Dawn OneillDawn (Seefeldt) O’Neill, Ph.D., BCBA - Sioux City, IA
Behavioral Scientist, Force Science Institute
Majors: Criminal Justice, Psychology

I chose USD because of its strong criminal justice program. I’ve always had an interest in combining criminal justice and psychology, but I soon discovered that “criminal profilers” only exist in Hollywood.

My courses with Professor Roche were challenging and worth the effort. I recommend taking smaller seminar classes, especially Justice and Compassion. Justice and Compassion teaches students to appreciate the perspectives and situations of others. We spent time with people with disabilities, older adults at an assisted living center and inmates at the South Dakota State Penitentiary. Thanks to my experiences at USD, I landed internships with a county communication corrections agency and a consolidated police force. Both helped me understand law enforcement and community reintegration after incarceration.

Today, I conduct research with professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, law, psychology and exercise science. I study behavior during encounters between police and the public -- things like changes in memory, attention, perception, reaction time, speed, shooting dynamics and tactical skills. This helps us understand what the average officer or civilian is capable of doing. This is sometimes very different from how the public thinks officers will perform, especially during an encounter that involves the use of force.