Sharon Melzer

Headshot of Sharon Melzer

Sharon Melzer

Professorial Lecturer

Part-time Faculty


Email: Sharon Melzer

Dr. Sharon Melzer is a criminologist with expertise in organized crime, terrorism, illicit finance, and illicit trade. In addition to teaching International Organized Crime (IAFF 6186) at GW, she serves as a Foreign Affairs Officer with the U.S. Department of State’s (State) Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). She is also an At Large Board Member of Penn State University’s Graduate School Alumni Society Board of Directors. 

During her academic career, Dr. Melzer taught courses on organized crime, white-collar crime, human trafficking, terrorism, transnational crime, research methods, criminological theory, introduction to criminology and the criminal justice system, and designed, directed, and implemented SUNY Plattsburgh’s first Study Abroad in Criminology program (Czech Republic and Germany). She has published in various outlets and presented her work at national and international conferences. Previous academic appointments include serving as a Senior Fellow/Affiliated Faculty with George Mason University’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) and as an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York (SUNY) – College at Plattsburgh. Additionally, she has served several national professional organizations, including as the Executive Director of the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime (IASOC) and on program committees for the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences annual meetings.

Dr. Melzer’s prior government service spans three departments: Treasury, State, and Defense. Previously, she was a Strategic Policy Specialist with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Additional State Department experience includes serving as a detailee to its Bureau of Counterterrorism and as Senior Advisor for Transnational Threats and Illicit Trade/Franklin Fellow within INL. While serving as a Franklin Fellow, she organized and chaired the United States Government Interagency Working Group to Combat Illicit Tobacco and co-chaired, with the United Kingdom’s Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) tobacco sub-group of the OECD’s Task Force – Countering Illicit Trade. Dr. Melzer also held an Adjunct Faculty appointment with the Department of Defense’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.

Transnational organized crime, threat financing, illicit trade, criminology

PhD - Justice, Law and Society; American University
MPA - Public Administration, The Pennsylvania State UniversityMS - Criminology, The Florida State University
BA - History, The Pennsylvania State University
BA - Administration of Justice, The Pennsylvania State University

IAFF 6186 International Organized Crime