Urban GEMS was founded and directed by Dr. Deanna L. Wilkinson, Associate Professor in Human Sciences in the College of Education and Human Ecology. Dr. Wilkinson has devoted her career to research, teaching, and service to promote the understanding of social problems that afflict urban communities in poverty. As a criminologist, with multidisciplinary training, situated in an interdisciplinary unit of Human Sciences at OSU, her work focuses on the intersections of context, development and policy/practice. She is an engaged scholar with strong activist leanings. After decades of work on understanding the community context, decision making of shooters and development of gun violence prevention strategies she has shifted her focus to primary and secondary prevention. The idea for Urban GEMS was born out her own trauma recovery journey in which aeroponic gardening, nutritional cooking, and art activities provided healing during a challenging period of her life.
Her applied research keeps her busy building and maintaining community partnerships; working directly with youth and adults to develop, implement, and evaluate intervention/prevention strategies; creating opportunities for student involvement in the community; and building lasting relationships with people situated in neighborhoods characterized by high rates of poverty and violence.
She is deeply passionate about making a difference to promote community safety and healing from the adverse effects of poverty and violence. To read more about Deanna’s recent work follow this link to the article on Urban Gems by Jeff Grabmeier, the Senior Director of Research Communications at the Ohio State University’s Office of University Communications and Public Relations.