New Projects

Dr. Connie Baird-Thomas will serve as Principal Investigator for the Health Help Evaluation project. This evaluation will assess process and outcome measures for the Get Covered, Stay Covered initiative of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program (MHAP). This project is funded by MHAP.

On the Horizon

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi have been invited to attendee the 2018 Teens Access and Quality Initiative (TAQ) All Grantee Meeting sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the meeting, Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi will discuss the evaluation aspects of the Focus4Teens Initiative in the Mississippi Delta. 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 if needed. The 2018 TAQ All Grantee Meeting will be held in Durham, NC, in July 2018.

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi are developing a conference panel entitled “Engaging in Applied and Gender Responsive Agricultural Development Research for the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab” for the Society for Applied Anthropology 71st Annual Meeting, which will be held in Portland, OR.

Awards & Recognitions

Research from Drs. Kathleen Ragsdale, Mary Read-Wahidi, and Gina Rico Mendez was featured on the Agrilinks website in a story titled “Land Tenure Research Shows Men’s Role in Households Impacts Women’s Access to Land”.

Dr. Robert McMillen was featured in an article and video segment on WCBI for World No Tobacco Day. Watch the segment.

Research from Mississippi Tobacco Data was featured in a WTVA article about the decrease in tobacco use among Mississippi students.


Karissa Bergene has joined the SSRC as a Research Associate for Dr. Art Cosby. A former resident of North Carolina, Bergene has earned an undergraduate degree at Appalachian State University in 2010, as well as a graduate degree from there in 2013. She has worked in economic development in North Carolina, as well as worked with global intellectual property. This fall, Bergene will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Mississippi State University. She will be working with Dr. Cosby and Megan Stubbs-Richardson on various projects involving research on big data, criminology, & cyber security.

SSRC Abroad

Dr. Ty Abernathy, Associate Research Professor, led a study abroad trip to Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic May 16th-24th. The cross-listed and split-level educational psychology and psychology special topics course was entitled “An Exploration of the European Foundations in Psychology, Psychiatry, and Mental Health” and included 19 undergraduate and graduate students. The trip was the first traditional group study abroad program in the MSU College of Education. The group visited and toured the major sites in both cities including the Vienna City Center, Vienna City Hall (Rathaus), University of Vienna, Sigmund Freund Museum (including his apartment and practice where Psychoanalysis was developed), Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens, Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Museum of the Senses, Petrin Tower and Park, and Vltava River. For pictures and more information visit the group’s Facebook page – Mississippi State: Vienna/Prague Trip Summer 2018.

Publications & Reports

Sales, J. M., Wasserman, G., Elkington, K. S., Lehman, W., Gardner, S., McReynolds, L., Wiley, T., and Knudsen, H. (2018). Perceived Importance of Substance Use Prevention in Juvenile Justice: A Multi-Level Analysis. Health and Justice, 6(1): 12-20.

Presentations, Panels & Conferences

Billy Brister, Director of MASEP Operations, Dr. Blythe McCance and Chuck Dawkins, Alcohol Field Staff Specialists, attended the Mississippi Justice Court Clerks training sponsored by the Mississippi Judicial College. This training was conducted at the Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi, Ms. on May 10 and 11. They also attended the STORM (Sobriety Trained Officers Representing Mississippi) Conference and 100 Club Awards Luncheon held in Biloxi on May 22 thru 24.

Cossman, R. E. (2018, May 2). “Geography as the Mitigating Factor in Health Outcomes, Treatment, Access and Recruitment: Four Studies”, presented at the Health Systems Research Forum, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN.

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. Poster presented at the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies Conference.

Kaseeska K, Klein JD, Gorzkowski J, Unger R, Levy S, Craig J, McMillen R, Pearson S, Wilson K, Shone L. (2018). Developing a 5As brief Marijuana Intervention for Casual Marijuana Users. Platform presentation presented at the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies Conference.

McMillen, R., Gorzkowski, J., Wilson, K., Klein, J. D., & Winickoff, J. D. (2018). Smoke-Free Homes are Associated with Better Health and Fewer ER Visits. Platform presentation presented at the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies Conference.

McMillen, R., Wilson, K., Gorzkowski, J., Winickoff, J. D., & Klein, J. D. (2018). E-Cigarette Use and Motivation for Use Predicts Future Cigarette Smoking Among Youth. Platform presentation presented at the 2018 Pediatric Academic Societies Conference.

Southward, L., Baird-Thomas, C., Hanna, H., & Stouffer, C. (2018, May). WKKF Place Scan – Virtual Learning Day. Live Webinar presenters for a multi-state venue on the W.K Kellogg Foundation Mississippi Data Project & Mississippi KIDS Count projects.

On May 9th, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi presents a one-hour webinar, Focus Groups 101: Brief Guide to Conducting Focus Groups in Village Settings, which was hosted by the USAID-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab.

The Focus Groups 101 webinar presentation slides are available on the Soybean Innovation Lab website at:

For focus groups such as this one on gender equity and land tenure conducted by Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Gina Rico-Mendez in Ghana’s North Region in 2017 for the USAID-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab, it was especially to important to conduct separate focus groups for men and women farmers because gender equity in land allocation is a sensitive topic among smallholder farmers in much of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Photo credit: K. Ragsdale.
SSRC Chronicles: May 2018
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