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Brendan Bernicker

by rmb529 Mar 27, 2019
Brendan Bernicker

2018-19 Thesis & Research Fellow / Paterno Fellow

Political Science and Philosophy

College of the Liberal Arts


Brendan is a philosopher at heart, a political scientist in training, and a passionate advocate for criminal justice reform. Academically, Brendan is enrolled in a four year Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate (IUG) program, through which he is pursuing a Master's degree in Political Science (American Politics/Political Methodology) concurrently with his Bachelor's Degrees in Political Science and Philosophy. Brendan is also a Paterno Fellow, Schreyer Honors Scholar, and Rock Ethics Institute Student Fellow. When he is not in class, Brendan volunteers as an investigator for the Centre County Public Defender’s Office, where he helps to represent people charged with serious crimes in Centre County. He also works in Penn State’s recording studio and is involved with several clubs and student groups.

Thesis: “Mens Rea: Addiction and Agency in the Criminal Law”

Project Description: Because of his IUG status, Brendan is writing both an undergraduate honors thesis and a Master's essay. His honors thesis, for which he received the Rock Ethics Institute’s Honors Thesis Research Award, is a qualitative examination of the relationship between mental health and the ideas of agency implicit in American criminal law. His Master's essay is a quantitative study that seeks to assess the impact of county-level contextual factors on juvenile case outcomes. Both projects are part of Brendan’s broader research agenda, which focuses on evidence-based criminal justice reform.