The Center for Social Research was established in the 1970s as a component of the Institute for Regional Studies within the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (AHSS) at North Dakota State University (NDSU).  The Center’s core mission was and is to provide a venue through which a wide variety of research activities are facilitated. During the mid-1980s, the Center expanded its operation to include CATI telephone surveying as a result of a USDA equipment grant, along with matching dollars from several college at NDSU, obtained by Dr. George Youngs, the Center’s Director at that time.

The Center operates as a fee-for-service entity that facilitates research activities paid for by grants/contracts. A long collaboration between the Center and the North Dakota State Data Center (NDSDC) has consistently funneled sufficient grant activities through the Center to enhance its viability, and there is now an effort to substantially enhance the Center as a major research entity on campus.

The State Data Center was established in 1981 as part of a cooperative program with the U.S. Bureau of the Census.  Its purpose was to serve as the state’s official source of population and socio-economic statistical information. The NDSDC Director, Dr. Richard Rathge, and his research staff at NDSU were asked to lead in disseminating census data and other federal statistics to users within the state with the assistance of a statewide affiliate network of three coordinating agencies and 15 affiliate centers. The NDSDC was funded through grants and contracts obtained by Dr. Rathge to support research activity. In his role as NDSDC director, Dr. Rathge held a .55 FTE research-faculty appointment in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics along with a .45 FTE teaching appointment in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.  In January 2012, the NDSDC transitioned to the North Dakota Department of Commerce in Bismarck as Dr. Rathge anticipated retirement. 

As a result, the State Data Center staff has transitioned to the Center for Social Research, providing the CSR with a full-time, experienced staff for the first time in its history. As he prepared for retirement in August 2013, Dr. Rathge helped guide the transition from the NDSDC to the CSR.  See examples of research conducted while the staff was part of the NDSDC (http://www.ndsu.edu/sdc/publications/research.htm). The goal of this transition is to take the CSR to the next level with an experienced staff that can address an even wider audience of research clients as a major, NDSU-based research entity. Links to some of our recent research reports can be found here.


Nancy Hodur, Ph.D., is the Center's director and has over 25 years of professional experience in applied research, public policy and outreach education. Prior to joining the Center, Nancy was an assistant research professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics here at NDSU. Nancy's primary research areas include socio-economic impact assessment, community and economic development, and natural resource management.  Nancy's recent efforts have focused on issues related to the rapid expansion of North Dakota's oil and gas industry including population and school enrollment projections, and the assessment of the characteristics, perceptions and intentions of the oil and gas industry workforce.

Mihaela "Ina" Cernusca, M.B.A., is the project director for ND Compass and a research specialist within the Center for Social Research. In her role, she leads the design and operation of the ND Compass project to ensure access to reliable, accurate and unbiased demographic and socio-economic data to support informed decision making and community engagement in North Dakota. In addition, she strives to increase awareness and understanding of ND Compass. With extensive experience in market and social research, she has participated in many projects that involved quantitative and qualitative research, grant writing, project management, and outreach/extension activities. Ina earned her MBA from the University of Missouri Columbia and worked as a marketing research specialist with the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri.

Kendra Erickson-Dockter is a research specialist. Currently, Kendra has a part-time appointment with the Center and provides support to various projects. Kendra led North Dakota Compass as the project director, from 2013 to 2019. Kendra received her Masters' degree in Sociology and is a doctoral student in Human Development at NDSU.

Chelsey Hukriede, M.A., is a research specialist at the Center for Social Research. Currently, Chelsey is the ND Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) Project Coordinator. In this role, she manages the operations for this state-wide public health surveillance survey, as well as data analysis and dissemination. Chelsey’s background in criminal justice and experience in social science research enables her to assist in various other projects such as lignite energy industry workforce issues and homelessness in Fargo/Moorhead.  

Karen Olson is a research specialist for the Center for Social Research at NDSU. In this role, Karen’s background in demographics and socioeconomics is used to facilitate the public’s access to data and information needed to make decisions, design and implement programs, and invest in communities across the state. Her efforts involve a wide range of topics including migration, characteristics of the aging population, community efforts to reduce poverty, housing needs, and the health and well-being of children and families. Karen formerly served as the Program Director for North Dakota KIDS COUNT where she worked to provide legislators, public officials, and child advocates with reliable data and tools to advance policies that benefit children and families.

Valquiria Quirino is a research specialist for the Center for Social Research at NDSU. Prior to NDSU, Valquiria worked as a researcher for the Department of Forest Resources at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and as data analyst, at John Deere. At her previous jobs, Valquiria applied geospatial and statistical methods to generate insights and solve real-world problems. Valquiria has also experience in developing and delivering training in technical fields.

Avram Slone, M.A., is a research specialist at the Center for Social Research at NDSU. Avram has previously worked as a researcher at the Alaska Justice Information Center, where he studied domestic violence and time-to-disposition delays in the court system. As an intern researcher with the Health Studies Branch of the United States Census Bureau, he helped maintain and analyze the HIV/AIDS Surveillance Data Base. Avram earned his Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Kansas.

Kate Ulmer is an academic assistant for the Center as well as the department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies and the department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Students at the Center 
The Center employs a number of students on an on-going basis, providing paid internships for undergraduate students and research assistant positions for graduate and doctoral students. The full-time staff provides mentoring to the students and enjoys contributing to their hands-on learning experience, while simultaneously benefiting from their contributions to the Center’s research efforts.

Our current research assistants include:
Aastha Bhandari - Master's program in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems
Jerry Dogbey-Gakpetor - Doctoral program in Statistics, College of Science and Mathematics 
Debarati Kole - Master's program in Sociology and Anthropology
Dinema Mate - Master's program in Communication and post-graduate studies in Public Health

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