Sarah Desmarais


Dr. Desmarais is a Professor in the Applied Social and Community Psychology Program and Director of the Center for Family and Community Engagement at North Carolina State University. She received her Ph.D. from the Law and Forensic Psychology Program at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Desmarais’ current research focuses on the assessment and treatment of risks and needs associated with criminal behavior, interpersonal violence, and terrorism. She has more than 120 peer-reviewed publications on topics including violence and mental illness, risk assessment, terrorism, and intimate partner violence. She has held over $9 million in contracts and grants from agencies including the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Science Foundation, and the North Carolina Division of Social Services. Dr. Desmarais has conducted trainings worldwide on violence risk assessment and has written reports adopted by the U.S. National Institute of Justice and National Institute of Corrections. She serves on local behavioral health and criminal justice committees, as well as state and federal policy taskforces.

Dr. Desmarais is co-author of the Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability (START) and the Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability: Adolescent Version (START:AV), structured professional judgment guides for the assessment and management of violence and related risks associated with behavioral health disorders. The START has been translated into nine languages and is being used in behavioral health and correctional agencies, as well as private practices, in more than a dozen countries. The instrument has been identified as a best practice for the assessment and management of violence and related risks, a promising practice for the assessment of inpatient aggression, and a leading practice in mental health services. Dr. Desmarais additionally contributed to the development of related resources including the START Outcome Scale (SOS), the START User Feedback Survey, the START Instructors’ Guide and Workbook, and the START:AV Knowledge Guide.

Dr. Desmarais received the 2014-15 NC State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Junior Faculty Award and was selected as a member of the 2015-16 NC State University Faculty Scholars Program. In 2017, she received an NC State Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award and became a member of the NC State University Research Leadership Academy. In 2018, she received an NC State Alumni Association Outstanding Extension and Outreach Award and became a member of the NC State University Academy of Outstanding Faculty Engaged in Extension.