Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Laura Ingouf, an intern at the SSRC, spent two weeks in Zambia conducting research as part of the Fish4Zambia project. They are pictured above with teams traveling to do fieldwork at Chinsanka Fish Camp.
Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Laura Ingouf, an intern at the SSRC, spent two weeks in Zambia conducting research as part of the Fish4Zambia project. They are pictured above with teams traveling to do fieldwork at Chinsanka Fish Camp.


On SSRC Research Fellow David Swanson was a featured author for Population Review for the month of July along with two co-authors for their paper Estimating the Underlying Infant Mortality Rates for Small Populations, Including those Reporting Zero Infant Deaths: A Case Study of Counties in California. Swanson is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of California Riverside. He served as a member of the U. S. Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee for six years (2004-10) and chaired the committee for two years (2009-2010). He currently is an affiliated faculty member with the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington.

New Projects

Dr. Sheena Gardner will serve as P.I. for the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy (The Alliance). Dr. Gardner will be responsible for finalizing the program logic model and ensuring that short, intermediate, and long-term goals are measurable. In addition, she will participate in technical assistance webinars and develop a final evaluation report.

Dr. Robert McMillen will serve as Principal Investigator of the “Surveillance and Evaluation Services for the Mississippi Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program” July 2019 – June 2020. 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.

SSRC Aboard 

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and SSRC Intern Laura Ingouf traveled to Zambia for two weeks to conduct Fish4Zambia: Assessing Facilitators and Barriers to Aquaculture and Fish Consumption in Zambia (K. Ragsdale, PI; L. Pincus, PI; M. Read-Wahidi, Co-PI; P. Marinda, Co-PI). The research was funded by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish(FIL) (M. Lawrence, PI) through support from USAID. Fish4Zambia is a 12-month project that aims to increase the quality and quantity of fish benefitting poor households in Zambia, with a particular focus on women of reproductive age (WRA) and children under the age of 2 years. During the fieldwork – which was conducted in fishing camps and villages on Lake Bangweulu – the Fish4Zambia research team collected 397 surveys, which was more than double our minimum target goal of 180 surveys. A key factor in collecting this large number of surveys was that FIL generously provided our U.S. team with six (6) tablets that we hand-carried to Zambia. The Fish4Zambia team also conducted 20 Focus Group Discussions (FGD) among fishing camp and village community members. We conducted seven FGD among men, seven FGD among women, and six FGD among youth ages 18-29.  Data analysis begins in August 2019.  Results will inform FIL-supported post-harvest value chain activities, USAID/Zambia Mission and USAID Feed the Future investments in Zambia, and Government of Zambia investments in fishery development. Fish4Zambia contributes to USAID Feed the Future objectives to understand why many Zambians (particularly WRA and children <2 years) continue to lack dietary diversity and remain vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition.


On Saturday, July 20th, a Motivational Interviewing training session was held in Oxford, MS for MASEP facilitators in North Mississippi. Those facilitators in attendance were Tara Warren, Andrea Ross, Don Hammons, George Serio, LeAnn Farr, Shelly Hopkins, David Derrick, Allen Lyles, Rodney Rodgers, Nikki Tacker, Mark Cossitt, Braxton Tullos, Dewey Wells, Steve Bramlett, Roosevelt Howard, Steve Holts, Ronnie Bowen, Tina Morrow, Shane Kelly , Monica Cummings, Eric Payman, and Eric Green. Those attending from the MASEP office were Chuck Dawkins, Amanda Gochanour, and Billy Brister.

Mississippi Thrive! Child Health and Development

The incoming class of the University of MS Medical Center’s MS Thrive! Fellows attended an overview of the Social Science Research Center’s (SSRC) research programs on Monday, July 29, 2019, led by Dr. Heath Hanna, Principal Investigator for the MS Thrive! Child Health and Development Project, SSRC. Presentations included Dr. Connie Baird-Thomas, Evaluation and Research Group and Co-PI, MS Thrive! Child Health and Development Project; Dr. John Edwards, Survey Research Laboratory; Dr. Robert McMillen, MS Tobacco Control Unit; and Dr. Angela Robertson, Crime and Justice Unit and the MS Alcohol Safety Education Program’s Research and Development Unit. The MS Thrive! Child Health and Development Project is jointly conducted by the Social Science Research Center, MS State University, and the Center for Advancement of Youth, University of MS Medical Center.


Emile Creel has joined the SSRC as Communications Coordinator. Creel completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in public relations from Mississippi State University and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. She previously worked on communications teams at other research units at MSU. She will oversee communications efforts like the annual report, social media, website content, and various promotional materials for the SSRC.

Robert Kolbila, MSc, has joined the SSRC as a Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi. A native of Ghana, Kolbila has been working with Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi since 2017 to help implement surveys and focus group discussions with men and women smallholder soybean farmers in Ghana’s Northern Region. This work is part of Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi’s Gender Impacts Research (K. Ragsdale, PI), funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab (P. Goldsmith, PI). Kolbila earned an MS in Development Studies from the University for Development Studies in Ghana. For his Masters thesis – entitled, Assessing the Effectiveness of the Community Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) as a Close-to-Client Strategy for Health Care Delivery in West Mamprusi District, Ghana – Kolbila conducted surveys, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews to examine the Ministry of Health’s effectiveness in improving healthcare for the rural poor, who have long been underserved in Ghana. He will be pursuing a PhD in the Department of Sociology at Mississippi State University.

On The Horizon 

On August 6, Dr. Gina Rico Mendez, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale, and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi will participate in a meeting with colleagues at the USAID Bureau of Food Security to discuss the landscape analysis, Harnessing the Potential for Rural Youth-Inclusive Agri-Food Systems Livelihoods (K. Ragsdale, PI) that the Gender Impacts Lab is producing for the Bureau of Food Security with support from the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab (P. Goldsmith, PI).

On August 13, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mark Lawrence, who are members of the Management Entity of the Feed the Future Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish (M. Lawrence, PI), have been invited to participate in an interview as part of the Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment (AWE) Program. The one-hour interview will be conducted by Morgan Mercer, Team Lead of the AWE Gender Research Roundup Activity at ACDI/VOCA. The interview will focus on how the Fish Innovation Lab considers and integrates gender into Lab research processes and management processes, as well as challenges, successes, and lessons learned in the process.

As PI of the Focus4Teens Evaluation project, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale will attendee the 2019 Teens Access and Quality Initiative (TAQ) All Grantee Meeting sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which will be held August 20-21, 2019, in New York, NY. 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 involved in conducting their site’s interviews.

Publications & Reports

McMillen R, Klein JD, Wilson K, Winickoff JP, & Tanski S. (in press). E-Cigarette Use and Future Cigarette Initiation Among Never Smokers and Relapse Among Former Smokers in the PATH Study. Public Health Reports.

Nichols C.R., Wright L.D., Bainbridge S.J., Cosby A., Hénaff A., Loftis J.D., Cocquempot L., Katragadda S., Mendez G.R., Letortu P., Dantec N.L., Resio D. & Zarillo G. (2019). Collaborative Science to Enhance Coastal Resilience and Adaptation. Front. Mar. Sci. 6(404). doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00404

Robertson, A. A., Hiller, M., Dembo, R., Dennis, M., Scott, C., Henry, B. F., & Elkington, K. S. (2019). National survey of juvenile community supervision agency practices and caregiver involvement in behavioral health treatment. Journal of Child and Family Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10826-019-01488-4

Presentations, Panels & Conferences

As part of the PROMISE (Preventing Opioid Misuse in the Southeast) Initiative, Dr. Holli Seitz conducted a Youth Mental Health First Aid training session with staff at Sally Kate Winters Family Services.

Dr. Robert McMillen participated in the Mississippi Municipal League 88th Annual Conference – Smoke Free Communities Awards. Watch the entire program here.

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale, Dr. Pamela Marinda (University of Zambia), and Tabitha Mulilo (WorldFish Zambia) led a hands-on full-day workshop for Zambian Department of Fisheries Field Agents on using tablets to collect the Women’s Empowerment in Fisheries Index (WEFI).

Ragsdale, K., Pincus, L., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Marinda, P., Torell, E. & Mulilo, T. (2019). Fish4Zambia WEFI: Training Workshop for Enumerators: Closing Fish Consumption and Nutrition Gaps in Zambia. USAID Feed the Future Fish Innovation Lab, Samfya, Zambia, July 18, 2019.

SSRC Chronicles: July 2019
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