Psychology Professor Receives 2024 Buford Peace Award

From the UA News Center | Dr. Jennifer Cox, an associate professor in the psychology department, is the recipient of the 2024 Lahoma Adams Buford Endowed Peace Award.

The Buford Peace Award is a Universitywide recognition presented by the School of Social Work at its annual awards ceremony at the end of each academic year. The honor is bestowed on a faculty member who in their teaching, research, professional practice and personal life has demonstrated exceptional levels of involvement in mediating human disputes, helping overcome prejudice, promoting justice and establishing peace.

Nominated by Dr. Tom Davis, Cox embodies the spirit of this award through the indelible mark she has left on both the legal system and the lives of countless individuals.

Jennifer Cox

As a clinical psychologist, Cox has dedicated her career to applying scientific research to combat disparities within the U.S. criminal legal system, with a particular focus on racial and ethnic inequalities and the challenges faced by individuals with severe mental illness.

Since joining the faculty of The University of Alabama in 2014, Cox has been a catalyst for change, spearheading initiatives to address systemic issues in criminal legal policy, particularly in the Deep South.

Through her efforts, Cox has secured philanthropic funding and co-founded the Southern Behavioral Health and Law Initiative, a beacon of hope aimed at reducing the number of individuals entangled in the criminal legal system, alleviating associated trauma and advocating for holistic support for formerly incarcerated individuals. Through the initiative, Cox has fostered partnerships with various entities, including law enforcement agencies, mental health organizations and governmental bodies to facilitate community-researcher collaborations and disseminate vital resources.

Beyond her research endeavors, Cox is deeply committed to educating future generations and fostering social awareness among students. Through her teaching and mentorship, she challenges students to critically examine the legal system’s injustices and empowers them to become advocates for change.

Cox’s dedication extends beyond academia, as she actively engages in service initiatives to address criminal legal disparities at both local and national levels, serving as a mental health expert, providing training for criminal justice officials and contributing to legislative reform efforts.

Her tireless dedication to advancing social justice and equality underscores Cox’s profound impact on both local and national levels. Her exemplary contributions to scholarship, teaching and service embody the spirit of compassion and activism, making her a true asset to her community and a well-deserved recipient of the 2024 Buford Peace Award.