Technical ReportPDF Available

Abstract

The SSRC was established in 1950 and enjoys a long and storied history of research accomplishments. The impact of our research has had on the state, the nation and the world is evident in the success of our organization, which has ultimately been driven by the desire and dedication of our employees. Although an organization's annual report provides a venue to applaud the hard work and dedication of its employees for its success during the previous year, this particular report also celebrates our accomplished past and acknowledges significant historical milestones celebrated this year.
Annual Report 2018
10 16 34
38
22
About the SSRC
Special Collaborative Partnerships
Annual Impact
Research Fellows
Colombian Exchange Program
Impacting Lives: The Greenberg
Scholarship Established
Get2College Pilot Program Evaluation
Counting Our Children: The Mississippi
YOU COUNT! Collaborative
Gender Equity In Northern Ghana
A Connection with the Alan Alda Center
Suspension Gaps in Mississippi
Big Data Seminar in Croatia
Bethel Named Fulbright US Senior Scholar
Civic Life Laboratory
Adolescent Use of E-Cigarettes
Pathnders: Going to Class Matters
Wolfgang Frese Survey Research Lab
Grants & Contracts
Publications
Presentations
Awards & Recognitions
428
632
733
834
10 36
15 38
16 40
20
42
22
44
48
26 52
Design:
M. Alan Burns
Discrimination based upon race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status is a violation
of federal and state law and MSU policy and will not be tolerated. Discrimination based upon sexual
orientation or group aliation is a violation of MSU policy and will not be tolerated.
3Annual Report 2018
The Social Science Research Center has a long and proud
tradition as a location for meaningful social science research
for scholars on our campus and beyond. Its origins can be
traced to the Social Science Round Table, a faculty group that
began meeting shortly after World War II. This body’s goal was
to promote research in sociology, history, economics, political
science, and other related disciplines. Its signal contribution
was to advocate for the creation of a research organization
to facilitate social science research on campus. From their
vision and efforts grew the Social Science Research Center,
which was formally recognized in 1950 as the University’s
first campus-wide research enterprise. Following this vision of
a campus wide organization, the Center reports to the Vice
President of Research and Economic Development and the
Vice President for the Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and
Veterinary Medicine.
The Center, from its origin, has emphasized interdisciplinary
research and the application of social science knowledge
to the most critical problems facing the state, region, and
nation. In addition to scholars on campus, the Social Science
Research Center has become a place for scientists from
other institutions to come and conduct research, study,
and participate in the special environment of the Center.
Collaboration across disciplines, across institutions, and even
across nations is an essential feature of the Center’s strategy
of development.
Over the last 5 years, the Center’s research programs have
received over $43 million dollars in financial support. Grants
and contracts were awarded to Center scientists from
over 80 extramural sources of funding, including many of
the most prestigious research organizations in the nation.
For example, our research is currently being supported
by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of
Health, National Institute of Justice, USAID, and the Centers
for Disease Control, as well as numerous other federal
and state agencies. Foundation support is also important
with substantial investments in the Center by the Kellogg
Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and others. The
amount of extramural support is among the largest for such
social science enterprises nationwide.
Strong collaboration with academic departments has led
to the establishment of several social science laboratories
that greatly enhance the University’s capabilities to carryout
cutting edge research projects. The Wolfgang Frese Survey
Research Laboratory was established as a joint effort
between the Department of Sociology and the Department
of Political Science and Public Administration in 1981. It is
operating continuously as a facility for conducting rigorous
academic social surveys and is responsible for hundreds of
studies for projects housed at the University and beyond.
The Social Relations ColLABortative is a joint venture between
the Department of Psychology and the Social Science
Research Center that focuses on experimentation and social
relations. It is currently the home of the “The reasons for
retaliation research project” that is funded by the National
Institute of Justice. The Message Laboratory was recently
initiated between the Department of Communications and
the SSRC to lead in research on the science of science
communication.
The Social, Therapeutic & Robotics Systems Laboratory
(STaRS) is a joint venture between the Department of
Computer Science and Engineering and the Social Science
Research Center. STaRS conducts interdisciplinary research
on the interaction between robots and humans and is currently
funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.
The Civic Life Laboratory, our newest lab, is jointly sponsored
by the Department of Communications, Department of
Political Science and Public Administration, and the SSRC. It
is utilizing experimentation of simulation games to study civic
engagement and political polarization.
My colleagues and I are most appreciative of the fine support
we receive from the leadership of Mississippi State University
and are thankful for the opportunities that this fine institution
has provided us.
Sincerely,
Arthur G. Cosby
William L. Giles Distinguished Professor and Director
Letter from the Director
4Social Science Research Center
About the SSRC
The Social Science Research Center (SSRC) was established
at Mississippi State University (MSU) in 1950 to promote,
enhance and facilitate social science research and related
scholarly activities. The Center is organized with university-
wide responsibilities and reports to the Vice President for
Research and Economic Development and the Vice President
for Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. The Center
offers a superior research environment with an impressive
array of research opportunities and options, state-of-the-art
facilities, laboratories and support units that enhance and
expand both the scope and quality of social science research.
The SSRC fosters a rigorous and independent research
environment to ensure objective, relevant and unbiased
analyses.
The success of the SSRC relies primarily on the expertise,
talents and entrepreneurial skills of its scientists. Individual
scientists, or self-organized teams of researchers, provide
the impetus and direction of funded research projects.
They determine their research agendas and benefit from
the SSRC facilities as they so choose. Research fellows and
research associates, supported by an administrative staff and
graduate and undergraduate research assistants, conduct
both sponsored and unsponsored research projects. Funding
for projects comes from a variety of sources including federal
and state agencies, foundations, MSU units and other public
and private entities. The SSRC research portfolio usually
exceeds $10 million a year.
Research issues that social scientists face are now so
profoundly complex that their solutions demand the combined
resources of multiple disciplines, multiple professions and
multiple institutions. From its origin, the SSRC has had a
strong interdisciplinary emphasis. Scientists from a number
of disciplines, both on campus and off, come together in
the SSRC to work on common research problems. It is the
norm to find various combinations of such diverse disciplines
as psychologists, business professors, sociologists, social
workers, geographers, historians, economists and political
scientists joining together to bring to bear their expertise on
various research problems.
The range of interdisciplinary involvement goes beyond the
social sciences. The Center often becomes a place where
social scientists team with colleagues from agriculture,
engineering and other disciplines. The SSRC also forms
partnerships, strategic alliances and collaborative agreements
with entities such as state agencies, off-campus national-
level research organizations and professional groups. These
various interdisciplinary research enterprises provide a steady
stream of innovative projects and creative investigations.
The organizational structure of the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) is purposely flat, with several internal research units,
normally led by coordinators, reporting to the Director. Project directors operate with a great deal of autonomy and take full
responsibility for the conduct of their projects.
Over the years, the SSRC has developed strong working relationships with faculty members and administrators in the College of
Arts & Sciences, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary
Medicine, the College of Business and the College of Education. In addition, it has established strong linkages with outside funding
sources, including federal and state agencies, research entities and foundations.
The research faculty members in the SSRC are the driving force for the Center’s activities. Together, they define the Center’s goals,
develop research agendas, prepare and submit proposals and conduct research. The SSRC maintains a small staff of full-time
research faculty to support ongoing research activities. These individuals are normally affiliated with an academic department.
Other faculty members hold joint appointments on a continual basis between academic departments and the SSRC. A third
category of faculty members works in the Center on a periodic basis, depending upon funding of a particular grant or contract,
or is supported via summer appointments while developing research proposals. In order to facilitate the efforts of the research
faculty, the SSRC seeks to maintain collegial, cooperative relationships with academic departments and other campus entities.
The Center maintains a core staff of experts to assist in the financial and personnel aspects of preparing, submitting and
administering research grants and contracts, as well as individuals who manage specific Center programs, such as the Mississippi
Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP). Research associates and graduate and undergraduate assistants support research
and administrative activities. In addition, the Center employs many individuals on an intermittent basis to serve the needs of the
individual projects.
The continued success of the SSRC is clearly dependent upon the personnel who participate in its activities. Attracting bright,
capable, energetic and entrepreneurial individuals and then encouraging their continued intellectual and professional growth is
a key element in the SSRC organizational philosophy. By keeping bureaucratic requirements to a minimum, the SSRC seeks to
create an environment that fosters, facilitates and enables innovative and creative research efforts.
5Annual Report 2018
The SSRC conducts research to explore social, economic, political,
human resource and social-environmental problems facing the
state, nation and world. Scientists strive to present findings to a
variety of constituents in a meaningful way to improve the health,
safety and well-being of all people.
The Social Science Research Center strives to be a center of excellence
for social science research that serves the entire university community.
This collective ambition is reflected in our institutional goals:
- To contribute to the University’s graduate and undergraduate programs
by involving students in research projects through assistantships and
other work arrangements.
- To conduct rigorous, objective and unbiased research on relevant
social, economic, political, human resource and social-environmental
problems facing the state, nation and world.
- To provide a vehicle for unique social research and public service
programs that do not fit more traditional academic structures.
- To provide a support system for the University to plan, develop, secure
funding for and conduct social research on problems of interest to the
scientific community and to consumers of research findings.
- To provide a mechanism whereby existing social science research
capabilities in the University can be matched with funding sources.
Mission Statement
Statement of Goals
The SSRC is currently located in the Mississippi Technology
Center, in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic
Development Park. The Mississippi Health Policy Research Center
(MHPRC) is located at the CAVS E building in Canton. In addition to
the core space at CAVS E, the SSRC has access to state-of-the-art
conference and meeting facilities.
SSRC Facilities
6Social Science Research Center
Special Collaborative Partnerships
American Academy of Pediatrics
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
E Q Health Solutions
Education Services Foundation
Federal Motor Carriers
Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute
Harvard Law School
Harvard School of Public Health
MIT Election Data Science Laboratory
National Cancer Institute
National Center for Intermodal Transportation
National Institute of Justice
National Institute on Drug Abuse
National Institutes of Health
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Science Foundation
New York Sea Grant
Northern Gulf Institute
Rice Research and Extension Center at the University
of Arkansas
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Southeastern Universities Research Association
Tec de Monterrey, Mexico
Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical
Medicine
U.S. Agency for International Development
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Commerce
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Transportation
U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration
University of Applied Sciences VERN’, Zagreb
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
University of Illinois
University of Kentucky
University of Split, Croatia
University of Tennessee, Health Science Center
University of Zagreb, Croatia
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Walton Family Foundation
Prevention Research Center at Washington University
in St. Louis
Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation of Mississippi
The Bower Foundation
Center for Mississippi Health Policy
Center for Population Studies at University of
Mississippi
College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State
University
Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi
Healthy Mississippi
Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program
Mississippi Area Health Education Center
Mississippi Attorney General’s Office
Mississippi Association of Grantmakers
Mississippi Center for Education
Mississippi Center for Justice
Mississippi Department of Education
Mississippi Department of Human Services
Mississippi Department of Medicaid
Mississippi Department of Mental Health
Mississippi Department of Public Safety
Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services
Mississippi Department of Transportation
Mississippi Division of Public Safety Planning
Mississippi First
Mississippi Health and Advocacy Program
Mississippi Health Care Association
Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning
Mississippi Non-profits
Mississippi Office of Highway Safety
Mississippi Public Health Institute
Mississippi State Department of Health
North Mississippi Medical Center
Office of Research and Economic Development
Mississippi State Department of Health, Office of
Tobacco Control
Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi
Preusser Research Group, Inc.
Public Health Program at Jackson State University
Tougaloo College
University of Mississippi Medical Center
William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation
Women’s Foundation of Mississippi
The productivity of the SSRC Scientists remains high and the support from extramural organizations
is quite varied. Our research benefits from awards and partnerships from the following:
Within Mississippi, the SSRC has partnerships with and/or funding from the following:
7Annual Report 2018
SSRC Annual Impact
Total Funding:
$13,070,992
Ongoing Extramural
Projects
New Extramural
Projects
$4,856,149
$4,260,069
MASEP
Marion T. Loftin
Endowment
Foundation
$1,782,594
Core Funding
Projects
$760,830
$708,597
SSRC Labs
$568,583 $134,170
Publications
63
Presentations
71
New Projects
18
Ongoing Projects
29
8Social Science Research Center
Research Fellows
Christopher Archibald
Dr. Archibald is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Mississippi
State University. He focuses his research and teaching primarily on the areas of Artificial Intelligence,
Multiagent Systems, Robotics, and Machine Learning. He especially seeks to understand and evaluate
decision-making algorithms in complex scenarios. He received his BS degree in Computer Engineering
from Brigham Young University, his MS and PhD degrees in Computer Science from Stanford University
and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta.
Cindy Bethel
Dr. Bethel is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Mississippi
State University (MSU). She is an ACM Distinguished Speaker (2017-2020) and in September 2017 was
awarded the Billie J. Ball Endowed Professorship in Engineering (2017-2020), from the Bagley College of
Engineering at MSU. She is the Director of the Social, Therapeutic, and Robotic Systems (STaRS) lab and
a Research Fellow with the MSU Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS) Human Performance
Group. She is an affiliated faculty with the Department of Psychology. She is a Senior Editor for the
International Journal of Human-Robot Interaction. She received her B.S. in Computer Science (summa
cum laude) and her Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of South Florida.
Her research interests include human-robot interaction, human-computer interaction, interface design,
social robotics, and artificial intelligence. Her work focuses on the use of robots for therapeutic support,
information gathering, law enforcement, and military applications.
Front row (l-r): Susana Cervantes, Cindy Bethel, Viktorija Car. Back row (l-r): Christopher Archibald,
Ioannis Ziogas, Taylor Shelton.
9Annual Report 2018
Viktorija Car
Dr. Car is an Associate Professor at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, at the Faculty of Political Science –
Media and Communication Department. She got her Ph.D. degree at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
and during the doctoral study she spent one semester at the University of Lund, Sweden. In the focus
of her scientific research are public service media, visual culture and visual media, media narratives,
digital activism, media and gender studies, and media and minority studies. She is the Editor-in-Chief of
the Media Studies journal and member of the Editorial Board of the Anali HPD journal published by the
Croatian Political Science Association. She was member of the HRT Program Council 2011-2012, and she
is one of the founders of the Free and Responsible Media group within the Human Rights House Zagreb.
Susana Cervantes
Susana Cervantes has served as the Mississippi Delta Fellow, a two-year position jointly sponsored by
the Social Science Research Center and Harvard Law School. As the Fellow, she worked to explore and
promote innovative solutions to poverty in the Mississippi Delta through law, policy, and community
development. Prior to her fellowship, Susana studied at Harvard Law School, where she was a student
leader in the Mississippi Delta Project and participated in a number of clinics and internships focused on
education law and policy, youth and family issues, and systemic justice. Prior to that, Susana spent two
years teaching high school English in Jackson, Mississippi with Teach for America. Susana received her
A.B. in English from Harvard College in 2012 and her J.D. from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, in
2017.
Taylor Shelton
Dr. Shelton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University.
Prior to joining MSU in 2017, he held appointments as a visiting scholar in the Department of Geography at
the University of Kentucky and as a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Urban Innovation at the Georgia
Institute of Technology. Broadly-trained as a human geographer, Dr. Shelton earned BA and MA degrees in
geography from the University of Kentucky and his PhD from the Graduate School of Geography at Clark
University. Dr. Shelton’s work focuses on exploring the social and spatial dimensions of ‘big data’ and how
these new sources of data are changing the way we think about, and intervene in, the world around us.
In particular, he is interested in how mapping and data visualization can be used to develop alternative
understandings of urban spaces and social inequalities.
Ioannis Ziogas
Dr. Ziogas earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of Florida. His primary research interests
revolve around the dynamics that promote peace or lead to violence in the international system, broadly
defined. His work includes papers on territorial conflict, sampling algorithms, and survival modeling. Prior to
entering academia, Dr. Ziogas worked as a diplomatic attaché at the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.
MSU student, Marisa Laudadio learns about equipment in
a SENA-M lab. (photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
MSU student visit a banana farm in Magdalena, Colombia.
(photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
Students and faculty members from SENA-M visit with Dr. Art Cosby at the Social Science
Research Center. (photo by Alan Burns)
Students and faculty members from SENA-M visit with the Stennis Institute
for Government. (photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
SENA-M students learn about drone usage in precision
agriculture. (photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
11Annual Report 2018
COLOMBIAN EXCHANGE
PROGRAM
Three Mississippi State University students participated in a study abroad program in
Colombia this past spring break to learn about precision agriculture. The program was a
bilateral exchange that saw students from Colombia also visiting Mississippi.
For three Mississippi State
University (MSU) students,
this past spring break was a bit
different from a normal trip to the
beach. Marisa Laudadio, Cristina
Griffith, and Diana Wilson had the
opportunity to spend their spring
break in a study abroad program in
South America.
The study abroad program led
them to Bogotá and Santa Marta,
Colombia, where they had a chance
to recognize aspects of precision
agriculture, rural development
policies, and culture. This program
was led by Dr. Gina Rico Mendez,
a Research Fellow at the Social
Science Research Center (SSRC),
and Dr. Sandra Guzman, a
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the
Water Resources Center at Auburn
University. Both Rico Mendez and
Guzman are Colombian natives and
attended Universidad Nacional de
Colombia in Bogotá.
The program officially titled Study
Abroad and Spanish Language for
Precision Agriculture, was funded
by 100,000 Strong In the Americas’
Innovation Fund Grant. It saw MSU
partnering with SENA-Regional,
Magdalena -Centro Acuícola y
Agroindustrial de Gaira (SENA-M),
a publicly funded workforce
development institution in northern
Colombia with the goal of increasing
bilateral exchange between the
partners.
This study abroad was the first
bilateral exchange program in the
field of precision agriculture that
focused on innovations in agriculture,
combined with cultural awareness
at MSU. Bilateral exchanges provide
students and faculty from both
institutions the chance to study in a
different country and learn from one
another.
The Innovation Fund Grant seeks to
fuel strategic partnerships between
universities in the Americas to build
a “hemisphere of students ready
to compete and thrive in the 21st
century workforce.” In order to
prepare the students according to
those goals, two group of students
and faculty, one from MSU and other
from SENA-M visited Colombia
(March 10-18) and the United States
(April 20-28) respectively.
“This exchange project was the first
of its kind, bridging Mississippi and
Colombia,” said Rico Mendez. “It was
definitely a challenge, but we had
a unique chance to learn from one
another about different agricultural
practices and to compare the
application of new technology in
two completely different geographic
areas.”
The two groups of students had both
shared and separate objectives for
their exchange. For MSU students,
the goal was to increased knowledge
about precision agriculture data
techniques, large versus small
farm management practices, and
comparative rural development
policies. For SENA-M students,
the goal was to access advanced
research in precision agriculture
aimed at improving transfer of
technology and education tools,
expand collaboration networks,
and increase awareness of higher
education opportunities in both
Colombia and US. Both shared the
program goals of enabling creative
thinking, expanding collaboration
capacity, honing foreign language
skills, and increasing multicultural
awareness.
Student Participants
The group from MSU consisted of
two faculty members (Rico Mendez
and Guzman) and three students.
Marisa Laudadio-political science
and communication major; Cristina
Griffith- agribusiness major; and
Diana Wilson-food science and
nutrition major.
“We had a great team that went
along,” said Rico Mendez. “It was
very interesting to note as well,
that all of the students and faculty
from MSU were women, while the
opposite was true for SENA-M.”
“The Precision Agriculture study
abroad was a great experience,
more than I could have imagined,
said Cristina Griffith. “I already had
by Alan Burns
SENA-M students learn about drone usage in precision
agriculture. (photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
12 Social Science Research Center
a love for agriculture and Spanish,
but I came back encouraged and
inspired to try even harder in my
classes because I could now grasp
the end result of my education.”
From SENA-M, there were two
faculty members, Jorge Peralta
and Cristian Angarita, and three
students, Jerrys Arrieta-irrigation
major; Aldair Molina, and Johan
Cantillo, both precision agriculture
majors. At SENA-M, the students
are commonly called apprentices, as
they are learning applied technical
skills in agriculture.
“For me the exchange with MSU
was the best experience in my life,
it gave me a different perspective,
this trip changed my way I look at
things” said Aldair Molina, one of the
SENA-Students. Another student,
Jerrys Arrieta, said “The exchange
to MSU allowed me to get to know
a different culture, with a different
way of living. At the same time, it was
a very motivating experience that
encouraged me to keep studying
and working for the development
and technology in agriculture.
Planning for the Exchange
The program was set up in four
phases: establishing the partner
connection, study abroad planning,
study abroad implementation, and
evaluation.
For the first phase, the programs
looked at establishing contact
between the two partners. Most
of the contact was online, with
meetings occurring every six weeks
from June 2017 to February 2018.
This planning phase allowed the
teams to develop their program
goals and decide on communication
strategies for the students.
Phase two of the program featured
further planning for the study
abroad while the team began
recruiting students. Drs. Rico-
Mendez and Guzman pushed the
Colombia exchange to potential new
students majoring in Agriculture and
Life Sciences at MSU. The team
collaborated with MSU’s Office of
Study Abroad and the International
Institute to promote the opportunity
during the fall 2017 study abroad fair
and other campus events.
Part of the exchange program
involved an online course entitled,
“Educating the Next Generation of
Global Leaders: Social-Water Nexus
in Unconventional Environments.
This course was greenlit by the
MSU College of Agriculture and
Life Sciences (CALS) and focused
on precision agriculture, as well as
Colombian social and policy context
in agriculture.
“The goal for the class was to
introduce students participating
in the project into non-traditional
cultural, governmental, and water
management aspects of precision
agriculture,” said Rico Mendez. “We
decided to create the online course
to provide a background before we
actually made the site visits.
Studying Abroad
Over the course of March and April,
the students completed the study
abroad portion of the program.
Prior to departure for Colombia,
the faculty leading the project
created a booklet in English for MSU
students that included information
about Colombia, an itinerary for the
trip, and important information on
traveling abroad. A similar booklet
was created in Spanish for the
SENA-M faculty and students with
information about the United States,
an itinerary, and information on
traveling abroad.
From March 10-18, participants from
MSU made their way to Colombia.
They first went to Bogotá, where
they had the chance to visit different
historical parts of the city. The MSU
team then traveled to Santa Marta
Students from MSU learn about the packaging process for
bananas. (photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
MSU students and faculty visit with SENA-M students in Santa
Marta, Colombia. (photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
13Annual Report 2018
where they met the SENA team for
the first time.
Rico Mendez explained that their
time in Santa Marta allowed the
students to interact with each other,
as well as provided a chance for them
to see how both commercial and
small banana farms operate. After
seeing how both operate differently,
the team traveled to the Port of
Santa Marta to see how bananas are
packaged and shipped to the United
States and other regions of the
world. The team also had the chance
to visit other regional and national
cultural landmarks including the
Tayrona National park; Quinta de
San Pedro Alejandrino, the death
place of Simon Bolivar (the George
Washington like character for South
America), and spent some time at
the beach.
“As Colombians, we are proud
we open the doors of exchange
between MSU and SENA; we gave
low-income students from Colombia
a lifetime opportunity of traveling
abroad and letting them know
that opportunities exist for them in
Colombia and abroad. This was also
an eye-opening experience for MSU
students, some of whom had never
been in a plane or traveled abroad,”
said Rico Mendez.
“My love of agriculture became more
directed after the study abroad trip.
Through experiencing international
agriculture hands-on, I found my
passion for the future in helping
people with Agriculture Engineering
Technology,” Griffith stated.
SENA-M faculty and students had a
similar opportunity to travel to the
United States and begin the second
part of the study abroad from
April 20 to 28. While in Mississippi,
the SENA team was exposed to
multiple research areas, as well as
some leisure activities. While on
campus, the group visited many
units including: The International
Institute, College of Agriculture and
Life Sciences, Precision Agriculture
Lab, and Ag & Bio engineering Water
and Environmental Research Lab,
Stennis Institute of Government,
Social Science Research Center,
Geosystems Research Institute, and
the MSU Library where they toured
the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential
Library.
The SENA-M faculty and students
had a chance to travel to the MSU-
Delta Research and Extension
Center (DREC) in Stoneville, MS.
There they met with researchers
to talk about precision agriculture
and irrigation methods for a more
efficient use of water, as well as
toured the USDA-ARS Genomics
and Bioinformatics Research Lab
on location. The SENA team also
got to visit with the MSU Precision
Agriculture Laboratory team to learn
about some of their materials and fly
drone simulators.
“The students had the opportunity to
see innovative research at multiple
levels; from the implementation of
cost-effective irrigation methods
to determine the right time and
amount of water by using soil
moisture sensors and UAV’s, to the
research at the molecular level in
crop genomics and water quality.
With the simulators and field visits,
the students had a hands-on
experience in automation that could
be translated to the Colombian
landscape”, said Guzman.
While in the United States, the team
got to experience some leisure
activities that counted as cultural
awareness. These activities included
going to some MSU athletic events
and a tour of the campus. During
their trip to the Mississippi delta,
the team visited the B.B. King Blues
Museum in Indianola, MS and took a
brief trip to Memphis, TN.
Creating a Partnership
The program was seen as a success
Students and faculty from SENA-M visit with MSU students and
tour campus. (photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
SENA-M students visit the MSU-Delta Research & Extension
Center in Stoneville, MS. (photo provided by Gina Rico Mendez)
14 Social Science Research Center
for all involved, including the students
from both MSU and SENA-M. Overall,
the program allowed a partnership to
form between the two universities.
This relationship allowed the faculty
from both universities to expand
their knowledge base in agricultural
practices, and also allowed the
SENA-M to experience their first
international trips.
In the future, the team hopes that
there is a chance to identify long-
term institutional faculty at each
university to lead new iterations
of the project. This would require
faculty that are fluent in both English
and Spanish, as well as familiar
with the Colombian and SENA
institutional context and culture.
“This project afforded us the
opportunity to establish the first
partnership with an institution in
Colombia,” said Dr. Julie Jordan,
associate vice president for
international programs and executive
director of the MSU International
Institute. “I expect the MSU-SENA-M
partnership opened the doors for a
broader collaboration between MSU
and institutions of higher education
and workforce development in
Colombia. This country is going
through an incredible moment
given its significant economic
growth, increased access to higher
education, and post-conflict
scenario.
Jordan explained that the
International Institute serves as
MSU’s hub for integration of global
experiences, like studies abroad,
into the institutional framework. This
allows students, faculty, and staff to
learn more about global challenges,
such as food security, and increase
their opportunities to actively
engage and contribute to solving
those challenges. She viewed the
study abroad to Colombia as an
opportunity for MSU and SENA-M
students to apply their academic
knowledge to think about problems
of food production and distribution
from a global perspective.
“It is important to recognize the effort
and commitment of the institute´s
staff in the implementation of this
project, their work was critical for
the successful completion of this
study abroad,” Jordan concluded.
Rico-Mendez, who is a native
of Bogotá, Colombia, saw the
importance of the opportunity for
SENA-M students to travel abroad
to the United States.
“Seeing these young SENA-M
students encouraged to continue
their path on higher education,
working for their country and their
communities from their respective
areas of interest, enabled a sense of
pride among the project team,” she
explained.
“In the College of Agriculture and
Life Sciences (CALS) at MSU
we have been promoting the
transformational benefits that
study abroad experiences provide
to students,” said Dr. Scott Willard,
associate dean in CALS. “The
exchange with Colombia that CALS-
MSU engaged in this past Spring was
an excellent example of these types
of experiences. It was an educational
partnership that went way beyond
our expectations, and provided
the students from both institutions
and countries with a tremendous
experience to understand different
cultures and agricultural production
practices.”
Willard stated that cross-over
exchanges provide benefits for both
the institutions and students during
our current global marketplace and
increasing interconnected society.
“While the internet and other
technologies bring us all closer
together, nothing replaces actually
seeing, doing, and experiencing
another place first hand,” he
explained.
“We at Mississippi State University
had initiated a precision agriculture
program recently, and it coincided
with the awarded grant for an
exchange opportunity in this same
area,” Willard concluded, explaining
that the timing of the event was very
important. “Having students engage
from both institutions around topics
related to precision agriculture,
water security, and global food webs
in a comparative nature by visiting
each other’s countries and regions
will no doubt have lasting impacts as
they draw on these experiences in
their future careers.
One of the most inspiring aspects,
according to Rico-Mendez, was
the ability of the students to work
together despite their differences
and language barriers. She stated
that she felt it provided a great
example of 100,000 Strong in the
Americas’ goals and the potential of
this current generation.
“The capacity of the students to
find ways to communicate with
each other, despite there being a
language barrier, was so inspiring,”
she said. “They learned that even
though they live over 2,000 miles
from each other, there are things
they have in common and, with the
help of technology, they were able
talk with one another and develop
connections.
Visit ssrc.msstate.edu for more
information on the Social Science
Research Center. For more in-
formation on SENA-M, visit
centrogaira.blogspot.com.
15Annual Report 2018
Impacting Lives
The Greenberg Scholarship Established
by Alan Burns
The accomplishments and impact
of a long-time pediatrician and
collaborator were memorialized
this past fall at the Social Science
Research Center (SSRC). The Family
and Children Research Unit (FCRU) at
the SSRC established the Margaret A.
and Robert E. Greenberg Scholarship
Award for undergraduate or graduate
students who demonstrate an interest
in improving the health and well-being
of children, with a particular focus
upon impoverished children. Students
who receive the award will also have
the opportunity to work with and be
mentored by researchers at MSU’s
Social Science Research Center on a
child health research project.
Robert “Bob” Greenberg was well known
for his work in the field of pediatrics
and endocrinology, as well as his work
on equity child health and child rights.
Greenberg was a graduate of both
Stanford and the University of California,
San Francisco, and would later go on
to develop the pediatric program at
the Charles Drew/Martin Luther King
Medical Center in Los Angeles and chair
the Department of Pediatrics at the
University of New Mexico.
In 1985, Greenberg helped organize
the New Mexico Voices for Children, a
statewide child advocacy organization,
and continued to serve as chair or on
the board until 2006. He also spent time
serving as the chair of the American
Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Council
on Pediatric Research, during which
time he helped develop the Center for
Child Health Research (CCHR). This, in
turn lead to the collaboration between
Dr. Linda Southward of the SSRC and Dr.
Greenberg to create the Collaborating
Centers for Child and Family Health
Research in early 2001.
“Almost twenty years ago, I had a
tremendous honor of being selected as
one of 50 child health leaders across
the country at the launch of AAP’s
Center for Child Health Research,” said
Southward. “We met with, listened and
learned from some of the country’s
leading experts on a wide array of child
health topics.
“For me, one of the most knowledgeable
and approachable individuals in
attendance was Bob Greenberg. As
chair of the CCHR, it was clear that
having his ‘buy-in’ to having a research
partnership with the SSRC was key.
Dr. Greenberg was keen on including
research with children in rural settings,
in early care and education settings,
as well as the impact of second-
hand smoke on young children,” she
continued.
“Within 18 months of our first meeting,
a research partnership was established.
We had no idea two decades ago
about the amazing cascade of research
projects that would result from
establishing the research partnership
between the AAP and SSRC,
Southward said.
Maggie Greenberg was very much an
advocate in her own right, having done
tremendous work in public health and
community engagement. She also
influenced numerous nursing students
whom she taught at the University of
New Mexico.
The SSRC presented the inaugural
award in 2017 to two students that
were planning on pursuing work in the
medical field: Hasna Khandekar and Nia
Sims. Khandekar is currently perusing
her medical degree at the University of
Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson,
Mississippi, while Sims graduated in
May 2018 and is also continuing her
education through graduate studies.
Southward stated that she sees this
scholarship benefiting the medical field
and preserving the lasting impact that
the Greenberg’s had on the nation’s
children.
“The personal friendships of both
Maggie and Bob Greenberg have been
some of my most cherished ones and
they are deeply missed—on a multitude
of levels. Both of these individuals’
impact continues to live on through
their mentorship and their work with
individuals across the globe. We at the
SSRC are indeed, fortunate to have
established of the scholarship in their
memory,” Southward concluded.
Dr. Margaret Greenberg (L) and Dr. Robert Greenberg (R). (photo provided by
Matt Greenberg)
16 Social Science Research Center
As a part of the pilot school program, Get2College counselor Stephen
Brown supports a college application day. (photo provided by the
Woodward Hines Education Foundation)
17Annual Report 2018
Researchers at the Social Science Research Center are working with the Woodward
Hines Education Foundation to evaluate their Get2College Pilot School Program, which
seeks to increase the number of students getting to college in Mississippi.
GET2COLLEGE PILOT
PROGRAM EVALUATION
Many high school students
have thought about attending
college after graduation, but many
may not know how to get there. A
lack of college planning advice at
home and in school and financial
barriers ranging from college
application fees to large tuition
gaps are obstacles that often
prevent students from enrolling
in a community college, four-year
college or university. Researchers at
Mississippi State University’s Social
Science Research Center (SSRC)
are evaluating the Get2College Pilot
School Program that is working to
create a college-going culture in
eight high schools throughout the
state.
Woodward Hines Education
Foundation (WHEF) is committed to
helping more Mississippians obtain
postsecondary credentials, college
certifications, and degrees that lead
to meaningful employment. WHEF
focuses mainly on a three-pronged
strategy: access and entry to
college, persistence and completion
of college, and connection to
family-sustaining employment.
Get2College, a program of WHEF,
provides the boots on the ground
work for the access strategy.
The Get2College program serves
students, their families and
educators across Mississippi. With
three centers located in Jackson,
Ocean Springs, and Southaven,
Get2College staff work with
students and their families to help
plan and pay for college. While
Get2College staff work with all
families, they are committed
to helping students who have
historically been underrepresented
in college, low income, first
generation, and students of color.
Get2College also provides training
on college access issues. This
includes support for high school
counselors across the state, FAFSA
training for high school, community
college, and university partners;
training for educators on how to
leverage data to move the needle on
college access; training for teachers
for the new College and Career
Readiness course for high schools;
and college admission recruiter
training on issues of college access
and financial aid.
Another key program of Get2College
is their pilot school program where
they work on site in eight high
schools across Mississippi to create
a college-going culture. Since
January 2017, researchers at the
Social Science Research Center
(SSRC) have been working with
Get2College on evaluating their
Pilot School Program.
The Pilot School Program
In order to increase the numbers
of students going to, persisting
and completing college, the Pilot
School Program is designed to
use nationally identified best
practices and benchmarks from the
National College Access Network
(NCAN). Get2College works with
administrators, counselors, teachers,
students, and parents through on-
site support, workshops, special
events, and individual counseling.
Some of the activities include
application days, campus tours, ACT
workshops, college applications
days, and FAFSA completion events.
“In a way, the Pilot School Program
grew out of the work that we do in
our centers. We were able to see
that students coming to our centers
were going to college at a very high
rate using data from the National
Student Clearinghouse (NSC),” said
Get2College Program Director Ann
Hendrick.
The eight pilot high schools include
Lake Cormorant in the DeSoto
County School District, Pelahatchie
Attendance Center in the Rankin
County School District, Bruce High
School in the Calhoun County
School District, Taylorsville High
School in the Smith County School
District, St. Martin High School in
the Jackson County School District,
O’Bannon High School and Riverside
High School in the Western Line
School District, and Moss Point
Career and Technical Center in the
Moss Point School District.
by Alan Burns
18 Social Science Research Center
The participating schools were
selected to showcase the difference
in small versus large schools, with
junior and senior classes in the
eight schools ranging from 43 at the
smallest to over 350 at the largest.
The differences in size provide
insight on how the program can
impact schools of varying sizes and
demographics.
SSRC Team Leads Evaluation
Ben Walker and Izzy Pellegrine,
both researchers at the SSRC,
are operating as Co-Principal
Investigators for Get2College’s pilot
program evaluation. Walker and
Pellegrine feel that this evaluation
is unique in that it presents them a
chance to use an emergent research
design that couples together distinct
social scientific approaches.
“One of the most interesting pieces
about this evaluation is the actual
design,” said Pellegrine. We’re
using a mixed-methods component
with a matched pairs qualitative
sub-component, which essentially
means we’re using both qualitative
and quantitative methods at the
pilot schools, as well as match
schools in the state. This design
will provide us with information that
we wouldn’t normally get from a
program evaluation.
The evaluation can be most
effectively described by breaking
it into two areas: the quantitative
component and the qualitative
component, with the qualitative
having a matched pairs qualitative
sub-component. According to
Walker, the team is trying to tackle
two main ideas from a quantitative
perspective.
“Ultimately, the quantitative part
of the evaluation is looking at how
many students are getting into
college, and of the various services
that are offered, which are having
the most benefit in terms of getting
them there,” Walker explained.
In the qualitative section, the
evaluation is geared towards the
process of intervention on the
ground. Pellegrine and Walker
explained this section has two
distinct parts, one that has been
completed and one that they are
getting ready to launch.
“Our qualitative section is on the
ground looking at what’s really
happening in these schools,
Pellegrine stated. “We want to know
what these programs look like as
they exist currently. We want to
center on student voices in how they
relate to these services and what
they’d like to see from the program
in the future.
For the comparative qualitative
match component, the team
matched the pilot schools with 8
control schools that are not receiving
the program. The schools that
were chosen are demographically
similar to the pilot schools, which
allows them the chance to have a
more effective reference group for
comparison.
“Our qualitative match component is
working at the school level with the
demographically matched schools.
This comparative component
consists of counselor interviews and
focus groups with students that look
at their processes and resources,
Pellegrine said.
Another key issue for the program
evaluation is the establishment
or expansion of the college-going
culture in Mississippi schools. The
evaluation team hopes that the
focus groups, in both pilot and match
schools, will give them insight into
the current college-going culture.
“In these focus groups, we plan to find
out what the college-going culture
is like. It’s hard to find this out on a
standard survey instrument such as
our entrance and exit surveys, but
the focus groups should yield richer
information,” said Walker.
“That is why the student’s
perspective is so important,
explained Pellegrine. “All of the adults
Students from O’Bannon High School participate in the Get2College
pilot school program. (photo provided by the Woodward Hines
Education Foundation)
19Annual Report 2018
involved, such as the counselors,
administrators, and parents, are
all stakeholders in creating that
culture, but the students on the
ground can actually relay the result
of Get2College’s efforts to create
and expand that culture.”
Regarding the complex methodology,
both Pellegrine and Walker
expressed their anticipation for the
results and how this evaluation can
be proof of the methodology for
testing other programs in the future.
Early results in the program have
helped reinforce both national
standards and observations that
the WHEF and Get2College were
currently using regarding Free
Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA) completion.
“So far, we’ve found that student’s
FAFSA completion is the strongest
factor in predicting their transition
to college,” said Walker.
Hendrick reciprocated these results.
“We have always used national
data, but with this evaluation, the
SSRC has given us the ability to
use our own data to promote the
college-going culture and that’s very
valuable to us,” she said.
Get2College’s Future and Impact
For Get2College, it is important to
take what the team learns from the
Pilot School Program evaluation
and apply it to our work around
the state, explained WHEF Director
of Communications and Impact
Courtney Lange. “Just as important
as informing our own work, we plan
to share what we’ve learned with
schools and educators throughout
Mississippi so that they can replicate
the promising practices identified
through the Pilot School Program.
“Often, people will commission
research, it is read, and that is where
it ends. But this project is on a
continuum: the work, the research,
and then putting it into practice on a
broader scale,” Lange continued.
For the future of Get2College and
work with students, Hendrick noted
that the final results from the SSRC’s
evaluation would play a crucial role.
“At Get2College, our goal is to
work within a cycle of Do-Learn-
Test-Share, where we implement
a project, participate in an ongoing
assessment of the project’s
effectiveness, and experiment with
new approaches that will ultimately
move the needle on college access
in Mississippi,” Hendrick said. “As we
begin thinking about our pilot school
exit strategy, we plan to leverage the
data we receive from the evaluation
to create a college readiness and
enrollment dashboard for high
school leaders in each pilot school
and to develop a data-driven plan to
compliment it.
This dashboard would include
specific goals, timelines, and
success metrics to help high school
counselors and administrators to
both create and sustain a college-
going culture in Mississippi high
schools.
Hendrick also noted that a longer-
term approach to evaluation could
result in sharing college readiness
information more widely to high
school administrators and eventually
include community colleges,
universities, and communities
to work towards a state-wide,
data-driven approach to college
attainment goals.
Visit woodwardhines.org for more
information on the Woodward Hines
Education Foundation. For more
information on the Get2College
program, visit get2college.org.
20 Social Science Research Center
COUNTING OUR CHILDREN
The Mississippi YOU COUNT! Collaborative
The 2020 Census is approaching,
and Mississippi families stand
to be greatly impacted by its
outcomes. Every ten years, the
United States government conducts
a national census, which aims
to count the number of people
living in the country, identify
them demographically, and chart
the results. While some may not
believe that the census has an
impact on their lives, it often helps
decide how much federal money is
spent in each state. These federal
dollars fund programs that benefit
Mississippi’s children and families,
and the amount received depends
on accurate counts of the state’s
residents. Additionally, the census
is used to determine how many
representatives serve Mississippi in
the U.S. House of Representatives,
which can affect state resources
and influence.
Mississippi currently receives around
two billion dollars from the federal
government each year and has the
highest federal reimbursement rate
for each dollar spent of any state.
Specifically, programs affected
include children’s health insurance
programs, children’s nutrition
programs, special education, foster
care, and early childhood programs—
all essential for optimal development
of the state’s youth. Therefore, low
census participation among families
with children may cost the state
needed dollars and put a strain on
agencies already struggling to meet
the needs of vulnerable children.
A new project at Mississippi State
University’s Social Science Research
Center (SSRC) seeks to educate the
public and other stakeholders about
the importance of the upcoming
census in 2020. The Mississippi
YOU COUNT! Collaborative is
funded by the Annie E. Casey
Foundation, a private philanthropy
based in Baltimore that provides
grants across the country to federal
agencies, states, neighborhoods and
more to impact children’s well-being.
The project, which is being led by
Dr. Heather Hanna, an Assistant
Research Professor at the SSRC
and Co-Director of Mississippi KIDS
COUNT, will entail a partnership
between the SSRC and the Center
for Population Studies at the
University of Mississippi, led by Dr.
John Green.
Green points out that, “Beyond
providing a count of the population
and its demographic characteristics,
the decennial census serves as the
foundation for numerous health,
educational, and economic data
sources. We need the best data
possible to inform programming
for Mississippi’s children, and this
requires community outreach,
engagement, and promotion.
According to Hanna, Mississippi has
a very big opportunity in the 2020
census to impact the state and its
children. “We want people to realize
that the upcoming census is a big
opportunity to sustain or increase
our current levels of funding for
some very important programs,
she stated. “Basic programs for our
children, such as Head Start, free
and reduced lunches, Medicaid,
and foster care are all dependent
on census counts; consequently, if
we do not do a good job of counting
all children, we could possibly lose
funding in those areas.
Hanna stated that the Mississippi
YOU COUNT! Collaborative efforts
are designed to complement the U.S.
Census Bureau’s efforts to ensure a
complete count of young children in
the state. “Given that Mississippi had
an overall participation rate of 69% in
the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau
is currently engaging in targeted
efforts to raise awareness in the
state to ensure the most accurate
data possible,” she explained.
Across the nation, it’s estimated that
almost one million children under the
age of five were not counted in the
2010 census. This undercount was
due to many reasons, including the
rurality of some areas; having high
numbers of families living in poverty,
renting or living in multigenerational
households; and low participation
rates among young parents. Minority
children were less likely to be
counted than White children. Each
of these factors will contribute to
the difficulty of an accurate count
in Mississippi, making the state high
risk. Additionally, the 2020 Census
will be the first to promote a primarily
online response from residents. This
will pose an additional challenge for
Mississippi given that much of the
state suffers from poor connectivity.
Vicki Mack, Partnership Specialist
with the Census Bureau’s office in
A new project at the Social Science Research Center is seeking to educate the public about the
importance of the 2020 census. The project, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is a
partnership between the SSRC and the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi.
by Alan Burns & Heather Hanna
21Annual Report 2018
Atlanta, explained, “The Census
Bureau is engaged in a variety of
recruiting and awareness-raising
efforts across the state. For the
first time, the Census Bureau will be
urging most households to submit
responses online via the Internet.
Therefore, traditional outreach
efforts are even more important,
given the new response modes.”
“Residents will be encouraged
to respond to the census online
using a computer, tablet, or smart
phone. Responses can also be
provided via telephone 24 hours a
day if households call the Census
Questionnaire Assistance Center.
The Census Bureau will provide
online questionnaires and telephone
assistance in multiple languages,
she continued.
According to Mack, “Local
governments and community
groups can help reach hard-to-count
populations by creating or joining a
Complete Count Committee (CCC).
Members of CCCs partner with other
trusted voices and influential leaders
in their areas who are committed
to increasing census participation.
A CCC is a volunteer committee
established by tribal, state, or local
governments and/or community
leaders to increase awareness about
the census and to motivate residents
in the community to respond. The
CCC is charged with developing and
implementing a plan designed to
target the unique characteristics of
their community.
Despite the barriers Mississippi
faces, Hanna hopes that
collaborating with other groups
across the state and releasing
targeted materials in hard-to-
count areas will help. “With the
help of stakeholders, we’re going
to develop Mississippi-specific
materials to distribute,” she stated.
“Young parents are a population of
concern in our state, so we want
to distribute information that will
hopefully help them understand
the stakes and encourage their
participation. We are also hoping to
encourage strategies, such as using
public libraries for greater Internet
access, and we will target local
businesses to let them know how
important accurate census counts
are for infrastructure and business
planning,” she continued.
The project team will also present
information to state policymakers,
who can impact census counts by
encouraging census promotion at
the national, state, and local levels.
Policymakers can also provide
funding for census efforts and
work with trusted messengers to
ensure the public understands the
importance of participation. Hanna
concludes, “Hopefully decision-
makers, stakeholders, and residents
will hear from multiple sources about
the significance of the 2020 Census
for Mississippi.
Moved in 2005– 2009
0.13
4.38
***
33.8
84.2
18.6
29.4
23.0
31.1
Intercept
16.61
10.56
***
Above: A 2018 Census Planning Database map showing tract levels for low-responses. (map provided by the
Center for Population Studies University of Mississippi)
22 Social Science Research Center
A
five-year project on gender
equity in Ghana’s Northern
Region, which was set to finish
this year, has been extended by
the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID)
for an additional three years. This
research is being conducted by two
Social Science Research Center
(SSRC) researchers, Dr. Kathleen
Ragsdale, an associate research
professor, and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi,
an assistant research professor.
Funded by USAID, the Feed the
Future Soybean Innovation Lab
is one of 23 Feed the Future
Innovations Labs located at premier
U.S. universities who work with
institutions in developing countries
to tackle global challenges in
agriculture and food security.
The Soybean Innovation Lab is
focused on addressing this issue
by improving soybean production
among smallholder farmers in sub-
Saharan Africa.
Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi lead
the Lab’s Socioeconomic and
Gender Equity Research (SGER)
team. The SGER team focuses on
gender and socioeconomic impacts
of soybean production, which are
two of the ten research areas being
addressed by the Lab. Ragsdale
and Read-Wahidi conduct research
for development (R4D) that seeks
to identify gaps and determine
entry points to improve the Lab’s
efforts to effectively implement
gender responsive development
GENDER EQUITY
IN NORTHERN GHANA
by Alan Burns, Kathleen Ragsdale, & Mary Read-Wahidi
A ve-year project that focused on gender equity in the Northern Region of Ghana has been
extended for another three years of research. The Socieconomic and Gender Equity Research
Team seeks identify gaps and improve gender responsive development in Africa.
Above: Dr. Gina Rico Mendez works with survey team members in a village in Ghana’s Northern Region. (photo by Kathleen Ragsdale)
23Annual Report 2018
into the Lab’s agricultural activities
and trainings for men and women
smallholder farmers.
Smallholder Farmers’ Importance
to Global Food Security
Smallholder farmers are considered
those with less than five acres of
farmable land. According to the
United Nations (U.N.) Food and
Agriculture Organization (2012),
“eighty percent of the farmland
in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia is
managed by smallholders,” and it is
these men and women smallholder
farmers who “provide up to eighty
percent of the food supply in Asian
and sub-Saharan Africa.
Ragsdale explained that “By
assisting men and women farmers
with increasing their productivity
and their access to markets, R4D
can help feed a world population
that the U.N. predicts to reach 8.5
billion by 2030 and nearly 10 billion
by 2050.
Identifying Empowerment Issues
In order to identify gaps and
determine R4D entry points in
northern Ghana, Ragsdale and Read-
Wahidi first established baseline
data on topics such as gender
and economic barriers in soybean
farmers’ access to land, credit lines,
and markets for their soybean crops.
The SGER team began by
implementing Wave I of the Women’s
Empowerment in Agriculture Index
(WEAI) in 2014, which they adapted
by adding soybean modules to
produce the WEAI+. The original
WEAI was developed through
a partnership between USAID,
Feed the Future, the International
Food Policy Institute (IFPRI), and
the Oxford Poverty and Human
Development Initiative. According
to Feed the Future (2014), the WEAI
is the first index to “directly capture
women’s empowerment and
inclusion levels in the agricultural
sector.” The original WEAI is
designed to systematically capture
and men’s and women’s decision
making power across important
agricultural domains, such as what
crops to plant on their own farm
land.
The WEAI+ includes soybean
modules to collect additional
baseline data on soybean production
in Ghana’s Northern Region. The
SGER team administered Wave I of
the WEAI+ to 675 farmers across
northern Ghana, of whom the vast
majority were husbands and wives.
Their WEAI+ results showed that
both men and women farmers are
participating in the soybean value
chain in northern Ghana. The results
also identified specific areas where
women farmers lacked decision
making power as compared to their
husbands – such was what crops
to grow on their own land. This is
noteworthy because such decisions
can directly impact women’s soybean
yields, their ability to generate
income from growing soybean, and
their ability to save part of their crop
to feed their children.
This last point is important in terms
of increasing protein intake for
undernourished children because
soybean is both a cash crop and
a nutritious food crop, as soybean
contains amino acids essential for
children’s growth and development.
In northern Ghana and other parts
of the world where some farm
families are extremely poor, soybean
can help provide needed protein to
malnourished children.
Through the WEAI+, Ragsdale and
Read-Wahidi found that men were
17 times more likely than women to
have decision making power over
purchasing, selling, or transferring
land and other assets. Men were
five times more likely than women
to have decision making power over
agricultural issues, such as what
crops they grew. And men were four
times more likely than women to be
empowered to speak up in public,
including to ask Extension Agents
about ‘best practices’ to improve
their horticultural knowledge.
Digging Further into
Empowerment
After reviewing the WEAI+ results,
Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi
moved towards a more precise
understanding of empowerment
issues among men and women
farmers in northern Ghana that
could be used to develop tools
and trainings to increase gender
24 Social Science Research Center
responsive agricultural development
in this region and beyond. Towards
this goal, they developed and
administered several large surveys
and conducted farmers’ focus
groups in Ghana in 2016, 2017, and
2018.
As Read-Wahidi stated, “We
started by looking at men and
women’s empowerment with the
WEAI+, which defined the areas
where women lack empowerment
compared to men. Our adapted
version also collected soybean
specific data – that’s why we
added the “plus.” With the SUNS
[the Soybean Uptake and Network
Survey], we wanted to see how those
empowerment differences translate
into measurable issues faced by men
and women soybean farmer.”
In 2016, Ragsdale and her team
administered the SUNS Wave I to
832 men and women farmers in
12 villages. The SUNS collected
data on soybean production that
could be analyzed across genders,
villages, and regions. From this data,
Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi found
that although women were similarly
engaged in soybean cultivation,
men were significantly more like to
have planted more than one acre of
soybean, to have produced higher
soybean yields, and to have earned
higher incomes from selling their
soybean crops.
Building on the WEAI+ results, these
SUNS results provide clear evidence
of how agricultural disempowerment
among women farmers plays out
under real world conditions and has
tangible outcomes. These combined
results resonate with USAID’s
(2016) statement that women could
increase their farm yields by 20-30
percent if they had the same access
to productive resources as men.
During that trip, Ragsdale and
her team also implemented focus
group discussions using the guide
they developed, Information and
Communication Technology
for Agricultural Development
(ICT4AgD). For this study, 35 men
and women farmers were divided
into separate focus groups to collect
qualitative data on mobile phone
ownership and what information
farmers most needed. Although
nearly twice as many men owned
mobile phones as women (93%
versus 55%), all participants voiced
an urgent need to be able to access
up-to-date information on local
weather and on fair soybean market
prices on mobile phones.
Ragsdale explained, “We are
committed to combining quantitative
data collected through large surveys
like the WEAI+ and the SUNS – with
qualitative data collected during
focus groups with men and women
farmers – to help us gain a more
complete understanding of how
empowerment in agriculture plays
out in traditional farming societies
where gender and cultural norms
can restrict women farmers.”
In 2016, Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi
developed the Gender Responsive
Agricultural Development
Assessment (GRADA) with
input from USAID and Save the
Children colleagues. Launched
that December, the GRADA is an
internal audit to gauge how Soybean
Innovation Lab researchers and
implementing partners consider
gender equity in their trainings/
activities. Fewer than 50 percent of
participants had gender-responsive
strategies built into their activities,
such as steps to ensure that more
equal numbers of men and women
farmers receive key agricultural
inputs like fertilizer.
This pinpointed critical needs that
should be met in order improve
gender responsiveness in all the
Lab’s activities, including a need to
increase awareness of how gender
constraints can limit women farmers’
participation in extension outreach
and trainings.
Wave II Data Collection
During 2017, Dr. Gina Rico Mendez,
then a SSRC Postdoctoral Research
Fellow, traveled with Ragsdale to
northern Ghana to collect the WEAI+
Wave II among 984 men and women
Drs. Kathleen Ragsdale and Gina Rico Mendez with CRS/
Ghana sta and survey team members. (photo by CRS)
Women soybean farmers participate in a focus group on
land tenure. (photo by Kathleen Ragsdale)
25Annual Report 2018
farmers in the same 12 villages
where the WEAI+ Wave I had been
collected. While the data is not yet
fully analyzed, preliminary results
indicate specific areas where women
farmers lack decision making power
as compared to men. For example,
men are significantly more likely to
report having input into most or all
agricultural decisions, while women
are more likely to report having input
into few agricultural decisions.
On this trip, Ragsdale and Rico
Mendez also conducted separate
focus groups with 72 men and
women soybean farmers on Gender
Equity and Land Tenure (GELT). They
chose to explore this area of research
based on the lack of information on
how gender equity impacts land use
and inheritance among men and
women farmers in northern Ghana.
Through the GELT focus groups,
Ragsdale and Rico Mendez learned
that complex cultural practices –
such as communities various social
structures, farm land allotments,
and polygamous marriages – can
severely limit women farmers’ rights
to land, which in turn, can negatively
impact women farmers’ agricultural
decision making.
For example, Ragsdale and Rico
Mendez found that women farmers
can be reluctant to use their small and
hard-earned incomes to purchase
expensive fertilizers to improve
their farm land because they do not
have secure rights to their plots. For
many women farmers, investing in
increasing their land’s productivity
is a risky economic gamble, as a
plot can be taken away from them
by their husband or other male
authority with little or no recourse or
compensation.
In 2018, Ragsdale and her team
returned to northern Ghana to
administer Wave II of the SUNS. With
the assistance of SSRC research
assistants, Kelly Lower and Taylor
Yarbrough, the
team collected
904 surveys
among farmers
in the Northern
Region. During
this trip, the
team also
conducted
Wave II of the
GELT focus
groups in the
same villages
where the
GELT Wave I
focus groups were conducted. The
purpose of these focus groups were
to follow up on particular land tenure
issues that were identified during
analysis of the GELT Wave I results.
Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi
anticipate that Wave II of the GRADA
will be administered this December.
They plan to use the combined
results from the GRADA Wave I-II
to assist the Soybean Innovation
Lab in its R4D goals by 1) ensuring
that the Lab’s practices promote
gender responsive agricultural
development, 2) developing
trainings, tools, and resources
to support gender responsive
agricultural development among
the Lab’s researchers and partners,
and 3) developing trainings, tools,
and resources to support gender
responsive agricultural development
among the broader development
community.
Future of the project
Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi describe
their plans for SIL 2.0 as having three
distinct goals, including 1) expanding
gender equity analyses to other Feed
the Future countries such as Ethiopia
and Malawi, 2) working directly with
Soybean Innovation Lab partners to
design and integrate tailored gender
equity plans into their activities,
and 3) providing sociocultural and
gender equity support services
to in-country partners and other
development actors.
Ragsdale stated that, “One of the
most important takeaways from
working in Ghana is the importance
of community buy-in. We couldn’t
have accomplished so much during
the few short weeks we are able
to be in Ghana each year without
the incredible assistance from the
dedicated staff of our in-country
implementing partner, Catholic
Relief Services/Ghana. It is their
‘boots on the ground’ ability to build
community buy-in across multiple
sectors – from village chiefs to
directors at the Ministry of Food
and Agriculture – that allow us to
accomplish so much research during
our trips to the amazing country of
Ghana.”
Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi are
currently gearing up for the
next three years of the Soybean
Innovation Lab, which will be focused
on using R4D results to expand the
Lab’s impacts to other countries.
One way that Ragsdale and Read-
Wahidi will contribute to this process
is by using their combined survey
and focus group results from Ghana
to further inform tools and trainings
as they move forward with the
Soybean Innovation Lab 2.0 mission
of ‘Scaling for Success’ across sub-
Saharan Africa.
CRS’ Philip Atiim (center) with survey team members in
Karaga District. (photo by Kathleen Ragsdale)
26 Social Science Research Center
After a workshop at Mississippi State University, the Social Science Research Center
has established a valuable connection and relationship with the Alan Alda Center for
Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.
The Alan Alda Center for
Communicating Science was
at Mississippi State University to
conduct a workshop on effectively
communicating research this past
August. Three Social Science
Research Center (SSRC) scientists
participated in the workshop, while
The Message Laboratory located at
the SSRC collaborated with the Alda
Center to evaluate the workshop.
The Alan Alda Center, which was
founded at Stony Brook University
in 2009 by the famed M.A.S.H. star
of the same name, seeks to help
scientists and medical professionals
to better communicate complex
topics more clearly. The Alda
Center’s faculty specialize in many
fields, including improvisational
theater, communication, journalism,
medicine, public health, and more.
The workshop was centered around
helping MSU researchers and
administrators communicate more
effectively with the general public,
policy makers, media, and potential
funders and collaborators. It was
funded by the California-based Kavli
Foundation and the Mississippi-
based Robert M. Hearin Foundation.
“I think having participated in
this workshop will greatly impact
how we, as scientists, convey
our research here at the SSRC,
said Dr. Holli Seitz, an assistant
professor in the MSU Department of
Communication and Director of The
Message Laboratory at the SSRC.
“We will be able to better connect
with our audience and those we
serve with our work, and better
convey the implications of our
research findings. I hope we can
use this to improve outcomes in our
state,” she continued.
Others in attendance from SSRC
were Dr. Arthur Cosby, Director of
the SSRC, and Dr. Heather Hanna, an
Assistant Research Professor at the
SSRC and Co-Director of Mississippi
KIDS COUNT.
“Through this training on science
communication, I learned how to grab
an audience’s attention, connect
personally with the audience, and to
consider the audience’s viewpoint
when conveying messages about
my work, altering the message as
needed,” explained Hanna. “These
are skills I employ during one-on-
one conversations that I now realize
can translate to public speaking for
greater effectiveness.”
Workshop Evaluation
The Alda Center has partnered with
George Mason University and The
Message Laboratory at the SSRC
to perform an evaluation on the
effectiveness of this workshop. This
evaluation is using pre- and post-
workshop videos of participants
describing their work to determine
the effect. The Message Laboratory
has helped coordinate the recording
of these presentations for the
Alda Center, and Dr. Seitz was
subsequently brought on
as a research collaborator.
“Science communication
is one of my areas of focus,
so I volunteered to host
the recordings in our lab.
After we talked about the
research design, the Alda
Center team was kind
enough to invite me on
as a partner in the study.
This is truly an amazing
opportunity, as they have
so much expertise in the
science communication
area,” said Seitz.
The benefits of the evaluation have
the opportunity to reach further
than MSU, potentially impacting how
scientists and researchers around
the world tell their stories.
“I think the immediate takeaway
is that we get to evaluate their
unique hands-on, experiential
training in science communication
and how it improves the way that
we communicate and connect with
our audiences,” Seitz stated. “And
I think there are many possibilities
here to go beyond just effectiveness
to look at other factors that affect
how communicators appeal to their
audiences.
Dr. Laura Lindenfeld, Executive
Director of the Alan Alda Center and
professor in the School of Journalism
at Stony Brook University, oversees
the operation of the Alda Center and
A CONNECTION WITH
THE ALAN ALDA CENTER
by Alan Burns
27Annual Report 2018
the work it’s done extending to over
40,000 people.
“Our ability to empirically measure
the effects of our training is central
to what we do. We teach our
participants to shift their focus
to their audience to ensure that a
message lands,” said Lindenfeld.
“Having data that demonstrates that
this training impacts scientists and
shows how it achieves this is critical
to our work. Partnering with Dr.
Seitz has added tremendous value
to our ability to conduct cutting
edge social science research about
our training method.
The Future of Storytelling
According to Seitz, one of the most
important issues to be addressed
following the study is identifying
factors that make science
communication more effective in
Mississippi.
“Emerging data suggests there
may be rural and urban differences
in how people perceive scientific
messages, so I think looking at who
the most effective messengers for
our specific audiences are will be
a great question for future work,”
Seitz said.
“Through the work of Dr. Chris
Volpe, Executive Director of
ScienceCounts, we are able to
understand how different publics
view and form opinions about
science, and we integrate that data
into our workshops to help scientists
better understand the audiences
with whom they communicate,
Dr. Lindenfeld emphasized. “These
types of partnerships – with
ScienceCounts and the Message
Laboratory – represent a concerted
effort to elevate our ability to
work collaboratively in support of
scientists to advance the public’s
awareness of science in the US. This
is just the beginning.
“I think it is tremendous that we
have this opportunity with the
Alan Alda Center,” said Dr. Arthur
Cosby. “Establishing a research
collaboration between them and the
Message Laboratory at the SSRC
will provide a unique chance to
study science communication and
messaging.
Seitz stated that she believes this is
the beginning of a very productive
and collaborative relationship with
the Alda Center.
“I hope this is the beginning of a
strong partnership and a focus on
science communication for The
Message Laboratory,” she explained.
“I believe there is potential for us to
collaborate on projects in the future,
and working with such respected
partners will provide us with new
opportunities going forward.
A scientist at the SSRC participates in a post-workshop interview at
e Message Laboratory. (photo by Alan Burns)
28 Social Science Research Center
Most children would consider
days away from school as a
welcome vacation, but what about
the children who are taken out of
the classroom due to exclusionary
discipline policies? According to
the U.S. Department of Education,
one out of every seven students
in American public schools in 2011
experienced exclusionary discipline
such as in-school suspension (ISS),
out-of-school suspension (OSS), or
expulsion.
Recent efforts by Mississippi KIDS
COUNT, a project of the Family
and Children Research Unit (FCRU)
at the Social Science Research
Center (SSRC), sought a better
understanding of how disciplinary
policies are being used in the state’s
public schools. The team looked at
discipline policy data and surveyed
administrators and teachers from
Mississippi public schools on
the policies’ use, effectiveness,
and suggestions for alternative
strategies.
The report, officially titled “Balancing
Act: Mississippi Administrators and
Teachers Weigh in on Discipline
Policies in Schools,” followed a series
of Mississippi KIDS COUNT studies
of chronic absenteeism, defined
as missing ten percent or more of
the academic year. All have been
conducted through support from
the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s
“Following the Data” policy grants.
“Chronic absence involves un-
excused absences and excused
absences, but it also takes
suspensions into account. When
kids are suspended, either in ISS or
OSS, they are not in the classroom.
They are missing valuable instruction
time, which can impede academic
success. It’s an issue of concern
to the Mississippi Department
of Education (MDE),” said Anne
Buffington, project director.
Toni Kersh, Director of the Office
of Compulsory School Attendance
Enforcement at MDE, has worked
with Buffington, and Ben Walker,
a Research Associate in the FCRU
on the chronic absence study for
the last five years. She stated that
the initial work took a lot of effort
to properly explain due to the
complicated nature of how chronic
absence is calculated.
“It took everyone a while to realize
that the issue we were dealing
with was more than just truancy, or
unexcused absences. We had to get
everyone on the same page and that
meant getting them to understand
that the chronic absenteeism rates
are comprised of suspensions,
excused absences and unexcused
absences,” she said.
Kersh recounted that after meeting
with the KIDS COUNT team from
their work on chronic absenteeism,
she noticed something of concern in
the data.
“After I met with the KIDS COUNT
team in 2014, there was a bit of
data that stood out to me,” Kersh
continued. “The number of
kindergartners that were chronically
absent in our state was very high.
The team went back and started
unpacking that data, and they
found that it was primarily due to
suspension.”
According to Buffington, this
prompted the research team to
move from traditional chronic
absence studies to discipline
policies, suspension in particular.
Disciplinary Methods
There are five main types of discipline
practices used in the state that the
research looked at: suspension
(which includes both ISS and OSS),
detention, corporal punishment,
positive behavior interventions and
supports (PBIS), and restorative
justice. While these are the main
methods of disciplinary action used
in the state, not all are practiced in
each district or county, with some
counties having removed corporal
BALANCING ACT:
MAY 2018
Mississippi Administrators and Teachers Weigh in on Discipline Policies in Schools
A school district’s student code of conduct serves as a contract between the student and administration outlining student
expectations that, if followed, will foster a positive learning environment. Developed under the leadership of the district
administration and adopted and enforced by the local school board, the code of conduct and student handbook explain possible
disciplinary actions and consequences should disorderly conduct occur. When a student violates the code, disciplinary
policies are put into place to address the behavior exhibited. The methods of discipline and the degree of enforcement vary
widely across the U.S. K-12 landscape and even from school to school.
DISCIPLINE POLICIES IN MISSISSIPPI
In Mississippi, school suspension, detention, alternative policies, alternative education, and corporal punishment are allowable
under state law. Mississippi Code 37-11-55 requires local school boards to adopt their own disciplinary policies and make them
available to students, parents and guardians at the beginning of the academic year.
1
METHODS OF DISCIPLINE
On average, one out of every seven students in American public schools experiences exclusionary discipline: in-school
suspension (ISS), out-of-school suspension (OSS), or expulsion.
2
Expulsion and OSS remove the student, permanently or
temporarily, from the school environment. In-school suspension, in contrast, seeks to keep the student in the school
environment while removing them from the classroom. Though policies and best practices recommend using ISS classrooms
“to maintain order and safety while addressing behavioral issues without excluding students from the learning
environment”
3
, students disciplined with ISS still miss instruction time with their peers.
5HPRYLQJDVWXGHQWIURPWKHUHJXODUFODVVURRPIRUDVSHFLÀHGSHULRGRIWLPH0D\EHVHUYHGLQVFKRRO,66
or out of school (OSS), depending on the severity of the infraction, and the school’s code of conduct
Requiring a student to report to a designated area during otherwise free time (i.e., lunch, recess, free period, after
school)
Physically administering discipline, usually by means of spanking or hitting
Providing discipline plans and rewards for good behavior at the student, classroom, and school levels
Seeking to balance consequences with mending the relationship between the student and the school community after
an infraction has occurred
Suspension:
Detention:
Corporal Punishment:
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS):
Restorative Justice:
Given that disciplinary methods vary across the Mississippi public school landscape, it is important to examine how and why
they are being implemented in the classroom. Administrators and teachers are closely involved in the process and can have
valuable insight into current practices. With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, researchers at Mississippi KIDS
COUNT, a project of the Family and Children Research Unit at Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center
(SSRC) developed a web-based survey instrument to gather the perspectives of Mississippi K-12 public school administrators
and teachers on the types of discipline policies administered in their schools, the effectiveness of these policies, and their
suggestions for alternative strategies. The total number of completed surveys was 433. Additionally, researchers conducted
telephone interviews with six school administrators (i.e., superintendents, principals, and assistant superintendents) from
around the state to obtain qualitative responses that are featured within the body of this brief. The administrators’ comments
DUHUHÁHFWLYHRIWKHLUYLHZVRQGLVFLSOLQDU\SURFHGXUHVDQGPD\RUPD\QRWFRUUHVSRQGZLWKWKHNH\ÀQGLQJVIURPWKHVXUYH\
Suspension Gaps in Mississippi
A recent study by members of Mississippi KIDS COUNT and the Mississippi Department of
Education looked at disciplinary policies in Mississippi and surveyed public school administrators
and teachers to better understand how these policies are used and their eectiveness.
by Alan Burns
29Annual Report 2018
BALANCING ACT:
MAY 2018
Mississippi Administrators and Teachers Weigh in on Discipline Policies in Schools
A school district’s student code of conduct serves as a contract between the student and administration outlining student
expectations that, if followed, will foster a positive learning environment. Developed under the leadership of the district
administration and adopted and enforced by the local school board, the code of conduct and student handbook explain possible
disciplinary actions and consequences should disorderly conduct occur. When a student violates the code, disciplinary
policies are put into place to address the behavior exhibited. The methods of discipline and the degree of enforcement vary
widely across the U.S. K-12 landscape and even from school to school.
DISCIPLINE POLICIES IN MISSISSIPPI
In Mississippi, school suspension, detention, alternative policies, alternative education, and corporal punishment are allowable
under state law. Mississippi Code 37-11-55 requires local school boards to adopt their own disciplinary policies and make them
available to students, parents and guardians at the beginning of the academic year.
1
METHODS OF DISCIPLINE
On average, one out of every seven students in American public schools experiences exclusionary discipline: in-school
suspension (ISS), out-of-school suspension (OSS), or expulsion.
2
Expulsion and OSS remove the student, permanently or
temporarily, from the school environment. In-school suspension, in contrast, seeks to keep the student in the school
environment while removing them from the classroom. Though policies and best practices recommend using ISS classrooms
“to maintain order and safety while addressing behavioral issues without excluding students from the learning
environment”
3
, students disciplined with ISS still miss instruction time with their peers.
5HPRYLQJDVWXGHQWIURPWKHUHJXODUFODVVURRPIRUDVSHFLÀHGSHULRGRIWLPH0D\EHVHUYHGLQVFKRRO,66
or out of school (OSS), depending on the severity of the infraction, and the school’s code of conduct
Requiring a student to report to a designated area during otherwise free time (i.e., lunch, recess, free period, after
school)
Physically administering discipline, usually by means of spanking or hitting
Providing discipline plans and rewards for good behavior at the student, classroom, and school levels
Seeking to balance consequences with mending the relationship between the student and the school community after
an infraction has occurred
Suspension:
Detention:
Corporal Punishment:
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS):
Restorative Justice:
Given that disciplinary methods vary across the Mississippi public school landscape, it is important to examine how and why
they are being implemented in the classroom. Administrators and teachers are closely involved in the process and can have
valuable insight into current practices. With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, researchers at Mississippi KIDS
COUNT, a project of the Family and Children Research Unit at Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center
(SSRC) developed a web-based survey instrument to gather the perspectives of Mississippi K-12 public school administrators
and teachers on the types of discipline policies administered in their schools, the effectiveness of these policies, and their
suggestions for alternative strategies. The total number of completed surveys was 433. Additionally, researchers conducted
telephone interviews with six school administrators (i.e., superintendents, principals, and assistant superintendents) from
around the state to obtain qualitative responses that are featured within the body of this brief. The administrators’ comments
DUHUHÁHFWLYHRIWKHLUYLHZVRQGLVFLSOLQDU\SURFHGXUHVDQGPD\RUPD\QRWFRUUHVSRQGZLWKWKHNH\ÀQGLQJVIURPWKHVXUYH\
punishment altogether. As of 2018,
there are 16 districts that prohibit
corporal punishment in the state.
The Mississippi KIDS COUNT
team defines each of the discipline
practices in their report. Suspension
removes a student from the regular
classroom for a specified time
period, either in-school or out-of-
school, depending on the severity
of the infraction; detention requires
a student to report to a designated
area during otherwise free time;
corporal punishment involves
physically administering discipline,
usually by means of spanking
or hitting; Positive Behavioral
Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
provides discipline plans and
rewards for good behavior; and
restorative justice seeks to balance
consequences with mending the
relationship between the student
and school community after an
infraction.
Surveying Administrators and
Teachers
The data collection segment was
broken into a web-based survey and
qualitative telephone interviews. The
team also had access to data from
MDE that allowed them to know the
usage rate of the discipline policies,
primarily corporal punishment.
The web-based survey instrument,
designed by the project team, was
user-friendly with 28 questions
based on the administrators’ beliefs
and practices regarding suspension
and other disciplinary actions. Prior
to delivery, the survey was approved
by MDE.
“We wanted to find out very
basic stuff about discipline
strategies among teachers and
administrators,” said Walker. “A
lot of our policy work begins that
way, finding answers to very basic
questions: what do they think about
suspension, what are the barriers
to using alternative strategies, and
what are the principals doing in
their districts? That information
just simply isn’t available to us, this
allowed us to establish a baseline.”
The team initially delivered the
survey to 888 principals around the
state, with instructions inside that
asked them to forward it on to their
teachers and staff members. The
survey had a total of 433 responses,
almost half of the responses
identifying as teachers.
75.5%
93.3%
51.5%
62.6%
86.5%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
In-School
Suspension
Out-of-School
Suspension
Detention Corporal
Punishment
PBIS
MISSISSIPPI PRINCIPALS’ REPORTED USE
OF DISCIPLINE STRATEGIES
30 Social Science Research Center
In the follow-up piece, team
members Anne Buffington and
Lisa Long interviewed six school
administrators via telephone. Their
qualitative answers and quotes
were used throughout the report to
reflect their views on the disciplinary
practices.
“We spoke to administrators around
the state, some who are challenged
by high suspension rates in their
districts and others who have been
successful in bringing those rates
down. Their feedback was very
important; you could see that in the
quotes that we used in the report,”
said Buffington.
The Results
The final report was compiled using
both the data gathered from MDE
and the web-based survey results.
General findings showed that
schools in the state have varying
policies and uses of discipline
strategies. Over three-quarters of all
schools indicated that they used ISS,
while over 93% indicated that they
used OSS in their settings; however,
only half of the schools reported
using detention. They also found
that while over 86% use a form of
positive behavior intervention and
support (PBIS), around 60% still use
corporal punishment as an active
policy.
Regarding suspension data, a
majority (97%) of the survey
respondents indicated that their
schools tracked suspension data,
some even tracking by gender, race,
grade, disability, and infractions.
Those who were interviewed stated
that tracking this data helped them
identify causes of the behavior,
which would help future instances.
One of the most pressing findings
was Mississippi’s use of out-of-
school suspension. With at least 93%
of the principals reporting that they
used OSS, previous data collection
showed that 8% of Mississippi’s
public-school students received
OSS in the 2013-2014 school year,
compared to the national average of
only 6%. African American students
received OSS more than three times
the rate of any other race.
“This allowed us to see where
suspensions come in as a contributor
to absence and attendance issues,”
Walker explained. “Teacher and
administrators may not always make
the connection that when a student
gets suspended from school, they
are missing instructional time. And
even if they get ISS, the instructional
time they receive is just not the same
quality as in a classroom.
Currently, Mississippi is just one of 19
states that allow the use of corporal
punishment in public schools. While
16 districts have gotten rid of the
practice, 135 districts (90%) still
allow it to be used as a discipline
strategy. In just 100 of those districts
in the 2016-2017 school year, there
were almost 28,000 instances of
corporal punishment. At least 15,000
public school students received
corporal punishment at least once
during that same year. The lowest
rate of use in the state was Rankin
County at just 0.57% of students
receiving the punishment one or
Oxford
Gulfport
Jackson Public
Hattiesburg
Canton
Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated
Ocean Springs
Clinton
Meridian
Tupelo
Moss Point
Natchez-Adams
Pass Christian
Pascagoula-Gautier
Pearl River Co.
Greenville
1980
1991
1991
1999
2004
2005
2006
2012
2012
2013
2014
2014
2014
2015
2015
2018
DISTRICTS PROHIBITING CORPORAL
PUNISHMENT, BY YEAR ENACTED
District Year Enacted
Source: District Board Policies
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
5
ISS OSS Corporal
punishment
PBIS
Ineffective Very Effective
Principal
Teacher
Other
PRINCIPAL AND TEACHER RATINGS OF
DISCIPLINE STRATEGIES
31Annual Report 2018
more times, while the highest rate
was in West Jasper Consolidated at
34%.
When asked about the effectiveness
of the different policies, none of the
respondents was able to identify
any specific strategy as “highly
effective.” However, there was a
clear distinction in the beliefs of
administrators versus teachers, with
administrators believing PBIS and
suspension as more effective, in that
order, than their teachers and staff.
“What we really saw in the data
was that teachers were more in
favor of punitive strategies, whereas
principals were more inclined to
support PBIS, which is a more long-
term strategy. That method takes
a lot of time, relationship building,
and effort, but it is a more positive
strategy,” said Walker.
“When you talk about PBIS, you
should be looking at the positives
with children, not focusing on the
negatives. You don’t overlook the
negatives, but you intervene in an
effort to change them,” Kersh stated.
One of the common solutions
presented by all respondents was
that increased parental involvement
was a key to improving behavior
problems. They cited parental
accountability as a necessary
component to changing the
landscape. It is also important to note
that school personnel were overall in
favor of using alternative strategies
such as community service (66%)
and restorative justice (50%).
Looking Towards the Future
For MDE, the report is allowing
them a chance to move forward
in the state and begin tackling the
suspension gap along with chronic
absences.
“We’ve had a call to action,” said
Kersh. “Districts now are asking
what can our team do and how can
we help them use their information?
It’s like when a first storm hits, we
may not know what to do, but when
the next ones come, we knew what
to do and we knew how to prepare.
We’re jumping into action, and we’re
preparing for what will happen.
The Mississippi KIDS COUNT team
included policy considerations in
the report which they hope will help
policy makers and educators make
informed decisions in the future.
“For me, the message is for districts
going forward to carefully track their
suspension data,” Walker explained.
“We had 97% say that they tracked
it in some form, but now you need
to use that and understand what
disparities may exist in their district
and how you can correct them.
Buffington sees the need for parent,
teacher, and community involvement
when districts are designing
discipline plans and policies.
“The districts set their own discipline
policies. I believe parents have a role
too. If districts can develop programs
that increase parental involvement
and help get the word out to parents
that we’re all in this together, then
we are creating stronger districts.
Allowing parents, teachers, and
students to have a role in helping
developing policy gives them a voice
in the decision-making process,
Buffington said.
MDE official launched a chronic
absence task force in August,
which Buffington was asked to
join. Buffington explained that she
believes the team has really changed
the mindset on chronic absence in
the state, and it’s going to benefit
everyone long-term.
“The goal is for the task force to drive
the work of the agency,” Kersh said.
“This task force is looking at why
kids may be absent and developing
strategies that would be helpful to
districts. This is a working task force
that will develop a plan of action and
resources to get everyone moving in
the right direction.
Kersh also sees MDE’s top-down
approach as one of the benefits
of the way they are tackling this
problem.
“We have to have the school board
and superintendents on board if it’s
going to work. The partnership we
have with KIDS COUNT and other
entities, is because Dr. Wright is at
the forefront leading the charge. It’s
going to benefit not only the school
districts, but the communities and
businesses as well. If we have kids
performing better, we all benefit
from their success and together
we will make strides as a state. The
message has to come from the top
down,” she said.
“If our major goal is to get kids across
the stage, we should stop setting
up hurdles in front of them. If they
have to jump this hurdle, then the
next one, and another, they’re going
to get tired. We as adults even get
tired from life’s hurdles, so we can’t
expect these adolescents to jump
as many or more hurdles than we
do, and expect them to keep going,”
Kersh concluded.
For more information on Mississippi
KIDS COUNT, visit
kidscount.ssrc.msstate.edu.
32 Social Science Research Center
BIG DATA SEMINAR
IN CROATIA
by Alan Burns
This June, the Utilizing Big Data
and the Social and Policy
Sciences Seminar took place in Split
and Vis, Croatia. The 2018 seminar,
the 6th in the series, was hosted
jointly between Mississippi State
University (MSU), the University
of Zagreb, the University of Split,
George Mason University, and the
University of Applied Sciences
VERN’, Zagreb. Faculty members
from each university attend, as well
as students from George Mason
University and the local universities.
The week-long seminar allowed for
a collaboration between faculty at
the universities, as well as a chance
for an intellectual exchange of ideas
and research. Presentations and
topics covered research on social
media, politics and society, big data
methods, emergency and disaster
preparedness, sentiment analysis,
and qualitative data analysis.
Dr. Robert McMillen, a Professor
with a joint appointment with the
Social Science Research Center
and the Department of Psychology,
attended to represent MSU. For
McMillen, one of the highlights was
the interesting perspectives on big
data from the Croatian faculty and
students.
“The seminar brought together
Croatian and American social
scientists from five universities to
share and discuss their big data
analyses of social and policy issues,”
said McMillen. “In addition to the
invigorating sharing of ideas and
research, participants enjoyed
to the cultural exchange across
nationalities and institutions.
According to language from the
University of Zagreb, the seminar is
the result of an ongoing collaboration
between the five participating
universities. They hope to see the
collaboration expand in the future
with a larger network of institutions
interested in participating in the
ongoing conversation about the big
data research in social sciences.
“This was a great experience for me,
and I hope other faculty members
get to experience it in the future.
And, of course, our Croatian hosts
were presented with cowbells,
McMillen added.
Top le: Dr. Viktorija Car was presented with a cowbell during the seminar.
Bottom middle: e seminar participants toured Croatia during the trip. (photos by Robert Mcmillen)
33Annual Report 2018
Bethel Named Fulbright
US Senior Scholar
Dr. Cindy Bethel, associate
professor in MSU’s Department
of Computer Science and
Engineering and director of the
Social, Therapeutic, and Robotic
Systems (STaRS) Lab was awarded
a U.S. Fulbright Senior Scholar
Fellowship for this upcoming spring.
The Fulbright program is a key
international exchange program
that is sponsored by the U.S.
Department of State’s Bureau of
Educational and Cultural Affairs.
As described by the Bureau, the
program is “designed to increase
mutual understanding between the
people of the United States and
the people of other countries.” It is
often used by universities to send
faculty members around the world
to conduct research.
“It is such an honor to be selected
for this prestigious and highly
competitive award. I am so excited
to learn about new cultures, increase
my research knowledge, and develop
new collaborations,” said Bethel.
Bethel’s research focuses on
robotics and artificial intelligence
used for therapeutic robotics and
law enforcement applications. She
will continue her work this academic
year in Australia at the University of
Technology Sydney.
Her research in Australia will
investigate the use of TherabotTM, a
robotic dog, that she and her students
developed for therapy support. She
will be studying whether a support
system will be beneficial for people
discussing sensitive topics related to
stress and anxiety.
Bethel is also the recipient of the
Billie J. Ball Endowed Professorship
in Engineering and is a Research
Fellow with the Center for Advanced
Vehicular Systems and the Social
Science Research Center. She
received both her bachelor’s in
Computer Science and Ph.D. in
Computer Science & Engineering
from the University of South Florida.
For more information on Dr.
Bethel or her research, visit www.
cindybethel.com and www.stars.
msstate.edu.
by Alan Burns
Dr. Cindy Bethel in the Social, erapeutic & Robotic Systems Lab with
erabotTM. (photo by Beth Wynn)
34 Social Science Research Center
CIVIC LIFE LABORATORY
by Alan Burns
Can a simple board game give us
insights into the obstacles to
civil discourse that affect our current
political and social climate? The new
Civic Life Laboratory at the Social
Science Research Center believes it
can.
The Civic Life Laboratory (CLL),
created in the summer of 2018, seeks
to facilitate interdisciplinary research
to understand the issues that
prevent citizens from fully engaging
in democratic participation. The lab
was established as a partnership
between the SSRC, the Department
of Communication, and the
Department of Political Science
and Public Administration. CLL
researchers hope to show how
investigating these issues helps us
to explain how our civic bonds have
arrived at their current state and
which research-based interventions
could create more resilient civic
communities.
The CLL was founded by Dr. Melanie
Loehwing, assistant professor in the
Department of Communication, and
Dr. Brian Shoup, associate professor
in the Department of Political
Science and Public Administration.
35Annual Report 2018
They are joined by Dr. Skye Cooley,
assistant professor in the School of
Media and Strategic Communication
at Oklahoma State University,
and two undergraduate research
assistants: Ms. Krishna Desai, who
is completing a double major in
Political Science and Economics and
a minor in Spanish at MSU, and Ms.
Georgiana Swan, a double major in
Political Science and Psychology at
MSU.
The team’s current project focuses
on democratic deliberation, a
communication practice that aims
to solve problems through group
discussion and decision-making.
In order to test this, the team has
designed a fully-functioning board
game called “Rebuilding Main Street:
The Civic Mindfulness Game.
“In the summer of 2017, we came up
with the idea, rules, and structure of
the game,” said Loehwing. “We were
lucky that one of our colleagues,
Dr. Cooley, had the resources to
help us take our poster board and
construction paper version of the
game and adapt it to a polished
board game.
“The idea was that you have this
actual board game that you can take
into a community setting and have
people play it, while working on face-
to-face deliberation skills. There
has been a rise in table top gaming
in our culture recently, especially
when people started realizing that
there is a lot of enjoyment to be had
when you’re sitting around with you
friends and playing these games,
Shoup explained.
“Rebuilding Main Street” is a
10-player game where the goal is to
work together to build five structures
in a city using a limited amount of
resources. Each player is given a role
such as a teacher or city manager
and has their own goals to achieve,
but they have to figure out how to
accomplish these goals without
hindering the groups’ completion of
the overall game.
In order to win the game, five
structures must be built using four
different resources each. These
resources are controlled by the
different player roles, which requires
the group to deliberate on how to
use their common resources wisely.
However, the game doesn’t come
without its own twists.
“We’ve added in event cards to
mix the game up, think the chance
cards from Monopoly,” explained
Loehwing. “You get one of these
cards and it can change the town
conditions, either in a good or bad
way. Maybe a tornado hits your
town, or maybe you get a windfall of
capital resources to use.
Players can also receive special
advantages for convincing their
group to help them achieve
their character’s personal goals.
Completing the character’s goals
unlocks a “civic strength” that will
help the group finish the game
quicker.
“One lesson we hope the game
promotes is how to approach
rebuilding communities in a
broad sense,” Loehwing added.
“The game doesn’t function on a
basic cost-benefit analysis, and
it doesn’t let one person or one
group decide for everyone. Instead,
it creates a simulation in which
the best path forward is one that
everyone participates in, where all
perspectives are considered and
voices are heard.”
Currently, the CLL team imagines
the project in two phases. The first
phase sees the team working this fall
to bring in two groups of students
to play the game, then evaluate
their conversations from the game
sessions to see if deliberation
improves over the course of the
game. Phase two would see the
game being refined and acquiring
external funding to help the team
expand. They would like to spread it
to communities to better understand
deliberation and its effects on civic
engagement.
“The most powerful and potent thing
we can do as citizens is to develop
a core of empathy for others, to
listen to them, and to construct
a community through dialogue,
Shoup concluded. “Sometimes,
it feels like we’ve lost that in our
current moment, but we think that
we can use social science and ask
the right questions to learn how
people can activate and develop
a good citizenship for productive
uses.”
36 Social Science Research Center
New Paper Looks at Adolescent Use
of E-Cigarees A new paper published in Pediatrics looks at
adolescent use of e-cigarettes, their trends,
and the crackdown launched by the Federal
Drug Administration.
by Alan Burns
E-cigarettes, one of today’s fastest
growing fads, is the focus of a
recent paper by Dr. Robert McMillen,
Principal Investigator of Mississippi
Tobacco Data (MTD). According
to information from the Centers
for Disease Control’s (CDC) 2017
National Youth Tobacco Survey,
more than 2 million middle school,
high school, and college students
are currently using the e-cigarette
devices.
“E-cigarettes, or vapes, are battery-
powered devices that either use
cartridges or a re-fillable tank in
order to heat up liquid that produces
an inhalable nicotine vapor,
explained McMillen. “What we set
out to do with this research was to
see what kids are actually using and
prefer, so we know how better to
handle the epidemic.”
The paper, which was published
in September in Pediatrics, used
data from a longitudinal survey
conducted by the Roswell Park
Cancer Institute and funded by the
Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
and National Institutes of Health
(NIH), the Population Assessment
of Tobacco and Health. This study
monitors patterns in the tobacco
industry, as well as tobacco product
nicotine use in yearly studies.
“This was a huge survey. It
interviewed both adolescents,
younger adults, and older adults;
however, we focused on the
adolescent data and questions
surrounding the products that they
use. We found that most teenagers
that are using these products have
been migrating towards the tank
system vapes.” McMillen said.
The appeal of the tank system is both
the customization of the product
and the varying flavored liquids that
can be used. Their study of the data
from the Population Assessment of
Tobacco and Health showed that
more than two-thirds of adolescents
preferred refillable devices, as well as
more than three-quarters preferred
flavored e-cigarettes.
However, McMillen notes that
there have been some fast-paced
changes in the industry since the
survey was conducted and their
paper produced.
“Our paper is very relevant in
highlighting just how dynamic and
fast-paced this industry is at the
moment,” he said. “A paper that
was cutting edge just six months
ago, when we completed it, now
needs an addendum about the JUUL
product, which has skyrocketed in
popularity.
The JUUL, a product of JUUL
Labs released in 2015, has quickly
become one of the most popular
e-cigarette products in the last year.
According to McMillen, this product
is one of the first e-cigarettes that
is extremely efficient at producing
potent nicotine levels while being
easy to use and maintain. This,
coupled with the fact that the
product is available in several flavors
and is small and concealable, has
helped drive popularity. Nielsen,
a global measurement and data
analytics company, stated earlier
this year that JUUL controls around
72% of the e-cigarette market.
An announcement in September by
the FDA targeted JUUL Labs and
four other makers of popular vaping
devices to prove that they are being
proactive in keeping their products
out of the hands of minors. The
notice was targeted at both makers
and sellers of e-cigarettes, whom
the FDA claims has created “an
epidemic” by getting adolescents
and teenagers hooked on the
nicotine producing devices with
their flavored products.
37Annual Report 2018
Even before the FDA launched their
notices to the industry in September,
McMillen had expressed that he
believed targeting the flavored
products was going to be a key to
adolescent use prevention. He also
sees the use of flavored products
as a problem, one that has been a
popular topic surrounding the use of
e-cigarettes for years.
“I think that if we’re going to be
interested in proactive prevention
of adolescent nicotine use, we
need to focus on the products they
are using, and the data shows that
is overwhelmingly the flavored
products,” he explained.
“While the flavors are safe for
consumption orally, it becomes
a different topic when you begin
to heat those chemicals up and
ingest them by inhalation,” McMillen
continued. “These companies that
produce the flavorings that are being
used in the nicotine products are
adamant about the fact that those
products are not to be inhaled and
that doing so is at your own risk.
For now, McMillen plans to continue
monitor trends in e-cigarette use
and preferences, in order to further
develop the regulatory science
to inform policy and prevention
efforts.
Visit mstobaccodata.org for more
information on tobacco usage in
Mississippi. The journal article used
is cited below:
McMillen, R., Tanski, S., Wilson,
K., Klein, J. D., & Winickoff. J. P.
(2018). Adolescent use of different
e-cigarette products. Pediatrics.
doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-0260.
Dierent categories of e-cigarettes: an open system, rechargeable and rellable tank system (top right); an open system, rechargeable and rellable (middle le); and a
closed system, rechargeable, cartridge based (bottom right).
38 Social Science Research Center
PATHFINDERS:
Going to Class Matters
by Alan Burns
For over two decades, the award-
winning Pathfinders staff has
been working to increase awareness
among faculty and students of the
importance regular class attendance
for freshmen success. They believe
their work has been essential in
changing the culture at Mississippi
State University (MSU) regarding
the importance of regular class
attendance thus leading to better
academic performance.
The programs’ staff has been
consistent throughout its 21-year
tenure. Pathfinders started with Dr.
David McMillen as the Director and
two graduate students, Ty Abernathy
and John Edwards. After a few years,
Dr. John Edwards left the project
to coordinate the Wolfgang Frese
Survey Research Lab, while Dr. Ty
Abernathy became the On-Campus
Coordinator. The team is also joined
by Nell Valentine, Technical support
and Project Coordinator at the Social
Science Research Center (SSRC).
The program began in the fall
semester of 1998 as an internal
research project. The basis for the
project was data which indicated
that missing as few as four classes
in one course was predictive of
poor academic performance in the
freshman year.
“We began the program at the SSRC
to intervene with freshmen early in
the semester if they start missing
class,” said McMillen. “We found in
our research that absences early in
the semester were highly predictive
of not only academic success in the
freshman year, but graduation rates
six years later.”
Pathfinders relies on the timely and
accurate reporting of absences by
instructors and professors. In the
early years, accurate absence data
was difficult to obtain for large
classes where calling the roll was
a challenge. Small classes, such as
English, provided the best means of
identifying freshmen needing help.
With the recent addition of scanners
in classes of 70 or more, it has
become less likely that Pathfinders
would fail to identify students
needing help.
Housing and Residence Life has
been supportive of the Pathfinders
program since its beginning and
has allowed Pathfinders to utilize
Residence Hall Academic Assistants
(RAs) to interact directly with
freshmen missing class. Pathfinders
selects, trains, and supervises RAs
in approaching students in the
student’s residence hall for face-
to-face contact. This intervention
provides the RAs an opportunity
to discuss the importance of class
attendance with the students,
provide information about free
and available academic resources
they can utilize, and emphasize the
importance of personal responsibility
in success during college.
“One of the things that we tell
students is missing class is the first
sign of problems,” said Abernathy.
“We discuss the important of class
attendance and discuss resources
that area available for them. Those
are messages that we really try to
communicate to the students.
“I feel like part of what we do is
meaningful because it has the
opportunity to change the trajectory
of people’s lives. When we have
this opportunity to help, it’s not
just professionally rewarding, it’s
personally rewarding,” he continued.
Group 1 – Never reported to Pathfinders, no
significant absence problems as reported with
final grades for the fall semester of freshman
year.
Group 2 – Never reported to Pathfinders,
significant absence problems as reported with
final graders for the fall semester or freshman
year. Pathfinders could not help these students
because they were never brought to our
attention.
Group 3 – Reported to Pathfinders, no significant absence problem as reported with final grades for the fall semester or freshman year (these students
apparently changed their behavior after being contacte4d by Pathfinders.)
Group 4 – Reported to Pathfinders, significant absence problem as reported with final grades for fall semester of freshmen year (these students continued to
miss class after being contacted by Pathfinders.)
39Annual Report 2018
Dr. David McMillen and Dr. Ty Abernathy (center) go over Pathnders data with residence hall academic assistants at the
Social Science Research Center. (Photo by Megan Bean)
Throughout the history of the
program, there have been definitive
results that make a clear case for
emphasizing the importance of
class attendance. MSU has seen
the 6-year graduation rate increase
from 50% before the program
to 60% several years after the
launch of Pathfinders, even while
academic qualifications and ACT
scores of freshmen remained the
same. However, the years from
2014 to the present have shown a
marked increase in the academic
credentials of the freshman class,
which Pathfinders believes will have
an impact on graduation rate data
that will become available in 2020.
In recent years, McMillen had the
opportunity to work alongside
Dr. Rodney Pearson, Director of
the Center for Student Success
(CSS) at MSU. The two urged the
university to better keep track of
student attendance, which led to
the card scanning systems. This
system provided the university with
the ability to have more accurate
attendance data.
“At first, the card scanners were
only used in the larger auditoriums;
however now we also use them in
the medium size classrooms, while
smaller use classic roll calling,
McMillen said.
McMillen is also very enthusiastic
about the potential for another
increase in graduation rate due
to the rise of average ACT scores
and high school core grade point
averages (GPA) among incoming
freshmen that began in 2014.
“In 2014, the average ACT score of
freshmen rose to over 24 for the first
time. In 2018, it went up again to 25,
also 18% of the freshman class had
a high school core GPA of 4.00. We
believe the increases in academic
qualifications will have a positive
impact in the future,” he continued.
“We’re two years away from seeing
the full impact of the 2014 ACT
increase, but we’re predicting that it
will have a substantial impact on the
6-year graduation rate.”
While McMillen says MSU’s increase
in more academically qualified
freshmen is one of the main reasons
for improved academic success,
he also believes the increase in the
number of programs available to
assist students has been important.
In the last five years, more programs
became available targeted at helping
first-year students (e.g. Freshman
Year Navigators in the CSS and
supplemental instruction in some
math and science classes by the
Learning Center). These two reasons,
coupled with the administration’s
support of Pathfinders, have been
drivers of its success.
“With the support of Dr. Mark
Keenum, as well as current provost,
Dr. Judy Bonner, and past provost, Dr.
Jerry Gilbert, we’ve been able to grow
as a university. Not only have they
helped us attract talented students
at the university and created a
climate around succeeding, but
they’ve given this program a chance
to flourish and really help students,
McMillen stated.
McMillen says that the years of
association with the SSRC have
been crucial to the success.
“The technical support,
infrastructure, and supportive
attitudes at the SSRC have been
outstanding,” McMillen said.
For more information on
Pathfinders, visit www.pathfinders.
msstate.edu.
40 Social Science Research Center
Wolfgang Frese Survey
Research Laboratory
Projects conducted by the Wolfgang Frese Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) during the past fiscal year covered a broad
range of research topics. In addition to collecting data for three longitudinal studies that focused on the quality of life in the
Delta, health insurance coverage in Mississippi, and the use and control of tobacco-based products, the SRL also conducted
several surveys that focused on special populations. These included a survey of child care centers in Mississippi and a survey
of parents in Mississippi with children under the age of six. Additionally, the SRL continued to collect data for its annual client
satisfaction surveys for the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services and Mississippi Department of Mental Health.
Three general population surveys included measuring public attitudes and opinions toward increasing state taxes on tobacco
products, distracted driving due to cellphone usage, and a national survey of public attitudes toward the military and military
service. Lastly, the SRL conducted a very specific study of stakeholders’ perspectives of the oyster aquaculture industry in
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. The SRL has completed another productive year as part of the Social Science Research
Center. Dr. John F. Edwards has begun his eleventh year directing the SRL with the assistance of Laura Grandfield, Laboratory
Manager, Izzy Pellegrine, Research Associate, Amanda Gochanour and Audrey Reid, Research Assistants, and more than 50
telephone interviewers. Dr. Wolfgang Frese also continues to provide his many years of experience in his position as Emeritus
Research Professor.
Survey of Mississippi Child Care Centers
On behalf of the Family & Children Research Unit (FCRU) at the Social Science Research Center, the SRL conducted
a telephone-based survey of more than 500 child care centers in the state of Mississippi. This survey examined
the use of developmental screeners for children enrolled in daycare programs. The FCRU secured funding for this
research through the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
The Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Survey
On behalf of the Northern Gulf Institute, the SRL piloted a study with a multi-mode survey (paper, web, and telephone)
to better understand stakeholders’ perspectives regarding the present and future states of the oyster aquaculture
industry in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. This survey provided researchers with valuable information about
and the working relationships between various stakeholder groups such as oyster harvesters, processors, industry
leaders, and environmental regulators.
2017 MDMH Client Satisfaction Survey
On behalf of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (MDMH), the SRL conducted an online, tablet-based
survey of client satisfaction. For a two-week period, all clients receiving mental health services throughout the state
of Mississippi were provided with an opportunity to share their opinions about the quality of services they received
from MDMH. The results of this survey were used to improve the quality of MDMH services.
Parent Survey of Children’s Health in Mississippi
This survey was a state-specific replication of the National Survey of Children’s Health by the U.S. Health Resources
and Services Administration. This telephone-based survey included a representative sample of 1,000 parents in
Mississippi with children under the age of six. It assessed healthcare access and developmental screening for infants
and young children in Mississippi.
2017 Mississippi Vocational Rehabilitation Client Satisfaction
Survey
On a quarterly basis, the SRL conducted telephone-based interviews with approximately 250 individuals who
received vocational rehabilitation services from the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS)
during the prior 12 months. This client satisfaction data assisted the MDRS in program evaluation and development.
Survey of Proposed Mississippi Tax Increase on Tobacco Products
On behalf of the Tobacco Control Unit at the Social Science Research Center, the SRL administered a statewide
survey to examine public attitude toward a proposed increase in tax on tobacco products. This telephone-based
survey of the general public included a representative sample of 400 adults residing in the state of Mississippi.
41Annual Report 2018
2017 Distracted Driving Survey
On behalf of the Center for Mississippi Health Policy, the SRL conducted the 2017 Distracted Driving Survey. This
survey allowed researchers to gain a better understanding of behavioral patterns of Mississippi drivers, with emphasis
on distracted driving due to cellphone use. The present administration of this survey is a longitudinal measure
of changes in cellphone usage while driving with the first survey administered in 2010. Some new survey items
were added to the questionnaire to account for emerging uses of cellphones, such as the ability to read and post
messages to social media platforms. This telephone-based survey of the general public included a representative
sample of 1,000 adults residing in the state of Mississippi.
National Survey of Civilian’s Attitudes toward the U.S. Military
In collaboration with the Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership, the SRL developed a questionnaire to
measure various aspects of civilian-military relations, including the attitudes and opinions of the general public
toward the U.S. military, its practices, personnel, and military service in general. To assess changes in public opinion
over time, a number of survey items from previously administered questionnaires were also included in the present
study. This telephone-based survey of the general public included a representative sample of 1,000 adults across
the nation.
2017 Health Insurance Coverage in Mississippi
On behalf of the Mississippi Health Policy Research Center at the Social Science Research Center, the SRL conducted
the second administration of the Health Insurance Survey, with the prior version administered in 2014. This survey
examined the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of representative sample or 500 Mississippi adults between the
ages of 19 and 64 regarding health insurance coverage options and knowledge about the Affordable Care Act.
The 2017 Delta Quality of Life Survey
On behalf of The Walton Family Foundation, the SRL conducted a survey of the perceived quality of life in the Delta
that included measures related to health, safety, education, community activities, and the quality of local services.
This telephone-based survey was administered to a representative sample of 800 adults residing in Coahoma
County, Mississippi and Phillips County, Arkansas.
2017 Mississippi Social Climate Survey of Tobacco Control
On behalf of the Tobacco Control Unit at the Social Science Research Center, the SRL administered the Mississippi
Social Climate Survey of Tobacco Control. Results from this survey assisted researchers in better understanding
the degree to which people in Mississippi live in smoke free homes, work in smoke free environments, understand
the health risks of tobacco, and talk to their children about tobacco use. Funding for this research was provided by
Mississippi State Department of Health. This telephone-based survey of the general public included a representative
sample of 1,500 adults residing in the state of Mississippi.
42 Social Science Research Center
Grants & Contracts
Baird-Thomas, C. (2018, May). “Health Help Evaluation,
Mississippi Health Advocacy Program.
Buffington, A. (2017, July). “Addressing Suspension Gap in
Mississippi Public Schools,” Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Cossman, R. E. (2017, September). “Mississippi HPV
Vaccination Promotion, Year 4,” National AHEC, Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gardner, S. (2017, July). “MSQII-2 Evaluation Project,
Year 3,” Mississippi State Department of Health, Office
of Preventive Health.
Hanna, H. & Southward, L. H. (2018, January). “Mississippi
KIDS COUNT 2018,” Annie E. Casey Foundation.
McMillen, R. (2017, July). “Mississippi State University
site for the Richmond Center Administrative Core, Year
7,” American Academy of Pediatrics, Flight Attendant
Medical Research Center.
McMillen, R. & Valentine, N. (2017, July). “Surveillance and
Evaluation Services for the Mississippi Comprehensive
Tobacco Control Program,” Mississippi State Department
of Health.
Parrish, D. (2017, July). “Distracted Driving Survey in
Mississippi,” Center for Mississippi Health Policy.
Parrish, D. (2017, August). “Observational Seat Belt
Survey Site Re-Selection,” Mississippi Governor’s Office
of Highway Safety, National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration.
Seitz, H. H. (2017, October). “Advancing Undergraduate
Research in Communication Science,” Mississippi
State University Office of Research and Economic
Development.
Seitz, H. H. (2017, December). “Validation of the
Veterinary Autonomy Preference Index,” Mississippi
State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Seitz, H. H. (2018, May). “Biometrics and Psychophysiology
in the Classroom: Enhancing the Pedagogy of Message
Effects through Involvement in Applied Communication
Research,” Mississippi State University Center for
Teaching and Learning.
Sinclair, H. C., Goldberg, R., May, D. C., Stubbs-
Richardson, M., & McCleon, T. (2018, January). “When
does rejection trigger aggression? A multi-method
examination of a multi-motive model,” National Institute
of Justice.
Southward, L. H. (2017, October). “Children’s Foundation
of Mississippi Planning,” W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
Southward, L. H., Hanna, H., Baird-Thomas, C. (2017,
September). “HRSA Early Childhood Development
Health System: Implementation in a High Need State,”
University of Mississippi Medical Center, Health
Resources and Services Administration.
Ragsdale, K. (2017, October). “Focus4Teens Evaluation,
Year 3,” Mississippi First, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention.
Ragsdale, K. (2017, October). “USAID Soy Project, Year
5,” University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain, US Agency
on International Development.
Walker, B. (2018, March). “Mississippi School Health
Council Technical Assistance Project, Year 4,
Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, W. K. Kellogg
Foundation.
Baird-Thomas, C. (2016, December). “Mississippi Action
Network for Uplifting Promise (MAN UP) Evaluation,
Year 2,” Tougaloo College.
Baird-Thomas, C. (2017, May). “Health Help Evaluation,”
Mississippi Health Advocacy Program.
Bethel, C. (2017, February). “Title,” National Science
Foundation.
Buffington, A. (2016, October). “Following the Data,”
Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Buffington, A. (2017, June). “Empowering Mentors to
Promote Women’s Retention (EMPOWR), Year 4,
Women’s Foundation of Mississippi.
Cossman, R. E. (2017, May). “Mississippi HPV Vaccination
Promotion, Year 3,” National AHEC, Centers for Disease
Control.
New Projects
Ongoing Projects
43Annual Report 2018
Grants & Contracts
Gardner, S. (2016, February). “2015 Division of Youth
Services Report,” Mississippi Department of Human
Services.
Gardner, S. (2016, August). “MSQII-2 Evaluation Project,
Year 2,” Mississippi State Department of Health, Office
of Preventive Health.
Gardner, S. (2016, September). “The Business Case for
Racial Equity in Mississippi,” Altarum Institute.
Gardner, S. (2017, March). “Disproportionate Minority
Contact Report,” Mississippi Department of Public
Safety.
Gardner, S. (2017, June). “MSQII-2 Evaluation Project,
Year 3,” Mississippi State Department of Health, Office
of Preventive Health.
Ingram, R. & Cossman, R. E. (2016, December). “Social
Indicators for Environmental Scientists,” Environmental
Protection Agency.
McMillen, D. L. (2016, July). “Pathfinder, Year 18,” Office
of the Provost, Mississippi State University.
McMillen, R. (2016, July). “Richmond Center of Excellence
Data Sets,” American Academy of Pediatrics, Flight
Attendant Medical Research Center.
McMillen, R. & Valentine, N. (2016, July). “Surveillance and
Evaluation Services for the Mississippi Comprehensive
Tobacco Control Program,” Mississippi State Department
of Health.
Parrish, D. (2016, September). “Seat Belt, Motorcycle,
and Child Restraint Observational Survey Project, Year
24,” Mississippi Governor’s Office of Highway Safety
(NHTSA).
Ragsdale, K. & Read-Wahidi, M. (2016, September).
“Focus 4 Teens Evaluation, Year 2,” Mississippi First,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ragsdale, K., Peterson, L., & Reynolds, D. (2016,
September). “USAID Soy, Year 4,” University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champain, United States Agency for
International Development.
Robertson, A. A. (2016, July). “Mississippi Translational
Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal
System, Year 4,” National Institutes of Health.
Robertson, A. A. (2017, July). “Mississippi Translational
Research on Interventions for Adolescents in the Legal
System, Year 5,” National Institutes of Health.
Robertson, A. A. & Baird-Thomas, C. (2016, September).
“Evaluation Services for the Mississippi Delta Heart
Disease Project,” Mississippi Department of Health and
the Centers for Disease Control.
Robertson, A. A. (2016, December). “Mississippi State
Department of Health Asthma Control Program
Evaluation,” Mississippi State Department of Health,
Centers for Disease Control.
Robertson, A. A. (2017, January). “Evaluation of the
Second Chance Act Re-Entry Program for Adults with
Co-occuring Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Disorders,” Mississippi Department of Mental Health,
United States Department of Justice.
Seitz, H. H. (2017, April). “Using Communication Science
to Understand the Effects of Vaccine Misinformation:
What Makes it ‘Stick’?” Mississippi State University
College of Arts and Sciences.
Sinclair, H. C., Goldberg, R., May, D., & Stubbs-
Richardson, M. (2016, December). “When does rejection
trigger aggression? A multi-method examination of a
multi-motive model, Year 2,” National Institute of Justice.
Southward, L. H. & Hanna, H. (2017, January). “Mississippi
KIDS COUNT,” Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Southward, L. H. & Baird-Thomas, C. (2017, March).
“Mississippi Interactive Data Project,” W. K. Kellogg
Foundation.
Walker, B. & Pellegrine, S. E. (2017, February).
“Get2College Evaluation,” Woodward Hines Education
Foundation.
Walker, B. (2017, April). “Mississippi School Health
Council Technical Assistance, Year 3,” Partnership for a
Healthy Mississippi, W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
44 Social Science Research Center
Publications
Bethel, C. L., Henkel, Z. M., Eakin, D. K.,
May, D., & Pilkinton, M. (2017). Moving
Toward an Intelligent Interactive
Social Engagement Framework for
Information Gathering. 15th IEEE
International Symposium on Applied
Machine Intelligence and Informatics
(SAMI 2017). Herl’any, Slovakia: IEEE.
doi.org/10.1109/SAMI.2017.7880307.
Cosby, A., Rico-Méndez, G. &
Khandekar, H. (2018). Data-Intensive
Coasts: Alternatives for Human
Adaptation to Climate Change. In
L.D. Wright & C.R. Nichols (Eds.),
Tomorrow’s Coasts: Complex and
Impermanent (pp. 319-339). Cham,
Switzerland: Springer.
Drouin, O., McMillen, R., Klein, J. D.,
& Winickoff, J. P. (2017). E-cigarette
advice to patients from physicians
and dentists in the U.S. American
Journal of Health Promotion. doi.
org/10.1177/0890117117710876.
Felmlee, D. & Sinclair, H. C. (2018).
Social networks and personal
relationships. Invited chapter for A.
Vangelisti & D. Perlman (Eds.) The
Cambridge Handbook of Personal
Relationships. London, UK: Cambridge
University Press, pp. 467-480.
Fisher, J. H., Becan, J. E., Harris, P. W.,
Nager, A., Baird-Thomas, C., Hogue,
A., Bartkowski, J. P., Wiley, T., and the
JJ-TRIALS Cooperative. (2018) Using
Goal Achievement Training in Juvenile
Justice Settings to Improve Substance
Use Services for Youth on Community
Supervision. Health and Justice, 6:10.
doi.org/10.1186/s40352-018-0067-4.
Fowler, L., Neaves, T. T., Terman, J., &
Cosby, A. G. (2017). Cultural Penetration
and Punctuated Policy Change:
Explaining the Evolution of U.S. Energy
Policy. Review of Policy Research. doi.
org/10.1111/ropr.12240.
Gardner, S. K., Robertson, A. A.,
Tatch, A. & Walker, C. S. (2018).
Racial Differences in College Student
Drinking. Journal of Ethnicity in
Substance Abuse. doi.org/10.1080/1533
2640.2018.1446376.
Gardner, S. K. & Hughey, M. W. (2017).
Still the Tragic Mulatto? Manufacturing
Multiracialization in Magazine Media,
1961-2011. Ethnic and Racial Studies.
doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2017.13802
12.
Groner, J., Rule, A., McGrath-Morrow,
S., Collaco, J., Moss, A., Tanski, S.,
McMillen, R., Whitmore, R., Klein,
J. D., Winickoff, J. P., & Wilson, K.
(2018). Assessing pediatric tobacco
exposure using parent report:
comparison with hair nicotine. Journal
of Exposure Science and Environmental
Epidemiology. doi.org/10.1038/s41370-
018-0051-z.
Henkel, Z., Bethel, C. L., Kelly, J., Jones,
A., Stives, K., Buchanan, Z., Eakin, D.,
May, D. C., & Pilkinton, M. (2017). He
can read your mind: Perceptions of a
character-guessing robot. 2017 26th
IEEE International Symposium on Robot
and Human Interactive Communication
(RO-MAN). doi.org/10.1109/
ROMAN.2017.8172309.
Henkel, Z., Baugus, K., Bethel, C. L., &
May, D. C. (2018). User Expectations
of Privacy in Robot Assisted Therapy.
First Workshop on Social Robots in
Therapy: Focusing on Autonomy and
Ethical Challenges as part of the 13th
ACM/IEEE International Conference on
Human-Robot Interaction.
Hossfeld, L. & Rico-Méndez, G. (2018).
Looking for Food: Food Access, Food
Insecurity, and the Food Environment
in Rural Mississippi. Family and
Community Health, 41(2), pp. S7-S14.
Leukefeld, C. G., Cawood, M., Wiley,
T., Robertson, A. A., Fisher, J. H.,
Arrigona, N., Donohue, P., Staples-
Horne, M., Harris, P. W., Dembo, R.,
Roysden, J., & Marks, K. R. (2017). The
Benefits of Community and Juvenile
Justice Involvement in Organizational
Research. Journal of Juvenile Justice,
6(1): 112-124.
McMillen, R., McClelland, E., & Winter,
A. (2018). Smoke-Free Ordinances
in Mississippi Predict Lower
Hospital Admission Rates for Acute
Cardiovascular, Stroke, and Pulmonary
Events. Journal of the Mississippi
Medical Association, 59, 285-288.
McMillen, R., Tanski, S., Wilson, K.,
Klein, J. D., & Winickoff, J. P. (2018).
Adolescent use of different e-cigarette
products. Pediatrics. doi.org/10.1542/
peds.2018-0260.
McMillen, R., Wilson, K., Tanski, S., Klein,
J., & Winickoff, J. (2018). Adult Attitudes
and Practices Regarding Smoking
Restrictions and Child Tobacco Smoke
Exposure: 2000-2015. Pediatrics. doi.
org/10.1542/peds.2017-1026F.
Nelson, S. L. & Stubbs-Richardson,
M. (Forthcoming). Incarceration
of immigrants. Entry in American
Prisons and Jails: An Encyclopedia of
Controversies and Trends. (Eds.) Worley
V. & Worley, R.
Rico-Méndez, G. (2017). ZIDRES Law:
Emergent Normative Foundation of
State Legitimacy in Rural Areas in
Colombia. Ciudad Paz-ando, 10(1).
doi.org/10.14483/udistrital.jour.
cpaz.2017.1.axx.
Rico-Méndez, G., Cosby, A. G., &
Mohanty, S. (2018). Obamacare on
Twitter: Online Political Participation
and its Effects on Polarisation. Teorija In
Praksa, 55(2), pp. 419-444.
Robertson, A. A. & Walker, C. S.
(2018). Predictors of Justice System
Involvement: Maltreatment and
Education. Child Abuse & Neglect. doi.
org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.12.002.
Robertson, A. A., McKinney, C.,
Walker, C., & Coleman, A. (2018). Peer,
social media, and alcohol marketing
influences on college student drinking.
Peer Reviewed & Book Chapters
45Annual Report 2018
Publications
Journal of American College Health. doi.
org/10.1080/07448481.2018.1431903.
Robertson, A. A., Morse, D. T., Hood,
K., & Walker, C. (2017). Measuring
Alcohol Marketing Engagement: The
Development and Psychometric
Properties of the Alcohol Marketing
Engagement Scale. Journal of Applied
Measurement, 18(1): 87-99.
Sales, J. M., Wasserman, G., Elkington,
K. S., Lehman, W., Gardner, S.,
McReynolds, L., Wiley, T., & Knudsen,
H. (2018). Perceived Importance of
Substance Use Prevention in Juvenile
Justice: A Multi-Level Analysis. Health
and Justice, 6(1): 12-20. doi.org/10.1186/
s40352-018-0070-9.
Seitz, H. H., Schapira, M. M., Gibson, L.,
Skubisz, C., Mello, S., Armstrong, K., &
Cappella, J. N. (2017). Explaining the
effects of a decision intervention on
mammography intentions: The roles of
worry, fear, and perceived susceptibility
to breast cancer. Psychology & Health.
doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2017.1387
261.
Stives, K. L., May, D. C., Pilkinton,
M., Bethel, C. L., & Eakin, D. K.
(2018). “Strategies to Combat
Bullying: Parental Responses to
Bullies, Bystanders, and Victims.
Youth and Society Journal. doi.
org/10.1177/0044118X18756491.
Stubbs-Richardson, M., Rader, N.
E., & Cosby, A. G. (2018). Tweeting
rape culture: Examining portrayals of
victim blaming in discussions of sexual
assault cases on Twitter. Feminism
& Psychology, 28(1), 90-108. doi.
org/10.1177/0959353517715874.
Stubbs-Richardson, M., Sinclair, H.
C., Goldberg, R. M., Ellithorpe, C. N.,
& Amadi, S. C. (2018). Reaching Out
versus Lashing Out: Examining Gender
Differences in Experiences with and
Responses to Bullying in High School.
American Journal of Criminal Justice,
43(1), 39-66.
Torok, M., Winickoff, J. P., McMillen,
R., Klein, J., & Wilson, K. (2017).
Prevalence and location of tobacco
smoke exposure outside the home in
adults and children in the United States.
Journal of Community Health. doi.
org/10.1016/j.puhe.2017.07.014.
Wilson, K., Torok, M., McMillen, R.,
Klein, J., Levy, D., & Winickoff, J. P.
(2017). Tobacco Smoke Incursions
and Resident Satisfaction in
Multiunit Housing with Children.
Public Health Reports. doi.
org/10.1177/0033354917732767.
Yigit, I. & Tatch, A. (2018). Syrian
Refugees and Americans: Perceptions,
Attitudes and Insights. American
Journal of Qualitative Research, 1(1):
13-31.
Baird-Thomas, C. (2018). MANUP!
Year II Evaluation Report. Publication
developed for Owens Health and
Wellness Center, Tougaloo College.
Baird-Thomas, C. (2018). Health Help
Mississippi, Get Covered Mississippi
2017 Evaluation Report. Publication
developed for the Mississippi Health
Advocacy Program.
Buffington, A., Long, L., Walker, B.
H., Barr, S. G., & Ingram, L. (2018).
Balancing act: Mississippi administrators
and teachers weigh in on discipline
policies in school. Policy brief funded
by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
https://kidscount.ssrc.msstate.edu/
data-research/mississippi-kids-count/
mississippi-kids-count-reports/.
Burns, M. A. & McKee, D. (2017). 2017
SSRC Annual Report. Social Science
Research Center, Mississippi State
University.
Gardner, S. K. (2018). MSQII-2
Evaluation Report. Publication
developed for the Mississippi State
Department of Health, Heart Disease
and Stroke Prevention Program.
Gardner, S. K. & Tatch, A. (2018).
2017 DYS Annual Report. Publication
developed for the Division of Youth
Services, Mississippi Department of
Human Services.
Gardner, S. K. & Tatch, A. (2018). An
Assessment of Disproportionate Minority
Contact in Mississippi’s Juvenile Justice
System. Publication developed for the
Office of Justice Programs, Division
of Public Safety Planning, Mississippi
Department of Public Safety.
Hossfeld, L., Rico-Méndez, G. & Russell,
K. (2018). Accessing Government
Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged
Farmers. Prepared for the USDA –
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and
Ranchers Policy Research Center,
Alcorn State University.
Mississippi Data Project Team. (2017).
Child Health Report.
https://msdataproject.com/wpcontent/
uploads/2018/01/Mississippi_Child_
Health.pdf.
Mississippi Data Project Team.
(2018). Education Suspended: The
Consequences of School Suspension
on Student Dropout. Policy Brief
developed for the W.K. Kellogg
Foundation. https://msdataproject.
com/wpcontent/uploads/2018/02/
SuspensionConsequences-2-2.pdf.
Mississippi Data Project Team.
(2018). Enhancing Child Well-Being
in Mississippi: A guide to Improving
KIDS COUNT Outcomes and Rankings.
https://msdataproject.com/wpcontent/
uploads/2018/05/WhatWouldItTake_
Final.pdf.
Mississippi Data Project Team. (2018).
Mississippi’s Children: Five-Year Trend
Report. https://www.dropbox.com/s/
p1zpldfawrn7lxe/5-Year-Trend.Final.pdf.
Project & Policy
Publications
46 Social Science Research Center
Publications
Mississippi KIDS COUNT Team. (2018).
Mississippi KIDS COUNT 2018 Fact
Book. Social Science Research Center,
Mississippi State University. https://
kidscount.ssrc.msstate.edu/wp-
content/uploads/2018/02/2018_KC_
Factbook.pdf.
Mississippi KIDS COUNT Team,
including Buffington, A., Long, L.,
Walker, B., Barr, S. G. (2018). Balancing
Act: Mississippi Administrators and
Teachers Weigh in on Discipline Policies
in Schools. Policy Brief developed
for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
https://kidscount.ssrc.msstate.edu/
wp-content/uploads/2018/06/KC-
Balancing-Act-Brief-1-1.pdf.
Mississippi Data Project Team. (2018).
Quality makes a Difference: An overview
of Licensure Violations in Mississippi’s
Child Care Centers in 2016. Policy
Brief developed for the W.K. Kellogg
Foundation. https://msdataproject.
com/wpcontent/uploads/2018/02/
ChildcareViolationsBrief-
FINAL-1_10_18-1.pdf.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018). 100%
Smoke-free communities in Mississippi.
Social Science Research Center,
Mississippi State University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018). JUUL
- Smoking evolved. Social Science
Research Center, Mississippi State
University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018).
Raising the age of purchase to 21. Social
Science Research Center, Mississippi
State University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018).
Support for smokefree air. Social
Science Research Center, Mississippi
State University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018).
State rankings report. Social Science
Research Center, Mississippi State
University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018). The
Mississippi youth tobacco survey (1998-
2017). Social Science Research Center,
Mississippi State University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018). The
university survey of tobacco control:
Mississippi State University (2017).
Social Science Research Center,
Mississippi State University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018). The
university survey of tobacco control:
University of Mississippi (2017). Social
Science Research Center, Mississippi
State University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2018). The
university survey of tobacco control:
University of Southern Mississippi
(2017). Social Science Research Center,
Mississippi State University.
Mississippi Tobacco Data. (2017).
Mississippi state tobacco taxes. Social
Science Research Center, Mississippi
State University.
Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M. R., Reid,
A., & Swiderski, K. (Forthcoming).
Focus4Teens YR2 Evaluation: YR2
Interviews with Multi-Level Staff of
Aaron E. Henry Community- and School-
based Health Clinics. Mississippi First
and the Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention. Social Science Research
Center, Mississippi State University.
Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M. R.,
& Reid, A. (2017). Focus4Teens YR1
Evaluation: Summary Report. Mississippi
First and the Centers for Disease
Control & Prevention. Social Science
Research Center, Mississippi State
University.
Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M. R., Rico-
Méndez, G., Mubichi, F., Quinhentos,
M. D. L., Findeis, J., & Keane, R. (2017).
WEAI+: Women’s Empowerment in
Agriculture Index Specialized for
Smallholder Soybean Farmers. Social
Science Research Center, Mississippi
State University.
Ragsdale, K. & Read-Wahidi, M. (2018).
Feed the Future Soybean Innovation
Lab: Gender Equity Research Brief.
Social Science Research Center,
Mississippi State University. https://
ssrc.msstate.edu/wp-content/
uploads/2018/01/Ragsdale-Read-
Wahidi_SIL-MSU-1Pager_010218.pdf.
Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M.,
Swiderski, K., & Reid, A. (2018).
Soybean Uptake and Network Survey
Results—Ghana. Video. USAID and the
Feed the Future Soybean Innovation
Lab. Social Science Research Center,
Mississippi State University. https://
mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#searchsu
ns+video+/15ec5bc1a9955834?projec
tor=1.
Ragsdale, K. & Read-Wahidi, M. R.
(2018). Focus4Teens Evaluation Results:
YR1-YR3 Technical Brief. Social Science
Research Center, Mississippi State
University.
Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M. R., Reid,
A., & Swiderski, K. (2018). Focus4Teens
YR2 Evaluation Results: Aaron E. Henry
Community- and School-Based Health
Centers. Teen Health Mississippi and
the Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention. Social Science Research
Center, Mississippi State University.
Read-Wahidi, M. R., Ragsdale, K., Reid,
A., & Swiderski, K. (2018). Focus4Teens
YR2 Evaluation: YR2 Youth Serving
Organization Interviews. Mississippi
First and the Centers for Disease
Control & Prevention. Social Science
Research Center, Mississippi State
University.
Project & Policy Publications (cont.)
47Annual Report 2018
48 Social Science Research Center
Presentations
Abernathy, T., & Dunn, L. (2017,
November). Strategies for improving
student success by partnering with
residence life. MAHO – Mississippi
Association of Housing Officers,
Starkville, MS.
Abernathy, T. (2017, August).
Pathfinders Program Overview. Invited
presentation at the Mississippi State
University Department of Housing and
Residence Life.
Abernathy, T. (2017, August).
Pathfinders Program Overview. Invited
presentation at the Mississippi State
University Holmes Cultural Diversity
Center.
Abernathy, T. & McMillen, D. (2017,
August). Pathfinders Program Overview.
Invited presentation at the Mississippi
State University Department of English.
Booth, R. (2018, April). Early and Later
Childhood Combustible Smoking Impact
on E-Cigarette Trying. Presented at the
National Conference on Undergraduate
Research at the University of Central
Oklahoma, Edmond, OK.
Booth, R. (2018, April). Early and Later
Childhood Combustible Smoking Impact
on E-Cigarette Trying. Presented at
the Stanford Research Conference at
Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
Buffington, A. (2018, June). Peer
mentoring can make a difference:
How EMPOWR can impact student
achievement at the community college
level. Presented at the Mississippi
Community College Academic Officers
Annual Conference, Philadelphia, MS.
Buffington, A., Long, L., & Walker, B.H.
(2018, June). Disciplinary procedures
in Mississippi’s public schools: what
the educators have to say. Presented
to Mississippi State Superintendent
of Education, Dr. Carey Wright and
administrative team, Jackson, MS.
Cossman, R. E. (2017, August). Social
Dimensions of Nutrient Reduction:
State-Level Progress. Presented
at the Mississippi Department of
Environmental Quality Environmental
Education Training Conference, Biloxi,
MS.
Cossman, R. E. (2017, September).
When the Doctor Can See You
Depends: Differing County Level Access
to Health Care in Mississippi. Presented
at the University of Memphis Sciences
Colloquium series, Memphis, TN.
Cossman, R. E. (2018, April). How
Important Are Stakeholders and Can
Their Impacts Be Measured? Invited
plenary at the Mississippi Water
Resources Conference, Jackson, MS.
Cossman, R. E. (2018, May). Geography
as the Mitigating Factor in Health
Outcomes, Treatment, Access and
Recruitment: Four Studies. Presented at
the Health Systems Research Forum,
University of Tennessee Health Science
Center, Memphis, TN.
Cossman, R. E. (2018, June). Social
Indicators Report – Year 1 Findings.
Presented at Civic Engagement
Workshop, Biloxi, MS.
Ellithorpe, C. E. & Sinclair, H. C.
(2018, March). Say Something vs. Say
Nothing: Assessing Costs of Voicing
Disapproval for Romantic Relationships
vs. Friendships. Poster presented at
the Society for Personality and Social
Psychology Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Emery, S., Kostygina, G., Tran, H., Ahn,
R., McMillen, R., Gorzkowski, J., &
Wilson, K. (2018, May). #Hightimes:
Marijuana-Related Content on Twitter:
Policy Promotion, Health Claims, and
Youth Targeting. Poster presented at
the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies
Conference, Toronto, ON.
Emery, S., Kostygina, G., Tran, H., Ahn,
R., McMillen, R., Gorzkowski, J., &
Wilson, K. (2018, June). #Hightimes:
Marijuana-Related Content on Twitter:
Policy Promotion, Health Claims, and
Youth Targeting. Presented at the 2018
Utilizing Big Data and the Social and
Policy Sciences Seminar, Split and Vis,
Croatia.
Gardner, S. & Gray, B. (2017,
September). Leflore County Youth Court
HIV/STI Pilot Study. Presented at the
Mississippi Public Health Association
Conference, Jackson, MS.
Gardner, S., Walker, C., Robertson,
A. A. & Tatch, A. (2017, August). Keg
Stand, Keg Stand: Racial Differences in
Drinking Motives, Protective Strategies,
and the Relationship with Alcohol
Problems. Presented at the Annual
Meetings of the Society for the Study
of Social Problems. Montreal, Quebec
Canada.
Giron-Legarda, J., Stubbs-Richardson,
M., May, D. C., & Sinclair, H. C. (2017,
October). Predicting Cyberbullying in
Mississippi: The Impact of Alienation,
Belonging, and Social Media. Presented
at the Mid-South Sociological
Association, Chattanooga, TN.
Giron-Legarda, J., May, D. C., Stubbs-
Richardson, M., & Sinclair, H. C. (2018,
February). Examining the Relationship
between Offline Bullying and
Cyberbullying in an Impoverished Rural
High School. Presented at the Academy
of Criminal Justice Sciences in New
Orleans, LA.
Gochanour, A., Ragsdale, K., Seitz,
H. H., Reid, A., & Harper, S. K. (2017,
November). Infant feeding styles and
use of online infant health resources
among minority teen/young mothers:
EBaby4U survey results. Presented at
the American Public Health Association
annual meeting, Atlanta, GA.
Guttmann, K., DeMauro, S., Flibotte,
J., & Seitz, H. (2017, October). A
qualitative analysis of parental
perspectives on diagnosis and prognosis
of NICU graduates with cerebral palsy.
Presented at the 39th Annual Meeting
of the Society for Medical Decision
Making, Pittsburgh, PA.
49Annual Report 2018
Presentations
Guzman, S., Cossman, R. E., and
Ingram, R. (2017, July). Social Indicators:
An Innovative Metric to Monitor Nutrient
Reduction Strategies. Presented at the
2017 Arkansas Water Resources Center
Annual Water Conference, Fayetteville
Town Center, Fayetteville, AR.
Hanna, H. L. & Stouffer, C. (2018,
April). Mississippi KIDS COUNT Plenary
Session Presentation. Presented at the
38th Annual Social Work Conference,
Mississippi Valley State, MS.
Herring, L., Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi,
M. R. (2018, April). Exploring Food
Insecurity Congruence among Husband-
Wife Dyads Using the Household
Hunger Scale: Occasional, Moderate,
and Severe Hunger among Small-scale
Men and Women Farmers in Rural
Ghana. Presented at the Spring 2018
Undergraduate Research Symposium,
Mississippi State University, MS.
Kaseeska, K., Klein, J. D., Gorzkowski,
J., Unger, R., Levy, S., Craig, J., McMillen,
R., Pearson, S., Wilson, K., & Shone,
L. (2018, May). Developing a 5As brief
Marijuana Intervention for Casual
Marijuana Users. Presented at the
2018 Pediatric Academic Societies
Conference, Toronto, ON.
Khandekar, H. (2017, August). Active
Referral for Food Insecurity in Pediatric
Populations: Pilot Study. Poster
presented at the Strong Children’s
Research Center at the University of
Rochester Medical Center, Rochester,
NY.
Laudadio, M. (2018, April). Using
publicly available comments on
Facebook to ascertain public opinion
about international adoption. Poster
presented at the National Conference
on Undergraduate Research, Edmond,
OK.
Lower, K., Ragsdale, K., Read-
Wahidi, M. R., & Yarbrough, T. (2018,
February). CDC Focus4Teens Initiative:
Focus Groups with Mississippi Delta
Youth Assess Barriers to Sexual
& Reproductive Health Services.
Presented at the 2018 MSU Graduate
Research Symposium, Mississippi State
University, MS.
Lower, K., Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi,
M. R., & Yarbrough, T. (2018, June).
Food Insecurity among Smallholder Men
and Women Farmers in Rural Ghana:
Household Hunger Scale Results. Poster
presented at the 2nd Annual Mississippi
Academy of Sciences summer Student
Science Symposium, Mississippi State
University, MS.
McClelland, E. (2017, October). An
Update from Mississippi Tobacco Data.
Invited Presentation to the Mississippi
Tobacco Control Network.
McClelland, E. (2018, March). An Update
from Mississippi Tobacco Data. Invited
Presentation to the Mississippi Tobacco
Free Coalitions Quarterly Training.
McClelland, E. (2018, March). An Update
from Mississippi Tobacco Data. Invited
Presentation to the Tobacco Advisory
Council.
McClelland, E. (2018, May). An Update
from Mississippi Tobacco Data. Invited
Presentation to the Mississippi Tobacco
Control Network.
McMillen, R. (2017, July). Product
Preferences Among Light and Regular
Adolescent E-cigarette Users: Results
from the PATH Study. Presented at
the American Academy of Pediatrics
Tobacco Consortium Summer Meeting
at the AAP Headquarters, Elk Grove
Village, IL.
McMillen, R. (2017, October). Nicotine &
Mississippi. Invited Lunch Presentation
at the 2017 Annual Conference of the
Mississippi Public Health Association.
McMillen, R., Tanski, S., Wilson, K., Klein,
J. D., & Winickoff, J. P. (2017, November).
Product preferences among light and
regular adolescent e-cigarette users:
Results from the first wave of the PATH
Study. Poster presented at the 144th
Annual Conference of the American
Public Health Association, Atlanta, GA.
McMillen, R., Klein, J. D., Wilson,
K., Winickoff, J. P., & Tanski, S.
(2018, February). E-Cigarette Use
is Associated with Future Cigarette
Initiation Among Never Smokers
and Relapse Among Distant Former
Smokers: Results from Two Waves of
the PATH Study. Presented at the 2018
Society for Research on Nicotine and
Tobacco Annual Meeting, Baltimore,
MD.
McMillen, R., Wilson, K., Gorzkowski,
J., Winickoff, J. D., & Klein, J. D. (2018,
May). E-Cigarette Use and Motivation
for Use Predicts Future Cigarette
Smoking Among Youth. Presented at
the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies
Conference, Toronto, ON.
McMillen, R., Gorzkowski, J., Wilson,
K., Klein, J. D., & Winickoff, J. D.
(2018, May). Smoke-Free Homes are
Associated with Better Health and
Fewer ER Visits. Presented at the
2018 Pediatric Academic Societies
Conference, Toronto, ON.
Nelson, S., Sinclair, H. C., Stubbs-
Richardson, M., May, D. C., Goldberg,
R., & McCleon, T. (2017, October).
“Us Against the World”: An Overview
of Groups and Bullying using Findings
from the Reasons for Retaliation
Project. Presented at the Mid-South
Sociological Association, Chattanooga,
TN.
Nelson, S., Stubbs-Richardson, M.,
& Sinclair, H. C. (2018, March). The
Frenemy Online is Still a Friend Offline:
Examining Responses to Relational
Aggression in Cyber Contexts. Poster
presented at the Society for Personality
and Social Psychology Conference,
Atlanta, GA.
Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M. R.,
Lower, K., & Yarbrough, T. (2018,
February). CDC Focus4Teens Initiative:
Focus Groups with Mississippi Delta
Youth Assess Barriers to Sexual
50 Social Science Research Center
Presentations
& Reproductive Health Services.
Presented at the 2018 MSU Graduate
Research Symposium, Mississippi State
University, MS.
Ragsdale, K. & Read-Wahidi, M. R.
(2018, March). “Life is not fair, but
we can make it more fair”: Assessing
Gender Responsive Agricultural
Development in the Feed the Future
Soybean Innovation Lab. International
Development (CO 4253), Department
of Anthropology and Middle Eastern
Cultures, Mississippi State University,
Starkville, MS.
Read-Wahidi, M. R., Ragsdale, K., Lower,
K., Yarbrough, T., Feher, E., Crenshaw,
H., Miller, S., Coleman, M., Williams,
P., Mueller, T., Tevendale, H., Brittain,
A., & Koumans, E. (2018, June). The
Teen Health MS and CDC Focus4Teens
Initiative to Reduce Pregnancy among
Mississippi Delta Teens: Results from
YR1 Youth Focus Groups. Presented
at the 2018 Delta Directions Regional
Forum, Clarksdale, MS.
Reid, A., Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi,
M. R., Feher, E., Miller, S., Coleman, M.,
Middleton, D., Mueller, T., & Tevendale,
H. (2018, April). Using In-depth
Interviews to Explore Multi-level Factors
Associated with Teen Pregnancy in the
Mississippi Delta: Unique Insights from
Social/Behavioral Support Providers
Serving Local Youth. Presented at the
2018 Conference on Adolescent Health,
Ypsilanti, MI.
Rico Méndez, G. (2017, July). Big Data
and Social Media: Big Questions for
Democracy. Presented at the Delta
Regional Forum: Population Health,
Development, and Entrepreneurial
Problem Solving, Clarksdale, MS.
Rico Méndez, G. & Medina Frias, G.
(2018, March). Agricultural Policies
in Colombia: The Dilemma between
Food Security and Commodity–Export
Agriculture (Case Study of Tolima,
Colombia). Presented at the 19th
Annual World Bank Conference on
Land and Poverty: Land Governance in
an Interconnected World, Washington,
DC.
Rico Méndez, G., Ragsdale, K. & Read-
Wahidi, M. R. (2018, March). Exploring
Gender-Biased Customary Land Tenure
Systems in Ghana: Results from Focus
Groups with Men and Women Farmers
in the Northern Region. Presented at the
19th Annual World Bank Conference on
Land and Poverty: Land Governance in
an Interconnected World, Washington,
DC.
Robertson, A. A., Gardner, S., Pankow,
J. & Joe, G. (2018, February). Recidivism
of Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice
System. Presented at 2018 Academy
of Criminal Justice Sciences Annual
Meeting, New Orleans, LA.
Schapira, M. M., Hubbard, R., Seitz, H.
H., Conant, E., Schnall, M., Cappella, J.,
…Armstrong, K. (2017, October). The
impact of a risk-based decision aid on
age of first mammogram: Results of
a randomized clinical trial. Presented
at the 39th Annual Meeting of the
Society for Medical Decision Making,
Pittsburgh, PA.
Schapira, M. M., Lipkus, I., Seitz, H. H.,
Armstrong, K., Conant, E., Schnall, M.,
…Hubbard, R. (2017, October). The role
of felt ambiguity and anticipated regret
in breast cancer screening decisions.
Poster presented at the 39th Annual
Meeting of the Society for Medical
Decision Making, Pittsburgh, PA.
Seitz, H. H., & Kaplan, B. (2018, April).
Cannabidiol in the news: Nature of
coverage, inclusion of health effects,
and use of exemplars. Poster presented
at the Kentucky Conference on Health
Communication, Lexington, KY.
Sinclair, H. C. (2018, March). When
Groups Alienate: Conceptualizing
Bullying as Intergroup Conflict. Poster
presented at the Society for Personality
and Social Psychology Conference,
Atlanta, GA.
Southward, L., Baird-Thomas, C.,
Hanna, H., & Stouffer, C. (2018, May).
WKKF Place Scan – Virtual Learning
Day. Live Webinar presenters for a
multi-state venue on the W.K Kellogg
Foundation Mississippi Data Project &
Mississippi KIDS Count projects.
Stives, K., Cooper, W., May, D., Pilkinton,
M., Bethel, C., Henkel, Z., & Eakin, D.
(2018, February). Comparing Robot and
Human Interviewers in Disclosure of
Bullying Experiences among Children.
Paper presented at the Annual
Meetings of the Academy of Criminal
Justice Sciences, Juvenile Justice:
Schools and Crime session, New
Orleans, LA.
Stubbs-Richardson, M. (2017). Digital
Activism on Twitter: The Case of
Hurricane Sandy. Presented at the
Delta Directions Forum: Population,
Development, and Entrepreneurial
Problem Solving, Clarksdale, MS.
Stubbs-Richardson, M. & Nelson, S.
(2017, September). Bully Stoppers: An
Overview of Types of Bullying and How
to Take Action in Your Community.
Presented at the Bully Stoppers Action
Summit, Starkville, MS.
Stubbs-Richardson, M. (2017,
October). Strain among Bullying
Victims: Considering the Effect of
Alternative Relationships on Prosocial,
Asocial, and Antisocial Responses to
Physical, Verbal, Relational, and Cyber
Bullying. Presented at the Mid-South
Sociological Association, Chattanooga,
TN.
Stubbs-Richardson, M., May, D. C.,
Wells, M., Sinclair, H. C., Sellers, J.,
McCleon, T., & Goldberg, R. (2017,
November). Examining Responses to
Rejection among Students in a High
School Setting. Presented at the
National Institute of Justice Panel at
the American Society of Criminology,
Philadelphia, PA.
Stubbs-Richardson, M., Nelson, S.,
Harris, C., Haynes, S., Richardson,
J., & Cosby, A. (2018, January). A
51Annual Report 2018
Presentations
Spatial Analysis of Rape Culture News
Events on Twitter. Presented at the
Sociologists for Women in Society,
Atlanta, GA.
Stubbs-Richardson, M. & Nelson, S.
(2018, March). Bulldogs Against Sexual
Violence, 2018. Mississippi State
University, Starkville, MS.
Stubbs-Richardson, M., Sinclair, H. C.,
Goldberg, R., & Ellithorpe, C. E. (2018,
March). Not such mean girls after all:
Comparing teens’ experiences with and
responses to bullying. Poster presented
at the Society for Personality and
Social Psychology Conference, Atlanta,
GA.
Tatch, Andrew. (2017, October). Basic
Socio-Demographic Differences in
Findings from the 2008 National Survey
of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and
Behaviors. Presented at the Annual
Meetings of the Mid-South Sociological
Association, Chattanooga, TN.
Tatch, Andrew. (2017, October). Looking
Beyond the Individual: Examining
Contextual Covariates of Impaired
Driving in Mississippi. Presented at the
Annual Meetings of the Association
of Applied and Clinical Sociology,
Cleveland, OH.
Tatch, A. (2018, February). Race
and Gender Moderate the Positive
Association between Depressive
Symptoms and Hazardous Alcohol
Consumption Among DUI Offenders.
Presented at the Annual Meeting of
the Alabama-Mississippi Sociological
Association, Montgomery, AL.
Utley, J. W. & Sinclair, H. C. (2018,
March). Attachment & Aggression:
Examining peer attachment and
bullying in a longitudinal survey of high
school students. Poster presented at
the Society for Personality and Social
Psychology Conference, Atlanta, GA.
Valentine, N. & McMillen, R. (2018,
March). Healthy Childbearing and the
Role of Tobacco Control. Presented
at the 2018 Mississippi Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics Conference,
Hattiesburg, MS.
Yarbrough, T., Ragsdale, K., Read-
Wahidi, M. R., Lower, K., Feher, E.,
Miller, S., Hines, M. S. (2018, April).
Perspectives from Parents in the
Mississippi Delta: How Parents Engage
Teens in Sexual and Reproductive
Health Communication. Poster
presented at the Spring 2018
Undergraduate Research Symposium,
Mississippi State University, MS.
Ziogas, I. (2018, March). The Rise of
European Populism: Political Extremism
and the Economic Crisis. Invited
presentation at the University of
Florida, Gainesville, FL.
Ziogas, I. (2018, June). Civic
Engagement and Environmental
Stewardship – Causes, Effects, and
Indicators of Civilian Involvement.
Presented at the Civic Engagement
Workshop, Biloxi, MS.
52 Social Science Research Center
Awards & Recognitions
Sarah Gresham Barr was selected as a Robert W. Woodruff
Fellow in Theology and Ministry at Emory University’s
Candler School of Theology, where she will start her Masters
of Divinity this fall.
Dr. Cindy Bethel gave a speech to Congress on December
12th about the future of artificial intelligence based on
her research projects at Mississippi State University.
The speech was given before the Senate Committee on
Commerce, Science, & Transportation’s subcommittee on
Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet.
Details of her speech and the panel were featured in multiple
papers and news outlets: WJLA, Y’all Politics, CIO Divide,
GCN, MeriTalk, and the Daily Journal.
Dr. Cindy Bethel was the recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Senior
Scholar award. A story on her award and her future plans
was featured on the Mississippi State Newsroom: https://
www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2018/03/msus-bethel-
chosen-fulbright-scholar/.
Dr. Cindy Bethel’s research with the Social, Therapeutic
and Robotics Systems Lab (STaRS) was featured in an NBC
article on AI: https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/
why-scientists-are-teaching-robot-hug-ncna882026.
Alan Burns won an Award of Excellence from the Southern
Public Relations Federation’s Lantern Awards for his work on
the 2016 SSRC Annual Report.
Alan Burns was recognized for his work at the 2018 Public
Relations Association of Mississippi State Conference. He
received a PRism Award for his work on the 2017 SSRC
Annual Report.
Dr. Heather Hanna and Mississippi KIDS COUNT were
featured in a Clarion-Ledger story, “Inequity in Mississippi as
clear as black and white.” https://www.clarionledger.com/
story/news/local/2017/10/24/inequity-mississippi-clear-
black-and-white-report/783103001/
Dr. Heather Hanna and Mississippi KIDS COUNT were
quoted in multiple news outlets on Mississippi’s progress
in the 2018 National KIDS COUNT Data Book: WREG,
Mississippi Public Broadcasting, WCBI, the Daily Journal, and
the Clarion Ledger.
Laura Herring, intern for Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale, was
awarded three honors at the Spring Undergraduate Research
Symposium including: first place in Social Sciences category
for Visual Displays, first place in Arts & Humanities/
Social Sciences for the Community Engagement Research
Track, and third place (tied) in the Public Health Research
Competition.
Hasna Khandekar and Nia Sims received the first
Greenberg Scholarship Award. The award was presented at
the SSRC Open House by Dr. Linda Southward on October
26, 2017.
Marisa Laudadio was accepted to the prestigious
2018 Harvard Kennedy School Public Policy Leadership
Conference for Freshmen and Sophomores in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. This three-day program focuses on exposing
first- and second-year college students to graduate
programs in public policy, career opportunities, and
fellowships. Over 800 students from 220 different colleges
and universities applied to attend the conference this year,
and only 73 students were selected.
Marisa Laudadio won first place in the humanities poster
division at the Mississippi State Honors Conference in
Jackson, Mississippi. She was also invited to present her work
at the Posters in the Rotunda event held at the state capitol.
Kelly Lower gave an oral presentation at the 2018 MSU
Graduate Research Symposium. Lower placed 2nd in the
Masters section for Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Dr. Robert McMillen was quoted and featured in multiple
news outlets on the topic of a possible tobacco tax increase:
WJTV, Mississippi News Now, the Daily Journal, and
Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
Dr. Robert McMillen’s research from Mississippi Tobacco
Data was featured in the news: http://www.wdam.com/
story/37519399/push-for-tobacco-tax-increase-continues-
at-state-capitol.
Stories in recent newspapers cited data from Dr. Robert
McMillen, Mississippi Tobacco Data, and the Wolfgang
Frese Survey Research Lab (SRL): the Commercial Appeal
and the Daily Journal.
Dr. Robert McMillen’s research was featured in multiple
articles: MPB Online and University of Kentucky News.
Dr. Robert McMillen was featured in an article and video
segment on WCBI for World No Tobacco Day: https://www.
wcbi.com/world-no-tobacco-day/.
Izzy Pellegrine was named Outstanding Graduate
Student by the MSU President’s Commission on the Status
of Women. Read their spotlight on Izzy and the other
outstanding women in the Maroon MEMO feature: http://
www.memo.msstate.edu/story.php?id=4557.
Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale’s research was featured in the
Soybean Innovation Laboratory’s February Newsletter:
53Annual Report 2018
Awards & Recognitions
https://mailchi.mp/illinois/keep-up-with-sils-latest-
happenings.
Drs. Kathleen Ragsdale and Mary Read-Wahidi’s work on
the USAID-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab
was highlighted in the USAID Agrilinks blog: https://agrilinks.
org/post/building-capacity-gendered-agricultural-research.
Drs. Kathleen Ragsdale and Mary Read-Wahidi’s work
on the CDC-funded Focus4Teens Initiative to address teen
pregnancy in the Mississippi Delta was highlighted in the
Winter edition of MAFES Discovers Magazine: http://www.
mafes.msstate.edu/discovers/article.asp?id=105.
A presentation by Dr. Gina Rico Mendez, Dr. Kathleen
Ragsdale, and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi was featured
in a Soybean Innovation Lab Newsletter: https://
mailchi.mp/illinois/stay-up-to-date-with-the-latest-sil-
news?e=1438403ce8.
Research from Drs. Kathleen Ragsdale, Mary Read-Wahidi,
and Gina Rico Mendez was featured on the Agrilinks
website in a story titled “Land Tenure Research Shows Men’s
Role in Households Impacts Women’s Access to Land”.
Dr. Holli Seitz was competitively selected by the MSU
Center for Community-Engaged Learning to participate in
the inaugural class of the Community-Engaged Learning
Fellows Program.
Megan Stubbs-Richardson was awarded the Graduate
Paper of Distinction Award for her paper entitled, “Strain
among Bullying Victims: Considering the Effect of Alternative
Relationships on Prosocial, Asocial, and Antisocial Responses
to Physical, Verbal, Relational, and Cyber Bullying” at the
Mid-South Sociological Association.
Research from Mississippi Tobacco Data was featured in
a WTVA article about the decrease in tobacco use among
Mississippi students: http://www.wtva.com/content/news/
Data-shows-smoking-and-smokeless-tobacco-rates-
decreasing-among-Mississippi-students--482970981.html.
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