Past Research Projects

Afterschool Programming for Low-income Youth
Dr. Elisabeth Maring and Dr. Susan Walker
In 2004, Maryland Cooperative Extension recieved a grant from the USDA, Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) initiative to provide after school enrichment projects in three areas of the state. The projects are located in two rural areas: Somerset and Garrett counties, and in one urban area: Frederick. The Somerset and Frederick sites provide time and activities in neighborhood computer labs for school-age children to enhance their computer literacy and strengthen academic gains. The Garrett county project is supplementing high quality activites in 3 elementary afterschool sites with educational programs in areas such as Family Science education and agriculture literacy. Dr. Walker and a graduate student serve as evaluators for the county projects. The grant has opportunity for renewal through 2009.

Research Coordinating Network: the NSF Social Observatories Coordination Network
Dr. Sandy Hofferth
Dr. Hofferth's project, "Research Coordinating Network: the NSF Social Observatories Coordination Network," stems from a three-year, $300,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) award.  It assists with developing and planning a set of regional cyberinfrastruture  centers for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) sciences that will transform SBE science. These centers will address questions of central interest to the  SBE sciences and will focus on two broad intellectual themes: 1) opportunity and mobility and 2) change and adaptation.  The network will consider new designs and platforms for data collection, curation, and dissemination, while protecting privacy and confidentiality.  Information on the network and its activities is available at

Community Violence and Head Start Children 
Dr. Suzanne Randolph and Dr. Sally Koblinsky 
The researchers and Family Science graduate students collected data for a three-year research and intervention project funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The project examines the effects of neighborhood violence on preschoolers, the role of family and schools in mediating its impacts, and the effectiveness of early childhood anti-violence interventions in Head Start programs. This study of African-American Head Start families examines the effects of community violence exposure on preschoolers' cognitive, motor, and socioemotional development; determines the strategies parents and teachers use to protect children from violence and help them deal with violence-related stress; and evaluates the impact of a preschool-level violence intervention program involving the school and family on children's developmental skills and behavior problems. The project also provides educational policy-makers with strategies for developing community-wide violence prevention/intervention programs.

Sisters Helping Sisters Project
Dr. Bonnie Braun and Dr. Elaine Anderson
Drs. Braun and Anderson are co-program evaluators of A Community Engagement Model: Sisters Helping Sisters Targeting Obesity in Young Women to Prevent the Development of Type II Diabetes, funded by US DHHS, Office of Women's Health. This community-based research intervention, in partnership with Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, Maryland, is designed to implement strategies to prevent, reduce or eliminate health conditions associated with overweight and obesity among a population of rural, African-American young mothers. Among African-American women, the prevalence for diabetes is higher than other gender/race groups (34.5% & 30.0%) (Maryland DHMH, 2005). Results will be utilized to inform future interventions and research exploring factors that may affect intended change in behavior maximizing positive outcomes.

Food Insecurity Among Rural, Low-Income Families
Dr. Elaine Anderson and Dr. Bonnie Braun 
Drs. Anderson and Braun are co-directors of the research project, Food Availability, Accessibility and Affordability: Perception and Reality of Factors Potentially Associated with Obesity Among Rural, Low-Income Families, funded by the School of Public Health. They are conducting a obesity-related food surveillance of a rural, low-income community, as well as a targeted survey of perceived household food security among low-income mothers. The instrumentation pilot tests are assessing the relationship between food availability, accessibility and affordability in relation to household food security. Instruments are being tested for use with future studies of similar populations and settings.