Jodi Viljoen named to Royal Society of Canada

September 09, 2022
Viljoen’s contributions to science and knowledge generation are paralleled by an extraordinary dedication to serving the scientific community, which has earned her national and international reputation as a leader in youth violence and forensic psychology.

Professor Jodi Viljoen of the Department of Psychology is one of four SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences' (FASS) faculty members named to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) for 2020. She is the only scholar within FASS named as a member of the society’s College of New Scholars, Scientists, and Artists. 

As a leading researcher in youth violence and offending, Viljoen has developed new methods to assess and treat adolescents in the justice system—particularly those at risk of engaging in violence. During her career, she has examined offenders’ mental health needs, risk and protective factors for violence, and risk management and treatment approaches. Her primary focus has been on assessing adolescents’ risk and treatment needs for which she has developed innovative assessment tools that have been adopted in over ten countries and translated into four languages.

“During adolescence, many people engage in risky and illegal behavior,” says Viljoen. “By using the appropriate assessments and interventions, my hope is that adolescents may successfully abstain from crime.”

Viljoen credits her initial interest in this area to her time volunteering at an alternative school and running summer programs for youth at risk during her undergraduate studies.

“What struck me the most was the enormous gap between research and practice,” she says. “I was surprised to learn that the treatment programs that I had learned about in my undergraduate textbooks were not available.”

That spurred Viljoen to seek graduate training in clinical forensic psychology, which launched her on a research path devoted to ensuring adolescents are provided with the services that they need to develop into prosocial adults.