Remembering Chester Britt

Remembering Chester Britt, 1962-2016

by Don Dillman

We were saddened to learn of the unexpected death of Dr. Chester Britt. (MA, 1986) on August 30, 2016.

Chester BrittBritt, who became professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at Iowa State University in 2015, experienced a severe reaction to a wasp sting while running Aug. 16.  He was taken to the Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, and later moved to the Israel Family Hospice House, where he passed. He was 54.

While at WSU, Britt wrote his master’s thesis, “The Effects of Objective Conditions and Subjective Estimates on Risk Perceptions.” It analyzed people’s reactions to the 1980 Eruption of Mt. St. Helens that covered much of eastern Washington with a significant layer of ash. He also worked as a telephone interviewer for the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center while at WSU.

Britt continued his education at the University of Arizona where he received his PhD in 1990. Before going to Iowa State University, he served as the dean of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. Prior to that, he was also the chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Arizona State University and held faculty positions in the sociology departments at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Illinois.

His research addressed theories of criminal behavior and victimization, demography of crime and criminal careers, criminal justice decision-making, and quantitative research methods. Much of Britt’s work utilizes alternative statistical approaches to gain a better understanding of how factors such as age, race, and gender affect patterns of criminal offending across criminal career, and how case and defendant characteristics affect the processing of cases in the criminal justice system.