Research Scientists

Kathleen Ragsdale, MA PhD

Kathleen Ragsdale (center) with enumerators after an Enumerator Training Workshop in Tamale, Ghana. Other team leaders include Gina Rico Méndez (kneeling), Robert Kolbila (kneeling), and Philip Atiim (back row, yellow shirt). Photo: CRS/Ghana

Kathleen Ragsdale, MA PhD
Research Professor
Social Science Research Center
Mississippi State University
Director, Gender Impacts Lab: Gender Impacts Lab
Gender Impacts Lead, Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab
Gender & Youth Lead, Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish

Kathleen Ragsdale is the founder and director of the Gender Impacts Lab at Mississippi State University. She has served as the Gender Impacts Lead for the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab since the lab’s creation in 2013 and as the Gender and Youth Lead for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish Management Entity since the lab’s creation in 2018. Ragsdale has more than 15 years’ experience as PI, co-PI, senior research scientist, and evaluator on multiyear projects supported by USAID, US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, UN Women, among others. Her geographical experience includes Belize, Botswana, Costa Rica, Ghana, Mozambique, Panama, US Virgin Islands, USA, and Zambia.

Ragsdale’s global research focuses on food security, gender equity, and agricultural productivity for smallscale farmers, fishers, and other value-chain actors. Currently, she serves as PI on research projects and interventions for food security/nutrition enhancement funded by USAID through the Soybean and Fish Innovation Labs. Recent highlights from her Soybean Innovation Lab work include a journal article under revision for Food Security, which uses a gender lens to frame the impact of receiving a Soybean Success Kit – an input bundle of certified seed, fertilizer, inoculum – on soybean yield and soybean income among women soybean farmers as compared to men soybean farmers in three districts of northern Ghana, Chereponi, Saboba, and Tolon. In July 2021, her team conducted the Women’s Thresher Project Evaluation – Phase II Survey (K. Ragsdale, PI; M. Read-Wahidi, Co-PI), which explored the nexus of food security and mechanized thresher ownership among 191 smallholder women farmers who belong to thresher cooperatives. This fieldwork was carried out by Robert Kolbila, a Gender Impacts Lab graduate research assistant and PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Mississippi State University.  

Recent highlights from Ragsdale’s Fish Innovation Lab work include the FishFirst! Zambia survey conducted at Lake Kariba in May 2021 among 485 fishers, processors, and traders (K. Ragsdale, US PI; M. Read-Wahidi, US Co-PI; N. Mudege, Zambia PI; P. Marinda, Zambia PI). She also led the Fish4Zambia survey conducted at Lake Bangweulu in 2019 among 397 fishery value-chain actors (K. Ragsdale, US PI; M. Read-Wahidi, US Co-PI; E. Torell, US Co-PI; L. Pincus, Zambia PI; P. Marinda, Zambia Co-PI). Fish4Zambia’s executive summary of results is available here and an article is under revision for World Development. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi led development of the novel Post-Harvest Fish Loss Assessment for Smallscale Fisheries (Ragsdale et al., 2021) and adapted the Household Hunger Scale to explore individual- and household-level food insecurity.

Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi also launched two separate internal Gender Responsive Agricultural Development Assessments (GRADA) for the Soybean and Fish Innovation Labs to measure gender integration in each lab’s research portfolio. GRADA-SIL results are available here and information on both tools is available in a Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment report. Ragsdale and Read-Wahidi are currently building an array of novel online certification courses for the Soybean and Fish Innovation Labs that target gender mainstreaming for development practitioners, researchers, extensionists, and others to advance gender-responsive agricultural development. They launched their first open-access course, Increasing Your Gender Responsive Agricultural Development Capacity, in January 2021.

Mary Read-Wahidi, PhD

Mary Read-Wahidi speaks with a TAMA scientist at the company’s production plant and ‘Shea Butter Village’ about efforts to benefit rural women shea producers in Ghana.
Photo: K. Ragsdale, Mississippi State University.

Mary Read-Wahidi, PhD
Assistant Research Professor
Social Science Research Center
Mississippi State University
Co-Director, Gender Impacts Lab: Gender Impacts Lab
Gender Impacts Co-Lead, Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab
Gender & Youth Co-Lead,  Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish

Mary Read-Wahidi is the co-founder and co-director of the Gender Impacts Lab at Mississippi State University. She has served as the Gender Impacts Co-Lead for the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab since joining the lab in 2015 and as the Gender and Youth  Co-Lead for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish Management Entity since the lab’s creation in 2018. Read-Wahidi has served as PI, Co-PI, senior research scientist, and evaluator on projects supported by USAID, US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her geographical experience includes Ghana, Zambia, and the Southeastern US.  Read-Wahidi’s global research focuses on positively impacting food security, gender equity, and agricultural productivity among smallscale men and women farmers, fishers, and other value-chain actors to help feed the world’s growing population.

Read-Wahidi’s serves as US Co-PI on FishFirst! Zambia (K. Ragsdale, US PI; M. Read-Wahidi, US Co-PI; N. Mudege, Zambia PI; P. Marinda, Zambia PI). FishFirst! Zambia’s primary aim is to develop a fish-based multiple micro-nutrient powder called Complementary Food for Africa+Dried Fish Powder (ComFA+Fish) and evaluate its acceptability among 6-23 month-olds in Zambia. This is the first step in the ultimate goal to provide a tasty, low-cost, higher quality source of protein and micronutrients for food insecure young children that can be scalable to countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In May 2021, FishFirst! Zambia’s administered 485 surveys to men and women fishers, processors, and traders at Lake Kariba – including mothers of 6-23 month-olds.

Read-Wahidi co-led development of the novel Post-Harvest Fish Loss Assessment for Smallscale Fisheries (PHFL)(Ragsdale et al., 2021). She is co-leading development of a webinar and training manual on tailoring the PHFL to assist researchers, extensionists, etc., in collecting cross-comparable data on post-harvest loss in aquaculture and fisheries. She co-led implementation of the Fish4Zambia survey conducted at Lake Bangweulu among 397 smallscale fishery value-chain actors (K. Ragsdale, US PI; M. Read-Wahidi, US Co-PI; E. Torell, US Co-PI; L. Pincus, Zambia PI; P. Marinda, Zambia Co-PI). An article is under revision for World Development and the executive summary is available here.

Read-Wahidi is PI or Co-PI on all research funded by USAID through the Soybean and Fish Innovation Labs, including the customizable Gender Responsive Agricultural Development Assessment (GRADA), which was featured in a Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment report. In July 2021, her team conducted the Women’s Thresher Project Evaluation – Phase II Survey (K. Ragsdale, PI; M. Read-Wahidi, Co-PI) in northern Ghana to explore mechanized thresher ownership among 191 women soybean farmers who are also thresher cooperative members.

Recent highlights from her Soybean Innovation Lab work include a journal article under revision for Food Security, which uses a gender lens to frame the impact of receiving a Soybean Success Kit – an input bundle of certified seed, fertilizer, inoculum – on soybean yield and soybean income among women soybean farmers vis-à-vis men soybean farmers. In January 2021, Read-Wahidi and Ragsdale launched their open-access course, Increasing Your Gender Responsive Agricultural Development Capacity. This is the first in a suite of certification courses for the Soybean and Fish Innovation Labs to advance gender-responsive agricultural development.

Gina Rico Méndez, PhD

Gina with a team of data collectors in a village in Ghana during the team’s Soybeans Uptake Network Surveys (SUNS) in the Karaga District of Northern Ghana.
Photo: K. Ragsdale, Mississippi State University.

Gina Rico Méndez, PhD
Assistant Research Professor
Social Science Research Center
Mississippi State University

Gina Rico Méndez joined the Social Science Research Center as an Assistant Research Professor in 2021, where she previously held a postdoctoral research appointment upon completing her PhD in Public Policy and Administration at Mississippi State University under a Fulbright Scholarship. Gina’s work has been supported by the Feed the Future Soybean Innovation Lab and she is currently leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) project, Research and Learning from the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program in Africa(G. Rico Méndez, PI). The key focus countries of this project include Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. The project seeks to address research questions in the areas of partnerships for school feeding, procurement models for school meals, and the relationship between nutrition and educational outcomes. Mary Read-Wahidi is a research scientist in the project, providing expertise in the fields of food security in developing countries and gender sensitive programming for school feeding.

Prior to joining Mississippi State University, Gina served as the Developmental Evaluator (Director of Evaluation) for the USAID-funded Complexity-Aware Monitoring and Evaluation (C-AME) of the Reconciliation Activity in Colombia South America. Originally from Colombia, Gina earned a BA in political science and an MA in Habitat (Human Settlement Studies) from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

In Colombia, Gina worked at the United Nations Development Program, the Bogotá’s Fiscal Comptroller General Office, and the Colombian National Electoral and Identification Organization. In the US, Gina held a Postdoctoral Research Appointment at the Science Research Center. Her research on the connections between technological change, food security and land governance puts special focus on gender relations affecting land tenure. Gina’s research interests also include the provision of public goods, peacebuilding and reconciliation, and innovations for economic development. Her professional experience includes policy analysis in various fields, such as sustainable livelihoods, project design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Her geographical experience includes Latin America, North America, and sub-Saharan Africa. A skilled presenter, Gina has served as first author on three invited presentations at the annual World Bank Land & Poverty Conference which are based on her Soybean Innovation Lab-funded work in northern Ghana. These include:  

Rico Méndez, G., Ragsdale, K., Lower, K., Read-Wahidi, M.R. (2019). Customary Land Tenure Systems and Gendered Land Rights in Ghana’s Northern Region: Results from Phase II Gender Equity and Land Tenure Focus Groups. Oral Presentation. World Bank 20th Land & Poverty Conference. Washington, DC. March 25-29, 2019.

Rico Méndez, G., Read-Wahidi, M.R., Ragsdale, K. (2019). Harnessing the Potential for Rural Youth-Inclusive Agri-Food Systems Livelihoods: A Landscape Analysis. Oral Presentation. World Bank 20th Land & Poverty Conference. Washington, DC. March 25-29, 2019.

Rico Méndez, G., Ragsdale, K., & Read-Wahidi, M.R. (2018). Exploring Gender-Biased Customary Land Tenure in Ghana: Results from Focus Groups with Men and Women Smallholder Farmers in the Northern Region. Oral Presentation. World Bank 19th Land & Poverty Conference, Washington, DC, March 19, 2018.

CONTACT US

Mississippi State University

Social Science Research Center

1 Research Blvd #102A

Starkville, MS 39759

Email: genderimpactslab@ssrc.msstate.edu

 
Gender Impacts Lab