June 2019

UNT doctoral student named prestigious peace scholar

This is the second consecutive year that Theresa Abah earned a P.E.O. Peace International Scholarship.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Theresa Abah, a second year doctoral student studying Rehabilitation and Health Services with a concentration in Gerontology in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service (HPS), has been awarded the P.E.O., or Philanthropic Educational Organization, Peace International Scholarship. The P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship Fund was established in 1949 to provide scholarships to women from other countries for graduate studies in the U.S. or Canada.

The scholarship awards up to $12,500 per year, providing not only help paying for her basic needs, but also enabling her to concentrate more on her studies.

 “The funds helped to pay for most of my personal needs from house rent, to groceries, books, professional association membership fees and health insurance,” Abah said.  “As a result, I am able to focus on my academics, teaching and other responsibilities with greater ease.”

Abah aims to work with a division of the Nigerian Health Ministry once she graduates, hoping to help with aging-population issues.

“After graduation, I hope to provide technical support to a division of the Nigerian Health Ministry responsible for health policy development and implementation,” Abah said. “My goal is to help address aging-population health and well-being issues, and to advocate for program development, policy reform initiatives and integration of older adult health programs into the existing primary health care system.”

Abah attributes part of her success to her professors Dr. Prybutok and Dr. Mpofu.

“I have enjoyed great mentoring from my professors and I would like to say that succeeding in the Ph.D. program requires having mentors that believe in you even when you have doubts about your abilities,” Abah said. “The Prybutoks have been so helpful to graduate students in UNT. They have the best interest of students at heart, through conference exposures, participation in interdisciplinary research meetings to providing a multinational/cultural environment for their students to thrive and I have to say that I rarely miss my home country in their company.”

Abah found that networking was instrumental in being awarded the P.E.O. Peace International Scholarship.

“I would like to encourage other graduate students to seize every opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, volunteer opportunities and social events organized on campus to enable them interact with their peers in other departments,” Abah said. “I try to reach out to as many people as possible during social events organized by the international students’ office, which was also instrumental to me getting the scholarship.”

Dr. Neale Chumbler, dean of the college, says it’s an honor to have such a distinguished international researcher in HPS.

“The fact that Abah has received the P.E.O. scholarship not once, but twice, is a testament to her acumen in research as it relates to health policy and aging populations,” Dr. Chumbler said. “She has brought distinction to herself and this college with this honor and will no doubt change lives in Nigeria.”


Journal edited by UNT criminal justice professor now ranked top 10 in nation

Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice: An Interdisciplinary Journal (YVJJ) received an impact factor of 2.981 and is currently ranked 10 out of 65 in the nation in the “Criminology and Penology” category.

DENTON (UNT), Texas – Dr. Chad Trulson, professor in the University of North Texas College of Health and Public Service Department of Criminal Justice, serves as editor of the prestigious publication that “provides academics and practitioners in juvenile justice and related fields with a resource for publishing current empirical research on programs policies, and practices in the areas of youth violence and juvenile justice.” The impact factor is a measure of the average number of times per year an article has been cited from that specific journal. It is used to measure the importance or rank of a journal based on the number of times its articles are cited. We sat down with Dr. Trulson to understand what this major ranking means to him.

Dr. Trulson, you’ve been editor of YVJJ since 2007. What does it mean to you for it to rise to this level?

This ranking means a lot to me on many levels. On a personal level, however, for YVJJ to have risen to a top 10 Criminology/Penology journal means that I have done right by the founding editors of YVJJ, Dr. Eric J. Fritsch and the late Dr. Tory J. Caeti. They developed YVJJ from the ground up in the early 2000s at UNT, and it was launched in 2003, a year after I came to UNT. It is nice that the journal is ranked highly and all of the things that come with that, such as recognition for the Department of Criminal Justice, the College of Health and Public Service and UNT as a whole—but the continuing success of YVJJ over the years is really a testament to the mentorship and opportunities provided to me by doctors Fritsch and Caeti.

As editor, how do you feel you’ve contributed to the rise in quality and rank for this particular journal?

When I took over as editor in 2007, I had a clear plan on how to develop the journal into a top ranked journal in the field. This plan included many facets. The first was to institute a very rigorous and very fast internal review process so that manuscripts which were not a good fit or of the quality befitting of the journal would be removed from publication consideration. While authors broadly do not like hearing their work is not suitable for the journal, I have received overwhelming positive support for this rigorous and quick initial determination process. In short, if an article is not right for YVJJ, authors will know it within a day or two, and usually within hours of submission—instead of weeks or months. 

 The second step was for myself and Dr. Jon Caudill, co-editor, to continually re-assess and re-populate the editorial board with the very best scholars in the areas of focus of the journal at any particular time. Additionally, a lot of effort was placed into only sending manuscripts to editorial board members specific to their specialty, if at all possible. This ensured that the reviews would be expert level, and they would be quick. Indeed, initial publication decisions to authors average less than 20 days. This speed is rare in the field, and this was especially the case more than a decade ago. I believe the editorial board is the clear foundation for this journal and most of the success rests with the editorial board and how I structured the board’s development and use more than a decade ago.

 Finally, the third step was to remain true to the focus of the journal, which was to focus on issues related to youth violence, as well as juvenile justice. As a niche journal, it can be easy to stray from the particular focus of the journal and broaden the scope and try to be everything to everyone. At YVJJ, we work very hard and make the difficult decisions to maintain the focus on what the journal is all about, and that is youth violence and juvenile justice.

How do you hope this new ranking impacts the number and quality of future submissions and citations for articles?

Authors are always looking to publish in the higher ranked journals. The high ranking, combined with the way the journal is managed, should entice even more top authors to consider YVJJ as their first place of submission, instead of their second or third. Indeed, this has been the trend over the years as YVJJ has steadily climbed the rankings. My hope is that this trend continues.

Thank you for your time, Dr. Trulson and congratulations on this honor.