The US Constitution sets the rules for how our our society is governed. Lawyers and advocates, legislators and lobbyists, judges and courts work to enforce it, or change it. All the while, legal and social scholars work behind the scenes for years, often decades, conducting research that gets to the heart of the history, evolution, practice, and potential of the law in our society.

To celebrate Life of the Law’s 100th Episode, Life of the Law and the National Science Foundation brought five NSF funded scholars to the NSF Headquarters in Washington DC to share their stories, personal experiences, professional challenges, and discoveries about free speech and the judiciary, children and the legal system, imprisonment and culture, family law and poverty, and hate crimes and incivility in society.




  • Thomas Keck is the Michael O. Sawyer Chair of Constitutional Law and Politics Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He is also a Research Affiliate at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, a joint initiative of the University of Bergen and the Christian Michelsen Institute. He is currently leading a collaborative, NSF funded project on the political beneficiaries of free expression jurisprudence worldwide. Professor Keck’s NSF Award Abstract “Comparative Free Speech Jurisprudence.”


  • Jodi Quas is Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior and Nursing Science at the University of California, Irvine in The School of Social Ecology. Professor Quas studies memory development in early childhood, effects of stress and trauma on children’s development, and children’s involvement in the legal system. Specific interests include strategies to improve children’s narrative productivity and accuracy; the effects of stress on children’s memory; emotional regulation and physiological reactivity as predictors of children’s coping with and memory for stressful events; jurors’ perceptions of child witnesses; and consequences of legal involvement on child witnesses and victims. Professor Quas’ NSF Award Abstract “Collaborative Research: Understanding Youth Engagement in the Plea Process: Predictors and Consequences.”



  • Keramet Reiter is Assistant Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California Irvine School of Social Ecology. Professor Reiter studies prisons, prisoners’ rights, and the impact of prison and punishment policy on individuals, communities, and legal systems. She uses a variety of methods in her work — including interviewing, archival and legal analysis, and quantitative data analysis — in order to understand both the history and impact of criminal justice policies, from medical experimentation on prisoners and record clearing programs to the use of long-term solitary confinement in the United States.  Professor Reiter’s NSF Award Abstract “Collaborative Research: Innovating and Experiencing Punishment.”



Production Notes

LIVE LAW NSF: TRANSLATING (law and social) SCIENCE was produced by Nancy Mullane, Life of the Law’s Executive Producer. Our Senior Producer is Tony Gannon. Our Post Production Editors are Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle and Rachael Cain.

We want to thank the the National Science Foundation, Division of Law and Social Sciences for co-producing the live event at NSF Headquarters in Washington DC on October 7th, 2016.

Our engineers were Jim Bennett and Katie McMurran at KQED Radio in San Francisco.

Music in this episode was from The Audio Network.


This episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by grants from the Open Society Foundations, the Law and Society Association, and the National Science Foundation.

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