Research Projects

The Carolina Population Center supports more than 50 ongoing research projects funded by federal and foundation support. These projects range from $50,000 per year to the MEASURE Evaluation project with a ceiling of $180 million and evolve constantly. The center’s researchers work on diverse topics including life course changes from adolescence through adulthood, nutritional transitions in the US and internationally that affect obesity, the role of providing cash to individuals to change their behaviors and improve their health, the role of genomics in health, and how health information systems can be advanced and used to improve the health of a community, country, or the world. The following are links to descriptions of the funded grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements administered at CPC, showing the extensive work done by the center.

Add Health (The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health)

Kathleen Mullan Harris

Add Health is a nationally representative study of the health and behavior of adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States in 1994-95 who have been followed through adolescence and the transition to adulthood with special emphasis on the effects of social context.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Agricultural Intervention for Food Security and HIV Health Outcomes in Kenya

Harsha Thirumurthy

This project is designed to (1) determine the impact of a multisectoral agricultural intervention among HIV-infected farmers on antiretroviral therapy (ART) on HIV clinical outcomes, (2) to understand the pathways through which the multisectoral intervention may improve HIV health outcomes,D76 and (3) determine the cost effectiveness of such an intervention in sub-Saharan Africa and similar settings.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Assessing the Effect of Household Member Mortality on Mental Health Outcomes Using Longitudinal Data from South Africa

Harsha Thirumurthy, Marisa Domino

This project aims to enhance understanding of how mortality influences mental health outcomes in South Africa to determine the level of need for mental health services and effective ways to improve the targeted provision of such services.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Carolina Population Center

Phil Morgan, Nancy Dole

This NICHD center infrastructure grant supports the population research and training activities of the Carolina Population Center.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey

Linda S. Adair

This program follows a cohort of Filipino women who gave birth between May 1, 1983, and April 30, 1984. Originally conceptualized as a study of infant feeding patterns and how feeding decisions interact with social, economic, and environmental factors to affect health, nutritional, demographic, and economic outcomes, this cohort was reinterviewed in 1991-2, 1994, and 1999.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Center for Galapagos Studies

Stephen J. Walsh

The Center for Galapagos Studies (CGS) is the coordinating unit for UNC's Galapagos Initiative, which marshals Carolina's research strengths to address the complex human and environmental pressures in the Galapagos archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and birthplace of evolutionary science.

Childhood Family Instability, Adult Stress Reactivity, and Consequences for Health

Kathleen Mullan Harris

This project contributes to the field by examining the enduring health consequences of childhood exposure to dynamic family structures, a common life experience for today’s children. Findings will further our understanding of the ways in which the social environment “gets under the skin” to influence physiological functioning and biological processes that have consequences for health.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS)

Barry M. Popkin

This project was designed to examine the effects of the health, nutrition, and family planning policies and programs implemented by national and local governments and to see how the social and economic transformation of Chinese society is affecting the health and nutritional status of its population.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Climate, Population Health, and Well-being over Time

Clark Gray

This project investigates how short- to medium-term climate variability affects population well-being and migration across a wide spectrum of development and urbanization. The project focuses on China over a period of rapid transformation (1989-2014). Social data will be derived from two large-sample longitudinal household surveys that have measured health, economic status, and population mobility across China during this time period.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Early Life Mortality in the United States

Robert Hummer, Richard G. Rogers (University of Colorado)

The goal of this project is to develop a theoretically based fine-grained understanding of early life mortality in the United States in relation to recent changes in racial/ethnic composition and socioeconomic and family structure.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Ecuador Projects

Richard E. Bilsborrow, Stephen J. Walsh

This program investigates the social, economic, and demographic effects on land use change among colonist and indigenous communities in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon.

Energy Transitions and Environmental Change in East and Southern Africa's Coupled Human, Terrestrial, and Atmospheric Systems

Pamela Jagger

This study has three main scientific challenges: (1) seek to understand at a relatively fine scale the drivers of change in land use and air quality; (2) use high-quality field data from Malawi to calibrate, validate, and scale regional land use and air quality models to understand past, present, and future scenarios of environmental change in the region; and (3) evaluate the potential for a novel scalable household energy intervention to mitigate the predicted impacts of environmental change.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Environmental Changes and Health Outcomes across 25 Years: Four US Cities

Penny Gordon-Larsen

The 25-year, longitudinal Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study provides a wide age range and high quality longitudinal, biological, behavioral and anthropometry and biomarker data, geographic diversity, and different patterns and pace of change across the four baseline cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Oakland. The research team has developed a unique method to use retrospective and contemporary sources to create data on the timing and placement of introductions, renovations, and closures of: (1) food resources, (2) recreation facilities, and (3) transportation infrastructure in the four cities over a 25-year period.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Evaluating Sustained Adoption of Inyenyeri's Improved Stove and Fuel Initiative in Rwanda

Pamela Jagger

This project evaluates the impact of a private sector cookstove and fuel distribution intervention on sustained uptake of improved stove technology and fuel pellets, exposure to airborne pollutants, and household welfare in general.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Evaluating the Impact of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage (SSB) and Nonessential Food Taxes in Mexico

Barry M. Popkin, Juan Rivera

This project focuses on developing a basic understanding of Mexico's sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax and the industry's response.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Evaluation of a Quality Improvement Maternal and Newborn Health Intervention in Ethiopia

Kavita Singh, Abiyou Kiflie

UNC is partnering with an Ethiopian research organization to conduct an external evaluation of a Quality Improvement Maternal and Newborn Health Intervention in Ethiopia. UNC is a subcontractor to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) on their grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Evaluation of the LEAP 1000 Program in Ghana

Clare Barrington

This project uses a mixed-methods evaluation to determine the impact of the Ghana Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) 1000 cash transfer program along with the processes and mechanisms through which impact is achieved.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Extreme Events as Transformative Factors in Pastoral Social Ecological Systems

Paul W. Leslie, J. Terrence McCabe (University of Colorado)

This project will clarify the role of extreme events in the ongoing transformation of the vast rangelands of East Africa, a transformation that entails changing livelihood patterns and land use, fragmentation of the landscape, and impacts on wildlife, which together have far-reaching consequences for local and national economies and for the vulnerability of local people.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Infant Care Project

Margaret E. Bentley

This research examines behavioral and environmental factors that significantly influence infant health outcomes in the first two years of life. The study is currently being conducted among African-American mother-infant pairs in North Carolina.

LAMHA - Latino Adolescent Migration, Health and Adaptation Project

Krista M. Perreira

This project is a mixed-method, descriptive study of the mental health status and needs of immigrant youth and their families.

Leap Impact Evaluation: Third Wave to Determine Long-term Impacts of LEAP

Gustavo Angeles

This project is supporting the UNICEF Ghana office to implement a rigorous impact evaluation of the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP) Program in Ghana. This includes determining the long-term impacts of the program by implementing a third wave of the LEAP evaluation that began in 2010 and had a subsequent follow-up in 2012, as well as establishing a new nationally representative baseline that includes households fitting the new eligibility criteria for LEAP.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Life Course Studies

Glen H. Elder, Jr.

These studies relate human development to the life course in changing environments, with emphasis on educational processes or linkages, e.g., socialization and mastery learning.

MEASURE Evaluation

James Thomas

MEASURE Evaluation is a $180 million project of the Carolina Population Center and USAID’s flagship project to strengthen capacity in developing countries to gather, interpret, and use data to improve health. We create tools and approaches for rigorous evaluations, providing evidence to address health challenges. And we strengthen health information systems so countries can make better decisions and sustain good health outcomes over time. MEASURE Evaluation is a "leader with associates" cooperative agreement with associate awards in Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Measurement, Learning & Evaluation (MLE) Project for the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative

David K. Guilkey

The Urban Reproductive Health Initiative, a multi-country program targeting the urban poor, improves contraceptive choice and increases access to high quality, voluntary family planning. Because 1 in 3 urban residents live in slums, many beyond the reach of health services, the URHI aims to increase the equitable distribution of family planning services. The Initiative links country-level consortia with evaluation experts on the Measurement, Learning & Evaluation (MLE) Project who will identify the most effective country-level approaches, facilitate knowledge sharing, and build a robust evidence base to shape future urban family planning, reproductive health, and integrated maternal and newborn health programs.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Migration and Child Development

Linda S. Adair

In Nicaragua, this project will quantify the impact of parental absence(s) versus remittance transfers on left-behind children's well-being as measured by three indicators of physical development and identify the extent to which the combination of parental absences with the infusion of remittances are beneficial or detrimental to left-behind children's physical development.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Monitoring and Evaluation for Feed the Future Feedback Program

Siân L. Curtis

This FEEDBACK evaluation effort focuses on the Feed the Future Initiative to inform policy, investment, and intervention decisions related to food security in vulnerable countries.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Multilevel Mechanisms of HIV Acquisition in Young South African Women

This project's objective is to determine the effect and mechanisms of effect of key social determinants measured at multiple levels (e.g., individual, household, and community) that influence HIV acquisition in young women in South Africa.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Nang Rong Projects

Barbara Entwisle, Ronald R. Rindfuss Stephen J. Walsh

These studies were conducted for monitoring and understanding demographic and social changes occurring in Nang Rong, Thailand.

Next Generation Real-time Monitoring for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Adherence in Young Kenyan Women

Harsha Thirumurthy

The overall goal of this project is to utilize the next-generation Wisepill to explore the combination of real-time adherence monitoring with real-time adherence feedback, triangulated with real-time assessment of sexual risk behavior, as a means of HIV prevention in young HIV-uninfected Kenyan women initiating pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Nutrition Transition Program

Barry M. Popkin

This program involves a set of research projects studying the rapid increases in inactivity and obesity, and the associated rise in noncommunicable diseases, that have occurred along with other rapid social and economic changes in the developing world.

Nutrition-related Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Prevention Training in China

Barry M. Popkin

This grant focuses on capacity building related to large-scale program and policy analysis in the nutrition-related noncommunicable disease (NR-NCD) area. The primary focus of this research training and related institutional development is on issues linked with dietary and physical activity patterns and preventing obesity and the related comorbidities.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

ONEdata - Obesity & Neighborhood Environment Database

Penny Gordon-Larsen

The Obesity and Neighborhood Environment database is a unique collection of variables derived using spatial analysis techniques within a large scale Geographic Information System (GIS) that links community-level data to individual Add Health respondent residential locations in both space and time. Community-level data include density and proximity to recreational facilities, land use patterning, population, economic, climate, and crime statistics, which are linked spatially and temporally to individual-level Add Health behavior and health outcome data.

Pathways to HIV Risk among Orphan School Dropouts in Kenya

Lisa D. Pearce, Hyunsan Cho

Specific aims of this study are: (1) identify and describe key contextual factors that either protect orphans from or put them at risk of dropping out of school, and (2) examine key contextual factors that either protect orphans from or increase their risk of HIV infection.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Population Research Training

Carolyn Tucker Halpern

The NICHD-NRSA training grant develops CPC trainees' skills needed to carry out successful population-relevant research, primarily through collaboration with experienced faculty researchers on population-relevant research. The keystone of the training program is an individualized faculty mentor preceptor-trainee relationship.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Population, Land Use and Health Dynamics of Biomass Fuel Use in Sub-Saharan Africa

Pamela Jagger

This project tests the central hypothesis that meso and macro level variables including land use and land cover change, population dynamics, and variable rates of infrastructure and market development influence fuel and technology options, and in turn observed respiratory health, nutrition, and socioeconomic outcomes.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Preferences, Expectations, and the Prediction of Health and Economic Behavior

Harsha Thirumurthy

This project combines insights from economics and psychology and applies them to HIV/AIDS in ways that provide a better understanding of individuals’ health behaviors as well as their behavioral responses to reduced life expectancy.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition Study (PIN)

Anna Maria Siega-Riz

This study examines a range of potential risk factors for preterm birth, focusing primarily on psychosocial stress, physical activity, placental characteristics, infection, nutrition, health behaviors, socioeconomic characteristics, and other health, social, and contextual factors. Factors affecting weight retention in the postpartum period are also examined.

Program and Policy Options for Preventing Obesity in the Low, Middle, and Transitional Income Countries: Background Research and Program Evaluation

Barry M. Popkin, Francesca Carpentier

The Global Food Research Program at UNC's Carolina Population Center is working with a number of countries to assist in the design and subsequent monitoring and impact evaluation in low- and middle-income countries of large-scale regulatory actions used to improve the food purchasing patterns, diets, and health of individuals in each country.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Providing Expert Consultation to UNICEF

Gustavo Angeles

This project is a long-term arrangement (LTA) between UNC’s Carolina Population Center and UNICEF’s Office of Research-Innocenti (OoR) to provide consulting services on (1) evaluability assessment and technical review of existing evaluations, and (2) conducting impact evaluations, for seven topical areas, including: social protection including cash transfers; education or youth development; health and nutrition including health insurance schemes; emergency programming; family and parenting support programs; violence awareness and prevention; and communication for development (C4D).

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Racial Disparities in Cancer Outcomes: Quantifying Modifiable Mechanisms

Whitney Robinson

This project addresses cancer prevention and control by prioritizing efforts to reduce cancer disparities. Some racial and socioeconomic groups have higher rates of cancer incidence and mortality than others. However, the processes causing these disparities remain unclear. Standard epidemiologic methods describe cancer disparities but do not identify the causes of the disparities. To effectively intervene to reduce disparities, this project will identify mechanisms by which disparities arise.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE (RLMS-HSE)

Barry M. Popkin

The RLMS is a household-based longitudinal survey designed to measure the effects of Russian reforms on the economic well-being of households and individuals.

Scaling Up Capability Building for continuous Quality Improvement in Ethiopia

Kavita Singh

UNC is partnering with an Ethiopian research organization to conduct an external evaluation of a Quality Improvement Maternal and Newborn Health Intervention in Ethiopia. UNC is a subcontractor to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) on their grant from the Cargill Foundation.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Secondary Distribution of HIV Self Tests by Female Sex Workers: An Innovative Strategy for Promoting Male Partner Testing and Reducing HIV Risk

Harsha Thirumurthy, Suzanne Maman

This project evaluates whether secondary distribution of self-tests by female sex workers in Kenya can be used to fulfill multiple HIV prevention goals, including the promotion of HIV testing among high-risk men and the facilitation of results disclosure, couples testing, and safer sexual decision making.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

SES and Race-ethnic Disparities in Food Purchasing and Dietary Intake: 2000-2015

Barry M. Popkin

The primary goals of this project are to examine how various socioeconomic factors (including the Great Recession and price changes) affect short-term and long-term food purchases and dietary outcomes across and within critical race/ethnic and SES subpopulations.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Southern Immigrant Academic Adaptation Study (SIAA)

Krista M. Perreira

Population-based study of the daily acculturation experiences and academic adaptation of Latino youth in a new receiving community.

Spatial Health Research Group

Michael E. Emch

The Spatial Health Research Group focuses on exploring spatio-temporal patterns of disease, primarily infectious diseases of the developing world.

Spatio-temporal Patterns of Drug Resistant Malaria in Democratic Republic of Congo

Michael E. Emch

This project is measuring the movement of genetic markers (gene flow) to understand the factors that prevent malaria transmission (barriers) or promote it (corridors).

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Stepping Stones and Ladders: The Sources of the Mobility of Low Wage Workers in the United States, 1996-2012

Ted Mouw

This project aims to analyze the role that occupation-related skills—and changes in the demand for those skills caused by long-term changes in the occupational structure and short-term labor demand shocks—play in explaining why some low-wage workers “move up” along occupation-based pathways or “ladders” while others are left behind.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Testing Multiple Modes of Data Collection with Network Sampling with Memory

Ted Mouw, Maria-Giovanna Merli

This project, in collaboration with Duke University, aims to illustrate the innovative approach of Network Sampling with Memory (NSM) as a viable and cost-effective option for sampling from a rare population of immigrants in the US.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

The HIV Measurement and Surveillance Support (MESH) Consortium: Key Populations Working Group

Sharon S. Weir

The HIV Measurement and Surveillance Support Consortium project aims to develop, test, and implement innovative and efficient methods for routine HIV measurement and surveillance among adults and children. The unique contribution of the consortium will be to maximize the potential of data routinely collected through HIV surveillance and service delivery platforms to provide timely information on key outcomes in relevant populations at a level appropriate to support resource allocation and realignment.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

The Impact of Social Accountability Interventions on Healthcare Delivery and Health Outcomes in UP, India

Harsha Thirumurthy, Manoj Mohanana

This research examines the impact of social accountability interventions in India’s health sector. Social accountability is an approach toward building accountability based on civic engagement; i.e., in which citizens and civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability from the public sector. It involves the provision of information on individuals’ rights to services and on health sector performance as well as opportunities for community engagement with public sector healthcare providers and officials.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

The Use of HIV Self-tests to Promote Partner and Couples Testing: A Randomized Trial

Harsha Thirumurthy

This study explores whether the provision of oral HIV self-testing kits can facilitate HIV testing with sexual partners in a safe and effective manner.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Transfer Project

Sudhanshu (Ashu) Handa

The Transfer Project is an innovative research and learning initiative which supports improved knowledge and practice on social transfers in Africa.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

Understanding the Risk Profile of Young Women's Male Partners in Rural South Africa

Audrey E. Pettifor

This project is surveying partners of young South African women (who have been followed in an HIV prevention longitudinal study) to understand relationship types that would be best suited for tailored prevention packages, and to better understand the men who are infected to design programs to get them tested and on treatment.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:

WIC Package Changes and Packaged Food Purchases among US Preschool Households

Shu Wen Ng

The first major changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) were made in 2009 and were finalized in 2014. This study will quantify on a national scale how WIC changes relate to packaged food purchases (PFP) in 2010 and 2015 compared to 2008 (pre-change), if state variations in policy options matter, and if WIC changes are associated with reducing nutrient disparities. It will provide an evidence base for maintaining or making future changes to WIC, and identify WIC policy options that work well in tandem for improved nutrition outcomes among beneficiaries.

Current CPC Grants and Contracts:


55 projects found

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