Women of Influence

Catherine Cerulli, M.A.’98, Ph.D.’04

“Translating Research Into Practice”

By Carol Olechowski

Catherine (Kate) Cerulli

As a University at Albany graduate student, Catherine (Kate) Cerulli was struck by “the incredible quality of the teaching and mentorship” in the School of Criminal Justice, as well as by the “excellent” academic program. Today, as a teacher and researcher, Cerulli strives to “emulate the teaching styles” exemplified by Distinguished Teaching Professor James Acker, Distinguished Professor (now emeritus) Hans Toch and Professor (and current Dean) Alan Lizotte.

The professors “wove together the lessons we learned in the classroom so that we could apply them to everyday experiences,” recalls Cerulli. As a result, criminal-justice professionals could “use the knowledge in a very practical way.”

Cerulli’s experience at UAlbany included an assignment with the New York State Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence. “It was a great placement; I reviewed potential legislation. That was an incredible opportunity for a student – to work in a government agency and learn how legislation evolves.”

A leader in the field of domestic-violence prevention, Cerulli is an associate professor of psychiatry at University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center. She also directs the research lab at the hospital and the university’s Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership. She describes her work as “translating research into practice.”

Cerulli’s interest in domestic-violence prevention began when, as a teenager, she took a summer job working with inner-city children. Many of them had been abused or neglected at home, where their mothers were involved with violent partners. Cerulli later volunteered for a domestic-violence hotline. As a student at SUNY Buffalo’s School of Law, she coordinated the Haven House domestic-violence shelter law clinic. She also co-founded the Family Violence Clinic at the law school.

While working as an assistant district attorney in Monroe County in the 1990s, Cerulli formed a special misdemeanor domestic-violence unit. She is also co-founder of the Crisis Nursery of Greater Rochester, a not-for-profit that cares for children of families in crisis situations. Cerulli’s work has earned her Albany Law School’s Kate Stoneman Award; the Justice Award to End Domestic Violence, presented by former New York Gov. George Pataki in 2002; and the UAlbany Alumni Association’s 2014 Award for Excellence in Public Service.

Cerulli and husband Chris Thomas, B.A.’86, have two children, both born while their mom was a student at UAlbany.