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Dena Carson joined SPEA as an assistant professor after working as the project director for a three-year grant that focused on gang desistance. Dena also taught as an assistant research professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she also earned her Ph.D. in 2011. Dena completed her bachelor's in chemistry from Pittsburg State University and her master’s in criminology from the University of South Florida. Dena has given several conference presentations on the topics of youth violence, gangs, delinquent peer groups, and victimization throughout the U.S. and the world, including Turkey, Hungary, and Norway. Her dissertation won a University of Missouri-St. Louis Graduate School Dissertation Award in fall 2010. In spring 2014, her work on gang desistance was named paper of the year by Criminal Justice Review. Her recent publications have appeared in Criminology & Public Policy, Young Violence and Juvenile Justice,Journal of Crime & Justice, Deviant Behavior, and others.