Ph.D. Profile: Jennifer Lynne Holmes, MSW, M.S.
Criminology Ph.D. student Jennifer Lynne Holmes did not start out intending to be a criminologist. It was her work with at-risk women and children as a court-appointed special advocate and victim advocate that led her to criminology.
Through her work as an advocate, Ms. Holmes felt the need to learn more about prevention and crisis intervention situations involving family violence, as well as violence against women. So she decided to continue her education, looking specifically at graduate programs that would help her respond to such violence situations. In addition to a master’s degree in social work, she pursued a master’s degree in criminology at Florida State University, which then led to pursuing a doctorate in the field.
“The criminal justice response is an essential component to prevention and intervention responses to family violence and violence against women, as well as the later responses in the system,” said Ms. Holmes. “So when I began looking at the field of criminology, I was looking at where we can use that criminal justice response and intervene even earlier in violence situations.”
Two years ago it was that mission that lead Ms. Holmes to apply to the prestigious National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Research Assistantship Program. Not only did she receive the assistantship, she was recently approved for a third year in the program.
“The research assistantship program was set up specifically to assist the careers of those of us who are going into policy work and focusing on areas the NIJ is looking at, such as violence against women,” said Ms. Holmes.
Ms. Holmes explained how relevant the assistantship has been to her career goals. “The work that we do really gives us experience in that policy research realm, so there are many different projects I am working with. For example, I am the research assistant that works with the NIJ funded evaluation of the Office on Violence Against Women’s Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative which is a large multi-site, multi-partner initiative throughout the country where they are looking at the prevention of domestic violence homicide, at reduced severity of injury, and at improved victim outcomes of the interventions being put into place,” said Ms. Holmes.
In addition to her role as a research assistant, Ms. Holmes has many other responsibilities within NIJ. She is the coordinator for the NIJ VAW Research Compendium, which is a compiled document of all the NIJ grants from 1993 to the present, allowing those interested quick access to funded research surrounding violence against women topics. Additionally, Ms. Holmes works on various interdisciplinary projects and professional development opportunities. For example, a paper Ms. Holmes worked on through the assistantship received the ASC’s Division of Victimology (DOV) Best Graduate Student Paper award for 2015.
The award winning article, “Campus Sexual Assault: A Systematic Review of Prevalence Research From 2000 to 2015,” was published online in Trauma, Violence, & Abuse and will be published in the print version of the journal in the upcoming months.
And Ms. Holmes’s involvement in NIJ is not slowing down. “It’s pretty busy up here. There are a lot of conferences, a lot of technical working groups. I have the opportunity to sit in on the standing review panel each year, where top scientists from across the country are brought in to review grant applications and make recommendations to NIJ on which of the projects should be funded and give feedback on those projects,” said Ms. Holmes. “It is a really good way to see how funding decisions are made and how to most successfully apply for grants in the future.”
Though the application process for the assistantship was rigorous, with many stages and many steps, as well as relocation to Washington, D.C., Ms. Holmes is very happy with the outcome. The opportunities she continues to have through the assistantship, will have a lasting impact on her future.
“This program is not only giving me the work experience and publication record, but I am also gaining the knowledge of working with multinational projects, working at multiple demonstration sites, and working with multiple partners,” said Ms. Holmes. “It is giving me opportunities to work with top researchers in the field and it is really giving me this chance to come out of NIJ with the experience to go a lot of different places in the field, and take experience to those places that would be valuable for their research in the future.”
For more about the NIJ Research Assistantship Program visit their website.