SSRC Chronicles: March 2012

The Social Science Research Center (SSRC) and the Harvard School of Public Health seek candidates for a Postdoctoral Fellowship. The Fellowship will explore health and economic systems with particular emphasis on the link between health and economic development. The position is ideal for junior scholars interested in health economics, policy or systems. The Fellow will seek to develop multi-institution, interdisciplinary teams to investigate and promote health and wealth in the Mississippi Delta. He or she will actively engage in Delta-focused research and education activities at Mississippi State University and Harvard University, spending three-quarters of their time at the SSRC under the mentorship of Prof. Arthur G. Cosby and one-quarter time at the Harvard School of Public Health under the mentorship of Prof. David Bloom. Interested applicants should contact Dr. Cosby ( for more information.

Over June 11-15, faculty from MSU and the University of Zagreb will conduct a weeklong seminar at the Center for Advanced Academic Studies at the University of Zagreb in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The seminar, entitled “Explorations in Emerging Data for the Social Sciences,” will introduce participants to analyzing social media data such as Twitter feed and Google Ngram outputs. Instructors will utilize the social media metrics data interface developed at the SSRC to design and access data throughout the course. Research examples will include studies of media elites, event monitoring, social sciences indices development, marketing icons, policy formation and food culture. A limited number of seminar seats are still available. If you are interested in attending, please contact Dr. Arthur G. Cosby (

The SSRC is currently developing a Wikipedia page to provide an easily accessible overview of the Center. The page will go online in April.

During March, Dr. Angela Robertson and Ms. Kathleen Gresham traveled to two drug court sites in Mississippi to meet with Mr. Anthony Walker, Mr. Walter “T.” Rueff and Mr. Jared Grigg, Drug Court Project intervention facilitators, and drug court judges to establish protocol for recruiting participants and intervention implementation. At this time, the facilitators have already recruited participants, and the intervention program is underway.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, was interviewed by Karen Wynne of the WLOS ABC affiliate news station of Asheville, North Carolina, regarding on the National Weather Association Town Hall research on tornado survivor weather warning perceptions. Dr. Myers was also interviewed by Russell Lewis of National Public Radio (NPR) on human behavior expectations in severe tornado events. Both interviews aired March 14, 2012. Click here to view the feature.

The Mississippi Electronic Citation Implementation (eCite) team is training the remaining divisions of the Mississippi Highway Patrol (MHP), including Motor Carrier, and is currently working on the pilot stages of eCite implementations of city and counties within the state.

Ms. Lynn Pullen, Division of Youth Services Regional Director, met with Dr. Angela Robertson and Ms. Sheena Gardner on March 28, 2012, regarding work being conducted by the Crime and Justice Unit at the Social Science Research Center with the Mississippi Youth Court Information Delivery System (MYCIDS) and the Division of Youth Services Statistics.

An SSRC team comprised of Ms. Jennifer Alberson, Ms. Kathleen Gresham, Mr. Bill Henderson, Ms. Jean Mann and Dr. Angela Robertson from Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP) Operations and MASEP Research and Development continue collaboration with Dr. Laura Walton and Ms. Sydney Hall of the SSRC’s Media Collaboration Laboratory to redesign the MASEP webpage. The new webpage will serve not only as a resource for participants in the MASEP program, but also as a resource for research and policy-users by highlighting research and program development. A new MASEP logo has been designed by Ms. Miranda Means, Head Graphic Designer of the SSRC’s Mississippi Tobacco Data Laboratory. Click here to view the newly designed MASEP logo.

Survey Lab
The Wolfgang Frese Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) is collecting data for a telephone-based survey of 800 restaurant owners and managers throughout the state of Mississippi. The purpose of this research is to better understand the restaurant industry’s attitude toward smoke-free legislation. The lead researcher on this project is Dr. Robert McMillen, Associate Research Professor and Coordinator of the Tobacco Control Unit at the Social Science Research Center. The data collection process is being overseen by Dr. John F. Edwards, MAFES Research Scientist and Coordinator of SSRC Laboratories.

The SRL is also collecting data for a telephone-based survey of 3,600 parents who have at least one child attending public school in the state of Mississippi. The purpose of this research is to better understand parent’s attitudes toward the Mississippi Healthy Students legislation and provide researchers with more information concerning the degree to which family knowledge, attitudes, and practices influence children’s health. This research is funded by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy. The lead researcher on this project is Dr. Linda H. Southward, Coordinator of the Family and Children Research Unit at the Social Science Research Center. Dr. John F. Edwards, Coordinator of SSRC Laboratories, is overseeing the data collection.

The SRL just completed a project titled, “Mississippi Delta Nutrient Management: Stakeholder Awareness Survey.” This survey stems from a large research effort related to action plans calling for the reduction of nutrient flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The action plans have been developed by The Mississippi River & Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. As a member of both programs, the State of Mississippi is developing the Mississippi Delta Nutrient Reduction Strategy to reduce nutrient loads to the Gulf of Mexico. Delta Farmers Advocating Resource Management and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) are co-leading this effort. The survey involved over 1,000 telephone-based interviews with various stakeholders including farmers, conservationists, agricultural regulators, environmental advocates, agricultural consultants, research scientists, educators and public officials. The survey probed stakeholders’ opinions concerning watershed management and nutrient reduction. At Mississippi State University, the lead researcher involved with this project is Dr. Wes Burger, Associate Director of the Forest and Wildlife Research Center and MAFES. The survey administration and data collection was overseen by Dr. John F. Edwards, MAFES Research Scientist and Coordinator of SSRC Laboratories.

Awards & Recognitions
Tonya T. Neaves, Research Fellow and Project Coordinator, was inducted as the Student Representative to National Council at this year’s annual meeting for the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) held March 2-6 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonya was appointed as the 2012-13 Vice-Chair and 2013-14 Chair for “Strategic Imperative #5: Reorganize for Change.” She was also asked to serve on the 2013-14 Conference Leadership Team. And, while there, Tonya, along with lead author Larry D. Terry, III, presented “Integrated Emergency Management: The Intergovernmental Response to the 2003 and 2007 San Diego Wildfires.”

Dr. Laura R. Walton, APR, coauthored a paper that received a “Top Three Paper Award” at the 15th International Public Relations Research Conference ( in Miami, Florida, March 8-10. “‘A great day for oiled pelicans’: BP, Twitter and the Deep Water Horizon crisis response” is a content analysis of one of BP’s Twitter accounts (@Restore_TheGulf) within the framework of the Strategic Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT). Walton coauthored the analysis with Drs. Skye Cooley and John Nicholson, both assistant professors in the Department of Communication. Dr. Nicholson presented the paper at the IPRRC and accepted the $1,000 award on behalf of the authors. A revised version of the article is under review with the Journal of Public Relations.

On the Horizon
Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, was interviewed by Rich Thomas of the WSFA NBC affiliate news station in Montgomery, Alabama, on the Birmingham Integrated Warning Team study. The interview will air in April.

The Mississippi Electronic Citation Implementation (eCite) team will continue training the remaining Mississippi Highway Patrol in April and May.

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale has been invited to serve as Moderator for the Multi-Channel Communication: Phone, Chat & Text Helplines panel at the Sex::Tech 5th Annual ISIS Conference on New Media, Youth & Sexual Health ( The conference is held April 1-3 in San Francisco.

Dr. Angela Robertson has accepted an invitation from the Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, to serve on a Special Emphasis Panel (SEP) that will review pre-doctoral (F30, F31) and post-doctoral (F32) AIDS Fellowship applications including those for both behavioral and basic AIDS and AIDS-related training. The meeting is scheduled for April 3 in Bethesda, MD.

Dr. Laura R. Walton, APR, and Ms. M.B. Humphrey, an undergraduate communication assistant in the Media Collaboration Laboratory, will present “The Public Relations Internship Experience: A Qualitative Assessment” to the Southern States Communication Association (SSCA) annual conference ( The conference will be held in San Antonio, Texas, over April 11-15. The paper was selected as the “top paper” for the PR Division. Dr. Walton will also organize and participate in a panel presentation entitled, “Developing Consensus: Creating Unity in Defining the Public Relations Process” at the conference.

Dr. Angela Robertson and Mr. Lee McClusky’s poster, “MASEP: 40 years of DUI Research and Program Development,” was accepted for presentation at the 5th Annual Mississippi School for Addiction Professionals meeting April 10-13 at the Hattiesburg Convention Center, Hattiesburg, MS.

Ms. Monica Rosas, Research Associate, is assisting in organizing the First International Scholars’ Meeting to be held April 12 at 5:15 p.m. in the SSRC’s Courtyard. This will be the first time to recognize all of the work of the international faculty and staff working on campus, and it also intends to encourage the growth of international collaborations. The meeting represents an opportunity to network among international colleagues, as well as to hear about the resources available for international partnerships offered by Dr. William B. “Benjy” Mikel, the new associate vice president for international programs and executive director of the university’s International Institute. The meeting and reception is co-hosted by the SSRC and the International Institute.

The MCL submitted its three Bulldog PRism-winning projects for consideration in the state-level PRAM Prism competition. Awards will be announced at the PRAM conference ( over April 12-13 in Columbus.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, will attend the Tallahatchie Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) April 19 in Charleston, MS.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, will attend the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Science Foundation workshop entitled, “Weather Ready Nation: Science Imperatives for Severe Thunderstorm Research” in Birmingham, Alabama, during the week of April 24-26. Dr. Myers is an invited participant.

Research Associate III Rahel Mathews, MPH, will present her paper “Prevalence of untreated tooth decay among children under age 5 in the Mississippi Delta, related risk factors and barriers to accessing care” at the National Oral Health Conference ( She presents at the request of the Mississippi Department of Health; the conference will occur over April 30-May 2, in Milwaukee.

Drs. Ronald Cossman, Jeralynn Cossman, Wesley James and Gerald Shoultz had a paper accepted for presentation in July, hosted by the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Their paper is entitled “The Association Between Migration and Mortality at the U.S. County Level – Are Health Rates Stable When Populations Are Not?” The special two-day conference is titled “Innovative Perspectives on Population Mobility: Mobility, Immobility and Well-Being.”

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale is collaborating with Dr. Alexander Rödlach (Creighton University) on a panel entitled, “Cross-cutting Borders between Community and Health: Health Disparities and Community Health across Diverse Vulnerable Populations.” They will submit the panel for consideration as an Invited Session at the 2012 American Anthropological Association Conference held November 14-18 in San Francisco.

Dr. Angela Robertson, P.I., and Dr. Laura Myers, Co-P.I., submitted a letter of intent to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative’s Request for Proposals (RFP-II). The proposed research assesses “The Impact of Oil Spills and Response Efforts on Public Health and Community Well-being.”

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale and colleagues are currently revising the manuscript “Development of sexual expectancies among adolescents with no prior sexual intercourse experience: Contributions by parents, peers and the media” for resubmission to the Journal of Sex Research.

Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale (Co-PI) is collaborating with MSU colleagues from the Department of Food Science, Nutrition & Health Promotion on an NIH grant proposal entitled ”Jackson Heart Study Participants’ Dietary and Physical Activity Behaviors that Attenuate or Exacerbate Obesity and Diabetes” (Dr. Diane Tidwell, PI).

Presentations, Panels & Conferences
Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, facilitated the Grenada County Mississippi Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) on February 2, 2012, in Grenada, MS, as well as the Chickasaw County Mississippi Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) February 3, 2012, in Okolona, MS.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, facilitated the Integrated Warning Team (IWT) meeting in Birmingham, AL, February 23, 2012.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, attended a Weather Awareness Workshop on February 26, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, attended a Weather Awareness Workshop on February 28, 2012 in Birmingham, AL. Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, attended Alabama’s Severe Storm Alert 2012 in Cullman, AL, February 28, 2012, and in Jacksonville, AL, March 5, 2012, in order to receive more information for the Severe Weather Survey, which was started in November 2011.

Dr. John F. Edwards, Coordinator of SSRC Laboratories, and Mr. Sean Galey, Lead Graphic Designer for the Innovative Data Laboratory attended the 2012 Annual meeting of the Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations (AASRO) held at The University of Georgia in Athens on March 1. The Social Science Research Center is a member organization of AASRO. The Directors of more than 40 academically based survey organizations attended the meeting. At the meeting, Dr. Edwards presented a beta version of the SSRC’s new Social Media Tracking software and Mr. Galey provided a demonstration of a new AASRO website developed by the Survey Research Laboratory at the SSRC.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, attended the South Carolina Emergency Management Agency Conference during the week of March 11-13 in Spartanburg, SC. While there, Dr. Myers facilitated the National Weather Service/Media Emergency Management Roundtable.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, attended and presented at the Atlanta Integrated Warning Team (IWT) committee meeting at the Gwinnett County Office of Emergency Management on March 15, 2012, Lawrenceville, GA.

Valentine, N., Colvin, L., & Means, M. (2012, March). The Mississippi Youth Tobacco Survey. Presented at Mississippi Kick Butts Day on March 21 in Jackson, MS.

Ms. Sheena Gardner, Research Associate I, presented a paper titled, “Beauty Standards: The Negotiation of Social Life among African American College Women,” at the Southern Sociological Society conference held at Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans (March 21-24).

Dr. Angela Robertson attended the Southern Sociological Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans (March 21-24).

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, facilitated the Monroe County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meeting March 22, Amory, MS.

Dr. Laura Myers, Research Professor, and Ms. Ashley Loftin, Research Associate I, attended and presented at the National Hurricane Conference during the week of March 27-29, 2012, Orlando, FL.

Bill Henderson attended a planning meeting at the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety and a Law Enforcement Liaison meeting for the Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop G area.

Bill Henderson, Billy Brister and Blythe McCance attended a Municipal Court Clerks Training Conference in Jackson and a Justice Court Judges Training Conference in Philadelphia.

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