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Melissa Latimer, Ph.D.


Melissa Latimer


Dr. Latimer served as chair of the department for five years (2006-2011).

Much of her published work involves understanding individual experiences with social insurance and social assistance programs. Her main research objective has been to examine the connection between and the consequences of labor market inequality and welfare inequality. Her work involves understanding individual experiences with social insurance (i.e., unemployment insurance) and social assistance programs (i.e., Aid to Families with Dependent Children-AFDC/Temporary Assistance to Needy Families-TANF) and how these experiences vary by gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, and place (i.e., South versus non-Southern location, rural versus urban, Appalachian versus non-Appalachian location, etc.). This research agenda has been particularly significant given the historical gender and racial inequities within the welfare system, the severe economic disadvantage of rural areas and rural states (especially in the Appalachian region), and the massive changes in U.S. society set in motion by the 1996 welfare reform law (TANF).

Her recent research examines gender inequality and academia and organizational change within institutions of higher education. The WVU ADVANCE project is designed to improve our understanding of barriers to large-scale organizational change. The goal is to develop an institutional culture committed to diversity and equality in employee recruitment, development, retention, and promotion to leadership. The knowledge generated from this work can be translated into more effective, systemic approaches to change and can be applied in a variety of large-scale organizations in the academic, public, or private sector. The second area of research connected with the ADVANCE grant is her interest in understanding the disciplinary similarities/differences in academic training and as well as the implications of that training on the attitudes and behaviors of faculty members. Over the course of her career at WVU she has published 27 manuscripts, including one book, and acquired $3,997,627 in external funding.  She currently is the principal investigator on a $3.2 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE IT grant, and primary investigator on a $240,500 NSF Career-Life Balance grant.