Marva is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work examines how community-based correctional populations utilize their personal social networks to access resources and fulfill correctional supervision requirements. Specifically, her research employs egocentric (personal) social network methods to understand the causes and consequences of justice-involved women's social network constructions, and identify participant, network member, and structural network characteristics that are associated with women's access to resources and recidivism rates.
Prior to her work on social networks, Marva co-founded and directed Youth Advancement Through Athletics (YATA) – a multifaceted youth development program (i.e., mentorship, community service, career building activities, and athletics) that was designed to lower court adjudicated youth's risks for recidivism by targeting various criminogenic needs.
With support from a strategic partnership with the Ingham County Court and grant funding from the Capital Region Community Foundation, YATA staff designed and implemented 75 strength-based, holistic interventions, trained more than 100 Michigan State University undergraduate and graduate students, and provided senior members with the opportunity to present research projects at national conferences. Under Marva's direction the program staff developed an innovative course curriculum that educated students on systemic racism, criminological theory, and juvenile justice system processes. As a result of YATA's positive community impacts, the program received two awards from the Ingham County Board of Commissioners.
Marva's current research aims to illuminate the hardships justice-involved women face during economic downturns. Specifically, the ongoing project titled "Social Capital, Health, and Politics: Justice-Involved Women's Navigation of the Coronavirus Pandemic" explores the relationship between justice-involved women's political participation and attitudes, physical and psychological health, access to social capital, and experiences navigating the coronavirus pandemic.
Marva's research has been supported by the NASEM Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Michigan King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. She is also a New Leaders Council-Detroit Fellow, Duke University Social Network & Health Fellow and a recipient of the COGS Disciplinary Leadership Award.
Marva is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI) in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. Prior to her current appointment, she was a Provost's Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Sociology. She earned her B.A. in psychology (2011) and M.S. (2014) and Ph.D (2019) in criminal justice from Michigan State University.