Photo of Rotunda (Located at the SSRC)Announcements

The Social Science Research Center will hold its annual Open House on Thursday, October 25th at 5:30 p.m. The event will take place in the Courtyard of the Mississippi Technology Center in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. The Open House will be highlighted by the introduction of the new SSRC Research Fellows.

New Projects

Dr. Holli Seitz, director of The Message Laboratory at the SSRC, is collaborating with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University to collect data to evaluate the impact of science communication training for faculty members.

Dr. Robert McMillen will serve as the Site Principal Investigator for year 8 of the Mississippi State University site for the Richmond Center Administrative Core. This project is funded by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Center. ​

Communications Board

The inaugural meeting of the SSRC’s Communication Board took place on August 21st. The purpose of the Board is to further develop the communication efforts in the center to better relay data and tell stories to both the internal and external publics. The Board consists of 10 SSRC members:

  • Dr. Art Cosby
  • Alan Burns
  • Jennifer Flannagan
  • Kathleen Gresham
  • Dr. Heather Hanna
  • Dr. Robert McMillen
  • Charlie Schloemer
  • Dr. Holli Seitz
  • Colleen Stouffer
  • Megan Stubbs-Richardson


Dr. Ruckdeschel, Director of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute, visited the MSU Social Science Research Center to discuss potential collaborations on August 6th.

On August 16, 2018, Dr. Hsain Illahiane, the new Professor and Head of the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures (AMEC) at Mississippi State University was invited by Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi to his first visit to the SSRC. Drs. Illhhiane, Ragsdale, and Read-Wahidi met with Dr. Arthur Cosby. Dr. Illahiane has extensive experience in sub-Saharan Africa, including his Intel Corporation-supported research on mobile phone technologies on social and economic strategies of urban and rural user communities in developing nations. He has conducted research in Morocco, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. You can read more about him here.

Awards & Recognitions

Anne Buffington has been appointed to the Mississippi Department of Education’s Task Force on Chronic Absenteeism. The task force will meet periodically to develop strategies to bring awareness to the issue and to provide assistance to schools in decreasing the rate of chronic absence across the K-12 landscape.

Dr. Heather Hanna and Dr. Holli Seitz were selected to attend the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science workshop on science communication, held on the MSU campus August 28-30.

Two SSRC students, Laura Herring and Krishna Desai, traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in the Andi Leadership Institute for Young Women. Read the article about their visit.

During July and August, 2018, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi were interviewed and featured five times for their work on the USAID-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab’s (SIL) Socioeconomic and Gender Equity Research (SGER) team. A forthcoming web log post will be featured by CGIAR, the global partnership of funders and international agricultural research centers whose mandate is to provide “science for humanity’s greatest challenges” (CGIAR, 2018). CGIAR unites organizations engaged in research focused on efforts to reduce rural poverty and advance food-secured futures for smallholder farmers. You can learn more about CGIAR’s impact, research and funders at Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi’s research in Ghana’s Northern Region using the WEAI to explore agricultural decision-making and empowerment among men and women smallholder farmers will be featured in a forthcoming CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) post for A4NH’s Gender-Nutrition Idea Exchange (GNIE) blog. Their work will also be featured in a SoundCloud interview for SIL’s SoyBytes podcasts.


On August 28, 2018, SSRC Intern Laura Herring rejoined the research team of Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi after completing a prestigious World Vision International Summer 2018 Internship Program in Washington, DC. An undergraduate student in the MSU College of Business and a double major in International Business and Spanish, Herring was competitively selected as one of only thirteen interns – and the only undergraduate – to participate in the Summer 2018 Internship Program. World Vision International is a global Christian-based organization seeking to affect change by partnering with children, families, and communities to tackle poverty and injustice. During her summer internship, Herring worked with the Child Protection & Education Team for the Latin American projects. Read a story about Laura’s trip.

Photo of SSRC Intern Laura Herring posing in front of a World Vision sign

Publications & Reports

Bowser, D., Henry, B., Wasserman, G., Knight, K., Gardner, S., Krupka, K., Grossi, B., Cawood, M., Wiley, T., & Robertson, A. (accepted with minor revisions). Comparison of the Overlap between Juvenile Justice Processing and Behavioral Health Screening, Assessment and Referral. Journal of Applied Juvenile Justice Services.

McMillen, R., Tanski, S., Wilson, K., Klein, J. D., & Winickoff. J. P. (in press). Adolescent use of different e-cigarette products. Pediatrics.

Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Wei, T., Martey, E., & Goldsmith, P. (In press). Using the WEAI+ to explore gender equity and agricultural empowerment: Baseline evidence among men and women smallholder farmers in Ghana’s Northern Region. Journal of Rural Studies.

Presentations, Panels & Conferences

Buffington, A., Long, L., Walker, BH. (2018, August). Disciplinary procedures in Mississippi’s public schools: a look at what educators have to say. Presented at Mississippi Department of Education Conference on Chronic Absenteeism, Jackson, MS.

During the months of July and August, Dr. Ty Abernathy gave several presentations to various groups and organizations at MSU regarding the Pathfinders Student Retention Research Program housed within the SSRC. The presentations were given to Area Coordinators, Community Directors, Residence Hall Directors, and Residence Hall Advisors from the Department of Housing and Residence Life, and Teaching/Graduate Assistants/Lecturers from the Department of English. The presentations were designed to familiarize university students and staff with the Pathfinders program, address and answer any comments or concerns, and emphasize the importance of class attendance and its impact on freshman student success and performance. In addition, nineteen Residence Hall Academic Advisors were selected to work with the Pathfinders program for the upcoming fall semester. Dr. Abernathy led multiple training sessions for these student advisors in order to educate, instruct, and prepare them for the intervention component of the program. Presentations were also given to on-campus residents from all seventeen residence halls (approximately 5,000 students) during three separate meetings in Bettersworth Auditorium in Lee Hall.

During August 8-9, 2018, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi lead the Focus4Teens Evaluation on field work in the Mississippi Delta to collect evaluation data for the Focus4Teens Initiative. The goals of this trip by the evaluation team to the Mississippi Delta were to conduct 1) two focus group discussions (FGDs) among Mississippi Delta teens in two separate towns, and 2) two FGDs among parents of Mississippi Delta teens in two separate towns. The goal of the four FGDs was to explore barriers and facilitators related to teens sexual and reproductive health-seeking behaviors. Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi were accompanied by Focus4Teens Evaluation team members Kelly Lower and Taylor Yarbrough.

On August 22-23, 2018, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale attended the 2018 Teens Access and Quality Initiative (TAQ) All Grantee Meeting sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was held in Durham, NC. Focus4Teens is one of three organizations the CDC Division of Reproductive Health is supporting in the 2015–2020 TAQ Initiative cooperative agreement to 1) enhance publicly funded health centers’ capacity to provide youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS) and 2) improve the ability of young people to access SRHS in their communities. At the request of CDC, Dr. Ragsdale (in-person) and Dr. Read-Wahidi (remotely) lead a one-hour discussion among all three TAQ Evaluation Teams related to efforts for all grantees to conduct in-depth interviews across sites as part of their evaluation processes in YR4 of the TAQ Initiative. At the meeting, Dr. Ragsdale and her Focus4Teens colleagues – including Dr. Hope Crenshaw (Teen Health Mississippi (THM) Executive Director), Sara Miller MEd (THM Director of Community Engagement), Patrina Williams (THM Clinical Training and Technical Assistance Provider), and Monica Coleman MS (THM Director of Education and Training) – discussed with the CDC and other attendees the unique aspects of conducting the Focus4Teens Initiative and increasing teens’ access to youth-friendly and confidential SRHS in highly rural communities in the Mississippi Delta ‘where everybody knows everybody.’

SSRC Chronicles: August 2018
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