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Heather Washington, Ph.D.

Associate Professor - Sociology


Dr. Washington’s research focuses on two broad substantive areas of interest. Dr. Washington is primarily interested in understanding the consequences of incarceration for individuals and those who are connected to them by familial ties, with an emphasis on racial and ethnic variation in the outcomes. She explores these issues by integrating perspectives from the disciplines of criminology and family sociology to provide a more complete understanding than previously available as to how and why incarceration detrimentally affects offenders’ families and children. Her past and current research in this area uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to explore: (1) the consequences of individuals’ involvement in crime and history of incarceration for family formation, family dynamics, and youths’ behavior; (2) the characteristics and circumstances that might mediate and/or moderate the impact of incarceration on children and families; and (3) whether the effects of incarceration are universal across ethnoracial groups and immigrant backgrounds.

Dr. Washington’s second research area concerns the ways in which individuals’ residential neighborhood environments influence their involvement in crime, delinquency, and other problem behaviors. She is also interested in how neighborhood characteristics might differentially impact individuals of various race/ethnic groups, socioeconomic statuses, and immigrant generations. Dr. Washington’s current research explores the extent to which parents’ childrearing practices are affected by their residential neighborhood conditions, and in turn, how both neighborhoods and parents’ behaviors shape children’s behavioral outcomes. She has also conducted research exploring whether residential segregation in economically disadvantaged and advantaged neighborhoods influences individuals’ behavior patterns and the types of environments in which individuals conduct their daily activities.