The latest significant event in NSPARC’s history occurred on Aug. 7, when employees and their families and friends celebrated NSPARC’s new second floor location at the Mill at Mississippi State University. The new location, adjacent to the MSU campus, is in a restored cotton mill on Russell St. in Starkville.
Dr. Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi, NSPARC executive director, along with other speakers at the event and staff meeting, explained what it means for NSPARC to move into an office space that was custom-designed for the research center. This move represented the culmination of his childhood dream to “do something big” and move to America.
“Growing up in Italy, I told my father that I wanted to go to America and become a professor,” said Parisi. “He couldn’t understand it, but today represents the fulfillment of that dream.”
After years of being located in less attractive office buildings, such as an old sorority house and a former industrial plant, moving into the new office space is an achievement that was unimaginable when NSPARC began its research with small projects and budgets, said Parisi. The new office space brings together both the research staff and the polling center, formerly located in different buildings.
“Today, we conduct research for partners across the state and country,” said Parisi. “Our research is used by policymakers to look at outcomes and help design and evaluate programs for workforce development, education, and economic development.
“Other partners ask us to provide economic analyses that can be used to help attract new businesses to locate in Mississippi, such as the Yokohama plant and the expansion of Toyota,” said Parisi.
When Mike Taquino, deputy executive director at NSPARC, first suggested the idea of doing research that could make a difference in people’s lives, Parisi said he was not sure how it would work. It is hard to believe that NSPARC would grow into a center that specializes in work that connects academic research to real-world issues and is used and respected by partners throughout the country, said Parisi.
The impact of NSPARC’s research in the university and at the state level is impressive, said MSU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Greg Dunaway. The data-driven research produced by NSPARC brings recognition to MSU, enhancing the university’s research role.
Another way NSPARC impacts MSU is in its offering of research opportunities to students, said Seth Oppenheimer, professor of mathematics and director of undergraduate research for MSU’s Shackouls Honors College. Oppenheimer said NSPARC’s support of honors students help expand learning opportunities for them and provide assistance for study abroad programs.
Taquino and Steve Grice, deputy executive director at NSPARC, introduced NSPARC and its mission. Jonathan Barlow, a software architect at NSPARC, was selected randomly from a hat of employee names to cut the ribbon to open the new space.