Announcements

The Social Science Research Center held its annual Open House on Thursday, October 25th at the SSRC. The event saw the installation of the 4 new SSRC Research Fellows (pictured above) and the release of the 2018 Annual Report. Inducted as Research Fellows were:

  • Dr. Allen Parrish, Associate Vice President for Research and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
  • Dr. Melanie Loehwing, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication
  • Dr. Michele Zhou, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics
  • Dr. Dave Wanik, an Engineer with Hartford Steam Boiler.

The 2018 Annual Report features 12 new feature stories on projects and events occurring in the SSRC. To read all 12 stories or to see the individual pieces of the report, visit https://ssrc.msstate.edu/2018-annual-report.

New Projects

Dr. Robert McMillen will serve as Site Principal Investigator of the “Smoke-free Policy Disparities and Outcomes in Rural communities in Southern States” project. The project seeks to compare rural communities with and without smoke-free laws and compare facilitators and barriers in four southern states. The project is funded by the University of Kentucky College of Nursing and the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Linda Southward will serve as Principal Investigator for year 2 of the “HRSA Early Childhood Developmental Health System: Implementation in a High Need State.” This project sees the SSRC working with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to improve child health by building a statewide system of early childhood development screenings and interventions. The project is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and UMMC. Drs. Heather Hanna and Connie Baird-Thomas will serve as Co-PIs.

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale will serve a Principal Investigator and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi will serve as Co-PI for Year 4 of the “Focus 4 Teens” project. This evaluation will collect and analyze data on efforts to enhance teen pregnancy prevention in the Mississippi Delta by expanding access to and use of youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services to vulnerable youth ages 15-19. The project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention​ and Mississippi First/Teen Health Mississippi.

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale will serve a Co-PI of the “Feed the Future Fish Innovation Lab: Innovate4Fish” project. Led by Dr. Mark Lawrence (Mississippi State University) and Dr. Elin Torell (University of Rhode Island), this $15 million project will be conducted over a five-year period. It focuses on developing a global portfolio of aquaculture and fisheries research for development (R4D) activities to address food security, poverty reduction, gender equity and youth engagement in East Africa, West Africa, and Asia, including Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia. Dr. Ragsdale will head the gender equity/youth inclusion division. The projected is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale will serve a Principal Investigator and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi will serve as Senior Research Scientist of the “Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab 2.0: Scaling for Success – Socioeconomic and Gender Equity Research” project. This three-year project, which focuses on rural agricultural empowerment, food security, poverty reduction, and gender equity will expand their work in Ghana to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa such as Ethiopia and Malawi. This projected is funded by USAID and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale will serve a Principal Investigator, Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi will serve as Co-PI, and Dr. Gina Rico Mendez will serve as Consultant on the “Feed the Future Analytic Literature Review: Harnessing the Potential for Rural Youth-Inclusive Agri-Food Systems Livelihoods – A Landscape Analysis” project. The goal will be to produce a multidisciplinary, analytic overview and analysis of high quality, peer-reviewed empirical research relevant to engaging rural youth in agri-food systems. This projected is funded by the Bureau of Food Security/USAID and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Survey Lab

The Wolfgang Frese Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) has completed the 2018 Client Satisfaction Surveys for both the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services (MDRS) and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (MDMH). For the MDRS, the SRL administered 1,000 telephone-based interviews with individuals who received vocational rehabilitation services during the past year. For the MDMH, the SRL employed a multi-mode data collection approach that fielded both paper- and tablet-based surveys to 3,700 individuals who recently received mental health services in the state of Mississippi. Both the MDRS and MDMH Client Satisfaction Surveys provide program evaluation data that are used to guide improvements made to the services provided by these two state agencies. The MDRS survey was led by SRL research scientists, Drs. Wolfgang Frese and John F. Edwards. The MDHM survey was led by Amanda Gochanour, SRL research assistant.

Awards & Recognitions

The Civic Life Laboratory, led by Dr. Brian Shoup and Dr. Melanie Loehwing, has been awarded an Undergraduate Research Program grant from the Office of Research and Economic Development. The funds will support the undergraduate researchers assisting in their current study, which investigates the emergence and improvement of democratic deliberation among small groups participating in a collective decision-making simulation. Having completed the experiment sessions in October, the Civic Life Laboratory researchers are now moving to transcribe and code the group deliberations among the study participants.

Over the past several months, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale, Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi, and their team members have been interviewed and/or featured five times for their work on the USAID-funded Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab’s (SIL) Socioeconomic and Gender Equity Research (SGER) team. Highlights include a web log post featured by CGIAR, the global partnership of funders and international agricultural research centers whose mandate is to provide “science for humanity’s greatest challenges” (CGIAR, 2018). Drs. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi’s research in Ghana’s Northern Region using the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index+Soybean Modules (WEAI+) to explore agricultural decision-making and empowerment among men and women smallholder farmers was featured in a CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) post for A4NH’s Gender-Nutrition Idea Exchange (GNIE) blog. Their work was also featured in a SoundCloud interview for SIL’s SoyBytes podcasts. The posts include:

  • Keane, R. (2018, September 13). SIL SoyBytes: Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi on gender equity and agricultural development [SoundCloud podcast]. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. https://soundcloud.com/user-948098783/sil-soybytes-dr-kathleen-ragsdale-and-dr-mary-read-wahidi.
  • CGIAR / A4NH. (2018, September 5). Gender-Nutrition Idea Exchange: SIL research identifies challenges, constraints experienced by women smallholder farmers [Web log post]. CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). http://a4nh.cgiar.org/2018/09/05/ identifying-challenges-and-constraints-experienced-by-women-smallholder-farmers-in-northern-ghana/.
  • Keane, R. (2018, July). SIL Newsletter: Notes from the field: SIL students conduct on-site focus groups in Ghana [Online newsletter post]. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. https://mailchi.mp/illinois/check-out-sils-july-news.
  • Keane, R. (2018, July 25). Student reflections as researchers return home [Web log post]. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. http://soybeaninnovationlab.illinois.edu/student-reflections-researchers-return-home.
  • Keane, R. (2018, July 17). Students gain insight into gender equity and land tenure during fieldwork in Tolon and Karaga [Web log post]. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Soybean Value Chain Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. http://soybeaninnovationlab.illinois.edu/students-gain-insight-gender-equity-and-land-tenure-during-fieldwork-tolon-and-karaga.

Visitors

On September 28, 2018, the SSRC hosted Dr. Joseph Molnar, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Auburn University. Dr. Molnar has led multi-institutional project in Uganda and Kenya, works in Haiti with USAID on soil and water testing, and collaborates on USDA-supported global development courses for U.S. undergrads. He gave a lunch seminar, “Designing a Mobile App for Ugandan Fish Farmers.” Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale organized the event with the assistance of Jodie Shappley. Thirteen faculty and students from across campus attended, including faculty from Agricultural Economics; Anthropology; Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion; Sociology, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

On The Horizon

In November, Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale will have dual roles as a presenter and a moderator at the 2018 American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting Annual Meeting, which will be held in San Diego, CA.  The APHA meetings are excellent opportunities to increase the visibility of Mississippi State University and the Social Science Research Center, as APHA Annual Meetings draw more than 12,000 attendees annually from across the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Ragsdale will moderate two panels, including “Monitoring & Assessing the Impact of Public Health Programs” and “Creating Change with Action Research.” Dr. Ragsdale will also present:

  • Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Asigbee, M., Atiim, P., Kolbila, R., Lower, K., & Yarbrough, T. (2018). Exploring Household-Level Hunger among Smallholder Farmers in Rural Ghana: Comparing Household Hunger Scale Results across Two Large-Scale Surveys. Accepted Oral Presentation. 146th American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, November 10-14, 2018.
  • Miller, S., Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Lower, K., Yarbrough, T., Feher, E., Williams, P., Mueller, T., Tevendale, H., Brittain, A., Koumans, E. (2018). Revitalizing Title X in Mississippi: Partnership Building with Focus4Teens, Mississippi State Department of Health, and Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center. Accepted Oral Presentation. 146th American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, November 10-14, 2018.

Publications & Reports

Burns, M. A. (2018, October). 2018 SSRC Annual Report. Social Science Research Center, Mississippi State University. https://ssrc.msstate.edu/2018-annual-report.

McMillen R, Tanski S, Wilson K, Klein JD, Winickoff JP. (2018). Adolescent use of different e-cigarette products. Pediatrics, 142. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-0260.

Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Wei, T., Martey, E., & Goldsmith, P. (2018). Using the WEAI+ to explore gender equity and agricultural empowerment: Baseline evidence among men and women smallholder farmers in Ghana’s Northern Region. Journal of Rural Studies. doi: 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.09.013.

Dr. Melanie Loehwing of the Civic Life Laboratory has just published a book, Homeless Advocacy and the Rhetorical Construction of the Civic Home, in the Rhetoric and Democratic Deliberation Series at Penn State University Press. This book examines conventional and unconventional rhetorical approaches to homeless advocacy in order to theorize how citizens’ everyday rhetorical practices may provide remedies for mistrust, polarization, and displacement in democratic communities. Detailed information about the book as available at http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08214-1.html.

Presentations, Panels, & Conferences

McMillen R, Valentine N. (2018). Adult non-compliance with tobacco-free schools: A risk factor for youth smokeless tobacco use? Oral presentation at the 2018 National Summit on Smokeless Tobacco Prevention.

Robertson, A. A. (2018, October). Enhancing Substance Use Treatment Needs and Service Delivery for Justice Involved Youths: Findings from JJ-TRIALS. Presented at the Addiction Health Services Research Conference, Savannah, GA.

Stubbs-Richardson, M., May, D. C., Nelson, S., & Cresswell, M. (October, 2018). Bullying, Powerless, and Fear: Examining responses to bullying through the lens of the Shadow of Powerlessness. Presented at the Mid-South Sociological Association in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Ty Abernathy attended the Social Science Curriculum Alignment meeting on October 26 at the Holmes Community College Grenada Campus. This meeting included the areas of Criminal Justice (CRJ), Education Psychology (EPY), Psychology (PSY), Geography (GEO), History (HIS), Political Science (PSC), Philosophy and Bible (PHI), Sociology (SOC), and Social Work (SWK) and reviewed course titles, course descriptions, and course learning outcomes in order to ensure consistency with Mississippi’s Community College System.  He represented Mississippi State University, the College of Education, and Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Foundations in Educational Psychology and Human Growth and Development.

Valentine, N., McMillen, R. (2018, October). Adult non-compliance with tobacco-free schools: A risk factor for youth smokeless tobacco use? Oral presentation at the 2018 National Summit on Smokeless Tobacco Prevention, Sacramento, CA.

Dr. Blythe McCance, Chuck Dawkins, and Billy Brister of the MASEP office attended the fall conference of Mississippi Justice Court Judges held in Philadelphia, Ms. on October 4-5.

Billy Brister, Director of MASEP Operations, participated in the State Traffic Records Coordinating Committee Go Team planning session sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Ridgeland, Ms. on October 17.

In October, Drs. Gina Rico Mendez, Kathleen Ragsdale and Mary Read-Wahidi, their students, and their colleagues in Ghana co-authored two abstracts submitted for oral presentation at the World Bank 20th Land & Poverty Conference, including:

  • Rico Méndez, G., Ragsdale, K., Lower, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R. (2019). Customary Land Tenure Systems and Gendered Land Rights in Ghana’s Northern Region: Results from Phase II Gender Equity and Land Tenure Focus Groups. Submitted Oral Presentation. World Bank 20th Land & Poverty Conference, Washington, DC, March 25-29, 2019.
  • Rico Méndez, G., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Ragsdale, K. (2019). Harnessing the Potential for Rural Youth-Inclusive Agri-Food Systems Livelihoods: A Landscape Analysis. Submitted Oral Presentation. World Bank 20th Land & Poverty Conference, Washington, DC, March 25-29, 2019.

In October, Drs. Kathleen Ragsdale and Mary Read-Wahidi, students, colleagues in Ghana co-authored an abstract submitted for oral presentation at the Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting. Graduate Research Assistant Kelly Lower, a Masters student in Applied Anthropology, is the lead author:

  • Lower, K., Ragsdale, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Rico Méndez, G., Yarbrough, T., Asigbee, M., Atiim, P., Kolbila, R. (2019). Exploring Gender and Women’s Land Tenure: Focus Groups with Men and Women Farmers in Ghana’s Northern Region. Submitted Oral Presentation. 79th Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Portland, OR, March 19-23, 2019.
SSRC Chronicles: October 2018