The 5 2019 research fellows.


The Social Science Research Center held its annual Open House on Thursday, October 17th at the SSRC. The event saw the installation of the 5 new SSRC Research Fellows (pictured above) and the release of the 2019 Annual Report. Inducted as Research Fellows were:

  • Dr. Terri Hernandez, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication.
  • Dr. Dari Jigjidsuren, Visiting Scholar at the SSRC
  • Dr. Tawny McCleon, Associate Professor in the School Psychology Program in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations
  • Izzy Pelegrine, Project Manager at the SSRC
  • Dr. Ben Porter, Assistant Research Professor at the SSRC.

Annual Report CoverThe 2019 Annual Report included 4 new feature stories on projects and events occurring in the SSRC. To read all 4 stories or to see the individual pieces of the report, visit

As we look forward to the 70th Anniversary of the SSRC in 2020, we’re catching up with former students and researchers. This month hear from Dr. Tonya Neaves on how the SSRC impacted her career. Read the story at

A new unit has formalized under the SSRC’s umbrella. The Evaluation and Research Group will continue current evaluation work while looking to expand in the future. The unit can be found online at


SSRC GRA and Sociology PhD student, Robert Kolbila, received a Third Place Award for his oral presentation at the 2019 MSU Graduate Research Symposium held on October 5th at Mississippi State University

SSRC GRA and Applied Anthropology Masters student, Malavika Jinka, received a First Place Award for her poster presentation at the 2019 MSU Graduate Research Symposium held on October 5th at Mississippi State University.

For their work on the PROMISE Initiative (Preventing Opioid Misuse in the Southeast), David Buys, Ann Sansing, Alisha Hardman, Amanda Stone, Mary Nelson Robertson, Je’Kylynn Steen, and SSRC researcher Holli Seitz received the Distinguished Team Award from the Rho Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi, an organization for Extension professionals.

Dr. Angela Robertson has been asked by the MS Department of Public Safety to serve on the Mississippi Human Trafficking Council, Policy & Legislative Subcommittee.
The following awards were given as part of the Fall Loftin Awards:

  • Adriene Davis: Travel support to attend the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport conference.
  • Laura Jean Kerr: Travel support to attend the 2019 Sociologists for Women in Society Annual Winter Conference.
  • Erin King: Travel support to attend the annual meeting of the Southern Demographic Association.

Members of the Tobacco Control Unit.Tobacco Control Unit was presented with the 2019 MPHA Community Service Award at the Mississippi Public Health Association’s annual conference.

New Projects

Dr. Holli Seitz has received an undergraduate research program award from the MSU Office of Research and Economic Development for the 2019-2020 academic year. The project, “Advancing Undergraduate Research in Communication Science,” will fund research assistantships for undergraduate students in the Message Laboratory interested in studying health and science communication.

The Civic Life Lab, led by Dr. Melanie Loehwing and Dr. Brian Shoup, received a micro-grant from the National Issues Forums Institute to conduct a community forum on political polarization in the spring. The funding supports local efforts to increase community dialogue and deliberation around important issues of public concern.

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale will serve as Principal Investigator and Dr. Mary Read-Wahidi will serve as Co-PI for Year 5 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.

Survey Lab

On behalf of the Mississippi Thrive! Project at the SSRC, the Wolfgang Frese Survey Research Laboratory is conducting a survey of home-based childcare providers’ opinions and practices around developmental health promotion, screening, and referral resources. This web-based survey of approximately 100 childcare providers includes providers across the state of Mississippi and will provide information on a severely under-studied subsection of early childhood professionals. The primary investigators for this research are Drs. Heather Hanna and Connie Baird-Thomas. The survey instrument was constructed by Survey Research Laboratory personnel Dr. John F. Edwards and Amanda Gochanour. Survey administration is being directed by Izzy Pellegrine, Project Manager for the Survey Research Laboratory at the MSU Social Science Research Center.


On October 9-11 Billy Brister, Dr. Blythe McCance, and Chuck Dawkins of MASEP attended a joint meeting of Mississippi Justice Court Judges and Justice Court Clerks in Jackson, Ms. This meeting was sponsored by the Mississippi Judicial College. On Thursday, October 10th, they made a presentation concerning the proper method of ordering an individual to the MASEP program.


SSRC GRA and Applied Anthropology Masters student, Malavika Jinka, is beginning her second term as the Student Technical Representative for the Consortium of Practicing & Applied Anthropologists (COPAA). Jinka assists COPAA in managing its official website at and with reviewing and posting blogs from researchers, faculty, and students for COPAA’s “Notes from the Field” page, which are available at

SSRC Undergraduate Intern and Anthropology major, Laura Ingouf – who was a member of the Fish4Zambia research team that conducted fieldwork in Zambia in July 2019 – was one of three students featured in the “USAID Success Story: Fish4Zambia Builds Capacity through Student Fieldwork Training” written by Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and submitted to the Feed the Future Fish Innovation Lab and USAID.

Dr. Sujan Anreddy has recently been promoted from Computer Specialist to Assistant Research Professor. Dr. Anreddy received his PhD from Mississippi State University in computer science, data visualization, in 2018. His dissertation was on the “Development of Visual Tools for Analyzing Ensemble Error and Uncertainty.”  His research interests include visual analytics, multidimensional projection techniques, glyphs, unsupervised classification, Kernel PCA, uncertainty and error visualization, 3D visualization and human factors. Dr. Anreddy is a member of the Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society.

The Civic Life Laboratory (CLL) has added three new undergraduate assistants for 2019-2020. Randa Byars, Mia Robertson, and Nicole Rigsby will join the CLL this year and start working on the rural-urban dialogues project.


Louine, J. L. and Gardner, S. K. (2019, October). Without a Trace: Identifying Police-Involved Death Victims in the United States, 2013-2016. Presented at the Mid-South Sociological Association Conference. Jackson, MS.

Shope, T. R., Walker, B. H., Aird, L., Southward, L. H., & Martin, J. M. (2019). Influenza Vaccine Requirements in US Child Care Centers. In Press at J Ped Infect Dis

Presentations, Panels & Conferences

McMillen R, Valentine N, McClelland E, Gorzkowski J. (2019). Smoke-Free Ordinances and Policies Protect Youth, but Ordinances Appear to Have Little Impact on Non-Combustible Tobacco Use. Poster presented at the 2019 AAP National Conference and Exhibition, Section on Tobacco Control. New Orleans, LA.

McMillen R, Valentine N, McClelland E. (2019). Who uses pod-based e-cigarettes? Adult cigarette smokers or Adolescents? Paper presented at the annual conference of the Mississippi Public Health Association. Jackson, MS.

McMillen R. (2019). Invited Speaker at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Public Health Association. Vaping: The knowns knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknowns unknowns. Jackson, MS

Robertson. Angela, Xu, Xiaohe, & Morse, David.  (October 18, 2019).  Interagency Relationships and Juvenile Justice Referrals to Substance Use Services.  Oral presentation at the Addiction Health Services Conference, Park City, Utah.

The Civic Life Lab, partnering with the MSU Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, facilitated a community forum on October 28 titled “Safety and Justice: How Should Communities Reduce Violence?” The forum is part of an ongoing monthly dialogue program on campus.

Dr. Melanie Loehwing of the Civic Life Lab delivered an invited talk titled “Tiny Houses for the Homeless: Reinventing Housing Assistance as Picturesque Poverty,” for the annual Distinguished Alumni Lecture for the Department of English at Indiana University.

SSRC Chronicles: October 2019
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