Despite a prevalent belief that people behave badly in times of disruption, such as today's COVID-19 pandemic, research shows that more people act selflessly.
Van Brown earned her doctoral degree in Sociology from the University of Delaware, and her MA in Applied Sociology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. While working at the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center as a research assistant, she had the opportunity to work on projects focused on the September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina. This experience helped her develop and cultivate a special appreciation for collaborative and interdisciplinary research. Her fieldwork in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina led her to write her dissertation on domestic violence organizations and their recovery trajectory post-disaster.
She continues to research human behavior during disasters, including domestic violence, drug use, and social unrest. She studies disaster events because they expose the social injustices and offer a lens to view inequality. The common thread that unites her research is working to understand how to make communities stronger so they are better able to resist a wide range of social problems.
While she values research—especially collaborative work—her passion is teaching. She teaches a wide range of courses, including introduction to criminal justice, victimology, domestic violence, hate crimes, and policy and program evaluation. She deeply enjoys connecting with students and creating a classroom culture where they feel comfortable exploring and discussing challenging topics.