Faculty Q&A

Learn more about Criminal Justice Associate Professor Marie Tillyer

Marie TillyerUTSAToday (Aug. 14, 2018) — Marie Tillyer is an associate professor and assistant chair in the UTSA Department of Criminal Justice. She earned her bachelor’s in criminal justice from the University of Dayton and her master’s and Ph.D. in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati.

Her research interests include victimization, violence, crime prevention and environmental criminology. Much of her work focuses on the environmental and situational factors that create opportunities for crime, and in turn, crime and victimization patterns. She is a member of the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

We sat down with Professor Tillyer this week to learn more about her research.

You always have lots of projects going on at once. What’s exciting you the most these days?

Two years ago, I met Rebecca Walter, former assistant professor in the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, and we discovered several areas of potential collaboration. Though professor Walter has since taken a position in the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments, we have continued our interdisciplinary collaboration around housing and crime. Our agenda focuses on the geographic distribution and sources of crime, with an emphasis on low-income housing in distressed communities. This represents a new area of research for me, which is both exciting and challenging at this point in my career. We are working with different types of data, learning new analytic techniques and publishing in other fields.

What impact do you hope your research will have?

Much of my work has focused on the victimization of some of the most vulnerable in our society – children, those living in distressed communities, and those who suffer repeated violent victimization attacks over time. I also study violent crime event outcomes, with a focus on situational factors that enhance or restrict the severity of violence during criminal incidents. My interest in victimization research and crime event outcomes stems from my interest in crime prevention: If we can better understand the factors that influence crime and victimization patterns, our ability to develop theoretically sound and feasible crime policy will improve. I hope that my research will help support the development of interventions that reduce crime.

Have you had any mentors?

I have been fortunate to have several mentors during my academic career. Two of the most influential are Pamela Wilcox and John Eck, professors in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati. Both are top notch scholars who have taught me a great deal about research, teaching and the importance of curiosity and decency in academia and life. The further I advance in my career, the stronger my appreciation grows for their belief and investment in me as a young graduate student.

What makes your department at UTSA unique?

I have the honor of working with some of the best people around. My colleagues are diligent teachers and researchers who are making amazing contributions to the classroom and the field every day. They are highly productive scholars who bring passion for their research into the classroom. Their efforts to provide meaningful opportunities to students – through study abroad experiences, criminal justice internships, research projects, and student organizations – are profoundly important and deepen our students’ understanding of crime and justice issues.

What is your favorite topic to teach?

I love teaching environmental criminology, which explores the immediate environmental and situational factors that facilitate or prevent crime events. As part of the course, students study a real-world crime problem. They collect information about the problem, provide a situational analysis of the conditions that facilitate the commission of the crime using relevant theories covered in the course, and develop a set of solutions based on their analysis and existing empirical evidence. Finally, I ask students to recommend the most promising, feasible, and economic measures to address the problem. I love seeing the final product and how students use theoretical concepts and academic research to develop solutions for real crime problems facing their communities.

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