Dr. Graif’s published work focuses on the consequences of urban poverty and population diversity on crime and health in connection to the spatial distribution of social capital. It highlights the relationship between neighborhood violence, immigration, and diversity in multi-ethnic and multi-racial urban US contexts. In her current research projects, Dr. Graif integrates sociological and criminological perspectives to investigate neighborhood effects and inequalities in spatial exposures and mobility and how they shape opportunities and affect crime, distress, and risky and delinquent behavior among urban children and youth. Dr. Graif teaches graduate and undergraduate level courses on Communities and Crime. She co-organized a Conference on Mass Incarceration and Health, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and served as a grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation. Dr. Graif chaired the 2013 American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting’s Sessions on "Communities and Violence" and on "Prisons, Jails, and Mental Health". She is member of the American Society of Criminology's Program Committee, serving as Sub-Area Chair for the sessions on "Neighborhood Effects", part of the 2016 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. She co-organizes the PRI's Changing American Neighborhoods and Communities (CANAC) Working Group starting in the Fall of 2015. Dr. Graif received a five-year K01 Award from the National Institute of Health in 2017-2022 for a project on Big Data and Network Analysis of Children's Health. She also received the Roy Buck Award recognizing the best article in a refereed scholarly journal in the social sciences within the past year. She also received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Pennsylvania State University Chapter. In 2019, she received the Robert J. Bursik Junior Scholar Award from the American  Society of Criminology, Division on Communities and Place.

Research Interests

Dr. Graif studies communities and crime, with a focus on mobility and neighborhood effects on children and youth and on the spatial and network stratification of violence, health risk, and opportunity. Throughout her work, she integrates macro and micro level approaches to theory, applies experimental and counterfactual techniques to understand causal links, and combines spatial (GIS) and network analyses with computational big data analytics. 


  • Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2013
  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 2011
  • M.A., Harvard University, 2007