Community, Policy and Covid: Cross-disciplinary Research that Matters

May 26th from 1-4 pm

Part of the CSFE COVID-19 Townhall

About the Event



May 26th from 1-4 pm


The Manual H. Johnson Center for Political Economy 


Streamed live from the UC Grand Room to the WCU page.

There is an option of attending in-person or virtually.

Session 1: Our first session rolls out results and findings from our COVID-19 Research Initiative. Launched in June 2020, the Initiative represents CSFE’s coronavirus “pivot” to our core competency as a research Center. Through this initiative, our team has been working on three main areas: 1) COVID-19 impact analysis; 2) Evidence-based policy analysis; and 3) Bottom-up solutions for long term economic recovery. In August 2020, the UNC Policy Collaboratory awarded CSFE a grant to study these topics and submit findings to the North Carolina General Assembly. With this event, we present some of those findings and more.

Moderator: Edward Lopez

Presenter 1: Lauren Heller, “Access to Care and the Immigrant Health Paradox: An Analysis of State Policy”

Presenter 2: Edward Lopez, “North Carolina’s long term prospects for economic recovery”

Presenter 3: Stephen Miller, “How COVID Outbreaks in the South Compare with Other Regions”

Presenter 4: Sean Mulholland, “The Economic and Fatality Effects of North Carolina’s Response to COVID-19 on the Western Counties of North Carolina” “WNC Covid-19 Town Hall”

Break from 2:20 – 2:30pm

Session 2: “COVID-19 and Western Carolina University’s impact in the Western North Carolina Region: Partnering Faculty, Students and Working Professionals” at 2:30pm

As a regional comprehensive university, WCU’s commitment to advancing the well-being of our region and its communities.

Moderator: Sean Mulholland

Presenter 1: Jackson Déziel, “A Frontline EMS Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic”

Presenter 2: R. Turner Goins, “Older adults in the United States and COVID-19: A Qualitative Study of Perceptions, Finances, Coping, and Emotions”

Presenter 3: Chelsea Sokolow, “Getting Back to “Normal” vs. the Possibility of Posttraumatic Growth: A Social Work Perspective on Pandemic Recovery” introduced by Emma Miller.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.



Video Recording

Watch a video recording of the event here.

Session 1 Presenters

Professional headshot of Sean Mulholland

Edward Lopez came to WCU in 2012 and he currently teaches classes in intermediate microeconomics, ethics of capitalism, and principles of economics. Edward first proposed the CSFE in the fall of 2015, and launched its operations in spring 2017. The author of two books and over 50 scholarly articles, Edward’s research focuses on the economics of ideas, entrepreneurship, and politics.

Sean Mulholland is Professor of Economics at WCU and joined the Center as Associate Director in 2020. He has published research articles on a wide variety of topics, including human capital and economic growth, white supremacist groups and hate crimes, school competition and student performance, and Uber and drunk driving.

Stephen C. Miller is the Adams Bibby Chair of Free Enterprise and an Associate Professor of Economics at the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University. Before coming to Troy, he was an Associate Professor of Economics and the SACSCOC Director at Western Carolina University. 

Lauren Heller is an associate professor of economics in the Campbell School of Business and a Director of the Berry College Honors Program.  Her research interests include international health and development economics, as well as a wide variety of policy questions and topics in applied microeconomics.   She also enjoys collaborating with students on research and using discussion and multimedia clips to illustrate economic concepts in her classes.

Session 2 Presenters 

Professional headshot of Sean Mulholland

Jackson D. Déziel, PhD, MPA, NRP, is Assistant Professor and Director of the Emergency Medical Care program at Western Carolina University. Dr. Déziel began his career in 2000 in New Hampshire and has since worked as a paramedic in both urban and critical care settings.

R. Turner Goins received her BA in Psychology from East Carolina University and her MS and PhD in Gerontology from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. She was faculty at West Virginia University’s School of Medicine and Oregon State University’s School of Public Health and Human Development before coming to Western Carolina University in 2013. 

Chelsea Sokolow is a first year Master of Social Work (MSW) student at WCU. She works with Professor Emma Miller, MSW, LCSW, as a graduate assistant supporting the HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) project. Chelsea is currently researching Post-Traumatic Growth as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Emma Miller, MSW, LCSW is an Assistant Professor of Social Work and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program (BWHET) Project Coordinator.