Wall of Fame

2017 Inductees

Distinguished Alumni

The Department of Criminology Wall of Fame honors a select group of alumni who have distinguished themselves by attaining the highest level of professional accomplishment while demonstrating strong personal integrity.

Melissa Jarrell

Melissa Jarrell

Dr. Melissa L. Jarrell is a Professor of Criminal Justice and Chair of the Department of Undergraduate Studies (DUGS) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC).

As Chair, Dr. Jarrell oversees the First-Year Learning Community Program, the Honors Program, the Applied Science degree programs, University Studies and the University Preparatory High School program as well as academic advising and new student orientation. Dr. Jarrell works closely with her DUGS colleagues and various academic units to help improve retention rates at TAMUCC and is currently leading the Destination Graduation pilot program, which provides advising and mentoring support for first-year students in seminar courses.

Dr. Jarrell earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Eckerd College (1998) and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Criminology from USF (2005). Her research interests include green criminology, environmental justice, and environmental victimization. Dr. Jarrell has published articles in journals such as Crime, Law and Social Change, Environmental Justice, Environmental Politics, and Review of Policy Research. In 2017, she received the Praxis Award from the American Society of Criminology Division on Critical Criminology and Social Justice for her work to reduce social and environmental injustice in Corpus Christi.

Deborah McDonald

Deborah McDonald

Deborah McDonald, an accomplished criminal justice professional, is a graduate of USF with a B.A. in Communication and an M.A. in Criminal Justice Administration.

For the past 34 years, she has worked for the State of Florida in a variety of assignments and is currently the Regional Training Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In addition to this role, she handled media relations for the region. Ms. McDonald joined FDLE in 1988 after having worked as a Duty Officer in the Communications Center with the Florida Marine Patrol. She worked full time while earning her degrees.

Ms. McDonald is an adjunct professor for Hillsborough Community College and for the Center for Public Safety Innovation at St. Petersburg College. She also mentors young women from Cleveland Elementary School, where the focus is on academics to help build a strong foundation for testing and middle school.

Her community service extends to Crimestoppers of Tampa Bay, where she is a board member, and the Middle District of Florida Civil Rights Working Group. The group is noted for work projects supported by the Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services.

Don Nelson

Don Nelson

Don Nelson is the Executive Director of the Sixth Circuit State Attorney's Office in Clearwater, Florida. He graduated from USF with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology in 1975 and a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice in 1978.

Mr. Nelson has served as a State Attorney Executive Director for the last 40 years, first in Bartow, Florida, then in Miami, Florida before assuming his present position in Clearwater. In 1993, he accompanied Janet Reno to Washington D.C. where he assisted in her transition to Attorney General of the United States.

In 2011, Mr. Nelson was the recipient of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys' Association "Knowles-Strickland Award for Administrative Excellence."

Susie Perez Quinn

Susie Perez Quinn

Susie Perez Quinn is the Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. As Chief of Staff, she serves as Senator Nelson's top advisor and leads a team of 73 staff, attorneys, and fellows to advance his agenda. She oversees all personnel decisions, budget management, and office policies, as well as ensuring the coordination of both the federal office and eight district offices. Ms. Perez Quinn is also heavily involved in Senator Nelson's work on the Commerce Committee. Prior to being named Chief of Staff, she served Senator Nelson's office as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Legislative Director, and Legislative Assistant for Energy and Appropriations.

Ms. Perez Quinn has done notable work on major environmental issues, including Everglades restoration. She led efforts to secure over a billion dollars in federal funding for major restoration projects for the Everglades National Park, a World Heritage Site. She also played an essential role in crafting and passing bipartisan legislation, the RESTORE Act, that will provide more than four billion dollars in aid to the Gulf Coast following the devastating Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill.

In addition to her work on domestic issues, she's taken an active interest in foreign policy and completed the Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship in 2013 and the Council on Foreign Relations' Congressional Foreign Policy Study Group in 2015. She has also represented Senator Nelson on foreign missions to Israel and the United Kingdom.

Ms. Perez Quinn received a B.A. in Political Science and Criminology from USF and earned her M.A. in Political Management from the George Washington University in 2004. She grew up in Cape Coral and after graduating from USF, moved to Washington D.C. where she currently lives with her husband and son.

Outstanding Criminology Ambassadors

Each of these professionals has represented the department in ways that promote and enhance the department's identity.

Michelle Jeanis

Michelle Jeanis

Dr. Michelle N. Jeanis is an Assistant Professor in the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Michelle graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Psychology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and completed her Ph.D. in Criminology at USF in 2017.

While at USF, Dr. Jeanis played an integral role in initially developing the SPRUCE (Social and Psychological Research to Understand Crime Etiology) Lab in the fall of 2016. She was highly active in undertaking all of the logistics that go into running the SPRUCE Lab, which handles multiple research projects at once, has 25 undergraduate student members, and receives 20 new applications each semester.

Her research interests include missing persons, runaway youth, and the representation of crime in the media. Recent research projects include collaborations with both local and national non-profit and law enforcement agencies to examine the relationship between social networking sites and criminal justice/crime control.

Dr. Jeanis teaches a variety of undergraduate courses, some of which include: media and crime, serial homicide, and theories of criminal behavior. Dr. Jeanis also teaches graduate-level courses on topics such as juvenile justice and research methods.

Jihad Nassar

Jihad Nassar is a veteran law enforcement officer who is currently a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Prior to becoming a Special Agent with the FBI, he served with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) from 2010 through 2017. He has a B.A. in Criminology from USF, holds several law enforcement certifications, and graduated from the FBI's Training Academy.

Special Agent Nassar held numerous positions throughout his career, most of which were in tactical and training capacities. He began his law enforcement career assigned as a patrol deputy with HCSO and was a SWAT operator, Bicycle Response Officer, SOT Instructor, Defensive Tactics Instructor, Background Investigator, and Chemical Munitions Instructor. He is currently assigned to the FBI's Detroit Division Violent Gang Taskforce.

He has earned many department and citizen commendations over the years including graduating top of his class from the HCSO Law Enforcement Academy.

Jeffrey Peake

Jeffrey Peake

Major Jeff Peake of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office (PSO) oversees the Investigations and Criminal Intelligence Bureau. He began his career in 1998 as a patrol deputy and has held investigative and/or leadership assignments in eight different units. Major Peake was recognized as Detective of the Year for his leadership of innovative crime strategies, and his role in the development of the Cyber Crimes Unit and the Field Training Program.

He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from St. Leo University and his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from USF. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Southern Police Institute Command Officers Development Course. Major Peake continues to partner with USF on the development of the Outdoor Research Facility for advanced forensic research and law enforcement training and co-coordinated joint programming “Art of Forensics” and “Missing in Florida Day” with USF. He also fostered a research collaboration between USF’s SPRUCE Lab and PSO’s Intelligence-led Policing Section to advance crime reduction strategies. Moreover, he maintains a courtesy faculty appointment to the USF Florida Institute for Forensic Anthropology and Applied Sciences (IFAAS) and is a member of the IFAAS Advisory Board.


Jessica Trapassi

Jessica Trapassi

Jessica Trapassi is a first-year Ph.D. student in The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. In 2015, she graduated from Rhode Island College with a B.A. in Justice Studies and went on to earn her M.A. in Criminology from USF in 2017.

While at USF, Ms. Trapassi had the opportunity to work with Dr. John Cochran and Dr. Dwayne Smith, as well as Dr. Sondra Fogel from the Department of Social Work. She was also a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Scot Boeringer. It was during this time that she became interested in mitigation in sentencing, and wrote her master's thesis, "Adverse Childhood Experiences and Their Role as Mitigators for Youthful and Non-Youthful Offenders in Capital Sentencing Cases." At Northeastern, Ms. Trapassi is expanding her studies, which includes research involving the Massachusetts Department of Corrections as a member of Dr. Natasha Frost's research team.

Ms. Trapassi looks forward to receiving her Ph.D. in Criminology and Justice Policy from Northeastern in 2021. She hopes to pursue a career in academia, and to continue studying sentencing and mitigation as well as Adverse Childhood Experiences from a criminological perspective.

Community Partnership Award

Palmetto Police Department

Palmetto PD

During the spring 2017 semester, graduate students in Dr. Powers' Seminar in Violence participated in a project with the city of Palmetto as part of USF's inaugural Community Sustainability Partnership Program (CSPP). This campus-wide initiative entails students and faculty working with community officials to complete projects relevant to Palmetto. Dr. Powers' class examined citizens' perceptions of crime in Palmetto and attitudes toward the police in an effort to inform Palmetto Police Department's community-oriented policing efforts. Over the course of a semester the students developed and analyzed a community survey administered to all residents in the city as well as facilitated and analyzed data from focus groups with residents and business owners.

Throughout the semester, Chief Tyler was instrumental in facilitating the project as well as engaging the students. He truly embodied a community partner - he approached this project as a collaboration between the Department of Criminology and the Palmetto Police Department. He was generous with his time and resources and ensured that the students' had a positive and meaningful learning experience.