Wayne State College

Students Present Research at 2023 Criminology Conference

Published Tuesday, December 12th, 2023

Vannia Duarte-Camacho, Bryce Lamb, and Dr. Molly McDowell
Vannia Duarte-Camacho, Bryce Lamb, and Dr. Molly McDowell

Two WSC students majoring in Criminal Justice attended the American Society of Criminology annual meeting Nov. 14-18 in Philadelphia.

An off-hand joke in their Correctional Institutions course became a transformative experience for two Wayne State College students majoring in Criminal Justice.

Vannia Duarte-Camacho, Omaha, and Bryce Lamb, Sargent, were the beneficiaries of a trip to the most prestigious criminology conference in the country, according to Dr. Molly McDowell, assistant professor of criminal justice at Wayne State.

“In January, I was lecturing about the history of American prisons, and when I said Eastern State Penitentiary is now a museum in Philadelphia, someone shouted, ‘Field trip!’” said McDowell. “I realized this year’s American Society of Criminology’s (ASC) annual meeting was going to be held in Philly, so I thought, ‘hey, maybe we can pull this off.’”

McDowell said the final project for her Correctional Institutions course was already set to be a research poster. With the agreement of the class, she decided to take it one step further and make it a contest. The best posters, judged by the Criminal Justice Department faculty, would be submitted to ASC for possible acceptance into the 2023 annual meeting’s poster session. Duarte-Camacho won; Lamb came in a close second. Both Duarte-Camacho's and Lamb’s posters, titled “The School to Prison Pipeline,” and “Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Hidden Crisis,” respectively, were accepted. Thanks to a travel grant from Wayne State, Duarte-Camacho and Lamb, accompanied by McDowell, presented their research at the conference Nov. 14-18.

The students’ presentations received a great deal of positive feedback from meeting attendees, said McDowell.

“I’m incredibly proud of Vannia and Bryce, who capably handled challenging questions from professors and researchers,” said McDowell. “Several colleagues told me how impressed they were by both of them, and how much potential they show for scholarly excellence. I was also thrilled to see the students’ intellectual curiosity sparked by several paper presentation sessions.”

The students took in more than just cutting-edge criminal justice research. They learned about themselves as well.

“ASC was an amazing experience,” said Lamb. “Wayne State College gave me the opportunity to go to Philadelphia and attend an incredible conference. I got to listen to presentations on findings from different criminal justice research areas and learn more about topics like the death penalty and homegrown domestic terrorism. I wasn’t really interested in grad school but after attending ASC, it made me realize there’s more out there beyond a bachelor’s degree,”

"My ASC experience made me decide to go to grad school to pursue a master's and Ph.D.,” said Duarte-Camacho. “After speaking with other members of my future field, I was exposed to opportunities that I had not even considered. It was eye-opening talking to and getting advice from people who have been in both the social work and law enforcement sides of criminal justice, and seeing how their experiences were influenced the further along they got in their education. While I may not be going to grad school right out of college, I would like to attend the conference again in the future when I have settled into my chosen career."

“I’m incredibly grateful and appreciative to Wayne State, as well as Dr. Ron Loggins, dean of the School of Science, Health, and Criminal Justice, and Dr. Jason Karsky, chair of the Criminal Justice Department, both of whom provided encouragement and secured funding for this opportunity,” said McDowell. “ASC is the most prestigious conference in our discipline, and thanks to the college’s incredible generosity, these students were able to have an experience most undergraduates don’t get. It also allowed us to showcase the talent the Wayne State Criminal Justice Department produces.”

And of course, Duarte-Camacho and Lamb received their prize for winning the poster contest – touring Eastern State Penitentiary after their presentations.