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9/23/2015 - Jackson, Miss.

An economist with research interests in health economics, public policy, poverty, and income inequality has joined the staff of the Mississippi University Research Center as a senior economist. Serving previously as an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Sondra Collins will continue to pursue these research topics as a senior economist with URC as she focuses on the systemic challenges facing Mississippi.

"We conducted a national search looking for the best person to add to our team and we found her right here in Mississippi," said Dr. Darrin Webb, State Economist and Director of the Mississippi University Reserch Center. "She holds a keen understanding of Mississippi's challenges and that, coupled with her passion for the state, make her the ideal fit to serve as senior economist of the Mississippi University Research Center."

As Senior Economist, Dr. Collins will examine the systemic issues affecting the state's outlook, with a primary focus on longer-term issues, including the impact of unwed motherhood, obesity, education, the aging population, along with other issues. She will work with other members of the University Research Center staff to conduct this research as well as solicit research from the eight public universities in the system. Dr. Collins will also serve as editor of a publication that is planned to launch in 2016 with a focus on this type of research.

A Clarksdale native, Dr. Collins earned her bachelor's degree in economics from Winston Salem State University and her doctorate in economics from the University of Alabama. She served previously as an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and presented at regional, national and international conferences. She also served as a National Science Foundation Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE) fellow.

The Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE) is a research mentoring workshop that seeks to facilitate successful transition from junior faculty status to tenured associate professor for economists from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. DITE is the only program designed specifically to increase the representation of black, Latino and native American economists in tenured faculty positions at colleges and universities throughout the United States via mentoring of junior faculty on research and teaching.

Dr. Collins is published in several academic journals including The Review of Black Political Economy and the Journal of Income Distribution.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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