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Alex Joosse Named 2024 Reves Faculty Fellow

Prof. Alex JoossePublic Policy Professor Alex Joosse was just named a 2024 Reves Faculty Fellow, along with Kinesiology professor Scott Ickes. The two faculty members, along with two student research assistants, will travel to Kenya this summer on a research grant provided by William & Mary’s Reves Center. 

Their project seeks to understand why one of the most effective interventions to reduce child mortality, exclusive breastfeeding (EBF), is not more widely used by mothers despite policies in Kenya mandating workplace lactation stations. The effects of workplace lactation support programs have mostly been studied in high-income countries. This research will examine the extent to which social factors help or hinder adoption of a proven policy intervention. Prof. Scott Ickes

Specifically, Joosse will use the method of Social Network Analysis to evaluate the role of social networks on mothers’ willingness to utilize breastfeeding supports provided by their workplaces. This method, which is the subject of a course she teaches, focuses on measuring how relationships between people, countries, or organizations affect behavior. In this context, the researchers are hypothesizing that a woman’s decision to adopt EBF has more to do with her social network than with evidence of effectiveness. Better understanding what affects this decision to adopt or not adopt EBF can help policymakers increase uptake of this and other proven interventions.

"Prof. Joosse is one of the outstanding members of our Public Policy faculty team," said Paul Manna, Director of Public Policy and the Hyman Professor of Government. "Her network analysis class is a huge hit with our students and helps them learn sophisticated and valuable skills. It's so exciting that she'll be able to apply her knowledge to this important pressing problem, and then be able to bring this example back into the classroom for social network students to learn from in future semesters. That's a huge win," Manna said.