Brenner appointed director of the MSU Center for Social Science Research

Contact: James Carskadon

A studio portrait of Devon Brenner
Devon Brenner (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Ms. – A longtime faculty member and administrator in the state of Mississippi, she is now the director of the University Center for Social Science Research.

Devon Brenner, Assistant Vice President for Contact and Initiatives at the MSU Research and Economic Development Office, has been appointed Director of the SSRC. She has run the research center on a temporary basis since last year. As director, Brenner is in charge of running the more than 70-year-old center with a tradition of influential social science research. The Center is jointly responsible to the Office for Research and Economic Development and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.

“Throughout its history, the SSRC has been home to innovative interdisciplinary research on social issues affecting our country, nation and world and has served as a major catalyst for the development of social sciences at MSU,” said MSU Vice President of Research and Economics Development Julie Jordan. “Dr. Brenner’s breadth of experience is in a good position to move the center forward and support his mission. I look forward to seeing the SSRC continue to grow under her leadership. ”

Brenner has been part of the MSU professor since 1999 and teaches reading and language arts at the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Special Education. She was the head of the department from 2011 to 2015 before working for a year as an education associate in the office of former U.S. Senator Thad Cochran. From 2016 to 2021, she was Special Assistant Vice President for Educational Initiatives in the Office of Research and Economic Development, helping plan and launch the Partnership Middle School on the MSU campus.

As a researcher, Brenner focused on hiring and retaining rural teachers and rural education policy. She is currently a principal investigator in a collaboration between 14 universities funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the education and retention of rural teachers, and most recently co-authored a textbook on rural teacher education. She holds a double degree from Michigan State University, a bachelor’s degree in 1991, and a doctorate in curriculum, teaching, and education policy in 2000.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with outstanding scientists who are doing important work to ensure that data informs policies and practices in our state and around the world,” Brenner said. “Many thanks to the outgoing Director, Dr. Art Cosby, who led an amazing team of scientists for more than half of the SSRC’s 72 years and who built the infrastructure for rigorous interdisciplinary research based on data.

When I begin my 23rd year at Mississippi State University, I look forward to supporting our existing partnerships and projects and identifying new areas for MSU researchers to conduct research to understand and respond to social, economic, political, educational, and related research. issues and provide a home for unique public service programs that serve our state and community. ”

Headquartered in Thad Cochran Park for Research, Technology and Economic Development at MSU, SSRC is currently home to 12 research laboratories and programs with a wide range of focus, including data science, gender impact, messaging, tobacco control, social relations, crime and justice, social robotics and more. Part of the SSRC’s mission is to link university social science capabilities with funding sources and provide unique research opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students. For eight consecutive years, MSU has led all Southeast Conference universities in funding social science research and ranks 15th nationally in the latest report from the National Science Foundation.

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