November 2021: MPC Population Dynamics Barn-raising

Please hold the date for our first-ever biannual MPC Population Dynamics Barn-raising (PDB) to be held from 12:15pm to 5pm on Monday, November 8. The theme for this half-day event is "Building Interdisciplinary Collaborations for Population Dynamics COVID Research." Please invite any and all colleagues you know who might be interested. Share with your networks!

Due to COVID safety concerns, this event will be held in a hybrid format. Join us for the full PDB or for one or more of the sessions:

Virtual Panel Discussion: From 12:15pm to 1:30pm join us virtually for a moderated panel discussion on "Population Causes and Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic."  |  Zoom Link

  • Marc Bellemare, Applied Economics, University of Minnesota
  • Susan Marshall Mason, Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota
  • Alyssa Morris, Psychology, University of Southern California
  • Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, Sociology, University of Minnesota
  • Moderator: Claire Kamp Dush, Sociology, University of Minnesota

In-Person Poster Session: From 2:00pm to 3:30pm we invite you to participate in an in-person, low pressure poster session in the wide-open expanse of 120 Anderson Library (masks will be required). We invite you to present a poster* (we'll even print it for you!): learn more and sign up here. Posters should be brief presentations of ongoing or planned COVID-related research projects and/or presentations of COVID-related data resources suitable for population-level research. Our goal is to help connect researchers with each other and with the data they need to conduct their research.

In-Person Research Mixer: From 3:45 to 5:00 we'll head outside of 29 Willey Hall--just down the outdoor steps from Anderson Library--to mix and mingle and discuss COVID-related research and how MPC can support your ongoing or planned work. Food and drinks will be served. RSVP requested.

October 2021: MPC Leadership Transition

Exciting news for the Minnesota Population Center! After 5+ years of leading the MPC, Director Rob Warren will be stepping down at the end of this calendar year. Thank you to Rob for all of your many years of service and leading the MPC through such a time of growth and excellence.

We are excited to announce Theresa Osypuk will be stepping up into the role of MPC Director. Theresa is Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Community Health, in the School of Public Health. She is a social epidemiologist, demographer, and population health scientist. Theresa has served as the Associate Director of the MPC for over 2 years, and she is also co-Director (along with Rob Warren) of the NICHD-funded T32 training program in Population Health, which is housed at MPC. Theresa has cultivated a record as a Principal Investigator of NIH grants since 2010, focused on housing policy, neighborhood environment, racial residential segregation, and health equity. During these next few months, Theresa and Rob will be working together to make this transition as seamless as possible.

October 2021: Geographically targeted COVID-19 vaccination is more equitable and averts more deaths than age-based thresholds alone

MPC Members: Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, David Van Riper, Jonathon P. Leider 

Published in the journal Science Advances 

COVID-19 mortality increases markedly with age and is also substantially higher among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations in the United States. These two facts can have conflicting implications because BIPOC populations are younger than white populations. In analyses of California and Minnesota—demographically divergent states—the researchers show that COVID vaccination schedules based solely on age benefit the older white populations at the expense of younger BIPOC populations with higher risk of death from COVID-19. They find that strategies that prioritize high-risk geographic areas for vaccination at all ages better target mortality risk than age-based strategies alone, although they do not always perform as well as direct prioritization of high-risk racial/ethnic groups. Vaccination schemas directly implicate equitability of access, both domestically and globally.

Read Elizabeth Wrigley-Field's summary in this Twitter thread

Watch a video of Elizabeth Wrigley-Field talking about this research. 

Still of video showing Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

September 2021: Using Data to Understand the Risks and Impacts of Climate Change

Minnesota Population Center (MPC) members Eric Shook and Steven Manson will be part of a new national initiative to enable geospatial data-driven scientific discovery to better understand the risks and impacts of climate change. Manson and Shook will work with collaborators and partner institutions from around the country with the newly created Institute for Geospatial Understanding through an Integrative Discovery Environment (I-GUIDE) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I). The new institute will receive $15-million in funding over five years as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Harnessing the Data Revolution, which establishes five institutes across the United States to explore questions at the frontiers of science and engineering. The MPC will also collaborate with I-GUIDE through support staff and likely host a postdoctoral position associated with the project.

“The goal of I-GUIDE is to revolutionize theories, concepts, methods, and tools focused on data-intensive geospatial understanding for driving innovative cyberGIS and cyberinfrastructure capabilities to address the most pressing resilience and sustainability challenges of our world such as biodiversity, food security, and water security,” said Shaowen Wang, head of the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science at U of I and founding director of the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies (CyberGIS Center), who will lead the institute.

I-GUIDE aims to drive transformative advances across many fields from computer, data, and information sciences to atmospheric sciences, ecology, economics, environmental science and engineering, human-environment and geographical sciences, hydrology and water sciences, industrial engineering, sociology, and statistics.

Shook and Manson are building on a strong foundation of work supported by the MPC and the Department  of Geography, Environment, and Society in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). Shook heads the CLA-funded Geocommons, which will host I-GUIDE collaborative research, and leads the NSF-funded project CyberTraining: Hour of Cyberinfrastructure: Developing Cyber Literacy for Geographic Information Science, which will support the larger multi-institutional project.  I-GUIDE also draws on several MPC efforts, including the projects for which Manson is the principal investigator, the IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) and IPUMS International Historical Geographic Information System (IHGIS). NHGIS and IHGIS will develop data with I-GUIDE partners to address a range of human-environment challenges in the US and beyond.

The new institute will bring together about 40 researchers from University of Minnesota, U of I, Columbia University, Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc., Florida International University, Michigan State University, Open Geospatial Consortium, Purdue University, University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Utah State University, and a variety of other partners 

I-GUIDE “creates a novel geospatial discovery environment for synthesizing data on geographically referenced social, economic, ecological, and environmental factors to better understand the risk and impacts of climate change and disasters,” the NSF reported, in a press release. Wang added, “I-GUIDE nurtures a diverse and inclusive geospatial discovery community across many disciplines by bridging disciplinary digital data divides with broader impacts amplified through a well-trained and diverse workforce and proactive engagement of minority and underrepresented groups.“

In all, NSF is investing $75 million to establish five new Harnessing the Data Revolution Institutes as part of its “Big Ideas” initiative. 

“NSF’s Big Ideas are a set of 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering and represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergent research,” said Manish Parashar, office director for the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at NSF.

April 2021: Study to examine the effect of police violence on the birth outcomes for Black infants

Associate Professor Rachel Hardeman has launched a first-of-its-kind, five-year study to investigate the association between racialized police violence and the occurrence of preterm birth and low birth weight among Black infants. 


MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (04/14/21) — Black women in the U.S. are twice as likely to experience a preterm birth, a low birth weight infant, or the death of a child before age one compared to white women. This racialized pattern of adverse reproductive outcomes has endured for as far back as scientists are able to study. The intractability of this problem suggests the root cause is structural racism — the ways in which societies foster discrimination by reinforcing inequitable systems that in turn reinforce discriminatory beliefs, values, and distribution of resources. Minnesota Population Center member and University of Minnesota School of Public Health Associate Professor Rachel Hardeman has launched a five-year study to investigate the association between a specific, pervasive form of structural racism — racialized police violence — and the occurrence of preterm birth (PTB) and low birth weight (LBW) among Black infants. 

This first-of-its-kind study is funded by a $1.8 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Study Principal Investigator and Associate Professor Rachel Hardeman.
Study Principal Investigator and Associate Professor Rachel Hardeman.

Hardeman is the school’s Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity in the Division of Health Policy and Management and founding director of the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity. For this study, Hardeman is partnering with the University’s Minnesota Population Center, where she leads the organization’s structural racism research arm.

“My earlier research assessing racialized police violence as a form of stress for Black women of reproductive age demonstrates that the unpredictable but persistent possibility of racialized police violence in one’s community is a debilitating burden disproportionately borne by Black women and their families,” says Hardeman. “I recently found that simply living in a neighborhood that experiences high levels of police contact is significantly associated with PTB for Black and white women.”

Hardeman’s new study has three aims:

  1. Quantify the risk of PTB and LBW related to spatial and social proximity to the killing of a Black man by police and the ensuing civil unrest. Researchers will examine records from the Minnesota Department of Health to assess if Black women experienced worse birth outcomes following the 2016 killing of Philando Castile by police in Falcon Heights, MN, and the subsequent civil unrest. Scientists will also assess if living or working near the site of the incident and civil unrest increased risk for worse birth outcomes among all women.
  2. Quantify the impact of police violence on PTB and LBW risk among Black women. The researchers will examine 13 years of birth records available from every county in the U.S. to assess if incidents of police violence across the country are associated with greater risk for PTB and LBW among Black women. 
  3. Describe how the experience of racialized police violence impacts Black women during pregnancy. Researchers will survey and interview a cohort of 200 Black women who were pregnant and living in two communities with incidents of high-profile police violence — Twin Cities, MN, and Baton Rouge, LA — to assess psychosocial stress related to police violence. 

Hardeman plans to announce the results of the research as they become available over the next five years. The findings will be shared through journal and news articles, conferences, policy briefings and reports, and community presentations. The results will be needed by healthcare delivery systems, community organizations, and policy makers to inform efforts for ensuring reproductive health equity.

“The findings will offer a more complete picture of the ways that community trauma, structural racism, individual-level physical and mental health consequences, and population-level disparities affect reproductive health outcomes,” says Hardeman. “Our understanding will be grounded in the everyday experiences of Black women. This approach is essential to developing effective public health strategies that disrupt the pathways from racialized police violence to population health inequity and advance the goal of preventing pregnancy-related complications and reducing maternal and infant death.”