Research Assistants

At the CCJ, undergraduate and graduate students work closely with faculty to generate practice-informed research and analysis designed to enhance knowledge and foster system improvement. Read about our current Research Assistants below. 

 

Edith Kowalik

Edith is from Des Plaines, Illinois. She is a graduate student in Loyola's Five-Year BS/MA Program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Political Science and a B.S. in Criminal Justice and Criminology in the fall of 2021. Edith began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in January of 2022. Her research interests include wrongful convictions, juvenile justice, domestic violence, and technology in law enforcement. In the future, Edith plans to pursue a career that relates to technology and criminal justice.

 

Macy Levine

Macy is from Dallas, Texas. She is a first-year graduate student in Loyola’s MA Program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology with a focus in Criminology and a minor in Criminal Justice in the spring of 2021 from The University of Oklahoma. Macy began working as a research assistant in the fall of 2021 and recently joined the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in January of 2022. Some of Macy’s research interests include wrongful convictions and exonerations, rehabilitation, and recidivism. In the future, Macy plans to pursue a career as an analyst for an agency in the United States Intelligence Community.

 

Cristina Penate

Cristina is a first-year graduate student at Loyola's MA program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. Cristina graduated magna cum laude with a double degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice at Florida International University in 2021. Cristina began working as a research assistant with Dr. Olson in 2021 and working at the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice in January 2022. Cristina would like to get her PhD and do program evaluation or research. Her research interests include wrongful convictions, police interrogations, parental incarceration and sexual abuse.

 

Andy Sain

Andy is from Los Angeles, California. He is a graduate student in Loyola's Five-Year BS/MA Program in Criminal Justice and Criminology and is planning on graduating with his undergraduate degree in May of 2022. His research interests include juvenile probation, trauma, and community corrections. In the future, Andy would like to pursue a career related to his interest in Criminal Justice and Criminology.

 

Dominique Smith

RA Bios

Dominique is from Ottawa, Illinois. She is a first-year graduate student in Loyola's MA program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology and a certificate of undergraduate study in Criminology from Northern Illinois University in 2018. Dominique began working as a research assistant at the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in January 2021. Her research interests include police integrity and misconduct, restorative justice, and bail. Dominique would like to pursue a career that relates to her interest in criminal justice and criminology. 

 

Sally Staats

 

Sally is from Cedarburg, Wisconsin. She graduated this past fall with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Loyola. She also holds a Bachelor of the Fine Arts in Musical Theater from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as well as a Business Minor. Sally’s research interests include victim rights, police mistreatment, and diversion efforts in Cook County. In the future, Sally would like to pursue a career in Chicago working with survivors of sexual assault.

 

Vontesha Stanfield

RA Bios

Vontesha is a first-year graduate student at Loyola University Chicago. She received her bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice/ Criminology with a minor in Legal Studies and Social Welfare from Indiana State University. Her research interest includes juvenile justice, law, and probation. She would like to continue her education and attend law school.   

 

Megan Sullivan

Megan is from Detroit, Michigan, and is a visiting student at Loyola University Chicago. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Indiana University Bloomington in the fall of 2021. Megan recently joined working as a research assistant at the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in January of 2022. Megan’s research interests surround both juvenile and emerging adult justice reform, intimate partner violence and abuse, and family law interventions. She would like to continue her education and attend law school.

 

Allison Wiederin

Allison is from Omaha, Nebraska. She is an undergraduate student in Loyola’s Five-Year BS/MA Program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She will be graduating with her undergraduate degrees in English and Criminal Justice in May 2022 and graduate degree in May 2023. Allison began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice in January of 2022. Allison’s research interests include bail reform, juvenile justice, and reentry. In the future, Allison plans to pursue a career in advocacy work in Chicago.