Looking back at SFU’s School of Criminology in 2021

December 17, 2021

By Adriana González Braniff

Simon Fraser University’s School of Criminology wishes everyone happy holidays and a wonderful end to the year. The following is a wrap-up of some of the school’s highlights this past year.

Departures, New Hires, Promotions

Earlier this year, the School of Criminology celebrated the retirement of Joan Brockman, who is now a professor emeritus.

Professor Brockman was with SFU’s School of Criminology for 32 years (started in 1989), and some of the courses she taught include Corporate Financial Crimes and Misconduct (CRIM 436), Crimes and Misconduct in the Professions (CRIM 437), Gender in the Courts and the Legal Profession (CRIM 432), and Introduction to Criminal Procedure and Evidence (CRIM 330).

The School of Criminology also welcomed one new faculty member in November 2021 – lecturer Dawn Rault.

Dr. Rault comes from the Law and Society program at the University of Calgary, and prior to that, the Criminal Justice Program at Mount Royal University. In the spring semester, she will be teaching Sociological Explanations of Criminal and Deviant Behavior (CRIM 104) and Qualitative Research Methods in Criminology (CRIM 321). 

In 2021, SFU’s School of Criminology had two faculty promotions.

Dr. Alexandra (Sasha) Lysova was promoted to associate professor and received tenure, and Dr. Danielle Murdoch was promoted to senior lecturer. 

Both Lysova and Murdoch have received multiple awards and grants. Read more here.

Graduated Students

Congratulations to all our SFU Criminology graduates this year!

You completed your degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic; an extraordinary accomplishment of which you should be very proud.

Graduate Studies at SFU's School of Criminology

Located in Vancouver, British Columbia, the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University has a well-versed complement of full-time faculty members contributing to ground-breaking research nationally and internationally.

The School of Criminology offers graduate programs leading to the degrees of Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Applied Legal Studies, and Doctor of Philosophy.

We have a strong national and international focus, and several well-funded research centres and institutes providing numerous research opportunities for graduate students in diverse areas of study.

At the international level, persons enrolled in the MA and PhD programs have come from a range of countries including Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Japan, Jamaica, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Students are required to complete coursework and an original MA thesis. Students entering the program are expected to identify a potential senior supervisor. Most students who choose this option either continue on to a PhD program or pursue a career in research, policy analysis, or teaching.

In 2021 the School of Criminology had five students graduate from the MA program.

Congratulations to:

  • Surena Bains
  • Steff King (now in SFU Criminology’s PhD program)
  • Ryan Sandrin (now in SFU Criminology’s PhD program)
  • Noelle Warkentin (now in SFU Criminology’s PhD program)
  • Becca Wood (now in SFU Criminology’s PhD program)

Students entering the PhD program have opportunities to conduct research with internationally renowned faculty members. This program includes coursework and an original PhD thesis. The school also provides teaching opportunities for PhD candidates.

In 2021 we had eight students graduate from the PhD program.

Congratulations to:

  • Krysta Dawson
  • Steph Dawson
  • Jennifer Kusz 
  • Dawn North
  • Masarah-Cynthia Paquet-Clouston
  • Carlos Ponce
  • Richard Rosenthal
  • Sarah Yercich

The Master of Arts in Applied Legal Studies program stands out from others as it is unique as a pre-requisite for admission to the BC Society of Notaries Public. For students interested in a career as a Notary in BC, this is the path to follow.

The program is offered over four terms, and even though it is primarily intended for persons interested in a legal career practising as a Notary Public, admission to the program is not restricted to this. 

The program uses a hybrid delivery model. Students attend campus for two weeks at the start of each fall term, with the remainder of the term delivered online. Spring and summer intersession courses are delivered with one week on-campus and the remainder online.

The course curriculum includes:

  • Advanced topics in Canadian law and the Canadian legal system
  • Legal research and writing
  • Legal philosophy
  • Contracts
  • Real property
  • Personal planning

Graduation happens only once a year for MA-ALS – every fall.

This fall 2021, there will be 29 students graduating. Congratulations!


Undergraduate Program

We offer several exciting and dynamic undergraduate programs.

Students can complete a major, a major with honours or a minor in criminology, as well as a minor in legal studies. We also offer diplomas and general and advanced certificates in criminology, and a diploma in legal studies. Students can take joint majors that include psychology, sociology and anthropology, and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies.

The school had 520 students graduate from SFU Criminology’s undergraduate program this year.

Congratulations, graduates!

Undergraduate Event Series

The following are several undergraduate event series during 2021:

The Coffee Chat Sessions were a new 2021 initiative by undergraduate advisor and recruiter Gabriel Sauro. All SFU Criminology undergraduate students were invited to join these informal virtual coffee breaks occurring every two weeks from May to December.

They are an opportunity for students to connect with each other, an advisor, and guest speakers such as faculty members, graduate students, and other SFU student engagement staff. Sessions consist of questions, interesting topics of discussion, interactive ice-breakers, and more!

Our sessions in 2021 included the following:


Topic for Discussion

Guest Speaker(s)


COVID-19 and Return to In-Person Classes in the Fall 2021 Term



Course Planning



Law School Applications

Kaitlyn Richards


Grad School Application

Vienna Lam and Sydney Brown



Gail Anderson and Payten Smith


VPD Recruiting

Sgt. Cindy Vance and Cst. Alice Yee (VPD)


Honours Program

Sheri Fabian



Danielle Murdoch


Work-Study Program

Vienna Lam and Payten Smith

The aim of these monthly seminars is to give faculty members an informal opportunity to present their research to fellow faculty members, students, and staff. Students have the chance to engage with fellow peers, staff, and faculty members on a range of research topics. 

Research topics were determined in advance and distributed via email and social media to encourage attendance. In addition to learning about different research areas of interest, these seminars also provided students with the opportunity to meet new friends with shared interests.

Our sessions in 2021 included the following:



Presentation Title

Faculty Member


Police Appearance

Rylan Simpson


The Social Nature of Crime: The Role of Groups, Co-offenders, and Peers in Crime

Zachary Rowan


Assessment of Psychopathy

Evan McCuish


From the Tower to the Trenches: Field validity and communication of risk assessment scales

Maaike Helmus


Darker than Dark: Exploring Extreme and Unusual Behaviors in Sexual Homicide

Eric Beauregard


Social Outlaws: What network data tell us about gangs

Martin Bouchard

SFU Criminology hosted a two-night Criminology Alumni Series online event in collaboration with the SFU Criminology Student Association (CSA) on Tuesday, November 2, and Wednesday, November 3.

This two-night event featured SFU Criminology alumni who work in a range of fields such as corrections, policing, law, and higher education. It provided an opportunity for students to learn from alumni and gain insight into post-BA opportunities and career pathways.

Research Highlights


Professors Helene Love and Stephanie Wiley received funding from the Law Foundation of BC to examine overrepresentation of Indigenous youth across Canada’s justice systems. Their final report suggests two factors that may contribute to overrepresentation in BC: legislation regarding sentencing of Indigenous youth that lacked specificity, and sentencing practices that emphasized deterrence. It remains to be seen whether B.C.’s changes to legislation in 2021 will help reverse the upward trend in overrepresentation.



Michaela M. McGuire (Jaad Gudgihljiwah), of the G̲aag'yals K̲iiG̲awaay, citizen of the Haida Nation and PhD student in the School of Criminologyand lecturer Danielle J. Murdoch, have recently co-published an article in Punishment & Society: (In)-justice: An exploration of the dehumanization, victimization, criminalization, and over-incarceration of Indigenous women in Canada.



Senior lecturer Danielle J. Murdoch and PhD student Michaela McGuire’s recent study, Decolonizing Criminology: Exploring Criminal Justice Decision-Making through Strategic Use of Indigenous Literature and Scholarship, explores how an instructor decolonized their course through the strategic use of Indigenous literature and scholarship.



Associate professor Alexandra Lysova conducted research on men’s experiences of intimate partner abuse, supported by two grants in 2021-2022: CERi Community-Engaged Research Funding Program and SFU SSHRC. Results of her research on men’s experiences of abuse were published in 2021 along with MA student Kenzie Hanson and PhD student Eugene Dim.

In addition, Dr. Lysova was an invited speaker at the Momentum 2021: The Canadian National Men’s Issues Conference on December 11, 2021, where she presented the results of her research on men’s abuse experiences.



Assistant professor Rylan Simpson was featured as SFU's Scholarly Impact of the Week in 2021, as his research with PhD student Ryan Sandrin is helping police leaders make evidence-based decisions about the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic.

The Scholarly Impact of the Week is chosen by the Office of the Vice-President, Research and International, and celebrates scholarly milestones and research impacts from across the SFU research community.

Simpson and Sandrin’s most recent study, Public assessments of police during the COVID-19 pandemic: the effects of procedural justice and personal protective equipment, examines public assessments of police responsibility and performance during the pandemic using a procedural justice paradigm.

Similarly, another 2021 study, The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by police during a public health crisis: An experimental test of public perception, aims to test whether police are perceived favourably or not when using PPE, such as face masks, goggles, face shields, and/or medical gloves.



Calls for service are a pertinent form of data for criminological research. Assistant professor Rylan Simpson’s recent study published on December 8th, 2021, Re-assessing measurement error in police calls for service: Classifications of events by dispatchers and officers, assesses the accuracy of call-types used by police dispatchers to describe events that are responded to by police officers. 



Lecturer Dawn Rault presented preliminary work on the link between interpersonal and animal abuse with Dr. Kendra Coulter from Brock University at the recent Canadian Violence Link Conference. “In order to more fully recognize and respond to the human-animal violence link, different individuals and organizations need to be effectively collaborating, within and across sectors,” Rault says. The presentation provided an overview of the state of link-related collaboration in Canada, and policies and practices from other jurisdictions that hold the most promise for the Canadian context.



Recent MA graduate Victoria Harraway and associate professor and associate director of research Jennifer Wong’s recent study, Hypothetical Discussion of Migrant Crime: An Examination of News Content from Canada, the UK, and the US, explores the use of hypothetical discussion – content that is speculative, conjectural, or abstract – in newspaper articles containing migrant crime. Their study concludes that the media has played a role in shaping generations of knowledge and opinion, and it can similarly contribute to the unlearning of damaging and pervasive beliefs regarding migrant populations.



Professor Eric Beauregard’s recent research with PhD student Kylie Reale and postdoctoral fellow Julien ChopinCriminal Expertise and Sexual Violence: Comparing the Crime-Commission Process Involved in Sexual Burglary and Sexual Robbery, suggests that the crime commission process of sexual burglary involves a more sophisticated modus operandi and greater expertise in detection avoidance (e.g., strategies to protect their identity and destroying and removing evidence) compared to sexual robbery.



Assistant professor Zachary Rowan’s recent study, Situating Crime Pattern Theory Into The Explanation Of Co-Offending: Considering Area-Level Convergence Spaces, supports the influence of certain activity nodes and pedestrian-oriented street connectivity in explaining group crime. The discussion evaluates how crime pattern theory can be extended to understand the social nature of crime.



Every day in the criminal justice system, decisions are made impacting intimate partner violence (IPV) offenders and public safety. Assistant professor Maaike Helmus’ recent study with PhD student Mehrnaz PeikarnegarPerception of risk in intimate partner violence is influenced by risk scales, perpetrator and victim gender, and mental illness diagnosis: A risk communication study with laypeople, aims to replicate and advance risk communication research through the examination of characteristics that influence how offender risk is perceived in IPV cases.



Assistant professor Shannon Linning’s recent study on how natural disasters impact crime, Crime Fluctuations in Response to Hurricane Evacuations: Understanding the Time-Course of Crime Opportunities during Hurricane Harvey, examined crime trends surrounding Hurricane Harvey occurring 12 years later in Houston, Texas.



Professor Ted Palys and PhD student Ryan Sandrin interviewed Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) regarding their experiences with racism in Canadian hockey. Their study, The Hat-Trick of Racism: Examining BIPOC Hockey Players’ Experiences in Canada’s Game, had findings indicating that governing bodies often fail to protect BIPOC players when racist incidents occur. 

Research Connections Newsletter

Our academic newsletter, released once per term, highlights recent publications from faculty and graduate students in SFU’s School of Criminology.

In 2021, we had three issues released: January (Issue 11), June (Issue 12), and October (Issue 13).

To read the newsletters click here.

Research Funds

In 2021, SFU’s School of Criminology received a total of $1,478,422 in research funds.

Some of the faculty members that received funding include:

  • Professor Gail Anderson
  • Associate professor Richard Frank
  • Assistant professor Alissa Greer
  • Professor Margaret Hall
  • Associate professor Alexandra Lysova
  • Assistant professor Evan McCuish
  • Assistant professor Zachary Rowan
  • Assistant professor Stephanie Wiley
  • Associate professor Jennifer Wong

Awards & Recognition


Congratulations to Dr. Gail Anderson, SFU Criminology professor and associate director of undergraduate programs, who won two major awards in 2021. 

  1. The Entomological Society of Canada's Gold Medal, the highest honour they offer.
  2. The Entomological Society of America's Recognition Award in Medical, Urban, & Veterinary Entomology, sponsored by S.C. Johnson and Son. This prestigious award was given to Anderson in recognition of her outstanding research, teaching, outreach, and service contributions in the fields of medical, urban, and veterinary entomology. 



Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Wong, SFU Criminology associate professor and associate director of research, for being a recipient of the FASS Dean's Medal for Academic Excellence for 2021. The award recognizes academic excellence in research, teaching, and service, with an emphasis on significant contributions to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at SFU.



Congratulations to assistant professor Maaike Helmus on receiving the 2020 Saleem Shah Early Career Award by the AAFP, the American Psychology - Law Society (AP-LS; APA Division 41), and the Saleem Shah Award Selection Committee.

Dr. Helmus was nominated by Dr. R. Karl Hanson, Dr. Daniel Murrie, Dr. Mark Olver, and Dr. Michael Seto for the award. This award recognizes early-career excellence and contributions to the field of psychology and law. The focus on the nominee’s contributions may be in any area of forensic practice, research, or public policy. 



Congratulations to Abdul Zahir, research grants & projects coordinator, for receiving an Employee Achievement Award. The FASS Employment Achievement Awards recognize the dedication and achievements of non-academic staff and temporary academic faculty. 



Congratulations to Gabriel Sauro, undergraduate advisor and recruiter, for receiving an Employee Achievement Award. The FASS Employment Achievement Awards recognize the dedication and achievements of non-academic staff and temporary academic faculty. 



Congratulations to Morgan Jeffery, undergraduate advisor, for receiving an Employee Achievement Award. The FASS Employment Achievement Awards recognize the dedication and achievements of non-academic staff and temporary academic faculty. 



Congratulations to undergraduate student Ashley Kyne for receiving the 2021 Mahatma Gandhi Student Award. The purpose of the Mahatma Gandhi Annual Student Award is to recognize and honour those SFU students who, in the spirit of Gandhi’s work, have been active in voluntary community service in areas related to peace, justice, and human rights.



Congratulations to Applied Legal Studies alumnus Gurinder Mann for winning the prestigious Restorative Justice Memorial Award. Mann has been passionate about restorative justice since his youth, and he now holds the position of executive director of Communities Embracing Restorative Action (CERA), a non-profit society that strives to offer restorative justice services for communities in need.


Book Releases

Whose 'Eyes on the Street' Control Crime?

Congratulations to SFU Criminology assistant professor Shannon Linning on her new book release, Whose 'Eyes on the Street' Control Crime?, released in November 2021.


Research Methods in the Social and Health Sciences 

Congratulations to SFU Criminology professor Ted Palys on his new book release, Research Methods in the Social and Health Sciences, published in February 2021.


The Life-Course of Serious and Violent Youth Grown Up

Congratulations to SFU Criminology assistant professor Evan McCuish and professor Raymond Corrado on their new book release, The Life-Course of Serious and Violent Youth Grown Up, published in June 2021.


Constitutionalizing Criminal Law

Congratulations to SFU Criminology assistant professor Colton Fehr on his new book, Constitutionalizing Criminal Law, which will be released in March 2022.