Meet Our Lab Members

Pajarita Charles

Principle 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. 

Pajarita Charles CV

Current Lab Members

Jacqueline Buck

Doctoral Student
Lab Manager

 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.

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.

Jordan Zdroik

Undergraduate Student

Jordan is a junior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies, along with a certificate in criminal justice. She joined the lab in fall of 2023 through the criminal justice certificate program. Jordan is interested in criminal justice reform, as well as working with families affected by the criminal justice system itself. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time with family and staying active outdoors.

Chee Yang

Undergraduate Student

Chee is a senior studying Legal Studies and Public Policy. She joined the lab in the summer of 2023 through the public policy certificate program. Chee is interested in working with the justice system and policy. She hopes to work with policy to strengthen families who have previously incarcerated members. During her free time, she enjoys attending concerts, visiting museums, and staying active by biking and roller skating around Madison.

Mia Simone

Undergraduate Student

Mia is a senior majoring in Psychology and is also obtaining certificates in Criminal Justice and Education & Educational Services. She joined the lab in the summer of 2023 through the criminal justice certification program. Mia is interested in legal system reform and improving familial connections through the use of interventions. In her free time, Mia enjoys exercising, spending time with friends, and lake day activities.

David Blatz

Undergraduate Student

David is a senior majoring in Economics and Statistics with a certificate in Health Policy. He joined the lab in Fall 2023 through the Health Policy Certificate program. He is interested in criminal justice reform and interventions that promote family and incarcerated person wellbeing. In his free time, David enjoys hiking, reading and playing with his cats. 

Miranda Dorsey

Undergraduate Student

Miranda is a senior majoring in Social Work and Psychology and is also obtaining a certificate in Criminal Justice. She joined the lab in the fall of 2023 through the Social Work program. Miranda is interested in pursuing either criminal justice or health care social work, with the goal of helping connect and strengthen families. Outside of the lab, she enjoys going to concerts, reading, going for sunset walks, and spending time with her friends and family.

Grace Dai

Undergraduate Student

Grace is a junior studying Information Systems, Risk Management and Insurance, and Legal Studies with a certificate in Mathematics. Her interest in legal research started after working as a Family Forms Clinic Volunteer at the Milwaukee Justice Center where she worked directly with Milwaukee residents helping low-income families with issues related to child support, custody, placement, divorce, and more. After seeing the impact policy and the legal system has on families, she’s been interested in research related to family dynamics and law, as well as policy-guiding work.  

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
- Gwendolyn Coale, BSW
- Nina White, BA
- Gene Grade, BA
- Kayla Markus, BA
-Sarah Jensen, JD/PhD
-Annie Hedges, BA