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Dr. Tod Burke was recently awarded the Richard Tewksbury Award at the 43rd annual Western Society of Criminology (WSC) conference. The award is in recognition for Burke’s significant contributions of activism on the intersection of crime and sexuality.
Burke serves as the associate dean of Radford’s College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences and a professor of criminal justice.
In his early career, Burke worked as a police officer before receiving his masters in forensics at George Washington University. While working at Rowan University – then known as Glassboro State College – he commuted to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York to receive his doctorate. Afterwards, Burke taught at Saint Anselm College and North Carolina Wesleyan College before settling at Radford University.
When Burke first arrived at Radford University, the criminal justice school had a great reputation, but had no forensics department. Burke helped develop the forensics department while he continued his research.
Although Burke’s research consists of many expansive topics, his recent work has focused on victimology: Bullying, hazing, and LGBT issues. He is particularly interested in same-sex relationship domestic violence.
“I like doing research on topics such as these,” said Burke. “There’s not a lot of research done; I’d like to contribute and bridge the gap between theory and practice.”
Burke hopes to bridge the gap between theory and practice by publishing research read by police departments and other law enforcement agencies. Often times, he will receive feedback from international communities asking to use and implement his research.
But Burke does not just hope to have in impact on law enforcement; his true passion is in the classroom.
“As associate dean, I love my job,” said Burke. “But, my favorite part of the day is teaching my students.”
Burke enjoys inciting passion and excitement for research within his classroom. He describes the importance of research, emphasizing that often times research influences policy.
One of Burke’s recent research projects – focusing on touch DNA – was done with freshman Helen Currant. When finalized, the work will be published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.
“I collaborate a lot with students,” said Burke. “Most of my work is co-authored with students, a vast majority with undergraduates.”
Much of Burke’s work is also co-authored with Stephen Owen, professor and chair of Radford University’s Department of Criminal Justice. Owen believes Burke is very deserving of the Richard Tewksbury Award as recognition for his advancement of the field.
“This recognition is reserved for scholars who have achieved international prominence in an important field that has many impacts within and beyond the justice system, making this recognition all the more appropriate,” said Owen.
Burke hopes to continue research in areas where it is needed, making many more contributions to the criminal justice field.