New professor researches crime

Melissa Rollins, Staff Writer

Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Jessica Doucet has always been intrigued by mysteries. She said that her love of them helped lead her to sociology.

Doucet, who is in her first semester as a professor at Francis Marion University, said that when she began looking for a teaching job FMU was appealing to her for numerous reasons.

“I like the school size, the small student-to-teacher ratio,” Doucet said. “The school really supports our research as well. They give us opportunities for funding and opportunities to present at conferences.”

Doucet said that a teacher introduced her to the idea of attending graduate school and pursuing a teaching career during her junior year. She wanted to continue her research, and she said that teaching was a way for her to stay relevant in the sociology field.

“I had a professor that forced me to come to his office my junior year and talk about my future plans and goals,” Doucet said. “He didn’t really talk me into it, but he told me what grad school and teaching were all about. I found that the best way to stay current is to help students learn.”

Doucet attended under-graduate and graduate school at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, La. According to LSU’s website, a degree in sociology, particularly with a criminology concentration, “provides an excellent option for students planning to pursue careers in criminal justice, law enforcement, corrections, social work and other related fields.”

Doucet also mentioned the career aspect, saying that students could use a sociology degree to get a job as a field agent with the government agencies, like the FBI, or doing research work for non-profit groups.

Her love of mysteries helps to explain her specialization in criminology.

Doucet’s research in graduate school focused on the crime rates in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She focused on the Civic Community Theory, which considers the aspects of a community that keep crime rates low.

In New Orleans she found that communities where people were involved in religious or secular organizations and had a large population of homeowner-ship, crime rates were lower. In these neighbor-hoods, people were more involved and more concerned with the maintenance of a crime-free society.

Doucet said sociology is everywhere, and she loves introducing that concept to students.

“When I use Facebook as an example in class, they really seem to understand that sociology is all around them,” Doucet said. “Being able to bring them this discipline, which is so widespread, is interesting to me.”

Doucet said that her dissertation research is still on her mind even though she is currently more focused on teaching. She is working to pull articles from her thesis and submit them to be published in professional journals. The opportunity to be published in any journal would be welcome, but there is one journal that Doucet said she aspires to

“I’m not to the stage yet where I am looking at specific journals, but a personal goal would be to be published in Criminology, which is the journal for my area,” Doucet said.

Doucet said that she would love to be teaching three or five years from now. She enjoys the opportunity that it gives her to explore society with her students, both majors and non-majors.

She said that in her classes, she is learning along with her students as societal norms change. FMU places a large emphasis on combining research and teaching together.

Doucet said that, as long as she is able to, she would like to continue teaching at FMU. She said that Florence is smaller than what she is used to, but the town fits her.

Though Doucet has only been here for a short time, she said that she already feels at home.