Carolina And Duke Gather At SSRI For Demography Daze 2016

The Carolina-Duke rivalry is arguably one of the greatest, but when it comes to academics, the two are often close collaborators and good friends. Only ten miles apart, faculty often share expertise and research with one another (despite what shade of blue they think is best).

The rivalry took another break Thursday as the Social Science Research Institute's affiliated center the Duke Population Research Institute (DuPRI) hosted Demography Daze 2016. Celebrating its fifth year, Demography Daze is a collaboration between the Carolina Population Center (CPC) and DuPRI.

The event alternates between Chapel Hill and Durham each year. This year, Carolina came to SSRI as Duke hosted the workshop. A day full of shared ideas and collaborative research, Demography Daze takes interdisciplinary research to a new level, bringing together researchers from across the disciplines and across campuses under the umbrella of demography. Faculty from public policy, sociology, history, economics, geography and government participated in the event and gave talks on their work.

“[Demography Daze] is so terrific because of the diversity of topics covered and the interactions we’ve had,” said Phil Morgan, director of CPC. “There were lots of great conversations and questions today. The flash talks were excellent too, because many people got to present their most interesting findings and the most interesting concept they’re working on.”

The history of collaboration between the centers is a rich one. Together, they are responsible for some of the most innovative data collection projects in the population sciences including the Adolescent Health Survey (Add Health) and the Add Health Parent Study, the China Health and Nutrition Survey, the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study of Development, the Study of the Tsunami Aftermath and Recovery, the National Long Term Care Study and the National Study of Youth and Religion.

“I think what’s happened is partly chance and serendipity” Angela O’Rand, director of DuPRI said. “But also a collegiality between Duke faculty and UNC faculty in general. There’s an awful lot of cooperation and collaboration that cements the ties.”

And speakers covered a range of topics at this year’s event, including marriage promotion programs and their impact, food insecurity in rural America, consent protocols for health records, and the long-term effects of the Nazi occupation of the Soviet Union on health outcomes.

Many of the presentations highlighted research projects involving Duke and UNC researchers working together from different academic approaches. Inspired by the collaboration between campuses, population scientists at Duke are now engaging with the medical center on research projects.

“DuPRI connected with SSRI, and the initiative to link social scientists with medical scientists and medical data has added a whole other layer of potential collaboration that’s already started with Joe Hotz [an economist working with the Add Health Parent Study] and Kristin Newby [a cardiologist working with the MURDOCK Study],” O’Rand said. (For more on their collaboration, read the feature in GIST Magazine’s Spring issue.)

At the end of the day’s events, the dialogue generated by the presentations and participants energized Morgan. “It’s very interactive and that’s one of the strengths of Demography Daze. We have a variety of topics covered, the formats vary and the varied format means there’s a lot more people involved in the conversation,” he said.

For more photos from the event, visit our Demography Daze 2016 flickr album.