Dr. Glenn Sterner

Associate Professor, Criminal Justice
Social Science Research Institute Co-funded Faculty Member
Rydal Executive Plaza, 319
Penn State Abington
1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001

Dr. Glenn Sterner is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at The Pennsylvania State University, Abington Campus. As an expert on the opioid epidemic, he sits on the Opioid Overdose Task Force for the State of Pennsylvania. He is also a founding member of the Penn State Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse advisory board. He is an affiliated faculty of the Criminal Justice Research Center at Penn State University Park. He serves as a faculty fellow of the Penn State University Administrative Data Accelerator. He is the founder of The Story Powered Initiative.

Grant Activity

His main research agenda is focused on the application of social networks analysis in understanding illicit, illegal, and covert networks, and he is experienced with both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Dr. Sterner has been awarded over $3.5 Million in local, state, and federal grants to study and address the opioid epidemic, including the National Institute of Justice, Department of Justice, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

  • His work includes the examination of opioid abuse networks, illegal opiate distribution, networks of legitimate opioid distributors and overdose deaths, hot spots of opioid availability, intelligence-based interventions in rural areas, and stigma associated with opioid and other substance use disorders.

Dr. Sterner has presented his work locally, nationally, and internationally to organizations including opioid treatment and support organizations, Centre County HOPE, The Bucks County Together We Can Convention, The Wolf Administration’s Opioid Command Center, The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, The American Society of Criminology, The Stockholm Criminology Symposium, and the International Network of Social Network Analysts.

  • His writings on this topic have been featured by the Department of Justice, The Hill, The Independence Blue Cross Foundation, and The National Prevention Science Coalition, and peer reviewed journals including Substance Abuse and Misuse.

Dr. Sterner works extensively with law enforcement agencies on the local, state, and federal level in his work to address the opioid crisis.

  • He has several active grants with the Pennsylvania State Police, and partners with local district attorneys, coroners, and police departments.
  • Within the Pennsylvania State Police, he regularly works with individuals in the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC), the data fusion center at State Police Headquarters in Harrisburg.
  • He has relationships within the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Division, the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), whom he relies on for support of his research.
  • Dr. Sterner has excellent relationships with the National Institute of Justice, and has been successful in receiving over $1.5M in grant funding across two projects to address drug trafficking and markets, specifically with an emphasis on opioids.

Dr. Sterner is dedicated to a collaborative criminal justice approach to addressing key issues associated with drug markets, sales, trafficking, and use, and he actively works across agencies and organizations to promote this ethos in his research and outreach endeavors.

In addition to his extensive work on the opioid epidemic, he is also actively engaged in research on the networks of human sex trafficking. He is a dedicated scholar in community engagement. He is also actively engaged in research to improve learning for students in higher education. He received his Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University in Rural Sociology, and an M.A. and B.S. from Michigan State University.


Active Grants

Total for PI: $1,729,553 (external); $21,000 (internal)

Total PI Overhead: $668,816
Total Support: $3,451,002

PI: Glenn Sterner
Amount: $682,687 (PSU Subaward total: $277,731); Funder: Department of Justice/Bureau of Justice Assistance
Title: Pennsylvania State Police TRIAD Program (2018-2022)

PI: Glenn Sterner
Amount: $990,002; Funder: National Institute of Justice
Title: Identifying and Informing Strategies for Disrupting Drug Distribution Networks: An Application to Opiate Flows in Pennsylvania (2017-2019); Team: Verdery, A., Monnat, S., Forster, P, Yabiku, S., & Zajac, G.

PI: Andrew Hochstetler
Amount: $725,018 (Subaward to Glenn Sterner: $220,178); Funder: National Institute of Justice
Title: Building Drug Intelligence Networks to Combat the Opioid Crisis in Rural Communities: A Collaborative Intelligence-led Policing Strategy (2019-2022); Team: Peters, D., Bouffard, J., Burgason, K., Sterner, G., Monnat, S.

PI: Janet Welsh
Amount: $1,099,925; Funder: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin. (SAMHSA)
Title: Growing Evidence Based Prevention in Pennsylvania to Address Opioid Misuse (2018-2020); Team: Perkins, D., Chilenski, S., Tomascik, M., Kreager, D., Sterner, G., Gilbert., K.

PI: Glenn Sterner
Amount: $129,919; Funder: Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs
Title: Sharing Stories of the Opioid Crisis (2018-2019)

PI: Glenn Sterner
Amount: $111,723; Funder: Independence Blue Cross Foundation;
Title: Telling the Stories of the Opioid Epidemic in the Philadelphia Region (2017-2018)

PI: Glenn Sterner
Amount: $20,000; Funder PSU Social Science Research Institute
Title: Linking accidental overdoses to medical professionals and pharmacies: A population-based social network analysis (2018-2019). Team: Gur, O. & Ozden, S.

PI: Janet Welsh
Amount: $19,007; Funder: PSU Social Science Research Institute
Title: PROSPER PLUS: Combining Effective Prevention Education with Supply Side Interventions to Reduce Opioid Misuse (2018-2019). Team: Crowley, M., Perkins, D., Kreager, D., & Sterner, G.

PI: Qiushi Chen
Amount: 18,691; Funder: PSU Social Science Research Institute
Title: Predict spatial-temporal patterns of opioid use with criminal and overdose data in Pennsylvania (2018-2019). Team: Tucker, C., Sterner, G., Segal, J., Chang, J.

PI: Zhen Lei
Amount: $20,000; Funder: PSU Social Science Research Institute
Title: An Innovative Approach to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic: Utilizing Twitter Data and Integrating Big Data Analytics and Spatial and Social Network Analyses (2018-2019). Team: Guangqing, C., Chuang, C., Sterner, G., Verdery, A., Yin, J.

PI: Glenn Sterner
Amount: $1,000; Funder: PSU Abington
Title: Abington College Undergraduate Research Activities (2018-2019)

PIs: Oren Gur
Amount: $7,500; Funder: Criminal Justice Research Center
Title: Linking accidental overdoses to medical professionals and pharmacies: A population-based social network analysis (2018-2019); Team: Sterner, G. & Ozden, S.

PI: Ashton Verdery
Amount: $30,486; Funder: PSU Social Science Research Institute, Criminal Justice Research Center
Title: Understanding Individual and Social Network Characteristics of Young Adult Opiate Users in Rural Pennsylvania (2016-2018); Team: Monnat, S., Sterner, G., Rigg, K., McLean, K., Hunt, D., Feinberg, M., Turrisi, R.


Independence Blue Cross (2018). Someone You Know Available: http://www.ibxfoundation.org/htdocs/custom/someone-you-know/index.html

Generocity. (2018). IBX’s Share Your Opioid Story is collecting the tales of Pennsylvanians impacted by addiction. Available: https://generocity.org/philly/2018/11/30/ibxs-share-your-opioid-story-collects-the-stories-of-pennsylvanians-impacted-by-addiction-evan-figueroa-vargas/

WJAC (2018). ‘Share Your Opioid Story’ website bringing awareness, buzz of opioid epidemic. Available: https://wjactv.com/news/local/share-your-opioid-story-website-bringing-awareness-buzz-of-opioid-epidemic

Penn State News. (2018). Penn State researchers hope website humanizes, helps others affected by opioids. Available: https://news.psu.edu/story/525716/2018/06/19/impact/penn-state-researchers-hope-website-humanizes-helps-others-affected

Comcast Newsmakers. (2018). Website helps opioid abuses share their story. Available: https://comcastnewsmakers.com/Videos/2018/6/8/Understanding-Opioid-Trafficking

WESA. (2018). Campaign seeks to fight the stigma of addiction through community conversations. Available: http://www.wesa.fm/post/campaign-seeks-fight-stigma-addiction-through-community-conversations#stream/0

Independence Blue Cross Foundation. (2018). Independence Blue Cross Foundation and Penn State host “Share Your Opioid Story” community conversations. Available: http://infocus.ibxfoundation.org/ibc-foundation-penn-state-host-share-your-opioid-story-conversations/

Association of American Universities (2017). Penn State Projects take on the Opioid Epidemic. Available: https://www.aau.edu/research-scholarship/featured-research-topics/penn-state-projects-take-opioid-epidemic

The Collegian. (2017). Here’s how Penn State faculty plans to tackle opioid epidemic. Available: http://www.collegian.psu.edu/news/campus/article_a8b70646-bf5f-11e7-83bf-e3cbb7711af5.html

Statecollege.com, The Centre County Report. (2017). Penn State Social Science Researchers Collaborate to Study Opioid Epidemic. Available: http://www.statecollege.com/news/local-news/penn-state-social-science-researchers-collaborate-to-study-opioid-epidemic,1474265/

Penn State News. (2017). Penn State social science researchers collaborate to combat opioid epidemic. Available: http://news.psu.edu/story/488808/2017/10/18/research/penn-state-social-science-researchers-collaborate-study-opioid

Healthy Franklin County. (2017). Listening session on the opioid crisis: Bridging the gap between public health and public safety. Available: http://www.healthyfranklincounty.org/listening-session-opioid-crisis-bridging-gap-between-public-health-and-public-safety

Penn State News. (2017). Other Voices. Available: http://news.psu.edu/other-voices

Penn State College of Health and Human Development. (2017). Views in the News: National Leadership Needed to Fight Opioid Crisis. Available: http://prevention.psu.edu/news/views-in-the-news-national-leadership-needed-to-fight-opioid-crisis

Grant, A.; Penn State Harrisburg. (2017). Researchers, Pennsylvania State Police Collaborate on Countering Opioid Epidemic. Available: https://harrisburg.psu.edu/story/9065/2017/02/17/researchers-pennsylvania-state-police-collaborate-countering-opioid-epidemic

StateCollege.com. (2017). Police and Penn State Researchers Work Together to Fight Opioid Crisis. Available: http://www.statecollege.com/news/local-news/police-and-penn-state-researchers-work-together-to-fight-opioid-crisis,1471540/

Centre County Report. (2017). Police and PSU Researchers Work Together to Fight Opioid Crisis. Available: http://www.centrecountyreport.com/centre-county-report/story/investigating-the-opioid-epidemic

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications

McLean, K., Monnat, S., Rigg, K., Sterner, G., & Verdery, A. (Accepted). “You never know what you’re getting”: Opioid users’ perceptions of fentanyl in southwest Pennsylvania.” Submitted to Substance Abuse and Misuse, August 2018.

Engle, E., Barsom, S., Vandenbergh, L., Sterner, G., & Alter, T. (2018). Developing a framework for sustainability meta-competencies. International Journal of Higher Education and Sustainability, 1(4).

Sterner, G. & Felmlee, D. (2017). The networks of cyberbullying on Twitter. International Journal of Technoethics, 8(2).

Harrell, A., Sterner, G., and Alter, T. (2017). Student perceptions of the impact of their study abroad experiences. Journal of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, 61(1), 56-65.

Additional Publications

Sterner, G. (2018). Fighting the stigma of addiction through personal stories of the opioid epidemic. In Focus, Blog of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. Available: http://infocus.ibxfoundation.org/fighting-the-stigma-of-addiction-personal-stories/

Sterner, G. (2018). Seeing past stigma: 4 ways to confront bias towards opioid addiction. Journal of Change, Independence Blue Cross Foundation.

Sterner, G. (2017). Will we be ready for the next “opioid crisis”? Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center Blog. Available: http://tinyurl.com/y8zguhca

Fishbein, D. & Sterner, G. (2017). National leadership needed to fight the opioid crisis. The Hill. Available: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/healthcare/345932-national-leadership-needed-to-fight-the-opioid-crisis

Ph.D., Rural Sociology; The Pennsylvania State University, August 2015
Master of Arts, Student Affairs Administration; Michigan State University, May 2006
Bachelor of Science, Agricultural and Natural Resources Communications; Michigan State University, May 2004