system. Her research has been published in such journals as Justice Quarterly, the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and the Journal of Criminal Justice. Toman was recognized by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences with its Doctoral Summit Scholarship Award and the American Society of Criminology Division of Corrections and Sentencing with its Student Paper Award. She also contributed to research on the use of solitary confinement in the Florida prison system, a manuscript that earned the 2017 Outstanding Paper Award from the ACJS.

Her dissertation focused on “Female Incarceration and Prison Social Order: An Examination of Gender Differences in Prison Misconduct and In-Prison Punishments.” She will teach two courses on Correctional Systems and Practices.

Natalie D. Baker was an assistant professor in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her most recent research projects examined the Ebola scare in the U.S., the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and earthquake preparedness at a large university in Southern California. She has published in major disaster and sociology journals and presented at international, inter-disciplinary conferences across the world.

Her current research project examines terrorism as a “sociotechnical imaginary” and how it impacts national security policies and technology devices, such as the use of drones. She also is investigating the experiences of conflict journalism in hostile environments and the way information was transmitted to the public as well as critiques of disaster preparedness and recovery.

At the heart of her research, Baker uses interdisciplinary studies to understand how people make sense of and interpret threats, such as extreme violence in urban areas or infectious diseases. She is interested in the nature of social order and how it is enacted, transmitted and understood.

Baker, who received her Ph.D. degree in Planning, Policy, and Design from the University of California, Irvine, will teach courses in Foundations of Homeland Security and Research Methods in Homeland Security in the Master’s program in Security Studies.

Member of The Texas State University System