Omaha – The UNO School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is pleased to announce that two of its doctoral candidates graduated in May 2019 and both have accepted teaching positions with leading universities.
Steven Windisch, originally from Jefferson City, Missouri, entered the doctoral program having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in ssychology from the University of Missouri (Columbia) and a Master of Arts degree in criminology from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Windisch’s research agenda can be categorized broadly around terrorism and juvenile delinquency. Within these areas, he relies upon developmental and life-course criminology and symbolic interactionist perspectives to examine the overlap between conventional criminal offending and violent extremism. His interests are primarily at the individual level and focus on how the negative consequences of physical and/or psychological trauma, identity formation, and interpersonal violence intersect with political extremism.
Windisch’s dissertation, From Swaddling to Swastikas: A Life-Course Investigation of White Supremacist Extremism, drew upon life-history interviews with more than 90 North American-based former white supremacists. He successfully defended his dissertation May 2, 2019.
Windisch has accepted a faculty appointment with Temple University in Philadelphia as an assistant professor of criminal justice. He credits the support given to him by his wife Laura for his success. “There are few women in this world as devoted, caring, and patient as she is,” he said. “She continues to be my greatest fan and supporter, and for that, I am forever grateful.” He also expressed his gratitude to his dissertation committee, which consisted of Pete Simi, Ph.D., Samantha Clinkinbeard, Ph.D., Gina Scott Ligon, Ph.D., Douglas Derrick, Ph.D., and Lisa Sample, Ph.D. According to Windisch, all of them served as role models of successful, encouraging, and compassionate colleagues. “Their guidance throughout the dissertation process is something I will always appreciate,” he said.
Marijana “Maja” Kotlaja, a native of Belgrade, Serbia, but raised in Kansas City, Missouri, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and criminal justice from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Master of Science in criminal justice from the University of Central Missouri (Warrensburg). Her dissertation examined economic hardship, outgroup animosity, and low trust in institutions as they correlate with crime, moral disengagement, and social unrest in her home country of Serbia. Her dissertation defense was held April 5, 2019. Her committee was co-chaired by Robert Meier, Ph.D. and Jonathan Brauer, Ph.D., for whom Kotlaja expresses her sincere appreciation and gratitude for their academic guidance and enthusiastic encouragement throughout her journey in her Ph.D. program. Other dissertation committee members were Emily Wright, Ph.D., Lindsey Wylie, Ph.D. and Dan Hawkins, Ph.D.
Kolaja’s research interests focus on cross cultural and aggregate research (i.e., Balkan criminology), as well as juvenile justice and delinquency. She will begin her career in academia at Missouri State University, where she will join the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice as an assistant professor. She is thankful for the support of the tremendously impressive faculty and staff at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Juvenile Justice Institute. She encourages all future doctoral students to find a supportive community, talk to people who are applying their work to real world problems, get curious, and solve some problems because the world needs more scientists.
Congratulations to Steven Windisch and Maja Kotlaja. Continue to make UNO proud!
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