ABINGTON, Pa. — Glenn Sterner III, assistant professor of criminal justice at Penn State Abington, has received the 2023 Outreach and Online Education Emerging Faculty Award for Engaged Scholarship.
The Emerging Faculty Outreach Award is a University-wide honor that recognizes early-career tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty members whose work has significant potential to advance engaged scholarship through teaching, research and/or service. Their engaged scholarship work shows significant potential to influence societal issues on local, regional or national levels.
Nominators said Sterner’s research — which lies at the intersection of criminal justice and public health — leads to a better understanding of issues such as substance use and overdoses, gambling, and human trafficking. Sterner looks at how these issues are combated and ways communities and emergency responders can force more positive outcomes.
Sterner helped form the Consortium on Substance Use and Addiction (CSUA) while a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State, and remains a dedicated member and securer of research funding. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Criminal Justice Research Center (CJRC), and he coordinates the Greater Philadelphia Office of the Center located at Abington’s campus. Sterner’s work in the CSUA and CJRC paved the way for his appointment to the Pennsylvania Overdose Taskforce, led by the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Department of Health.
In partnership with the University of Pittsburgh, Sterner leads a team of faculty and staff across Penn State to evaluate the use of $1.07 billion distributed over 18 years, which was sourced from the multistate opioid crisis settlement. The Elevate Pennsylvania Initiative is creating a network of local and state partners to develop a strategy that promotes the most effective health and safety outcomes.
“Through his previous work with the state attorney general’s office to develop the model for how this funding would be distributed among Pennsylvania stakeholders, Sterner has an exclusive insight into how this funding can impact substance-related issues across the state,” a nominator said.
Sterner secured more than $9.5 million for several research projects related to criminal justice and public health through the assistance of the Criminal Justice Research Center.
A trio of grants from the Department of Justice are aimed at combating substance use. In one project, he worked with Pennsylvania State Police and county district attorneys to improve intelligence techniques to better disrupt the illegal supply of drugs. In another project, he worked with law enforcement to increase intelligence capabilities on interstate drug trafficking. In a third, he works with state police on using a data-driven approach to applying resources to areas of high need for addressing drug-market issues.
“This effort has increased state-local partnerships, and it has the potential to transform the way the Pennsylvania State Police — and other state level law enforcement entities — use localized data to inform interdiction approaches to reduce reliance on intuition or assumptions,” a nominator said.
Nominators also pointed out Sterner’s efforts to combat stigma related to substance abuse. He has worked to help educate the general public and law enforcement on the best ways of addressing substance abuse, and those suffering from it.
Sterner also lends his expertise to other areas of public health issues, including human trafficking and gambling.
He was instrumental in developing the Regional Interdisciplinary Collaborative Working to Disrupt Human Trafficking and engaged with stakeholders to raise awareness about human trafficking and best practices to combat it. Sterner also coordinated the state’s online gambling assessment to understand the prevalence of online gambling and potential problematic gambling behaviors among this population.
“Sterner’s record is an outstanding demonstration of the work of a junior faculty member who has been able to accomplish so much in just five years in his position at Penn State,” a nominator said.