Side of the rotunda on the SSRC building with sunlight coming throughAnnouncements

The Gender Impacts Laboratory has a new website available at

The lab is directed by Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi and is committed to addressing gender inequities by promoting community development and empowering women, men, and youth through hands-on research to improve lives worldwide.


Emily Broad Leib, SSRC research fellow and former delta fellow, has been named a clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School. Read more about her and her appointment in this Harvard Law Today article,

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale wrote a feature story for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish. To read, visit

Emile Creel was recognized at the 2019 Starkville/MSU Public Relations Association of Mississippi awards ceremony with a PRISM award for the 2019 Annual Report.

A team of researchers at the SSRC, lead by Dr. Art Cosby have been investigating the place-based social determinants of mortality in the United States. By analyzing CDC files based on over 100 million deaths since 1969, they were able to estimate the effects and trends associated with education, race, poverty, income, and rurality of a community on differences in mortality rates. Their recent publication in the American Journal of Public Health was recognized as one of the papers of the year. Learn more about this recognition at

Cosby, A. G., Mcdoom-Echebiri, M. M., James, W., Khandekar, H., Brown, W., & Hanna, H. L. (2019). Growth and Persistence of Place-Based Mortality in the United States: The Rural Mortality Penalty. American Journal of Public Health109(1), 155–162. doi: 10.2105/ajph.2018.304787

30 Second Abstract

To learn more, visit


On December 6th, Billy Brister, Dr. Blythe McCance, and Chuck Dawkins of MASEP Operations conducted a training session for newly elected Justice Court Judges. There were fifty-two new judges in attendance. This training was held at the Marriott Hotel in Jackson and was sponsored by the Mississippi Judicial College.

New Projects

The Civic Life Laboratory recently received a $10,000 Arts and Sciences Strategic Research Initiative seed grant for a project examining rural consciousness in Mississippi and its implications for rural-urban political polarization. The grant will fund a series of focus groups and data collection in a number of Mississippi communities.

The Civic Life Laboratory (CLL) is working with the Emmett Till Memorial Commission to contribute to the research on which the new commemorative site on the Tallahatchie River. The CLL and its undergraduate research assistants will conduct a series of community dialogues to get the input of Mississippi citizens on how they envision such a commemorative site.

Ben Walker will serve as the principal investigator for the SSRC’s data and technical support to the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi for the Mississippi KIDS COUNT project with the Annie E. Casey Foundation. As part of this work, they will assist the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi with the projection of the annual KIDS COUNT data book, county fact sheets, legislative calendar, maintenance of the KIDS COUNT data center, and will provide data support to the Mississippi KIDS COUNT director as needed.

Dr. Sheena Gardner will serve as Principal Investigator for the 2019 DYS Report project. Dr. Gardner will compile and report statistics related to juvenile delinquency in Mississippi and the 2019 youth court data from the Administrative Office of the Courts (MYCIDS database). The final report will provide statistics on state and county level demographics, youth cases and referrals, intakes per month, referring agents, intake decisions, offense categories by race and gender, mental health and AOP, electronic monitoring, post-disposition sanctions, and training schools. This project is funded by the Mississippi Department of Human Services.


Sarah Grace Dulaney has joined the Message Laboratory, a communication research lab under the direction of Dr. Holli Seitz, as an undergraduate research assistant. Sarah Grace is a sophomore Provost Scholar majoring in Microbiology on a pre-med track with a minor in Sociology. Sarah Grace’s research interests include the spread of medical information/misinformation, doctor-patient communication, and health communication.

In this month’s spotlight story, we recognize Dr. Melanie Loehwing and her work with the Civic Life Laboratory. To read the story, visit

On the Horizon

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale has been invited to serve as the chair of the session, Food Insecurity, Nutrition, and Health – Society for Medical Anthropology, which will be held on Wednesday, March 18 at the 80th Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, NM.

Malavika Jinka Ramamurthy, SSRC GRA with the Gender Impacts Lab and a Masters candidate in Anthropology, has been invited to serve as the chair of the session, Realizing Global Citizenship: Interactions of Ethnicities, Citizenship, and Cultural Identities in Diverse Societies – COPAA Student Session, which will be held on Thursday, March 19 at the 80th Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, NM.

The Civic Life Laboratory is working with the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center to host a series of monthly civic dialogues with MSU students on topics relevant to their lives. These topics include such things as bullying and harassment, the state of our country’s financial health and how it impacts young people, and discussions about immigration and border security issues.


Becan, J. E., Fisher, J. H., Johnson, I. D., Bartkowski, J. P., Seaver, R., Gardner, S. K., Aarons, G. A., Renfro, T. L., Muiruri, R., Blackwell, L. F., Piper, K. N., Wiley, T. A., & Knight, D. K. (2020). Improving Substance Use Services for Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth: Complexity of Process Improvement Plans in a Large Scale Multi-Site Study. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research (APMH), 47(1), 501-514. 01007-z

Brittain, A.W., Tevendale, H.D., Mueller, T., Kulkarni, A.D., Middleton, D., Garrison, M.L.B., Read-Wahidi, M.R., & Koumans, E.H. (2019). The Teen Access and Quality Initiative: Improving adolescent reproductive health best practices in publicly funded health centers. Journal of Community Health, 1-11.

Mississippi KIDS COUNT Project Team. (January 2020). 2020 Mississippi KIDS COUNT Fact Book. Place: n.p. Publication developed for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Mississippi KIDS COUNT Project Team. (January 2020). 2020 Mississippi KIDS COUNT Legislative Countdown Calendar. Place: n.p. Publication developed for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Smith, C. N., & Seitz, H. H. (2019). Correcting misinformation about neuroscience via social media. Science Communication

Steen, J., Robertson, M. N., Seitz, H., Downey, L., Hardman, A., & Buys, D. (2019). Addressing the opioid epidemic: Defining Cooperative Extension’s role [Ideas at Work].  Journal of Extension, 57. Retrieved from

Presentations, Panels & Conferences

Sherman-Morris, K., Seitz, H. H., Strawderman, L., & Warkentin, M. (2020, January). Perceived costs associated with protective actions across multiple threats. Poster presented at the American Meteorological Society 100th Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.

Early Childhood Development Day was held at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, MS on January 13, 2020. Tiara Love, Callie Poole, Heather Martin, and Dr. Heather Hanna were there to represent the Mississippi Thrive! project. Bradley Long, Laure Bell, and Ben Walker also attended the event on behalf of the Mississippi KIDS COUNT project. Both Mississippi Thrive! and Mississippi KIDS COUNT participated with over 30 other organizations to encourage our legislators to “Power the Future of Mississippi” by providing materials and information supporting early childhood development.

SSRC Chronicles: December 2019 & January 2020
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