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 and Alumnus of the Center below. 

Current Research Assistants

Kaitlyn Foust

RA Bios

Kaitlyn Foust is from Denver, Colorado. She is a first year graduate student in Criminal Justice and Criminology at Loyola University. In May 2020, she graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology and Criminal Justice & Criminology from Loyola University. Kaitlyn has been working at the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice since October 2019. Her research interests include probation programming, reintegration, and recidivism. Kaitlyn is looking forward to a career that combines her interests in psychology and criminal justice.

 

Cynthia Guzman

RA Bios

Cynthia is from Joliet, Illinois. She is a first-year graduate student in Loyola’s MA Program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She earned her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Spring of 2019 at Saint Xavier University. Cynthia began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in January of 2020. Cynthia’s research interests include juveniles, police misconduct, and probation. In the future, Cynthia would like to pursue a career in Chicago working with the Cook County Juvenile Probation Department.

 

Sophia Juarez

RA Bios

Sophia Juarez is from Chicago, Illinois. She earned her bachelor degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology and Psychology from Loyola University in Spring of 2019 and her Masters in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Loyola University in Spring of 2020. Sophia began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in January 2020. Her research interests include the disproportionate impact of criminal just system involvement, particularly wrongful conviction and gun crimes have on minority individuals and communities. She is looking forward to a research career further examining criminal justice issues and aiding those impacted by violence and abuse.

 

Jamie Kessler

RA Bios

Jamie Kessler is from Chattanooga, Tennessee and is a senior at Loyola University Chicago. She is double majoring in Psychology and Criminal Justice/Criminology with a minor in Neuroscience. She began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in January of 2020 through her senior capstone project. In the future, Jamie will pursue a career in clinical forensic psychology. Her research interests lie at the intersection of psychology and the law, specifically the juvenile justice system, policing, and offender rehabilitation. 

 

Lily Kreuter

RA Bios

Lily is from Bentonville, Arkansas. She is a junior in the undergraduate Criminal Justice and Criminology program with a minor in Psychology of Crime and Justice. She began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in May of 2020. Lily’s research interests include women and mental illness in the criminal justice system. In the future, Lily plans to study forensic psychology.

 

Holly Michalak

Holly is from Brookfield, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. She worked for the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice from January 2019 to December 2019, when she graduated from Loyola’s Applied Statistics Master of Science program. While at The Center, she did research on recidivism and firearm offenses and worked to clean data for other projects. Holly currently works for Allstate as a business analytics consultant. She plans to continue working in analytics, data science, and on projects with the Center.

 

Christina Mazzucchi

RA Bios

Christina is from Itasca, Illinois, a Northwest suburb of Chicago. She is an undergraduate student in Loyola’s College of Arts and Sciences. She will complete her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Spring of 2021, with minors in Psychology and Political Science. Christina began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in May of 2020. Her research interests include juvenile justice, institutional reform, and policy shaping. Christina plans on pursuing a career in criminal law that will allow her to continue to live and work in Chicago.

 

Letitia Monreal

Leti is from Houston, Texas. She is a graduate student in Loyola’s Graduate Program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She finished her undergraduate degree in Justice Studies from Northeastern Illinois University where she graduated with honors. Leti began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice in September of 2019. Leti’s research interests include recidivism and juvenile justice. In the future, Leti plans on pursuing a career in criminal justice research and is considering doctoral programs.

 

Isabella Munro

RA Bios

Isabella is from Yarmouth, Maine. She is a second-year graduate student in Loyola's MA program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She received a BS in Biology and Psychology from Loyola University Maryland in the Spring of 2019. Isabella began working as a research assistant for Dr. Maribeth Rezey in the Fall of 2020 and recently joined the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in May of 2020. Isabella's research interests include victimization trends, child maltreatment, and the relationship between biology and crime. In the future, Isabella would like to pursue a career in investigations working specifically with special victims wherever that might take her.

 

Vinnie Palazeti

RA Bios

Vinnie is from Flint, Michigan. He is a graduate student in Loyola’s Applied Statistics MS Program. He finished his Bachelor’s of Science from Ball State University in the Fall of 2017. Vinnie began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in March of 2020. Vinnie’s interests include data engineering, feature creation, and model optimization. In the future, Vinnie would like to have a career as a statistician in the public sector—specifically the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Energy, or Bureau of International Labor Affairs.

 

Avery Pankratz

RA Bios

Avery is from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, just outside of Milwaukee. She is a graduate student in Loyola’s Five-Year BS/MA Program in Criminal Justice and Criminology. She graduated magna cum laude with undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Criminology and Psychology in the Spring of 2020. Avery began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy. and Practice in January of 2019. Avery’s research interests include recidivism, bail, and reintegration. In the future, Avery plans to pursue a career in criminal justice research that will allow her to continue to live and work in Chicago.

 

Emma Porteous

RA Bios

Emma is from Saint Charles, Illinois, only a couple hours outside of Chicago. She is an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science with minors in Chemistry and the Psychology of Crime & Justice with plans to graduate in 2021. Emma began working in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in the Spring of 2020. Emma’s research interests include, but are not limited to, victim blame, recidivism, gun control, and mass incarceration. Emma would like to pursue her law degree and further contribute to criminal justice research.

 

Sophia Rana

RA Bios

Sophia is from Dallas, Texas. She graduated from Loyola’s Five-Year BS/MA Criminal Justice and Criminology Program in Spring of 2020 after finishing her undergraduate studies in Criminal Justice and Criminology, Computer Science, and Computer Forensics in the Spring of 2019. Sophia began a research assistantship at the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice in September of 2019. Her research interests include cybercrime, organized crime, and restorative justice reform. In the future, Sophia would like to work with the intelligence community and analyze international crime relations.

 

Alumnus of the Center

Caroline McCabe

RA Bios

Carly is originally from Barrington, Rhode Island, and moved to Chicago to serve in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) after graduating from college. As an undergraduate, she attended the College of the Holy Cross, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History and Peace and Conflict Studies. After completing JVC and spending several years doing case management with folks exiting prison and experiencing homelessness, she returned to Loyola University Chicago to work toward a master’s in Criminology and Criminal Justice. While in graduate school, Carly worked in the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice as a research assistant (2017-2019). Currently, Carly is a Research Analyst for the Cook County Adult Probation Department, where she has the opportunity to conduct research and program evaluations of Cook County’s pretrial processes and probation programs. She is passionate about evidence-based criminal and pretrial justice reform, and is particularly interested in community-based alternatives to incarceration, oversight and accountability mechanisms for justice system agencies, transformative justice, decarceration, and efforts to minimize the reach and power of the carceral state.

 

Henry Douglas Otto

H. Douglas Otto was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio before attending Loyola University Chicago, where he earned a bachelor's degree (2017) and master's degree (2018) in Criminal Justice & Criminology. During this time, Otto also worked as a research assistant for the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice. He is currently a research analyst at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, and his research interests include community corrections and rural criminology. 

 

Lauren Weisner

RA Bios

Lauren Weisner is from Woodridge, Illinois. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI (2015) and a Master of Arts from Loyola University Chicago in Criminal Justice and Criminology (2018). Ms. Weisner worked as a research assistant for the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice from June 2018 to December 2018. She currently works as a Research Analyst in the Center for Violence Prevention and Intervention Research at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA). She also serves as ICJIA’s Institutional Review Board manager. Ms. Weisner has written several publications, including a study on Illinois police department use of Naloxone, probation department drug testing practices in Illinois, and several literature reviews related to Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) funding priorities. Her research interests include the intersection between criminal justice and public health, criminal justice policy, and program evaluation.