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About Shirley Porterfield

Shirley L. Porterfield joined the School of Social Work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis as an associate professor in the fall of 2003. She is also a research affiliate in Washington University’s Center for Social Development and a member of the board of directors of the Missouri Budget Project (a nonprofit policy research organization). Dr. Porterfield received her Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics with an emphasis in community economic development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1988. She previously held positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, the Rural Policy Research Institute, and Washington University.

Dr. Porterfield's professional interests lie in the areas of social policy, child disability policy, and issues facing low-income families. Her recent papers and presentations examine children with special health care needs, particularly the characteristics, work choices, assets and income of their families, as well as access of these children to health services. Other recent research projects include an analysis of teen time use and a primary data study of matched savings accounts for elementary school children. Her articles on these and other topics can be found in journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Children and Youth Services Review, and Monthly Labor Review. She has actively participated as both PI and co-PI on grant research funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Council on Economic Education.

Dr. Porterfield teaches graduate-level courses in research methods, program evaluation, and health care policy. In 2001, she received the Excellence in Ph.D. Mentoring Award from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work and, in 2003, the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the Graduate Student Senate. Both were awarded from Washington University in St. Louis.


Present Associate Professor, University of Missouri-St. Louis School of Social Work

Curriculum Vitae



2012 - 2012 Making and Breaking Habits: Consumer Choice of Branded versus Generic Drugs
Consumer Research Express Scripts (CRES) Group Proposal Development Grant
Role: Co-principal Investigator
Colleague(s): S. K. Feigenbaum
2008 - 2008 Comorbidities Among Children with Emotional, Development, and Behavioral Conditions
National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Role: Co-principal Investigator
Colleague(s): T. D. McBridge
2007 - 2007 Using Video as a Tool to Inform Health Policy Change
University of Missouri-St. Louis
Role: Principal investigator
2005 - 2005 I Can Save: The Impact of a Primary School-based Financial Education and Savings Programs on Children's Achievement, Financial Literacy, and Attitudes
National Council on Economic Educatoin
Role: Investigator/Co-principal Investigator
Colleague(s): E.A. Chambers and M. Suiter
2004 - 2004 Health Services and Children with Special Heath Care Needs
University of Missouri Research Board
Role: Principal investigator
2000 - 2002 Children with Disabilities: Implications for the Transition from Welfare to Work
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Role: Principal investigator
2000 - 2002 I Can Save: Effects of Asset Building by Primary Students
University of Missouri Research Board
Role: Investigator/Principal Investigator
Colleague(s): W. Rainford
2001 - 2001 Child Neglect: Cross Sector Use and Outcomes
National Institutes of Health
Role: Investigator
Colleague(s): M. Johnston
1998 - 2001 Rural Single Mother's Coping Strategies Under Welfare Reform
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
Role: Co-principal Investigator
Colleague(s): S. Pandey
1993 - 1996 The North American Free Trade Agreement: Implications for Rural Employment
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research Service, National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program
Role: Co-principal Investigator
Colleague(s): M. Sizer
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Professional Service and Affiliations

2015 - Present Interim Director, Gerontology Program
1988 - 1991 Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Honors and Awards

  • Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Washington University, 2003
  • Excellence in PhD Mentoring Award, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University, 2001


1988 PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1984 MS, University of Arizona-Tucson ‐ Agricultural Economics
1982 BS, Oregon State University-Corvallis ‐ Agricultural and Resource Economics

Faculty Expertise (1)

Research Works (30)