Prof Examines Nature-or-Nurture Side of Criminology

Dr. J.C. Barnes, who studies how biology and the environment influence criminal behavior, has joined the faculty of UT Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.

Barnes recently moved to UT Dallas from Florida State University. Besides conducting a variety of research projects, the new assistant professor will teach undergraduate criminology courses and work with graduate students.

“There were several factors that played into my decision to join UT Dallas,” Barnes said. “First, the school’s criminology program is building a very strong reputation within the discipline. Also, I considered the high quality of faculty that was already here. Not only does UT Dallas house some of the best criminologists in the country, they are also great people to be around every day. They are extremely supportive of their junior faculty.”

Barnes describes UT Dallas students as enthusiastic, fast learners.

Barnes’ main area of research centers on the biological and genetic factors that underlie antisocial behavior. He seeks to identify whether genetic influences have an impact on an individual’s behavior or personality development.

Barnes uses behavioral genetic modeling strategies to analyze genetic and environmental influences. His research recently identified a genetic influence on changes in and desistance from criminal behavior in early adulthood.

Criminology has always fascinated Barnes, but he didn’t fully commit to the field until he began his doctoral studies.

“Looking back, there were a number of events that probably helped etch out my career path,” he said. “For example, my stepfather is a police officer, and I always enjoyed research that sought to explain human behavior. Combined, these are probably pretty good ingredients for building a criminologist.”  

Dr. James Marquart, dean of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and former program head for criminology, said Barnes and his research are welcome additions to the faculty.

“J.C. Barnes is a bright young researcher,” he said. “Our students will surely benefit from his enthusiastic engagement with the evolving theories shaping criminology research today.”

Barnes attended the University of South Carolina for his bachelor’s degree and earned his master’s and PhD at Florida State University.

Dr. J.C. Barnes studies biological and genetic factors that underlie antisocial behavior.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].