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.

Luke Muentner

Doctoral Candidate

Luke Muentner is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Social Work and a Graduate Research Fellow with the Institute for Research on Poverty. He has been with the Lab for Family Wellbeing and Justice since fall 2017. His research centers on mass incarceration, community reentry, and the consequences that they have for children and families. Luke’s dissertation uses mixed methods to examine children’s well-being when parents are released from prison; one of the first formal accounts of children’s lives as parents return home or back to the community.

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.

Amber Lahti

Bachelor of Science

Amber Lahti recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Madison with a Bachelor's of Science. She majored in psychology and had certificates in criminal justice and education/educational services. She has been with the Lab for Family Wellbeing and Justice since January 2020. Amber has gained great interest and appreciation for research regarding incarceration and family relationships. She hopes to tie that into work in the psychology field later in life. When Amber is not in the lab, she enjoys wandering State Street with friends, hammocking in the sun, and snuggling with her cats.

Jasmyne Short

Undergraduate Student

Jasmyne is a third year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor’s in Social Work and a certificate in African Studies. Jasmyne joined the Lab for for Family Wellbeing & Justice in January 2021. She is originally from Racine, Wisconsin which is about an hour and 30 minutes away from Madison. Jasmyne is a McNair scholar and is currently working for the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program as a Research Fellow as well as a House fellow at Ogg residence Hall.

Mark Moralez

Masters of Public Affairs

Mark is an MPA student in the La Follette School of Public Affairs. Originally from Milwaukee, WI, Mark received his Bachelor’s in Political Science and Public Administration from UW-La Crosse. His research interests include drug policy, criminal justice reform, housing discrimination, and urban policy. Mark is an Advanced Opportunity Program Fellow, as well as a former Teaching Assistant in the UW-Madison Political Science Department.

Genevieve Grade

Undergraduate Student

Genevieve is a junior studying sociology, public policy, and education services. She joined the lab in the summer of 2021 through the public policy certificate program. Her interests include criminal justice reform, family relationships, and community building. Genevieve cannot wait to apply the incredible amount she has learned in the lab to future sociological research and fieldwork! When outside the lab, she enjoys throwing pottery, baking, and cuddling her housemates' cats.

Summer Mitchell

Bachelor of Arts

Summer Mitchell is a recent graduate from the UW, where she earned her BA in legal studies with a certificate in criminal justice. Her interest in criminal justice reform motivated her to join the lab in summer 2021, and she’s excited to contribute to and gain experience from the research. Summer plans on attending law school in 2 years. Until then she will dedicate her time to studying and gaining life experiences. During Summer’s free time she likes watching YouTube DIYs, taking nature walks with music, and spending time with family.

Adrianna Galindo

Undergraduate Student

Adrianna Galindo is a junior studying Psychology with certificates in Criminal Justice and Chicanx and Latinx studies. She started with the Lab for Family and Wellbeing and Justice in May 2021 through the criminal justice certificate program. She hopes this new experience will solidify a career plan for her as she is excited to be involved with the social aspect of criminal justice. Outside of the lab, Adrianna loves hiking, shopping, watching movies, listening to music and being with family and friends.

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