David Pyrooz

Office: KTCH 262 or IBS 381 

Office Hours: Thursday 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Research Interests:

  • Gangs and criminal networks
  • Incarceration and reentry
  • Crime trends and life-course criminology
  • Criminal justice policy and practice


David Pyrooz received his PhD from Arizona State University in 2012 and joined the sociology faculty in 2015. He is interested why people violate laws, norms, and rules, what happens to them when they do, and ways to increase safety and justice in our communities. Most of his research is aimed at the criminology of social groups, particularly gangs. He studies how and why people organize themselves into groups, the criminal and non-criminal consequences of these groups for individuals and communities, and the legal and non-governmental responses to them. He has been the principal or co-principal investigator on $4.5m in funding from private or government agencies to conduct basic and applied research (see below). His current research projects involve advancing the science of gang intervention in the Denver area and beyond. He has authored or edited six books, including On Gangs (Temple University Press, 2022) and Competing for Control: Gangs and the Social Order of Prisons (Cambridge University Press, 2019), the latter of which received the Outstanding Book Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. He has written opinion editorials that have appeared in outlets such as the Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. In 2016 he received the Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology. He serves on the editorial boards of eight refereed journals, including Criminology, as well as a board member for the Institute of Behavioral Science.

Research Projects

  • “Improving the livelihoods of justice-involved youth”—evaluation of Functional Family Therapy-Gangs. Funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (2021-2025)
  • “Reforming solitary confinement in Oregon”—evaluation of a step-down program. Funded by the Charles Koch Foundation (2018-2022).
  • “Disengagement from gangs using multidisciplinary teams and street outreach workers”—evaluation of the Gang Reduction Initiative of Denver. Funded by the National Institute of Justice (2019-2021)
  • “Mortality risk among police-identified gang members”—creation and analysis of Gang Member-Linked Mortality Files. Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development (2019-2022).
  • “The LoneStar Project”—the Texas Study of Trajectories, Associations, and Reentry. Funded by the National Institute of Justice (2015-2018).
  • “A comparative study of gang members and domestic extremists.” Funded by the National Institute of Justice (2015-2018).
  • “The Google Ideas Study”—multisite study of gangs, social media, and disengagement. Funded by Google (2010-2012)

Books and Published Works

Awards and Honors:

  • Outstanding Book Award, Competing for Control: Gangs and the Social Order of Prisons, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, 2021
  • Excellence in Research Award, Boulder Faculty Assembly, University of Colorado Boulder, 2021
  • Provost’s Faculty Achievement Award, Academic Affairs, University of Colorado Boulder, 2018
  • Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholar Award, American Society of Criminology, 2016
  • Academy New Scholar Award, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, 2015
  • Graduate Research Fellow, National Institute of Justice, 2012