Dr. Piacentini is a Professor of Criminology at the School of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Laura is a Fellow at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow at AcadmiaNet for leading European Women Scholars. She was appointed to this position by Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. She is Adjunct Professor at the Law Faculty at Queensland Institute of Technology, Australia, and was a Research Associate at the Centre for Criminology.

Laura is a sociologist engaged in multi-disciplinary research on prisons. Her master’s thesis (1994-1995) on neo-marxist theories of the Gulag was awarded a distinction by the University of Keele and her doctorate (1997-2000) was the first UKRI research council funded PhD on incarceration in contemporary Russia. Since 1994, Laura has been researching and publishing on imprisonment in today’s Russia, having lived and conducted research in numerous prisons. Her first book from her PhD, Surviving Russian Prisons: Punishment, Economy and Politics in Transition was the first empirical and theoretical criminology book in the world on prisons in contemporary Russia and won the British Society of Criminology Book of the Year award in 2004. In 2011 She completed the first major study into imprisonment of women in Russia, which was funded by the ESRC (led by Professor Judith Pallot (Oxford) with Professor Dominique Moran (Birmingham)). Her study led to the publication of Gender, Geography and Punishment: the Experience of Women in Carceral Russia (Book of the Year 2012, ASEEES). Laura was one of the principal investigators on a Leverhulme study on rights consciousness amongst Russian prisoners alongside Dr Elena Katz from the University of Oxford (2015-2017). Her next book from the Leverhulme Project, is Prison Netnography and Human Rights in Russian Prisons and it set to be published by Routledge in 2021. Laura is currently the principal investigator of the major three-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) study  In the Gulag’s Shadow: Producing, Consuming and Perceiving Prisons in the former Soviet Union which is being co-led by Dr Gavin Slade, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Nazarbayev.