Principal Investigator | Robert McMillen, PhD
Science Guided Advocacy, SSRC: 60 Years of Commitment to Innovation & Excellence
Dr. McMillen is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment with the Social Science Research Center and the Department of Psychology. He directs the National Social Climate Survey of Tobacco Control through a cooperative project with the Social Science Research Center and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Julius B. Richmond Center. Dr. McMillen also serves as Principal Investigator for the Surveillance and Evaluation Services grant for the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Office of Tobacco Control.
His research has been published in Pediatrics, the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Rural Health, the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, the Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association, and Psychological Record. Through the Mississippi Health Policy Research Center, Dr. McMillen has published numerous fact sheets and policy papers that have informed decisions about health risk behaviors and chronic disease in Mississippi. His research has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, the Mississippi State Department of Health, The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi, the American Cancer Society, North Mississippi Medical Center, the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, My Brother’s Keeper, and the Center for Mississippi Health Policy.
Dr. McMillen also serves as the Committee Chair of the Environmental Tobacco Smoke Prevention Committee of the Mississippi Tobacco Control Network. In recognition of his research contributions, he was awarded the 2006 Prevention of Cancer in Mississippi Award by the Mississippi Partnership of Comprehensive Cancer Control. He is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee and holds a Master of Science degree in experimental psychology from Mississippi State University and a Doctoral degree in social psychology from the University of Georgia.
Project Coordinator | Nell Valentine, MS
The Youth Tobacco Survey, SSRC: 60 Years of Commitment to Innovation & Excellence
Mrs. Valentine is a graduate of Mississippi State University and holds a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology. Since 2002, she has coordinated the Mississippi Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS). This survey provides states with the data needed to design, implement, and evaluate comprehensive tobacco control programs. Currently, Mrs. Valentine is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to administer and analyze the results from a split sample of the 2008 YTS. She is also part of the work group providing surveillance services for the statewide tobacco prevention program. Through the Mississippi Health Policy Research Center, Mrs. Valentine has published numerous fact sheets and policy papers that have informed decisions about health risk behaviors, chronic disease, and increased cigarette tax proposals in Mississippi. Her research has been also been published in the Journal of the Mississippi Medical Association.
Program Evaluator | Colleen Harris, MS
Colleen Harris serves as Project Director and Research Fellow for the Social Science Research Center since 2008. Harris has conducted research on the social determinants of health among minority and vulnerable populations — with a particular focus on childhood overweight and obesity prevention, physical fitness, health education, and program evaluation. Her publications have appeared in journals such as the Journal of School Health, Journal of Health Disparities Research & Practice, Journal of Pediatric Nursing and Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association. She was Project Director for the Public Data Safety Lab (PSDL) which was established in 2007 in partnership with the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety. The lab in part assisted the State of Mississippi in meeting its Highway Safety Performance Plan by collecting, accessing, and investigating fact-based traffic safety records data (2014-2015). Harris was the PI on Project Fit America Evaluation Project funded by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation (2012-2014). Harris was part of the research team that conducted the parental telephone survey on Mississippi House Bill 999 regarding the upcoming sex education implementation (2011). Most recently she has joined the Office of Tobacco Control unit as a program evaluator for various programs around the state.
Program Evaluator | Anne Buffington
Anne Cherry Buffington has had a varied career in public service, education, and the communication fields. Her career includes service as Senator Thad Cochran’s Education advisor for the Committee on Labor and Human Resources as well as Deputy Press Secretary to the Senator. During her tenure in Washington, Buffington developed education strategy and drafted related legislation, floor remarks, and policy statements of behalf of the Senator and served as his spokesperson to state and national news media.
Buffington has experience in the broadcasting arena as a news director for WOKK/WALT Radio in Meridian, Mississippi and as a reporter and anchor for WTOK TV in Meridian. She has taught public speaking and public relations courses at Mississippi State University and developed/taught graduate level curriculum on public relations strategies for those in the public service arena.
From 2003 to 2008, Buffington served as a member of the Starkville School District’s Board of Trustees. As President of the board, Buffington directed the passage of a $26.5 million dollar school bond issue, which to date is the largest school bond issue passed in the city of Starkville. Additionally, Buffington served as the chief spokesperson for the board, guided strategic planning efforts for the district, wrote and revised school policy, and oversaw an annual budget of over $40 million.
At the Social Science Research Center located at Mississippi State University, Buffington’s work focuses primarily on issues affecting children and youth with a special emphasis on the K-12 community. She has directed the Mississippi KIDS COUNT policy work related to chronic absence for the last three years. She has done qualitative research on numerous projects including a two year evaluation of Project Fit America, sponsored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and a five year evaluation of the impact of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act of 2007 sponsored by the Mississippi Center for Health Policy. Additionally, Buffington directed an evaluation project on behalf of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation located at the University of Mississippi. Currently Buffington serves as a program evaluator for the Mississippi State Department of Health’s Office of Tobacco Control.
Her work examining barriers to completion for women students in the Mississippi Community College system has led to the development of the EMPOWR (Empowering Mentors to Promote Women’s Retention) program. Now in its third year, EMPOWR is located at Meridian Community College, Hinds Community College/Jackson Campus, and the East Mississippi Community College Golden Triangle campus. EMPOWR is sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi. She is a frequent contributor to the annual Mississippi KIDS COUNT Data Book. In April 2016, Buffington was the recipient of the Outstanding Professional Woman award at Mississippi State University by the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
Senior Graphic Designer | Miranda Robertson, BFA
Mrs. Robertson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, with an emphasis in Graphic Design and was recently promoted to the position of Graphic Designer for MS Tobacco Data at the Social Science Research Center (SSRC). She joined Dr. Robert McMillen’s Mississippi Tobacco Data staff in August 2009 as a part-time Undergraduate Graphic Designer. She now serves as Senior Graphic Designer for Dr. McMillen in the Tobacco Control Unit. Mrs. Robertson’s recent projects include the design of publications such as the 2013 Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) booklet and the Mississippi Air Quality Study Report, as well as many charts, posters and other publications for Dr. McMillen’s research. She also updates mstobaccodata.org to feature new publications. Currently, Mrs. Robertson is designing a data book for the Youth Tobacco Survey and developing a branding packet for this survey which includes a logo, mailing labels, etc. She is involved with the Starkville Area Arts Council and the American Institute of Graphic Artists. She has recently earned an Outstanding Achievement award from HOW Magazine for her Handmade Self-Promotional Book and was featured in the September 2011 Edition. In the past, Mrs. Robertson has achieved state and regional level awards for her design work.
Data Management Coordinator | Emily McClelland, MS
Emily McClelland is a graduate of Mississippi State University and holds a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology. She was recently promoted to Data Management Coordinator. Emily began working for Mississippi Tobacco Data at the Social Science Research Center in June of 2010. Emily is currently analyzing results from the 2015 Mississippi Student Tobacco Survey and the 2014 Youth Tobacco Survey. She is also assisting Nell Valentine with coordinating the 2015 Youth Tobacco Survey, along with preparing analyses for several other projects.
Research Associate | Malcolm Huell, BS
Mr. Malcolm Huell joined the staff of the Mississippi Tobacco Data at the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) in November 2011. He was recently promoted to a part-time Research Associate position and works for Dr. Robert McMillen, Associate Professor of Psychology and Coordinator for the Mississippi Tobacco Control Data Laboratory. Mr. Huell graduated in December 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree with a double concentration in pre-med and Botany. He has been on the dean’s list/president’s list for the past four years and he was the second place winner at the 2011 Downer Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium. Mr. Huell will continue to work at the SSRC while pursuing his graduate degree in Biology with a concentration in Botany or pursuing a medical degree in Ophthalmology.
Graduate Research Assistant | Jessica Bryant, MS
Mrs. Jessica Bryant is a graduate research assistant currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. She joined the staff of the Social Science Research Center in the summer of 2014. Mrs. Bryant graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with honors. She is currently working on her thesis with Dr. E. Samuel Winer focusing on the effects of certain variables on motivation for reward.
Undergraduate Research Assistant | Rachel Booth
Rachel Booth is a first year psychology major at Mississippi State University who joined the SSRC team in December 2016. She also works as an Undergraduate Research Student in Dr. Andrew Jarosz’s cognition lab and for Dr. Isaac Howard in the CMRC. She is planning to graduate in May of 2019 and continue to graduate school for cognitive psychology.