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The Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) at Michigan State University (MSU) announced the recipients of its 2023-24 Michigan Applied Public Policy Research (MAPPR) grants. This year, six research projects were chosen, each focused on a major policy issue facing the people of Michigan. These research projects will run for one year.

The following research projects have been selected for the years specified:

2023-2024 MAPPR Grant Awards

Benjamin Bushong, Dept of Economics. Information and beliefs about expected Earned Income Tax Credit refunds: This project will work with the Office of Survey Research (OSR) to examine the critical role of a person’s beliefs in determining whether that person claims the EITC.

Stephen Gasteyer, Sociology. Groundwater Contamination Perceptions: This project will assess the attitudes and perceptions concerning risks to drinking water in Michigan.

Sue Grady, Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences. Children’s blood levels in Detroit Pre and post-demolition: Demolitions in the city of Detroit between 2014-22 will be mapped and compared to blood test levels amongst children to find possible health risks.

Jean Hardy, Media Information and Communication Arts. High-tech development projects in rural Michigan: This project will seek to answer several questions about the effects of High-tech development projects on rural Michigan, including; the perceived benefits of locating high-tech economic development sites in rural areas, what opportunities communities see, and how these sites support issues of digital and economic equity. 

Mieka Smart, Human Medicine. Michigan Police Use of Force Policy evaluation: This project will seek to determine which counties in Michigan do and do not have a policy specifically outlining police use of force procedures; and which policies incorporate eight elements that have been evidenced to prevent death.

Robert Richardson, Community Sustainability. Tipping the scale on recycling in Michigan: This project will seek to understand the recycling behaviors of Michigan households, what are barriers to household recycling, and gauge support for increasing disposal surcharges for solid waste.

2022-2023 MAPPR Grant Awards

Understanding stakeholder perspectives on invocation of treaty rights in environmental decision making.. Dr. Libarkin will investigate how stakeholders perceive treaty rights and what barriers prevent policy makers from considering Native American perspectives.

Contact: Dr. Julie Libarkin, Associate Dean for STEM Research and Education.

Use of social and emotional learning and restorative practices. This grant will be used to look into the challenges and practices of implementing restorative practices in elementary, middle and high schools.

Contact: Dr. Jerome Graham, K-12 Education Administration.

Assessing Mass Timber Public Interest and Demand in Michigan. Dr. Lupien and her team will leverage existing funding to expand the scope of a current data project including members of the general public in Michigan, and renters and owners of units in multi-family housing developments. Policymakers can then design and implement policies that fully realize potential for mass timber in the state.

Contact: Dr. Sandra Lupien, Director of Mass Timber, Department of Forestry.

Mental Health Parity in Michigan: A Policy Analysis. This project will review current legislation and assess what prevents the passage of parity laws in relation to mental health access.

Contact: Dr. Dawn Goldstein, College of Nursing.

Integrated behavioral health care in Michigan. Dr. Annis will analyze current policy related to integrated care in Michigan and develop recommendations for a single care delivery model for the state.

Contact: Dr. Ann Annis, College of Nursing and Institute for Health Policy.

Assessing Public Perceptions of Government Capacity and Services in Michigan. This will expand the State of the State Survey to include questions of satisfaction and expectations of local public service.

Contact: Dr. Sarah Reckhow, Department of Political Science.

The Effect of Blighted Property Removal: Evidence from the neighborhood stabilization program in Detroit. Dr. Skidmore will look into the impact of the Neighborhood Stabilization Project on property values in Detroit.

Contact: Dr. Mark Skidmore, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

2021-2022 MAPPR Grant Awards

Climate Extremes and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Advancing Resilience of Michigan Communities.  Tapping into public sentiment surrounding health crises, this research asks policymaker and community input regarding multiple hazards. It seeks to develop guidelines for integrated risk management.

Read the report (.pdf)

Contact: Wonmin Sohn, assistant professor in the Landscape Architecture Program in MSU’s School of Planning, Design and Construction..

Impact of Child Tax Credit Payments on Maternal and Infant Health. Research will assess experiences of Michigan parents receiving child tax credit payments. A plan will be developed for assessing and quantifying the impact of child tax credit payments on pregnancy outcomes.

Read the report (.pdf)

Contact: Claire Margerison, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the MSU College of Human Medicine.

Informing Public Policy and Planning for Wolves and Wolf Management. The research asks what Michigan residents think about the state’s wolf population and the factors that inform their attitudes and opinions about wildlife management practices.

Contact: Shawn Riley, professor of MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Use, Impact and Challenges of ARPA Dollars on Local Units in Michigan. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was initiated to restore financial stability to local communities struggling to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this research, the allocation, uses, challenges and barriers to ARPA funds will be broadly assessed. It will ask citizens about perceptions of ARPA utilization and include case studies of ARPA funds at work in select communities.

Read the report (.pdf)

Contact: Mary Schulz, director of the Center for Local Government, Finance and Policy in MSU Extension.

How Does Policy Narrative Shape Public Attitudes and Behaviors? Survey research questions will be tapped to determine perceptions and opinions of racial theories’ role in local education policies and practices.

Contact: Rebecca Jacobsen, professor of educational administration, Department of Educational Administration, MSU College of Education.


2019-2020 MAPPR Grant Awards

A Statewide Representative Study of Online Sexual Misconduct Policies in Michigan Public Schools: Reflecting on the Online Reality of Our Digital Native Students

Although the problem of cyberbullying has received much of the national attention when it comes to youth’s online interactions (Cheung, 2018), research and policy often fail to address when cyberbullying is sexual in nature. Leaders across Michigan have been dedicated to reducing sexual violence and responding to offline sexual misconduct, but they need more information to address it well. What school districts have sexual misconduct policies that include online experiences? What are the current perceptions of online sexual misconduct as a problem for school functioning and peer interaction? What challenges exist in providing preventative education for students and staff? How are aspects of current sexual misconduct policies associated with student health and wellbeing outcomes?  Just as researchers have gathered data to inform policies and procedures for bullying (Darling-Hammond, 2004), data from this study will inform policies and procedures to address online sexual misconduct.

Contact: Megan K. Maas, Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, College of Social Science

Co-Creating Crime Prevention Policies with Communities

Patterns of disinvestment in neighborhoods experiencing crime continue to have an impact on the effectiveness of policing strategies and negatively impacts Michigan’s downtowns and urban neighborhoods. Communities typically increase their policing in response to crime levels, but often find that the extra police power is neither effective at reducing crime nor cost effective. This research focuses on two main questions: To what extent can environmental design (CPTED) and placemaking principles positively impact crime prevention, and therefore enable cities to manage their budget and policing policies more effectively?  Can bringing residents and stakeholders together with decision-makers and experts be an effective tool to address environmental design and crime prevention policies? Information gained will help legislative leaders address the practical and policy issues associated with crime prevention.

Contact: Linda Nubani, PhD Assistant Professor of Interior Design, School of Planning Design and Construction; Harmony Gmazel, AICP Government and Community Vitality Educator, MSU Extension and Holly Madill, AICP Director, National Charrette Institute

Partisan Fairness in Redistricting Michigan

This research will provide helpful information to the Independent Redistricting Commission that will come in operation in 2021. The commission's constitutional mission to draw redistricting maps that prevent a disproportionate advantage to any political party. By analyzing previous district maps and applying new measures to generate artificial partisan advantage, the research will unfold considerations to be made by the commission while informing elected policymakers and the general citizenry on the process of redistricting, its impact and outcomes.

Contact: Jon X. Eguia, Associate Professor of Economics, MSU, and Corwin D. Smidt, Associate Professor of Political Science, MSU

Evaluating Chronic Wasting Disease Risk Communication in Michigan Meat Processors and Hunters

The goal of this project is to understand Michigan's deer processors’ perceptions of risk regarding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), their knowledge of and attitudes towards existing policy, along current, general processing behavior or patterns. This information will lend recommendations to future policies aimed at limiting the spread of CWD, information sought by state departments as well as federal governments such as the USDA. Although other states have been dealing with CWD longer, very few existing best practices specifically address processors. Thus, the best practices determined to be relevant for adoption in Michigan could also be useful in other states.

Contact: Alexa Warwick, MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; Adam Zwickle MSU Department of Community Sustainability, Environmental Science and Policy Program, & Criminal Justice; Jordan Burroughs, Jeannine Schweihofer, Tina Conklin - MSU Extension; Dru Montri (MSU Department of Community Sustainability); Emily Pomeranz MI Dept of Natural Resources – DNR - Wildlife Division; Kristin Phillips, Dustin Isenhoff - DNR Outreach

Parental Responses to the CDC Recommended Vaccination Schedule and School-Entry Immunization Requirements

Reasons for choosing not to vaccinate range from distrust in healthcare professionals and/or “big pharma” to limited access to healthcare providers. It is clear that recommendations from expert sources such as physicians and governmental organizations may not be enough to ensure compliance. The proposed project will specifically target non-compliant groups (non-vaccinators, partial vaccinators, and delayed vaccinators) to identify the beliefs that are differentially associated with intention to comply with the recommended CDC schedule as compared to those who are fully compliant, thereby informing lawmakers, health care providers, and Michigan families on policy options for vaccination compliance.

Contact: Morgan Ellithorpe, PhD. Assistant Professor, and Fashina Aladé, PhD. Assistant Professor, and
Graduate student collaborator Robyn Adams, MA. Graduate Assistant, all within the Department of Advertising & Public Relations, College of Communication Arts & Sciences, Michigan State University and Lixin Zhang, PhD, Assistant Professor,  and Dan Dutkiewicz, MA, MS (PhD Candidate) MSU Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Overcoming Michigan’s Homework Gap: The Role of Broadband Internet Connectivity for Student Success and Career Outlooks

Michigan ranks 30th among other states and territories for broadband availability (Michigan Infrastructure Commission, 2018) and ranks 40th for the percent of school districts meeting minimum connectivity goals (Education Super Highway, 2017) Persistent and high inequality of access to broadband internet at home creates a “homework gap” among K-12 students, impeding their school success. This disparity diminishes their potential to succeed in the digital economy, putting them at a disadvantage early in life. The homework gap and its broader effects and potential remedies are only poorly understood. This project investigates the scope and impact of internet access on Michigan students'  academic and career motivations. Outcomes will serve to advise education and policy leaders.

Contact: Johannes M. Bauer, Professor and Director; Laleah Fernandez, Postdoctoral Research Fellow; and Keith Hampton, Professor and Director for Academic Research -
Quello Center, MSU Dept of Media & Information, College of Communication Arts & Sciences

Truth or Fiction: Environmental Factors Influence Resident's Satisfaction, Sense of Belonging

Neighborhood satisfaction and sense of community are critical to residents’ ability to act collectively to address local issues (Collins, Neal, & Neal, 2014), engage in community development (Chavis & Wandersman, 2002), and maximize the potential of local institutions such as public schools (Neal & Neal, 2012). Despite the lack of evidence about effective strategies, Michigan communities have committed themselves to potentially costly but often ineffective programs focused on environmental changes. This project will use meta-analysis to determine the extent to which there is evidence that environmental factors influence residents’ satisfaction with, or sense of belonging in, their community or neighborhood.

Contact: Zachary Neal, Associate Professor of Psychology and Global Urban Studies


2018-2019 MAPPR Grant Awards

Substitute Teaching Shortage
Exploring Substitute Teaching in Michigan

The purpose of this project is to develop a richer understanding of the perceived substitute teaching shortage in Michigan through the collection of qualitative and quantitative data. Michigan is particularly suitable for this research with its relatively high employment of substitute teachers (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). This project will serve as a baseline for further work on the relatively underdeveloped research base on the substitute teacher labor market. The research team will collaborate with MASA staff in developing, testing, and deploying survey instruments, while the MASA will facilitate data collection. This research will foster researcher-practitioner collaborations, strengthen the quality of the research design, and support research-based policymaking.

Contact: Nathan Burroughs, Senior Research Associate, Center for the Study of Curriculum, College of Education,
Jaqueline Gardner, Data Specialist, Office of K-12 Outreach, College of Education

Affordable Housing
Spatial Mismatch in Housing and Employment: A Tool for Targeted Intervention in Michigan Neighborhoods

Presently, affordable housing is out of reach for low- or moderate-income households in many Michigan counties (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2017; United Way, 2014), and a number of cities and regions now face critical challenges in regards to ensuring an adequate supply of affordably priced housing for the current workforce (Ottawa Housing Next, 2017; Traverse City Workforce Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee, 2008). One potential driver of these challenges is the spatial mismatch between employment and housing opportunities for residents in the state, which contributes to residential segregation, stagnant wages, and unemployment (Ihlanfeldt and Sjoquist, 1998). This research aims to build an ArcGIS mapping tool and accompanying report to inform communities and policy leaders on this issue.

Contact: Noah J. Durst, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, School of Planning, Design & Construction, College of Social Science,

Great Lakes Health
Line 5: Oil Spill Detection, Remediation, and Risk Perceptions in Winter Conditions

The project will examine the social perceptions of and physical risks associated with Line 5, an increasingly contentious oil transport pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. Specifically, this research will (1) provide insight into the public’s and decision-makers’ perceptions of the risks associated with a Line 5 underwater oil spill via surveys, focus groups, and agent-based modeling, which will be informed by (2) preliminary laboratory experiments that investigate how oil accumulates and spreads beneath ice in the winter season, which has not been previously studied. The findings from this research will have critical implications for identifying best practices and developing spill remediation policy for the State of Michigan.

Contact: Grant Gunn, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Environment & Spatial Sciences, College of Social Science,
Doug Bessette, Assistant Professor, Community Sustainability
Robert Richardson, Associate Professor, Community Sustainability
Michelle Rutty, Assistant Professor, Community Sustainability
Volodymyr Tarabara, Professor, Environmental Engineering and ESPP 39

School Safety
Crime-Prevention through Environmental Design for Public Schools in Michigan: An Assessment of Safe School Environments and Suggestions for Public Policy

This research aims (1) to assess if current school buildings and campuses comply with the safe school design guidelines and (2) to collect input for creating safer school environments. Safe school design guidelines will be developed based on the principles from the crime-prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and defensible space theory. Existing guidelines such as the CPTED for schools guidelines from across the U.S. and other countries will be reviewed and integrated for the school assessment. A thorough review of the theory-based principles and existing guidelines for creating safe school environments will help to develop comprehensive design guidelines for Michigan schools. The ultimate goal of this research is to suggest policy directions for enhancing safe school environments in Michigan.

Contact: Suk-Kyung Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Interior Design Program, School of Planning, Design, & Construction, College of Social Science,
Linda Nubani, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Interior Design, School of Planning, Design, & Construction
Jun-Hyun Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, School of Planning, Design, & Construction
Tongbin Teresa Qu, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning, School of Planning, Design, & Construction

School Reform Review
Partnership Reform: Turning around Michigan Schools

The problem of failing schools is ubiquitous across the United States. Michigan provides an opportunity for deep study of school failure and turnaround reform efforts. School turnaround strategies employ various interventions intended to address systemic needs and quickly improve academic outcomes in the lowest performing schools. Quantitative analyses will test whether partnership reforms are associated with changes in academic and other outcomes; Qualitative analyses will work to explain the nature of these changes, including why and how these changes might affect outcomes of interest, and; Case studies will help to identify school, district, and state contextual factors and strategies that mediate the efficacy of the turnaround Partnership model.

Contact: Chris Torres, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration, College of Education,
Katharine Strunk, Ph.D., Professor and Erickson Distinguished Chair; Co-Director, Education Policy Innovation Collaborative; College of Education
Joshua Cowen, Ph.D., Associate professor of education policy, Founder & co-director of the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC)

Municipal Fiscal Health
Deploying a Fiscal Stress Indicator System for Michigan Local Governments

This project will (1) complete fiscal data collection for villages and townships; (2) employ statistical techniques to identify early warning indicators and test the validity of these indicators by using them to predict local governments’ deficits; (3) work with the Department of Treasury to implement the system including developing the appropriate set of actions to take when a distressed community is identified, and; (4) develop case studies on what other states have done to address fiscal distress or emergency situations.

Contact: Mary Schulz, Associate Director, MSUE Center for Local Government Finance & Policy,
Eric Scorsone, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics
Shu Wang, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics

2017-2018 MAPPR Grant Awards

All policy briefs resulting from the following projects are expected to be posted by or before September 2018.

Autonomous Vehicles: Understanding Michigander Perceptions for Policymaking

This research presents the tradeoffs Michiganders will face from innovations in autonomous driving technology. The major barriers—whether financial, safety related, or social—that automobile manufacturers must overcome in order to foster broad adoption are discerned. By gauging the rate of adoption, this research helps policymakers to better anticipate changes in the industry. Second, Michiganders learn the potential benefits and risks related to AV adoption.

Shelia R. Cotten, Professor, Media & Information, College of Communication Arts & Sciences
Aleksandr Yankelevich, Assistant Professor, Media & Information, College of Communication Arts & Sciences

Developing a Fiscal Stress Indicator Model for Michigan Local Governments

The purpose of this research is to update and revise a previously used fiscal distress indicator system for Michigan local governments that could identify instances of fiscal distress. The specific research question is whether a fiscal distress indicator system model can be built to correctly identify at its early stages the emergence of a severe fiscal crisis in a local government.

Robert Kleine, Interim Director, MSUE Center for Local Government Finance and Policy
Mary Schulz, Associate Director, MSUE Center for Local Government Finance & Policy
Eric Scorsone, Deputy Treasurer for State of Michigan on leave from MSU ‐‐ Consultant

Criminal Justice
Improving Public Policy to Combat the Opioid Epidemic in Michigan

The proposed research engages Michigan law enforcement narcotics investigators and county prosecuting attorneys to identify best practices as well as barriers that exist to successfully investigating and prosecuting heroin and opioid dealers. Research findings inform law enforcement officials and policy makers during their effort to improve the resources and legislative tools necessary to reduce the harm, expense, and consumption of resources caused by the illegal sale and use of destructive drugs.

Juli Liebler, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, MSU School of Criminal Justice

Water Quality
Perceptions of Water Quality, Quantity and Access in Michigan

This research seeks Michigan residents’ perception of water quality, quantity and access. Public perception relates to public satisfaction with water management decisions, satisfaction with and trust of drinking water providers, and the eventual success or failure of efforts to address water problems through compliance or opposition. Further, questions about how many of these issues are unique to the state of Michigan and how they might compare with public views in other states facing similar issues provides input to the decision process of policy leaders.

Sandra T. Marquart-Pyatt, Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Environmental Science & Policy Program; Riva C. H. Denny, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology

Teacher Education
Supporting Public School Great Start Readiness Teachers in Michigan

This study addresses a knowledge gap that is important to policy makers as they consider how best to provide pre-K education. Through an investigation of Michigan GSRP teachers’ experiences, the study will distill the factors that contribute to the teachers’ job satisfaction, well-being, and retention. The results link with considerations for ensuring program quality.

Dr. Bethany Wilinski, Assistant Professor, Department of Teacher Education

Energy Transitions
Understanding Public Opinion on Energy Transitions in Michigan

This research considers opinions more specific to the changes underway in Michigan energy transitions that could influence the integrated resource planning process through the Public Service Commission. The end report focuses on providing input into the Michigan Public Service Commission’s evaluation of utility integrated resource plans and decision-making on renewable energy adoption.

Sharlissa Moore, James Madison College, Civil & Environmental Engineering;
Annick Anctil, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Medicaid Expansion Review
Impacts of Medicaid Expansion on Pre-conception and Pregnancy Health in MI

This research helps policy makers understand how a policy designed to improve health insurance coverage, access, and utilization among young adults—i.e., Medicaid expansion under the ACA—influenced the health of women prior to and during pregnancy, and the health outcomes of their pregnancies.

Claire Margerison-Zilko, Assistant Professor, Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Additional information, as well as a list of previously funded MAPPR projects and reports, are posted here as well. Questions regarding the proposal or grant process may be directed to Arnold Weinfeld ( Please contact us in advance regarding budget preparation for projects that involve the Office of Survey Research or the State of the State Survey.

Additional MAPPR Grant Information Available Here (.pdf)