Steven Grice (Faculty)

Steven Grice, Deputy Executive Director, NSPARC

Steven Grice sees a cool irony in how the opposite of what brought him to Mississippi has become the default pace of his professional life.

“A slower pace of life and a beautiful, welcoming campus are what attracted me to Mississippi State,” said Grice, who moved here from the Atlanta area so he could pursue a doctorate in sociology. “When I moved here in the mid-1990s, there was almost no traffic.”

After locating to Starkville, Grice soon collaborated with Mimmo Parisi and Mike Taquino, who were working on a vision to connect administrative data to social science research to help solve real-world challenges.

Fast-forward several years. That vision has evolved into the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, a cutting-edge interdisciplinary research center headquartered at the restored Mill at MSU. The multi-million-dollar center known to most as NSPARC is home to 100 scientists and staff and has secured more than $100 million in research funding. Work is very fast-paced.

“We’re so busy that we sometimes forget how neat and exciting this is,” said Grice, a deputy executive director for NSPARC. “Information and data are the future, and we are packaging it to make it understandable and useful to policymakers and others. People outside of Mississippi can’t believe this resource exists. It’s innovative, different, and not run-of-the-mill.”

Grice also serves as vice chair of the university’s Institutional Review Board, which reviews research that involves human subjects.

“The IRB has seen a big increase in the number of projects and the breadth of ideas being researched at MSU,” Grice said. “There are lots of hidden gems here.”

Among other accomplishments, NSPARC’s work has resulted in free apps to help Mississippians find jobs; the establishment and maintenance of LifeTracks, the statewide longitudinal data system; and an education and training program for Mississippians who qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

“MSU and Mississippi are innovative and distinctive in many ways,” Grice said. “We understand the idea of service. I love coming to work every day knowing I’m doing something that helps someone and improves the quality of life.”