Meet Our Lab Members

Current Lab Members

Pajarita Charles

Principal Investigator

Pajarita Charles is an Assistant Professor at the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Center for Law, Society, and Justice, and the Justice Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research centers on the development, implementation, and testing of family-focused preventive interventions to promote positive outcomes for children and families affected by the criminal justice system. Dr. Charles’ efforts foster research, practice, and public sector partnerships to build capacity for reform and the reduction of the footprint of the criminal justice system. She is a co-leader of the national Promote Smart Decarceration grand challenge network for the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and frequently collaborates with local and state organizations to provide expertise and guidance on issues pertinent to families impacted by the criminal justice system.

Evelyn Coker

Doctoral Student

Evelyn is a Clinical Social Worker from Chicago, Illinois with a background in community mental health, juvenile justice, and nonprofits. Her broad interests include the impact of trauma in shaping the lives of youth, families, and communities. In her studies, Evelyn plans to focus on assessing how to improve the social-emotional skills of adolescents and emerging adults to reduce criminogenic risk factors, gang activity, and participation in violence. She is also the author of 'Get L.I.T.: A Teen Girl's Journal to Learning Intentional Tools for Positive Personal Development' and her company Morning Joy, LLC provides Get LIT Groups to female students in 5th-8th grades in the Chicagoland area.

Jacqueline Buck

Doctoral Student

 Jacque is a Joint MSW/PhD student in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work, with a background in community-based participatory mental health research and implementation science methodology as a clinical research coordinator. Her broad interests include community reentry, alternative sentencing, criminal legal reform, violence prevention and intervention, and family well-being. In her studies, Jacque aims to explore interventions to promote positive outcomes for individuals affected by the criminal legal system and avenues for criminal legal policy change and advocacy.

Gene Grade

Undergraduate Student

Gene is a senior studying sociology, public policy, and education services. They joined the lab in the summer of 2021 through the public policy certificate program. Their interests include criminal justice reform, family relationships, and community building. Gene cannot wait to apply the incredible amount they have learned in the lab to future sociological research and fieldwork! When outside the lab, they enjoy throwing pottery, baking, and cuddling their housemates' cats.

Gwendolyn Coale

Graduate Student
Gwendolyn is a graduate student working toward her MSW. She joined the lab in January of 2022 via a field opportunity within the BSW program. She is interested in criminal justice policy and research, especially as it applies to women and mothers and intersects with race, gender, and sexuality. Outside of the lab Gwendolyn enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, & spending time with her animals!  



Kayla Markus

Undergraduate Student

Kayla is a senior studying psychology, sociology, and criminal justice. She joined the lab in the summer of 2022 through the criminal justice certificate program. Her interests include policy and law and how it relates to gender and sexuality. Outside of the lab, Kayla loves to read, take naps, and spend time outside - all with her dog Ruby keeping her company. 

Nina White

Undergraduate Student

Nina is a senior studying Psychology, Sociology, and Social Welfare with certificates in Criminal Justice and Disability Rights & Services. She joined the lab in June of 2022 through the Criminal Justice certificate program. Some of her interests include criminal justice reform, mental health, and teaching liberal arts education. Nina is looking forward to strengthening her knowledge and skills in criminal justice and social work by researching and delivering community interventions. She would love the opportunity to eventually teach others what she has learned from the research lab about the importance and methods of improving the criminal justice system in the future. Outside of the lab, Nina loves Irish dancing, singing, and photography!

Former Lab Members

- Allison Hoekstra, MSW
- Anna Kay, MSW
- Bailey Kusilek, BS
- Besa Asani, BSW
- Claire Tseng, MSW
- Haeun Lee, BS
- Hayden Buske, BS
- Kristen Wimmer, BS
- Layne Wetherbee, BSW
- Lydia Goblirsch, BS
- Siri Schroeder, BS
- Taylor Clark, BS
- Mark Moralez, MPA
- Summer Mitchell, BA
-Amber Lahti, BS
-Luke Muetner, PhD
- Adrianna Galindo, BS
- Alli Burgdorf, BA
-Jasmyne Short, BSW