Faculty You Should Know: Richard Featherstone

If you ask Richard Featherstone what he studies, his answer is simple: "I study people and their stuff." More specifically, as the associate dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and associate professor of criminology at the University of Northern Iowa, Featherstone spends time researching why people do the things they do.

Richard Featherstone
As an associate professor of criminology, Featherstone wants to study criminals and the things that drive people to commit crimes.

As far as people and their stuff, Featherstone is motivated by his passion for people and the different issues they confront on a daily basis. Undoubtedly, it's that same passion that makes him want to find more about criminals and the things that drive people to commit crimes.

However, he initially became interested in criminology because of his family. He grew up with a father who worked as a corrections officer, two sisters who worked in police departments, and a couple of cousins who actually served time in state penitentiaries. "I'm very fascinated with crime analysis and how we can utilize social scientific techniques such as statistics and methods to examine crimes," said Featherstone.

Another area that interests Featherstone is the use of new technology in police work, and the many issues of personal privacy. One of those new technologies includes the red light traffic cameras that have become quite a divisive subject in the past couple years. "I think the whole issue of technology and how it's changing society is something I'd love to see even more discussion about among academia," he noted.

In his free time, he loves visiting different places around Iowa with his wife and kids. As someone who spent time abroad in Japan, he always encourages students to take time to experience different cultures and people.

Featherstone is also always looking for ways to take his expertise out of the classroom and into the community, and believes very strongly in helping students gain experience both in and out of the classroom. "We have a lot of great faculty who are engaged with the community," he said. "They have a heart for the neighborhood, the community and the society."

One of the most rewarding parts of his job is getting calls from students who have gone on to do great things, many of whom have gone on to become police officers. "At the end of the day, I'm just one piece of the bigger picture of helping students achieve their goals," said Featherstone. However, he jokes that he makes sure to watch his speed when traveling through parts of Iowa that employ police officers whom he may have given lower grades to as students.