Meet the recently elected Carolina Population Center Faculty Fellows: S. Philip Morgan, Lauren Persha, Liana Richardson, Kavita Singh, and Colin Thor West

Originally posted January 2, 2013

New Fellows 2012

The Carolina Population Center’s Faculty Fellows elected five UNC faculty members to join the CPC Fellows program. The Fellows are CPC’s permanent and vital core, and the center devotes its resources to facilitating their research. Currently, there are 63 Fellows from 15 different UNC departments.

S. Philip Morgan, Professor of Sociology

Phil Morgan became the CPC Director and a new Faculty Fellow in July 2012. Read about Morgan’s career and his research interests in this CPC feature story.

Lauren Persha, Assistant Professor of Geography with an adjunct appointment with the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology

Lauren Persha is an environmental scientist interested in the effects of human behavior and environmental governance on natural resource conservation, specifically in tropical forests in East Africa. She researches social and ecological factors that change land use patterns and dynamics and examines how these effect household livelihoods and economic development in rural areas.

Currently, she is co-PI of four research projects:

  • Is Tanzania’s participatory forest management program a triple win? Understanding causal pathways for livelihoods, governance and forest conservation, funded by 3ie.
  • Explaining protected areas outcomes in the Andes-Amazon region, funded by The Gordon and Better Moore Foundation.
  • Studying poverty, agricultural risks, and coping strategies, funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Passive forest management and forest quality in Michigan public land and nonindustrial private forests, funded by SNRE/USDA.

Persha earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Indiana University in 2008. Before joining UNC’s geography department as an Assistant Professor in 2011, she was a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was a postdoctoral research fellow and a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan.

Between 1996 and 2007, she lived in Tanzania for more than six years and she is fluent in Swahili.

Persha has an adjunct appointment in UNC’s Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology and is a Faculty Fellow of UNC’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies.

Her recent publications include:

  • Hayes, Tanya, and Lauren Persha. 2010. Nesting Local Forestry Initiatives: Revisiting Community Forest Management in a REDD+ World. Forest Policy and Economics. 12 (8):545-53.
  • Persha, Lauren, and Arun Agrawal. 2010. Common Property Theory, Elinor Ostrom, and the IFRI Network. Current Conservation. 4 (3):9-11.
  • Persha, Lauren, Arun Agrawal, and Ashwini Chhatre. 2011. Social and Ecological Synergy: Local Rulemaking, Forest Livelihoods, and Biodiversity Conservation. Science. 331 (6024):1606-8.
  • Persha, Lauren, Ashwini Chhatre, Arun Agrawal, and Elinor Ostrom. 2012. Managing Forest Commons in Africa. In: The Oxford Companion to the Economics of Africa, edited by Ernest Aryeetey, Shantayanan Devarajan, Ravi Kanbur and Louis Kasekende. New York: Oxford University Press. pp.402-9.
  • Persha, Lauren, Harry Fischer, Ashwini Chhatre, Arun Agrawal, and Catherine Benson. 2010. Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihoods in Human-Dominated Landscapes: Forest Commons in South Asia. Biological Conservation. 143 (12):2918-25.

Liana Richardson, Assistant Professor of Sociology

Liana Richardson is an Assistant Professor in UNC-Chapel Hill’s sociology department. In 2009, Richardson received her Ph.D. from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was a postdoctoral scholar at the Carolina Population Center from 2009-2012 and in the Department of Sociology from 2010-2012. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Stanford University, and master’s degrees in Public Health and Anthropology from Emory University and UNC-Chapel Hill.  Prior to and while obtaining her Ph.D., she worked as an applied research and evaluation consultant to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Cancer Society, and several universities.

Richardson’s research focuses on the link between social inequalities and health, with particular interest in examining health disparities as both causes and consequences of social inequalities within and across generations.

Towards this end, her current research projects involve the examination of:

  • the life course, social, and spatial contexts of racial disparities in adverse birth outcomes and their consequences;
  • the early life origins of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in young adult health;
  • the reciprocal relationship between social conditions and health from birth to young adulthood; and
  • the intersection of race, class, gender, and health across the life course.

Her recent publications include:

  • Richardson, Liana J., Jon M. Hussey, and Kelly L. Strutz. 2013. A Life Course Perspective on Maternal and Child Health. In: Maternal and Child Health: Programs, Problems, and Policy in Public Health, edited by Jonathan B. Kotch. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers. pp.65-85.
  • Strutz, Kelly L., Liana J. Richardson, and Jon M. Hussey. 2012. Preconception Health Trajectories and Birth Weight in a National Prospective Cohort. Journal of Adolescent Health. 51 (6):629-36. PMCID: PMC Journal - In Process.
  • Richardson, Liana J., Jon M. Hussey, and Kelly L. Strutz. 2011. Origins of Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease: Birth Weight, Body Mass Index, and Young Adult Systolic Blood Pressure in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Annals of Epidemiology. 21 (8):598-607. PMCID: PMC3251513.

Kavita Singh, Research Assistant Professor of Maternal and Child Health

Kavita Singh received her Ph.D. from the Department of Population and Family Health Science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She then spent about two years working in Africa first in Tanzania as a Research Fellow with Harvard University and then with the International Rescue Committee in Kenya and South Sudan. Since 2003, she has worked at MEASURE Evaluation – a CPC research project funded by USAID – first as a Research Associate and now as a Senior Technical Advisor for Maternal and Child Health.

Singh trained as a demographer and epidemiologist and her main areas of interest include evaluating the impact of maternal and child health and HIV prevention programs in sub-Saharan Africa. She is also interested in reaching vulnerable individuals with interventions and studying the influence of social factors including gender equality and poverty on health outcomes.

Her current research projects include:

  • Lead PI: Evaluation of maternal and newborn referrals in Ghana, funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through a subcontract with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
  • Lead PI: Evaluation of Project Fives Alive! Ghana, funded by The Bill and Melina Gates Foundation through a subcontract with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
  • Co-investigator: MEASURE Evaluation Phase III Monitoring and Assessment for Results (MMAR-III), funded by USAID.

Singh’s recent publications include:

  • Haney, Erica, and Kavita Singh. 2012. The Importance of HIV Prevention Messaging for Orphaned Youth in Zimbabwe. AIDS Care. 24 (7):877-85.
  • Singh, Kavita, Shelah S. Bloom, Erica Haney, Comfort Olorunsaiye, and Paul Brodish. 2012. Gender Equality and Childbirth in a Health Facility: Nigeria and MDG5. African Journal of Reproductive Health. 16 (3):122-8.
  • Singh, Kavita, Erica Haney, and Comfort Olorunsaiye. Forthcoming. Maternal Autonomy and Attitudes towards Gender Norms: Associations with Childhood Immunization in Nigeria. Maternal and Child Health Journal.
  • Singh, Kavita, Paul H. Brodish, Fiona Mbai, Nzioki Kingola, Agnes Rinyuri, Carol Njeru, Patrick Mureithi, William Sambisa, and Sharon S. Weir. 2012. A Venue-Based Approach to Reaching MSM, IDUs and the General Population with VCT: A Three Study Site in Kenya. AIDS and Behavior. 16 (4):818-28.

Colin Thor West, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Colin West is a cultural anthropologist with specialized training in human ecology and the human dimensions of global change. West’s research interests focus on human adaptations to climatic change. He applies new tools and methods to existing models of household ecology, household economics, and domestic cycles. For example, he used agent-based modeling to explain how certain environmental and economic conditions change household structure. He has also used GIS data to evaluate stakeholder perceptions of vegetation change in southeastern Arizona.

West’s new research projects include an examination of climate change, ecological processes, and land use patterns in the African Sahel, an area that spans the continent south of the Sahara known for drought and poor land quality.

West became a UNC faculty member in 2009. Before that, he was a NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He received a prestigious award to fund his postdoctoral fellowship from the NOAA. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

West is Co-PI of the research project Salmon harvests in Arctic communities: Local institutions, risk, and resilience, funded by the National Science Foundation’s Human and Social Dynamics Program.

In 2009, West wrote a prize-winning paper that was published by the leading anthropology journal, American Anthropologist*. His recent publications include:

  • West, Colin Thor. 2010. Household Extension and Fragmentation: Investigating the Socio-Environmental Dynamics of Mossi Domestic Transitions. Human Ecology. 38 (3):363-76.
  • West, Colin Thor, and Connor Ross. 2012. Local Institutions for Subsistence Harvesting in Western Alaska: Assessing Their Adaptive Role in the Context of Global Change. Journal of Ecological Anthropology. 15 (1):22-40.
  • *West, Colin Thor. 2009. Domestic Transitions, Desiccation, Agricultural Intensification, and Livelihood Diversification among Rural Households on the Central Plateau, Burkina Faso. American Anthropologist. 111 (3):275-88.
  • West, Colin Thor and Marcela Vásquez-León. 2008. Misreading the Arizona Landscape: Reframing Analyses of Environmental Degradation in Southeastern Arizona. Human Organization 67 (4):373-83.

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