New Projects

Dr. Heather L. Hanna will serve as P.I. on the Mississippi YOU COUNT! Collaborative project. This project will promote a complete and accurate count of young children in Mississippi in the 2020 Census by producing targeted fact sheets and holding community engagement meetings across the state. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is sponsoring this project.

Dr. Ioannis Ziogas will serve as the co-PI (PI: Dr. Thessalia Merivaki) on a project titled “Voter List Maintenance Within a Hybrid Structure of Data Management: The Case of Mississippi,” funded through the MIT Election Data and Science Lab (MEDSL). This project aims in examining best voter list maintenance practices in the state of Mississippi.

Visitors

Dr. Thomas Kersen, Associate Professor of Sociology at Jackson State University, met with Dr. Art Cosby and Megan Stubbs-Richardson on June 28th.

On the Horizon

Ghana Research Trip for the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab

On June 30, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale, Kelly Lower, and Taylor Yarbrough will depart for 18-day research trip to Ghana to implement Wave II of the Soybean Uptake & Network Survey (SUNS II), which is a key deliverable for the USAID-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab. In addition, the SSRC team will build on Wave I of the Gender Equity & Land Tenure (GELT I) research led by Drs. Ragsdale, Read-Wahidi, and Rico Mendez in 2017. For the GELT II, the SSRC team will conduct separate focus group discussions with men and women soybean farmers to better understand how men and women access farm land and secure their rights to land in the four Districts of Saboba, Chereponi, Tolon, and Karaga in the Northern Region.

During their trip, the SSRC team will fly into Ghana’s capital city, Accra, and then take an in-country flight to the city of Tamale in the heart of Ghana’s Northern Region. In Tamale, the SSRC team will meet with their in-country implementing partner, Catholic Relief Services (CRS). On July 4, the SSRC and CRS teams will travel by road to Yendi, a small city near the border of Togo. On July 5-6, the SSRC and CRS teams will conduct a two-day training workshop in Yendi for the SUNS II Enumeration teams from Saboba District and Chereponi District. Next, village enumeration of the SUNS II will begin and the SSRC and CRS teams will travel with the enumerators to implement two GELT II focus group discussions in Saboba District and another two in Chereponi District.

The SSRC and CRS teams will depart Yendi for Tamale on July 9 to conduct a two-day training workshop in Tamale on July 10-11 for the SUNS II Enumeration teams from Tolon District and Karaga District. Next, village enumeration of the SUNS II will begin and the SSRC and CRS teams will travel with the enumerators to implement two GELT II focus group discussions in Tolon District on July 12 and another two in Karaga District on July 13. The SSRC team will depart Accra on July 16 and return to the U.S. on July 17.

Delta Regional Forum on Population Health, Development, and Entrepreneurial Problem Solving

During July 18-19, Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi present at and attend the Delta Directions’ sponsored Delta Regional Forum on Population Health, Development, and Entrepreneurial Problem Solving. The 2018 Delta Directions Regional Forum will be held in Clarksdale, MS. Dr. Read-Wahidi will give a multi-authored oral presentation based on results from the CDC-funded Focus4Teens Evaluation being conducted in the Mississippi Delta. Presentation details include:

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. Accepted Oral Presentation. 2018 Delta Directions Regional Forum, Clarksdale, MS, July 18-19, 2018.

2nd Annual Mississippi Academy of Sciences Summer Student Science Symposium

On July 26, SSRC’s Kelly Lower will present at and attend the 2nd Annual Mississippi Academy of Sciences Summer Student Science Symposium, which will be held at Mississippi State University. Lower will give a multi-authored poster presentation based on results from research on household food security among smallholder men and women farmers in Northern Ghana. Presentation details include:

Lower K, Ragsdale K, Read-Wahidi MR, Yarbrough T. (2018). Food Insecurity among Smallholder Men and Women Farmers in Rural Ghana: Household Hunger Scale Results. Submitted Poster Presentation. 2nd Annual Mississippi Academy of Sciences summer Student Science Symposium, Mississippi State University, July 26, 2018.

2018 Teens Access and Quality Initiative (TAQ) All Grantee Meeting

During August 22-23, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi will travel to Durham, NC, to attend the 2018 Teens Access and Quality Initiative (TAQ) All Grantee Meeting sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the TAQ meeting, Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi will discuss results from Year 3 of the Focus4Teens Evaluation in the Mississippi Delta.

Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program

The annual training conference of MASEP facilitators will be held in Starkville at the Hilton Garden Inn on July 20-21.

Personnel

Charlie Schloemer joined the SSRC in June as Systems Administrator. Charlie earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Southern Mississippi, majoring in mathematics and minoring in computer science. He has worked in IT in various capacities since 1999, with a focus on Unix systems, databases, and IP telephony. He will be maintaining computer systems related to SSRC’s projects.

Awards & Recognitions

Dr. Cindy Bethel’s research with the Social, Therapeutic and Robotics Systems Lab (STaRS) was featured in an NBC article on AI. Read the full article here.

Dr. Heather Hanna and Mississippi KIDS COUNT were quoted in multiple news outlets on Mississippi’s progress in the 2018 National KIDS COUNT Data Book:
WREG
MPB
WCBI
Daily Journal
Clarion Ledger.

SSRC Abroad

The Utilizing Big Data and the Social and Policy Sciences Seminar took place June 11-16 in Split and Vis, Croatia. Dr. Robert McMillen from Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center, along with faculty members of University of Zagreb, members of George Mason University, University of Split. and the University of Applied Sciences VERN’, Zagreb attended the seminar. Presentations and topics covered research on social media, politics and society, big data methods, sentiment analysis, qualitative data analysis.

Publications & Reports

Buffington, A., Long, L., Walker, B. H., Barr, S. G., & Ingram, L. (2018, May). Balancing act: Mississippi administrators and teachers weigh in on discipline policies in school. Policy brief funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Available at: https://kidscount.ssrc.msstate.edu/data-research/mississippi-kids-count/mississippi-kids-count-reports/.

Cosby, A., Rico Méndez, G. & Khandekar, H. (2018). Data-Intensive Coasts: Alternatives for Human Adaptation to Climate Change. In L.D. Wright & C.R. Nichols (Eds.), Tomorrow’s Coasts: Complex and Impermanent (pp. 319-339). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Rico Méndez, G., Cosby, A.G., & Mohanty, S. (2018, June). Obamacare on Twitter: Online Political Participation and its Effects on Polarisation. Teorija In Praksa, 55(2), pp. 419-444.

Presentations, Panels & Conferences

On June 20, 2018, Anne Buffington, Lisa Long and Ben Walker met with State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Carey Wright and her administrative team at the Mississippi Department of Education office in Jackson to discuss findings from their recent survey of Mississippi public school teachers and administrators on disciplinary policies. The survey was part of the “Addressing the Suspension Gap in Mississippi Public Schools” policy grant supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Buffington, A. (2018, June). Peer mentoring can make a difference: How EMPOWR can impact student achievement at the community college level. Presented at the Mississippi Community College Academic Officers Annual Conference, Philadelphia, MS.

Billy Brister, Dr. Blythe McCance, and Chuck Dawkins of the MASEP Operational Staff attended the Mississippi Municipal Court Judges conference held in Biloxi, Ms. on June 13-15.

Dr. Blythe McCance and Chuck Dawkins of the MASEP Operational staff attended the Mississippi Police Chiefs Conference held in Biloxi on June 27-29.

Emery, S., Kostygina, G., Tran, H., Ahn, R., McMillen, R., Gorzkowski, J., & Wilson, K. (2018). #Hightimes: Marijuana-Related Content on Twitter: Policy Promotion, Health Claims, and Youth Targeting. Oral presentation at the 2018 Utilizing Big Data and the Social and Policy Sciences Seminar, Split and Vis, Croatia.

Lower, K., Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M. R., & Yarbrough, T. (2018). Food Insecurity among Smallholder Men and Women Farmers in Rural Ghana: Household Hunger Scale Results. Submitted Poster Presentation. 2nd Annual Mississippi Academy of Sciences summer Student Science Symposium, Mississippi State University, July 26, 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. Accepted Oral Presentation. 2018 Delta Directions Regional Forum, Clarksdale, MS, July 18-19, 2018.

Drs. Ronald E. Cossman and Ioannis Ziogas of the SSRC cohosted, along with Richard Ingram, Associate Director of the Mississippi Water Resources Institute at MSU, a Civic Engagement Workshop. The May 31 – June 1, 2018 invitation only event was held in Biloxi, MS and the dozen attendees represented researchers and regulatory agencies interested in addressing nutrient reduction and “the dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. The workshop highlighted the work to date on the EPA-funded project, focusing on the role that civic engagement and grassroots environmental groups play in addressing environmental issues.

Dr. Cossman’s presentation, “Social Indicators Report – Year 1 Findings” summarized the use and misuse of social indicators in the Mississippi River Basin and laid out suggestions for unifying the disparate research threads among researchers and regulatory agencies.

Dr. Ziogas’ presentation, “Civic Engagement and Environmental Stewardship – Causes, Effects, and Indicators of Civilian Involvement” addressed the fundamental issue of how to define civic engagement, what are the precursors and how does one define success for a grassroots environmental organization.

SSRC Chronicles: June 2018