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Beyond a grade to lifelong relationships and passionate research

Professor Phil Mulvey and Brice Terpstra

Beyond a grade: Lifelong relationships and passionate research

It’s inspiring to see the quality of research that is a result of a professor-student relationship that transcends a grade.

In 2014 Illinois State Professor of Criminal Justice Sciences Phil Mulvey, Ph.D., gave then sophomore Brice Terpstra ’16, M.S. ’18, who was in Mulvey’s policy class, the opportunity to work on a research independent study. This was the beginning of a study that would be published in one of the premier journals in criminology, Justice Quarterly.

When Mulvey was a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University, he was mentored by a very well-known criminologist, Scott Decker, who helped him access data that would have otherwise been impossible to acquire.

Mulvey was interested in studying women with pervasive mental illness on specialty mental health caseloads. His mentor was instrumental in ensuring his dissertation idea and study were approved by the IRB (institutional review board) at Arizona State and Phoenix probation.

Professor Phil Mulvey and Brice Terpstra

The data Mulvey collected during his Ph.D. research proved to extend beyond his dissertation and would lead to more research articles and studies. When Terpstra started to work on the research independent study with Mulvey, he was responsible for dusting off the dust on some data that Mulvey never had the chance to code and analyze during his Ph.D. The study translated into a teaching assistant, which gave Terpstra the opportunity to work with Mulvey on a project for the University Research Symposium focused on aspects of violence in the lives of the women and mental illness from the same data set Mulvey collected as a Ph.D. candidate.

Terpstra went on to pursue a master’s degree in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State and continued to work with Mulvey as a research assistant.

“A quality relationship between a professor and a student there at Arizona State University, led to a quality relationship between a professor and a student here at Illinois State University,” Mulvey said. “It has been an extremely rewarding experience to get to work with a student in this capacity and see someone go from being 19 and not having any clue of what they wanted to do, to be quite a successful 25-year-old young social science researcher.”

While Terpstra now works with the TORCH Lab at the University of Utah Medical School, conducting health and policy research with military veterans, he continues to write and work on various insightful projects with Mulvey. “I will keep working on projects with Brice and writing with him until he one day stops returning my emails!” Mulvey said.

Mulvey and Terpstra also wrote a book chapter with colleagues from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Click here to read their recently published journal article, “Understanding the Nature and Implications of Romantic Relationships Among Criminally Involved Individuals with Mental Illness.”

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