Affiliates Launch New Research Projects

Jason Fletcher: Examining the Role of Peers on Childhood
Congratulations to Jason Fletcher who received a two-year R21 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to study the short- and long-term influences of school peers on childhood obesity and fitness in New York City. Fletcher will analyze longitudinal data from the NYC FITNESSGRAM, a citywide annual fitness assessment for over one million K–12 students, to identify the importance of peer effects in explaining childhood obesity. Fletcher hopes that the project will help inform future policies more effectively and slow obesity rates. He will work with Kiersten Strombotne from the American Institutes for Research and PhD students at UW–Madison.

Jenny Higgins: Sexual Acceptability’s Role in Women’s Contraceptive Preference and Behavior
The majority of new contraceptive users in the U.S. become dissatisfied with their birth control method and stop using it after only a few months. Researchers are still trying to understand the major factors that lead to this contraceptive dissatisfaction and continuation. Jenny Higgins (gender and women’s studies; CDE affiliate) argues that a critical but overlooked factor is sexual acceptability, or, how contraceptive methods affect people’s sexual well-being.

Higgins was just awarded an R01 grant from NICHD to examine this issue further. In this $1.3 million, four-year study, Higgins and her collaborators will follow a cohort of 1,000 patients from Planned Parenthood clinics who recently started a new contraceptive method. Researchers will document how these patients fare over time with their sexual outcomes and determine if greater sexual acceptability can help predict more satisfied contraceptive users over time.

Michael Massoglia, Malia Jones, and Jenna Nobles: Linking Crime, Migration, and Community Change
With a grant from the National Science Foundation, CDE affiliates Michael Massoglia (sociology), Malia Jones (Applied Population Laboratory), and Jenna Nobles (sociology) will undertake a new study of the dynamic relationship between migration, safety, and community change across Latin America. Innovative modeling techniques allow the researchers to assess how migration affects sending communities, safety and perceptions of safety within receiving communities, and spatiotemporal patterns in crime.

Jenna Nobles and Amar Hamoudi: Fecundity and Fertility in the Presence of Zika
The 2015–16 Zika virus outbreak has been linked to a number of serious health issues, including pregnancy termination, testicular atrophy, fetal neurological disorders, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. In response to the epidemic, health officials across the Americas encouraged couples to delay fertility for months or even years. CDE researchers Jenna Nobles and Amar Hamoudi, together with PI Marcos Rangel (Duke) and Dhavan Shah (School of Journalism and Mass Communication), are studying the effects of the epidemic on population fecundity and fertility with support from an R03 grant from NICHD. To do so, they have built an unusual data source that overlays hospital accounting records, media transcripts, and high-resolution ecological measures of virus transmission risk in Brazil. Beyond detailing the effects of the epidemic specifically, the research will provide insight about behavioral responses to the diffusion of knowledge about health risks.