New Projects

Dr. Robert McMillen will serve as Principal Investigator of the “Surveillance and Evaluation Services for the Mississippi Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program” July 2018 – June 2019. The project will seek to develop and implement a system of surveillance and evaluation for programs and services administered by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Office of Tobacco Control (OTC). Mrs. Nell Valentine will serve as Co-PI on the project. This project is funded by the MSDH.

Dr. Sheena Gardner (PI) will be conducting an evaluation of the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers (MAG). This project will examine how effectively MAG leveraged, shared, and combined philanthropic resources and innovations to achieve measurable positive change for Mississippi children, families, and communities. This project is funded by the Community Foundation for Mississippi and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

The new Civic Life Laboratory (CLL) has opened at the Social Science Research Center. The CLL is committed to interdisciplinary research that identifies the barriers and potential solutions to the conditions that prevent citizens from fully engaging in democratic participation. Two of the most pressing problems jeopardizing democratic communities today are polarization and distrust, as communities are increasingly at odds over irreconcilable political views, contentious policy-making processes, and scarce resources. The CLL facilitates research that seeks to explain how our civic affiliations have eroded to their current state and to use research-based interventions to create more resilient civic communities. Its current work focuses on democratic deliberation, a communication practice that aims to solve issues of common concern through inclusive community discussion and decision-making. The CLL team has designed a community intervention that takes the form of a group board game called “Rebuilding Main Street.” The game provides a simulated democratic deliberation experience, and the CLL’s upcoming study measures whether training in mindful civic communication practices can improve the quality of deliberation that allows communities to cooperate in the interest of the common good.

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. 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.

Survey Lab

For a third consecutive year, the Wolfgang Frese Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) is conducting the MDMH Client Satisfaction Survey for the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. This project involves data collection from a representative sample of approximately 1,000 clients who have received mental health services from MDMH in the past 12 months. Ms. Amanda Gochanour, doctoral candidate in Sociology and SRL Research Assistant, is leading this project.

On the Horizon

As PI of the Focus4Teens Evaluation project, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale will attendee the 2018 Teens Access and Quality Initiative (TAQ) All Grantee Meeting sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which will be held August 22-23, 2018, 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 and 2) improve the ability of young people to access sexual and reproductive health services. The CDC has requested that the Focus4Teens Evaluation Team lead efforts for all grantees to conduct in-depth interviews across sites as part of their evaluation processes in YR4. At the meeting, Dr. Ragsdale will discuss the evaluation aspects of the Focus4Teens Initiative in the Mississippi Delta. In addition, Dr. Ragsdale will lead a group discussion among all the grantees evaluation team members who will be involved in conducting these interviews.

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, will be hosted by Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi during his first visit to the SSRC in order to meet Dr. Arthur Cosby and tour the SSRC. 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

Susana Cervantes was featured in an MSU article on the Delta Scholars Program: https://www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2018/07/high-achieving-students-convening-msu-s-delta-scholars-program/.

Two SSRC students, Laura Herring and Krishna Desai, were featured in an article on their upcoming trip as they represent MSU at this year’s Andi Leadership Institute for Young Women in Washington D.C.: https://www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2018/07/change-agents-msu-seniors-share-seek-inspiration-andi-leadership-institute/.

SSRC Abroad

During June 30-July 17, 2018, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale lead the SSRC research team on field work in Ghana’s Norther Region to collect data for the USAID-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab. The goals of this trip to Ghana were to 1) conduct two Enumerator Training Workshops in preparation for implementation of Wave II of the Soybean Uptake & Network Survey (SUNS II), 2) visit 12 rural villages in four Districts in Ghana’s Northern Region to supervise and assist enumerators with implementing the SUNS II, 3) conduct Wave II of the Gender Equity & Land Tenure (GELT II) Focus Group Discussions among men and women soybean farmers in Ghana’s Northern Region, and 4) meet with colleagues at Catholic Relief Services/Ghana (CRS) to discuss logistics associated with implementing the SUNS II and GELT II research instruments. The SSRC’s Kelly Lower and Taylor Yarbrough completed four blogs on their experiences and insights during an 18-day research trip to conduct field work in Ghana with Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale for the USAID-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab. The links to their four blogs:

  1. http://soybeaninnovationlab.illinois.edu/sil-students-become-trainers-survey-collection-ghana
  2. http://soybeaninnovationlab.illinois.edu/sil-students-implement-focus-groups-soybean-uptake-saboba-and-chereponi-districts
  3. http://soybeaninnovationlab.illinois.edu/students-gain-insight-gender-equity-and-land-tenure-during-fieldwork-tolon-and-karagaa
  4. http://soybeaninnovationlab.illinois.edu/student-reflections-researchers-return-home.

Publications & Reports

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. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-018-0051-z.

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. https://www.msmaonline.com/M/Public/Journal_MSMA/Current%20issue/Public/Journal/JMSMA.aspx?hkey=06a011a7-2233-41a8-9c02-0ab814ae9e12.

Presentations, Panels & Conferences

Ellithorpe, C. (2018, July). Symposium Chair, Findings from the Reasons for Retaliation Project: Individual, Dyadic, and Contextual Factors that Contribute to Responses toward Bullying. Symposium presented at the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) in Fort Collins, CO.

Ellithorpe, C. (2018, July). Intergroup Dynamics of Bullying: When does perceived groupness lead to aggressive retaliation? Paper presented as part of Findings from the Reasons for Retaliation Project: Individual, Dyadic, and Contextual Factors that Contribute to Responses toward Bullying symposium at the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) in Fort Collins, CO.

Goldberg, R. (2018, July). Gender Differences in Experiences with and Responses to High School Bullying. Paper presented as part of Findings from the Reasons for Retaliation Project: Individual, Dyadic, and Contextual Factors that Contribute to Responses toward Bullying symposium at the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) in Fort Collins, CO.

Hanna, H. (2018, July). Presentation at the Office of Child Nutrition Child Care Update Training for the HRSA Child Health Development: MS THRIVES! Project. Gulfport, Mississippi.

Hanna, H. & Stouffer, C. (2018, July). Presentation at the Delta Regional Forum: Population Health, Development, and Entrepreneurial Problem Solving. Mississippi KIDS Count. Coahoma County Higher Education Center, Clarksdale, Mississippi.

McMillen, R. (2018). Opioids & Mississippi. Presentation to the Mississippi Tobacco Control Advisory Council Meeting. Jackson, MS.

Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Asigbee, M., Atiim, P., Kolbila, R. Lower, K. & Yarbrough, T. (2018). Feed the Future Lab Soybean Innovation Lab: Ghana Soybean Uptake & Network Survey (SUNS)-Wave II: Enumerator Training Workshop II (Saboba District/Chereponi District). USAID Feed the Future Lab Soybean Innovation Lab, Yendi, Ghana, July 5-6, 2018.

Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Asigbee, M., Atiim, P., Kolbila, R. Lower, K. & Yarbrough, T. (2018). Feed the Future Lab Soybean Innovation Lab: Ghana Soybean Uptake & Network Survey (SUNS)-Wave II: Enumerator Training Workshop II (Tolon District/Karaga District). USAID Feed the Future Lab Soybean Innovation Lab, Tamale, Ghana, July 10-11, 2018.

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).  The Teen Health MS and CDC Focus4Teens Initiative to Reduce Pregnancy among Mississippi Delta Teens: Results from YR1 Youth Focus Groups. Oral Presentation. 2018 Delta Directions Regional Forum, Clarksdale, MS, July 17, 2018.

Sinclair, H. C. (2018, July). Outcasts Don’t Just Lash Out nor Is It Just Outcasts Who Lash Out. Paper
presented as part of Findings from the Reasons for Retaliation Project: Individual, Dyadic, and Contextual Factors that Contribute to Responses toward Bullying symposium at the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) in Fort Collins, CO.

Utley, J. (2018, July). “Frenemies”: Friendship and Bullying among High School Students. Paper presented as part of Findings from the Reasons for Retaliation Project: Individual, Dyadic, and Contextual Factors that Contribute to Responses toward Bullying symposium at the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) in Fort Collins, CO.

Walker, B. & Stouffer, C. (2018, July). Live webinar for the Mississippi Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Conference using Mississippi KIDS Count website and datacenter.

On July 26, 2018, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi attended an invitation-only presentation and discussion of data on unintended pregnancy in Mississippi hosted by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy (CMHP) in Jackson, MS. The presentation was introduced by CMHP Executive Director, Therese Hanna and presented by CMHP Policy Analyst, Eden Blackwell. Attendees included SSRC faculty and staff as well as personnel from, for example, the Mississippi State Department of Health, University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Mississippi Public Health Association. The CMHP Brief on preventing unintended pregnancy in Mississippi is available for download at http://www.mshealthpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Unintended-Pregnancy-Brief-FINAL-72018.pdf. The CMHP Chart Book on preventing unintended pregnancy in Mississippi is available for download at http://www.mshealthpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Unintended-Pregnancy-Chartbook_FINAL-7.24.18.pdf.

On July 27, 2018, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi attended an invitation-only presentation and discussion at the Big IDEAs for Improving the Lives of Mississippians, 2018 Mississippi IDeA Conference. Held in Jackson, MS, the event was hosted by My Brothers Keeper Inc and the University of Southern Mississippi and coordinated by the Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE).

Drs. Angela Robertson, Connie Baird-Thomas, and Sheena Gardner attended the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Mental Health Services Research Conference on August 1-2 in Bethesda, MD. The theme of the conference, “What’s the Next Big Thing,” featured state-of-the-art research presented via keynote speakers, thematic panels, discussion groups, papers, and posters.

SSRC Chronicles: July 2018