Research Fellow & Research Professor, SSRC, Mississippi State University
Coordinator, Family & Children Research Unit
Research Scientist, Mississippi Health Policy Research Center
Coordinator, Mississippi KIDS COUNT Program
Ph.D., Social Work, University of Alabama
Phone: (662) 325-0851
Linda H. Southward, Ph.D., is Research Fellow & Research Professor at the Social Science Research Center of Mississippi State University, where she coordinates the Family & Children Research Unit. Since 2007, she has served as Director of MS KIDS COUNT, funded in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She also serves as Co-PI on the “Mississippi Data Project” funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and most recently served as PI on a pilot study to analyze developmental screenings among Mississippi’s Pre-K collaborative programs. She has also recently lead a study to explore emergency room visits among Mississippi’s Medicaid population. In addition, she is working in partnership with the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers and serves as PI on the “Status of Philanthropy in Mississippi.”
She has led numerous research studies, with funding from state, national, public and private entities. Among these have included: a five-year Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded study through the Center for MS Health Policy to evaluate the effectiveness of the Mississippi Healthy Student Act of 2007 in the areas of health education, physical education and nutritional practices among Mississippi’s public schools, students, parents and policy makers in addressing childhood overweight and obesity in Mississippi. She was also PI of a 5 year Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) funded oral health study among a network of childcare centers in the Mississippi Delta. She has also conducted regional and national studies of licensed child care centers regarding children’s health status.
Dr. Southward was selected by the AAP’s Center for Child Health Research as one of 50 new leaders in child health. In 2010-2011, she was selected to serve on the Institute of Medicine’s Oral Health Access to Services Committee. She has also worked closely with the American Academy of Pediatrics, having previously served as chair of an early education and child health research consortium.
Prior to coming to the SSRC, Dr. Southward was Director of MSU’s Social Work program, where she was instrumental in leading the program to accreditation with the Council on Social Work Education and has served on numerous boards and in leadership positions in Mississippi. Before coming to Mississippi State University, she worked in two different Public Health Districts in Mississippi, where she built public health social work programs in various counties throughout north and east central Mississippi. She earned a Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Alabama, a M.S.W. from University of Southern Mississippi and she is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers.