Riva Denny


Riva Denny

  • Title: Research Associate
  • Email: rchdenny@msu.edu    Phone: 517-355-6639
  • Office: 422A Berkey Hall

Degree: Michigan State University, 2018


I am a sociologist with interdisciplinary research interests in the environment, agriculture, food systems, development, human-environment systems, natural resources, and water policy. I use both qualitative and quantitative methods at multiple scales and specialize in using multi-equation regression techniques like multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling with latent variables (SEMLV), and longitudinal analysis. I work extensively with large secondary datasets, frequently drawing from multiple sources to create my own datasets. I also use survey and in-depth interview data. My research falls into two broad areas: Agriculture and the Environment, and Food Systems, Food Security and Development. 

As a Research Associate in the Department of Sociology, I am working with Sandy Marquart-Pyatt on a panel farmer survey through the MSU W.K. Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. As the project manager I am responsible for developing and documenting data management protocols and databases, conducting analyses, leading manuscripts, producing reports and presentations, and contributing to survey design.

I received my PhD in Sociology from Michigan State University in 2018, with specializations in Environmental Science and Policy, and Ecological Food and Farming Systems, and a certificate in Environmental and Social Systems Modeling. In 2012 I completed my MS in Rural Sociology from Auburn University. My master's thesis investigated the differences between red meat inspection regulations at the state and federal levels and the implications that these differences have for small slaughterhouses and local meat production and distribution systems. I have a BA in Anthropology from Boston University.

Research Areas: Environment, Agriculture, Food systems, Development, Water, Human-environment systems
Selected Publications:

Houser, M., R. C. H. Denny, A. Reimer, S. T. Marquart-Pyatt, and D. Stuart. 2018. “Strategies to Enhance University Extension’s Role as an Agricultural Information Source.” Journal of Extension. 56(6): 6FEA5.

Reimer, A. P., R. C. H. Denny, and D. Stuart. 2018. “The Impact of Federal and State Conservation Programs on Farmer Nitrogen Management.” Environmental Management. 62(4):694-708. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-018-1083-9

Denny, R. C. H., and S. T. Marquart-Pyatt. 2018. “Environmental Sustainability in Africa: What Drives the Ecological Footprint Over Time?” Sociology of Development. 4(1):119–44 DOI: 10.1525/sod.2018.4.1.119

Stuart, D., R. C. H. Denny, M. Houser, A. Reimer, and S. Marquart-Pyatt. 2018. “Farmer selection of sources of information for nitrogen management in the US Midwest: Implications for environmental programs.” Land Use Policy 70:289−297. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.10.047

Olabisi, L. S., S. Liverpool-Tasie, L. Rivers, A. Ligmann-Zielinska, J. Du, R. Denny, J. Li, S. Marquart-Pyatt, and A. Sidibé. 2017. “Using Participatory Modeling Processes to Identify Sources of Climate Risk in West Africa.” Environment Systems and Decisions 38(1):23–32. DOI: 10.1007/s10669-017-9653-6

Denny, R. C. H., S. T. Marquart-Pyatt, A. Ligmann-Zielinska, L. S. Olabisi, L. Rivers, J. Du, and S. Liverpool-Tasie. 2017. “Food Security in Africa: A Cross-scale, Empirical Investigation using Structural Equation Modeling.” Environment Systems and Decisions 38(1):6–22. DOI: 10.1007/s10669-017-9652-7

Denny, R. C. H., M. R. Worosz, and N. L. W. Wilson. 2016. “The Importance of Governance Levels in Alternative Food Networks: The Case of Red Meat Inspection Rules.” Rural Sociology 81(4):601–34. DOI: 10.1111/ruso.12103

·       2017 Rural Sociology Best Paper Award winner

Curriculum Vitae: Download