IRP RIDGE Center Visiting Scholars
Each year, the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) invites applications from U.S.-based food assistance scholars to visit the IRP\RIDGE Center for National Food and Nutrition Assistance Research for one to two weeks during the academic year, interact with its faculty in residence, and become acquainted with the staff and resources of the Institute.
The intent of the IRP Research, Innovation, and Development Grants in Economics (RIDGE) Center is to stimulate innovative research related to food assistance programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) and school breakfast and lunch, and to support training of researchers interested in food assistance issues.
Visits of one to two weeks’ duration can be supported during either fall or spring semester of the academic year. The scholars will be invited to give a seminar, to work on their own projects, and to confer with IRP faculty affiliates. Transportation, lodging, and meal expenses will be covered by IRP.
Calls for applications are released in April each year for visits to take place during the following academic year. View the pdf version of the 2012-2013 Call for Visiting Food Assistance Scholar Applications. Applications are due June 30, 2012.
2012–2013 Food Assistance Scholars
Daniel P. Miller, an assistant professor of human behavior in the Boston University School of Social Work, will be in residence from April 13 through 19, 2013. He will present a seminar on April 18.
Miller earned a Ph.D. with distinction in social policy and policy analysis from the Columbia University School of Social Work in 2009. His research and practice interests include child obesity and the effects of the environment on racial and ethnic disparities in rates of overweight and obesity; the intersection of developmental science and social policy; and father involvement and child outcomes. He maintains an interdisciplinary research focus, although his over-abiding interest is in the health and well-being of children and families. He is committed to maintaining his focus on child health by expanding his focus on child food insecurity and food assistance programs.
Miller is a co-principal investigator of a grant, Nonresident Fathers' Involvement and Welfare Policies: Impacts on Childhood Hunger, which has been funded by the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research. Two specific projects funded by the grant are a paper, which takes the novel approach of using multiple datasets to examine whether the prevalence of child food insecurity differs by family structure (two biological parent, single biological mother, cohabiting biological parent, and repartnered biological mother), and how rates of food insecurity change by child age. The second is a paper extending this first effort using growth curve modeling to examine how changes in family structure affect the food insecurity of children in middle to late childhood.
Taryn W. Morrissey, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University, will be in residence from March 11 through 15, 2013. She will present a seminar on March 14.
Morrissey earned a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Cornell University in 2008, with a minor in social and health systems planning. She was a 2008 to 2009 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)/Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Congressional Fellow, and was subsequently hired as a Health Policy Advisor on the staff of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, first for Senator Edward Kennedy and then for Senator Tom Harkin. Morrissey worked primarily on federal health reform legislation, particularly child and maternal health and workforce issues.
Morrissey is interested in the social and economic determinants of children's health and development. Two key areas of focus are the macro- and family-level processes and characteristics that affect children's physical development. At the macro level, her ongoing research, funded by an IRP RIDGE Center grant, examines how local food prices affect young children's body mass index (BMI), eating habits, and food insecurity, and the role that public food assistance plays in exacerbating or mitigating these effects. In related collaborative work also funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she investigates the neighborhood- and family-level predictors of entry into and exit from food insecurity among children prior to entering elementary school.
Andrea Anater, a public health nutrition researcher at RTI International, will be in residence at IRP from March 5 through 9, 2012. She will present a seminar on her work on March 8.
Anater completed her Ph.D. in Health, Behavior, and Society at Johns Hopkins University, where she was also a National Institutes of Health predoctoral fellow and a Center for a Livable Future predoctoral fellow. Much of Anater’s research has focused on the ways that limited-resource households develop food-acquisition coping strategies outside the assistance of government safety net programs and emergency food providers such as food pantries. In a current USDA-funded project, Anater is developing basic categorizations of food security with the goal of using the findings to develop specific program and policy interventions to ensure that individuals have adequate access to food to sustain a healthy life.
Anater’s host and mentor during her visit will be RIDGE Center Director Judith Bartfeld.
Rusty Tchernis is associate professor of economics in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University and is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He will be in residence at IRP from April 9 through April 13, 2012. He will present a seminar on April 11.
Tchernis’s primary areas of research are applied econometrics, health economics, and labor economics. In particular, Tchernis has evaluated school breakfast and lunch programs, the effects of various environmental and geographical factors on childhood obesity, and the ways in which participation in food assistance programs changes the ways that families devote their time to other household tasks. His 2010 edited volume with Daniel Slottje entitled Current Issues in Health Economics brings together leading health economics researchers to examine issues of preventive care and effective use of finite health care resources.
Tchernis will be hosted and mentored by RIDGE Center Director Judith Bartfeld during his stay at IRP.
Christopher Wimer is associate director of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality (CPI) and senior editor of CPI’s Pathways magazine. He will be in residence at IRP from April 9 through 13, 2012, and will be presenting a special seminar on Wednesday, April 10.
Wimer earned a Ph.D. in sociology and social policy from Harvard University in 2007. His main research interests are in inequality, neighborhoods, employment, and family. At CPI, he is engaged in efforts to improve poverty measurement at both the local and national levels, as well as efforts to understand the impacts of the Great Recession on family behaviors and young adults. Alongside these efforts, Wimer has worked with colleagues at CPI to create the San Francisco Economic Distress Index using a variety of public data indicators. Also, in a partnership with the San Francisco Food Bank, he has helped develop measurements of unmet food need in the city of San Francisco.
With a grant from IRP’s RIDGE Center, Wimer and colleagues are studying attitudes and behaviors of non-users of food assistance in order to better understand ways that food assistance programs could meet the needs of more food-insecure people.
IRP Podcast with Christopher Wimer, Measuring unmet food need in San Francisco and Marin County (May 2012)
Wimer will be hosted and mentored by RIDGE Center Director Judith Bartfeld during his visit.
David E. Frisvold, assistant professor of economics, Emory University, will be in residence April 25 through 29, 2011. On April 28 he will present a seminar at IRP on his recent work, "The Federal Reimbursement Rate and the Nutritional Quality of School Meals."
Frisvold received a Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt University in 2006 and was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan from 2006–2008. During his IRP visit, he will continue his research on the influence of federal reimbursement rates on the nutrition quality of meals provided through the School Breakfast Program (SBP), a project that is an extension of his IRP RIDGE-funded (2008–09) research on the impact of the availability of the SBP on cognitive achievement.
He is interested in understanding whether food assistance programs, particularly the SBP, improve the nutrition and school performance of low-income children. His current research on the impact of the availability of the SBP on cognitive achievement and childhood obesity suggests that state mandates that require schools to offer the SBP have improved childhood outcomes. Yet, an improvement in the quality of the meals provided could perhaps further benefit children. Additionally, as food prices have increased more so than the federal reimbursement rate in recent years, there is the possibility that the nutritional quality of meals will decrease. He is interested in understanding how the federal reimbursement rate influences the nutritional quality of breakfast and, in turn, whether students consume breakfast.
Frisvold’s host and mentor during his stay will be RIDGE Center Director Judith Bartfeld.
H. Luke Shaefer, assistant professor of social work, University of Michigan, and research affiliate, National Poverty Center, will be in residence February 28–March 4, 2011. On March 3 he will present a seminar at IRP on his recent work, "The Effects of SNAP on the Food Security of Poor Families with Children: New Evidence using an Instrumental Variables Approach."
He is co-principal investigator on a two-year project to examine food assistance and child well-being in collaboration with Sheldon Danziger. The project builds on his existing research on families supported by low-wage workers, economic shocks, and the U.S. social safety net. He is analyzing data from the 2004 and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), utilizing topical modules with data on food security and other measures of well-being.
Shaefer is examining the effects of participation in food assistance programs on well-being for children living in low-income families that experience adverse economic shocks—job loss, divorce, or separation. The analyses focus on the two largest food assistance programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) and the National School Lunch Program (for children receiving free or reduced-price lunches). The primary measure of child well-being will be food insecurity, a key outcome used by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to evaluate food assistance programs.
Shaefer’s host and mentor during his stay will be RIDGE Center Director Judith Bartfeld.