In 2010, Dr Joseph Murray transferred from the Department of Criminology to the Department of Psychiatry on a Wellcome Trust fellowship, studying Risk and Protective Factors for Conduct Problems and Violence in Brazil and Britain. He has since gone on to gain a Professorship at Centre for Epidemiological Research at the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil, which he is due to start before the end of the year.
Dr Murray addresses the social and economic problems of crime and violence from the point of view of development and early life influences. Moving between Brazil and Britain, Dr Murray has dedicated his research to the investigation of biological, psychological and social influences on antisocial behaviour. As part of this work, he has published an article demonstrating that while conduct problems predict violent and non-violent crime similarly in both countries, violent crime was more prevalent in Brazil but non-violent crime was more prevalent in Britain.
He also demonstrated that these differences were partly explained by childhood family environments and his work in Cambridge has largely focused on parental incarceration. Much has been written about the plight of prisoners worldwide but the significance for children of prisoners has been somewhat ignored. His recent work however has shed some light on the roles of stigmatisation, attachment relations, quality of child care and social and economic strain on developmental consequences for children who experience parental incarceration. Last year he published a book comparing long-term consequences of parental incarceration on children in four studies of over 20,000 children in England, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States.
His current and future work, based on large birth cohort studies in Brazil, will continue to build upon this strong foundation of research, and move towards the development of early crime and violence prevention programmes. There is ultimately a need to target such behavioural difficulties and associated risks before difficulties escalate.
We congratulate Dr Murray on his awarded Professorship and look forward to seeing more of his exciting work in the future.
Written by Laurel Morris.