John MacDonald 250

John MacDonald, Ph.D.

Professor of Criminology and Sociology, and Director of the Master of Science in Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania

NPI Affiliated Scholars Program


John MacDonald is a professor of Criminology and Sociology and director of the Master of Science in Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor MacDonald studies crime and violence, race and ethnic disparities in criminal justice, and the impact of public policy on safety. A current focus of his work is examining how the science of urban planning can make our cities healthier, safer, and more livable. The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and private foundations have helped support his research on changing places. Professor MacDonald is also actively studying racial disparities in criminal justice and ways to reduce these disparities through policy and program reforms.


MacDonald, J., Branas, C., & Stokes, R. (2019). Changing places: The science and art of new urban planning. Princeton University Press.

Gibson, J. M., MacDonald, J. M., Fisher, M., Chen, X., Pawlick, A., & Cook, P. J. (2022). Early life lead exposure from private well water increases juvenile delinquency risk among US teens. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(6), Article e2110694119.

Braga, A. A., MacDonald, J. M., & McCabe, J. (2022). Body-worn cameras, lawful police stops, and NYPD officer compliance: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Criminology, 60(1), 124–158.

Brantingham, P. J., Carter, J., MacDonald, J., Melde, C., & Mohler, G. (2021). Is the recent surge in violence in American cities due to contagion? Journal of Criminal Justice, 76.

South, E. C., MacDonald, J., & Reina, V. (2021). Association between structural housing repairs for low-income homeowners and neighborhood crime. JAMA Network Open, 4(7), Article e2117067.

MacDonald, J., Nguyen, V., Jensen, S. T., & Branas, C. C. (2021). Reducing crime by remediating vacant lots: The moderating effect of nearby land uses. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 18, 639–664 (2022).

MacDonald, J., & Raphael, S. (2020). Effect of scaling back punishment on racial and ethnic disparities in criminal case outcomes. Criminology & Public Policy, 19(4), 1139–1164.

MacDonald, J. M., & Stokes, R. J. (2020). Gentrification, land use, and crime. Annual Review of Criminology, 3, 121–138.

Areas of Focus

  • Crime and violence
  • Race and ethnic disparities in criminal justice
  • Impact of public policy on safety