Doctoral Students

Blasuis Awongsong 200x300Blasius Awonsang received his B.S. in Economics and Computer information system (2005) from Grambling state University and his M.S. in Economics (2007) from Kansas State University. Before beginning the PhD program at UALR, Blasius worked as a full-time as law enforcement Agent for the state of Arkansas. His areas of interest include Clandestine Banking Operations, Policy Evaluation, money laundering, White Collar Crime and Use of force among law enforcement officers. Please click here to view Blasius Awonsang’s vita. Blasius can be reached at ba32@ualr.edu.


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Brenda Branham received her B.S. (2013) in Criminal Justice from the Northeastern State University (Tahlequah, OK). She began the doctoral program in Criminal Justice at UALR in Fall 2014 and is working as a research assistant on the National Institute of Justice grant, entitled, “Person or Place? A Contextual, Event-History Analysis of Homicide Victimization Risk.” She is a member of the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Her research interests include Race/Ethnicity and Crime, Religion and Crime, and Juvenile Delinquency. Please click here to view Brenda Branham’s Vita. Brenda can be reached at bfbranham@ualr.edu.


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Tabrina Bratton is a doctoral student and research assistant in the Criminal Justice Department. She received her Bachelors of Arts in History and Minor in Business Administration from the University of Central Arkansas in 2014. She is currently the Disproportionate Minority Contact Coordinator of Pulaski County for the Juvenile Crime Prevention Coalition. Tabrina is a member of Alpha Phi Sigma and the Juvenile Crime Prevention Coalition.  Her research interests include LGBTQ public opinions and attitudes, social media and criminal behavior, and community corrections. Tabrina can be reached at tmbratton@ualr.edu. Please click here to view Tabrina’s Vita.


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Brooke Cooley is a doctoral student and research assistant in the Criminal Justice Department. She received her Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Missouri. Her research interests include corrections, institutional management, special populations within correctional facilities, and sex offender behavior and policies. Brooke can be reached at bncooley@ualr.edu. Please click here to view Brooke’s Vita.


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Whitney Gass is a doctoral student at UALR and an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the Behavioral and Social Science Department at Southern Arkansas University. Her research interests include college campus crime and victimization. Whitney has presented original research at regional, national, and international conferences and has three publications to her credit. She is a wife and mother and enjoys spending quality time with her family. In her spare time, she enjoys scrapbooking, baking, and cooking. Please click here to view Whitney’s Vita.


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Marc Glidden received his B.S. in Criminal Justice (2010) from East Carolina University and his M.A. in Education (2013) from McKendree University. Before beginning the PhD program at UALR, Marc was a full-time campus life professional at McKendree University. His areas of interest include juvenile delinquency and justice, campus safety/security, and corrections. Please click here to view Marc’s Vita. Marc can be reached at mdglidden@ualr.edu.


Mary Hughes received her B.A. (2015) from Western Carolina University and M.A. (2017) from East Tennessee State University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. Her areas of interest include crime prevention, criminological theory, corrections, and attitudes toward rehabilitation. She can be reached at mhhughes@ualr.edu. Please click here to view Mary’s Vita.


Kwak 200x300Hyounggon Kwak received a M.A in Criminology, Dongguk University (2013) and B.A. degree (2010) in Law from Wonkwang University. He wrote his master`s thesis on “An Effect of Children`s Maltreatment Experience By Parents on Their Committing School Violence: Focusing on the Mediating Effect of Self-Control.” In 2013, he co-authored “A Study on the Private Investigator Usage for Countermeasures for Insurance Fraud.” which was published in Korean Journal of Private Investigation. He won a prize for Excellence in the Thesis, Korean Journal of Private Investigation. He has completed a Statistics Workshop on Regression Analysis, Hierarchical linear modeling, Structural equation modeling, and Spatial Analysis at the Korea Social Science Data Archive in South Korea. His interests include Juvenile delinquency, social disorganization, sexual crime, victimization, and statistics. Please click here to view Kwak’s Vita.


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Jacob Laan received his BS (2011) and MS (2013) in criminal justice from Troy University (Troy, Alabama). Jacob’s master’s thesis is entitled Law Enforcement Training on Mental Disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Southeastern United States. While at Troy, Jacob served as vice-president and president of Alpha Phi Sigma and was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Mortar Board, Order of Omega, Lambda Alpha Epsilon, and Omicron Kappa Delta. Please click here to view Jacob’s vita.


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Kilby Raptopoulos earned her B.A. in Political Science from Lyon College in 2004 and her M.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock in 2008. Mrs. Raptopoulos is a former criminal probation officer and is currently an Advanced Instructor teaching full time in the Department of Criminal Justice here at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Mrs. Raptopoulos’ research interests include sex offenders, mentoring as a prevention strategy for juvenile delinquency, and empathy as it relates to Criminal Justice students. Kilby can be reached at vkerwin@ualr.edu. Please click here to view Kilby’s vita.


Natalie Snow received her B.A.A. (2015) in Criminal Justice from Humber College (Toronto, ON) and her M.S. (2017) in Criminal Justice Administration from Niagara University (Lewiston, NY). She began the doctoral program in Criminal Justice at UALR in Fall 2017. She is a member of the American Society of Criminology, Canadian Criminal Justice Association and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Her research interests include Sexual Violence, Social Media & Crime, Human Trafficking, Prisoner Re-entry, and Prostitution. Natalie can be reached at nmsnow@ualr.edu  Please click here to view Natalie’s vita.


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Jasmine Spears is a graduate student in the Criminal Justice program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and she currently works as an academic advisor in the Criminal Justice department. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and African and African American Studies from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Although Jasmine is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, she intends to continue on in higher education to pursue her Doctorate Degree in Criminal Justice. Jasmine can be reached at jaspears@ualr.edu. Please click here to view Jasmine’s vita.


Mollee Steely is a doctoral student and research assistant in the Department of Criminal Justice. She received her Bachelors of Arts (2016) and Masters of Arts (2018) in Criminal Justice from UA Little Rock. She is active in scholarly organizations including the American Society of Criminology, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Alpha Phi Sigma, and the Sex Offender Policy Research workgroup. She also serves as the Vice President of the Criminal Justice Graduate Student Association. Her research interests include contact sexual offending, online sexual offending and victimization, as well as institutional corrections Mollee can be reached at mksteely@ualr.edu. Please click here to view Mollee’s vita.


Mary Wuestewald has been an Instructor of Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith since 2010. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Oakland University (Michigan) and her Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Wayne State University (Michigan), where she served as a graduate teaching assistant. Her areas of interest include wrongful convictions, criminal psychology, and violent offenders. She teaches the following courses: Criminology, Introduction to the Criminal Justice System, Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice, Psychology and Crime, Serial Killers, Violent Offenders, and Wrongful Convictions. Mrs. Wuestewald is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Mary can be reached at miwuestewald@ualr.edu. Please click here to view Mary’s vita.