Research Fellows

Research Fellows

The SSRC has been naming Research Fellows for over 20 years. Each new Research Fellows group is recognized for their contributions to research and collaborations with the center. Many are partners on SSRC projects, assist or operate research laboratories at the center, or support with ongoing work.

Group photo of 2022 Research Fellow class

2022 Research Fellows Cohort (L-R): Lourdes Cardozo Gaibisso, Daniel Petrolia, Carol Cutler White, Will Davis, David Buys, Viswadeep Lebakula, Richard Thomas, Devon Brenner, Sujan Anreddy, Diana Outlaw, and Dana Franz

Sujan Anreddy is an assistant research professor at the SSRC. Anreddy’s research focuses on visual analytics of complex data sets, and since 2018 he has collaborated on and led a variety of research projects, including analyzing data from social media platforms related to individuals’ feelings about and response to COVID-19, mapping projects related to resources for children’s developmental and behavioral health, and, most recently, visual analytics for public health and program analysis in partnership with the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Devon Brenner is a professor of teacher education in the MSU College Education and serves as the director of the Social Science Research Center. For over 20 years, Devon has been conducting research in education policy and practice, with a focus on rural education.  Brenner is PI on the NSF TPR2 grant and recently launched the newest SSRC lab, Rural Education Research and Initiatives.

David Buys is associate extension and research professor in the department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion in the College of Ag and Life Sciences at MSU. Buys’ research focuses on health promotion and food security.  He collaborates with the SSRC on numerous projects related to health communication and health promotion, including vaccine awareness and evaluation of the Aim for Change project focusing on food insecurity and obesity prevention in the Mississippi Delta.

Will Davis is assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at MSU. A health economist,  Davis investigates the impact of government policies such as universal school meals on the well-being of individuals and communities. In addition to collaborating on the recent McGovern-Dole School Meals program, Davis is working with the Systems Change Lab and will be examining the economic impact of child care policies in Mississippi.

Dana Franz is professor of Mathematics teacher education in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education department and Director of Academic Quality at MSU.  Franz’s research focuses on mathematics teacher education, including rural teacher education, and she is co-PI on the Teacher Preparation for Rural STEM Teacher Persistence grant, funded by the National Science Foundation and housed at the SSRC.

Lourdes Cardozo Gaibisso is an assistant professor in the department of English with a focus in systemic functional linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Her scholarship focuses on science literacy for minoritized populations and culturally and linguistically sustaining pedagogies. She is launching a lab at the SSRC to focus on Science Literacy for All learners.

Viswadeep Lebakula is a research and development associate in geoinformatics engineering in the geospatial science and human security division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he uses big data analysis and machine learning to forecast things like energy demand and public health.  Lebakula formerly worked as a graduate research assistant at the SSRC, and he continues to collaborate with Dr. Art Cosby on projects related to rural mortality and rural population health.

Diana Outlaw is an associate professor in the department of Biology at MSU where she conducts research in avian parasitology. She is also the mother of a special needs student which has led to an interest in education research and policy. Outlaw is currently serving as program manager on the Teacher Preparation for Rural STEM Teacher Persistence and Retention, housed at the SSRC, and is quickly becoming a qualitative and quantitative education researcher.

Daniel Petrolia is professor of Agricultural Economics at MSU where his research focuses on the economics of coastal resources and natural hazards.  Petrolia has recently collaborated with the SSRC as coPI on a research study and evaluation of the McGovern-Dole School Meals Program in Africa, funded by the US Department of Agriculture, where he co-led economic analysis of the local and regional impact of the McGovern-Dole program in Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Rwanda.

Richard Thomas is Vice President of Health and Performance Resources in Memphis TN and conducts healthcare market research. He has worked as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Mississippi and the University of Tennessee and as a research associate at the U-M Center for Population Studies. Thomas has collaborated with SSRC Professor Emeritus Ron Cossman on projects related to the healthcare workforce and was nominated to become a Fellow in 2020. We’re pleased to recognize  Thomas with his medal now that we are able to gather together again.

Carol Cutler White is an assistant professor and founder the Community College Advocacy Lab in the department of Educational Leadership. White’s research focuses on higher education and post-secondary attainment. White is PI on the state’s GEAR UP grant, collaborating with school districts in Mississippi to impact high school students’ transition to college. White is collaborating with the SSRC to collect evaluation data and conduct research about the impact of the GEAR UP project and the implementation of virtual reality field trips on college campuses.