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Chris Smith


  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2015
  • B.A., Sociology, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, 2002


Chris Smith is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis. Broadly, she studies inequality in crime, criminal relationships, and criminal organizations. Specifically, this includes projects on historical organized crime in Chicago, relational inequality in co-offending networks, inequality in police shootings, and neighborhood change and its effects on crime. Her book project, Syndicate Women: Gender, Geography, and Networks in Chicago Organized Crime is under advanced contract with University of California Press. Chris has published in American Sociological ReviewCity & Community, Crime & Delinquency, and two edited volumes. Chris's research has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice. Chris has received multiple teaching awards, including the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She teaches classes on crime and inequality at UC Davis.

Research Focus

Areas of Specialization: Crime and inequality, feminist criminology, historical research methods, organized crime, police violence, social network analysis, sociology of gender, urban sociology

Historical Organized Crime Networks: Chris’s research on historical organized crime networks is based on a relational database built from 5,000 pages of archival documents with information on more than 3,321 individuals and their 15,861 social relationships. Chris and Andrew Papachristos (Northwestern University) have published on the topic of multiplexity in organized crime. Chris's current book and article projects with this database examine how women's structural positions in early 1900s Chicago organized crime networks diminished over time. Chris is expanding this work into research on relational inequality in co-offending networks.

Police Shootings: Chris is creating a database Police and Civilian Outcomes of Threatening Encounters (PACOTE) that includes detailed information on fatal police shootings and comparative cases of nonfatal police shootings. Her team has organized and is currently coding 11,638 news articles collected from a daily news search conducted every 24 hours in 2015. This project has received funding from an Individual Research Grant from the Institute for Social Sciences at the University of California, Davis. The goal of this project contribute to a national conversation on police violence that currently has very little empirical evidence.

Gentrification and Crime: Chris’s past research studied neighborhood inequality and the relationship between gentrification and crime outcomes over time in Chicago.

Selected Publications

Smith, Chris M., and Andrew V. Papachristos. 2016. "Trust thy Crooked Neighbor: Multiplexity in Chicago Organized Crime Networks." American Sociological Review 81(4):644-67.

Papachristos, Andrew V., and Chris M. Smith. 2014. "The Embedded and Multiplex Nature of Al Capone." Pp. 97-115 in Crime and Networks, edited by C. Morselli. New York: Routledge.

Smith, Chris M. 2014. "The Influence of Gentrification on Gang Homicides in Chicago, 1994 to 2005." Crime & Delinquency 60(4):569-91.

Papachristos, Andrew V., Chris M. Smith, Mary L. Scherer, and Melissa A. Fugiero. 2011. "More Coffee, Less Crime? The Relationship between Gentrification and Neighborhood Crime Rates in Chicago, 1991 to 2005." City & Community 10(3):215-40.


Professor Smith regularly teaches Soc 150 – Criminology and Soc 151 – The Criminal Justice System. She uses team-based learning in her undergraduate courses to transform a passive large lecture hall into a dynamic active learning space. She teaches graduate courses on social networks that cover methods, theory, and applications. In 2016, Professor Smith was a selected participant for the UC Davis Center for Educational Effectiveness’ first Engaged Learning and Teaching Community. While at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she received the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award in 2009.


2016-2017 Institute for Social Sciences Fellow, University of California, Davis, Institute for Social Sciences

2016 Engaged Learning and Teaching Community, University of California, Davis, Center for Educational Effectiveness

2013-2015 Graduate Research Fellowship, National Institute of Justice

2013-2014 Sociology Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation

2009 Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Office of the Provost