New Leadership Team Begins at CDE

CDE is pleased to welcome its new director, Jenna Nobles, and associate director for training, Katherine Curtis!

Nobles is a professor of sociology with affiliate appointments in population health sciences and obstetrics and gynecology. On campus, she is the training director for the Collaborative for Reproductive Equity (CORE) and a member of the executive committee of the Health Disparities Research Scholars postdoctoral program. Nobles has been an active member of CDE since joining the faculty of UW–Madison in 2009, serving as associate director for training from 2016 to 2021. Nobles studies population dynamics and population health in the United States, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Nobles currently directs research funded by NIH, NSF, J-PAL, and UW CORE. The research develops new methods for the study of population fecundity and how it varies by social, economic, and environmental exposures; examines prenatal mortality selection and what it means for the study of health and welfare in populations; tests new approaches to increase enrollment in safety net programs among low-income pregnant people; studies the effects of COVID infection and COVID vaccination on the ability to get pregnant, pregnancy survival, and maternal and infant health; builds new data on twentieth-century Mexico-US migrants and their descendants; and studies the effects of federal and state migration policy on health and aging in both the US and Mexico. This work involves collaboration with a number of CDE students, postdocs, and faculty affiliates, as well as colleagues at the University of Colorado Boulder, UC-Davis, Duke, Penn State, Stanford, and the University of Washington.

Nobles is an active member of the demography community, currently serving on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Population, the editorial board of Demography, and previously on the Population Association of America Board of Directors and the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Population council. She currently chairs the population sciences study section in the Population Dynamics Branch at NICHD.

As CDE director, Nobles succeeds Marcy Carlson, who completed her five-year term in summer 2021. Under Carlson’s leadership, CDE secured continued P2C and T32 funding—both grants are essential to ensure CDE remains a collaborative place for research and training. Carlson also increased and diversified CDE’s faculty affiliates, deepened the Center’s research themes, and solidified CDE’s position as a hub for demographic research at UW and beyond by spearheading cross-center collaborative efforts such as DemSemX and NICHD-funded NextGenPop, all while serving as vice president of the Population Association of America. Our sincerest thanks to Marcy for her time, dedication, and excellent leadership!

CDE also extends a warm welcome to Associate Director Katherine Curtis! Curtis is a professor of Community & Environmental Sociology and Vilas Associate, and she has been affiliated with CDE since joining the UW faculty in 2007. From 2013 to 2021, Curtis served as Director of UW–Madison’s Applied Population Laboratory (APL), one of the leading centers for applied demographic research. APL has made critical contributions toward understanding population change and its implications at the state, regional, and national level. Curtis has played an integral role in the CDE’s leadership, serving on the executive committee and as a research area director (along with Malia Jones) for spatial and environmental demography.

Curtis’s research is currently funded by NIH, NIA, and NSF. She adopts place-based theoretical frameworks and employs advanced spatial and spatio-temporal statistical approaches to analyze questions about inequality, which has profound and far-reaching impacts on population well-being. Her recent work has especially illuminated how climate change and environmental events influence migration patterns, the spatial distribution of poverty amidst industrial change, and social and economic changes within rural contexts.

As associate director, Curtis leads the weekly Demography Seminar (DemSem) and manages CDE’s large training program, which now supports 45-50 predoctoral students every year.

Welcome, Jenna and Katherine! We look forward to the next phase in CDE’s history!