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Cohen, Wildeman named provost fellows


By Tom Fleischman for the Cornell Chronicle

Portrait of Christopher Wildeman

Christopher Wildeman, BCTR director

Emmanuel Giannelis, vice provost for research and vice president for technology transfer, intellectual property and research policy, has announced the appointment of professors Paula Cohen and Christopher Wildeman as provost fellows for life sciences and social sciences, respectively.

They will be charged with helping further the Office of the Vice Provost for Research’s mission of advancing and supporting Cornell research. Their three-year appointments begin July 1.

Cohen is professor of genetics and director of the Center for Reproductive Genomics in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences. Wildeman is professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology. He is also director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

They will be responsible for catalyzing, coordinating, initiating and promoting research and programs in their respective fields. Giannelis said Cohen and Wildeman are exceedingly qualified for their new roles.

“It is their expertise, he said. “They’re both very accomplished researchers and they’ve both led [research] centers. So, they have what it takes to be successful.”

Having a leadership triumvirate representing a cross-section of the university – Giannelis is the Walter R. Read Professor of Engineering – is by design, Giannelis said.

“We are a comprehensive university, we have a large number of faculty who specialize in many, many different fields,” he said. “Having a team where people bring to the table more than one type of knowledge and expertise always helps.”

Cohen said she hopes to be a liaison between the vice provost’s office and life sciences faculty, as well a catalyst for cross-disciplinary research collaboration.

“Cornell is already one of the most collaborative institutions in which I have ever worked,” she said, “and I hope to further foster this spirit of multidisciplinary research.”

Wildeman said three of his top priorities are: learning from his life sciences colleagues about how to expand the grant portfolio in the social sciences; streamlining the process of doing research in the social sciences to make it easier for faculty; and helping social sciences faculty engage in even more translational, impactful research.

“I hope to help us think about how we can do ‘something big’ in the social sciences here at Cornell,” he said, “through leveraging the unique combination of endowed and public missions in a way that makes the social sciences at Cornell truly unique and greater than the sum of our parts.”

Giannelis referenced an initiative introduced by Provost Michael Kotlikoff in 2016: the idea of “radical collaboration” – research that capitalizes on the collaborative environment that has fostered interdisciplinary faculty interactions across the university’s campuses in Ithaca and New York City.

Bringing on provost fellows from diverse fields of study is an “excellent example” of that collaborative spirit, Giannelis said.

“The excitement and the opportunities are not necessarily in our disciplines by themselves but at the intersection of different disciplines,” he said. “There’s the opportunity to learn what works for one discipline and perhaps apply it to another, but more importantly, to bring faculty and students from different fields to tackle research problems together when historically there hasn’t been much interaction. I think it’s something we need to be doing more and more.”

“This is very much at the heart of the provost’s radical collaboration initiative, and I am really excited by the possibilities offered by these team science endeavors,” Cohen said. “This type of collaboration has always been something I’ve sought actively in my own research, and I look forward very much to encouraging and supporting others to participate in these ventures, especially young faculty.”

Other goals Giannelis is hoping to achieve through his office, with Cohen’s and Wildeman’s help, include increasing research activity and diversifying Cornell’s research grant portfolio to heighten visibility for the university, and enhancing “a sense of belonging” for Cornell’s approximately 600 postdoctoral researchers.

The university announced its Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowships program in 2017; the first cohort of postdoctoral fellows is arriving at Cornell this year. Giannelis said Cohen and Wildeman will be leading that initiative as part of their duties as provost fellows.

A member of the faculty since 2004, Cohen received her bachelor’s in physiology from King’s College, University of London, in 1989, and her Ph.D. from the University of London in 1992. Wildeman, who joined Cornell in 2014, received his bachelor’s in philosophy, sociology and Spanish from Dickinson College in 2002, and his master’s (2006) and Ph.D. (2008) in sociology and demography from Princeton University.

Cohen, Wildeman named provost fellows - Cornell Chronicle

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Welcome Christopher Wildeman, incoming BCTR director!


By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Portrait of Christopher Wildeman

Christopher Wildeman

Christopher Wildeman, professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management, will become director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) on July 1.

Wildeman follows gerontologist Karl Pillemer, the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development, who is taking on a new role as the College of Human Ecology’s senior associate dean for research and outreach.

The BCTR brings together social science researchers with health and human service organizations to expand and strengthen the connections between research, policy and practice. The goal is linking research with real-world concerns to improve the health and well-being of families and communities. The center was named for the late Urie Bronfenbrenner, whose research helped to inspire the federal Head Start program. Today, more than 40 Cornell faculty affiliates work with practitioners to design, implement and evaluate projects and programs focused on nutrition, youth development, parenting, health care, aging and related issues.

“For well over 50 years, Cornell University—and especially the College of Human Ecology—have been a hub for translational social science in the United States,” Wildeman said. “I am extremely excited to follow in the footsteps of founding director John Eckenrode and outgoing director Karl Pillemer, both of whom have been excellent leaders of both the center and the translational social science research community.”

Wildeman’s research focuses on the prevalence, causes and consequences of imprisonment with an emphasis on how prison terms affect families, children and health. He also studies child maltreatment and the foster care system and is co-director with founding director John Eckenrode of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN), a data archive that collects and distributes child abuse data sets and promotes collaboration among child maltreatment researchers. Wildeman has served as associate director of the BCTR since 2016.

“As a leading scholar on mass incarceration and child maltreatment, Chris understands the importance of integrating research, policy and practice when addressing the needs of vulnerable families”,” said Rachel Dunifon, who will become interim dean of the College of Human Ecology on July 1. “I am proud of all that the BCTR has accomplished and know that it will be in excellent hands under Chris’ leadership.”

Portrait of Karl Pillemer

Karl Pillemer

Under Pillemer’s direction, the BCTR expanded its programs in a number of areas, including social media outreach, training for investigators in translational research methods, and the development of new program areas. During Pillemer’s tenure, the BCTR received several major gifts, including $1.2 million donation Rebecca Q. Morgan '60 to provide three years of startup funding for the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), an initiative launched this spring by Cornell social scientists to foster groundbreaking research in partnership with New York State 4-H; and a $1.6 million gift from Evalyn Edwards Milman '60 and Stephen Milman '58, MBA '59 to fund a BCTR faculty fellowship, part of a new program to embed professors in the BCTR and link their research directly to community needs.

“Serving as director of the BCTR has been among the most rewarding experiences of my career,” Pillemer said. “Cornell University and the College of Human Ecology provide an ideal environment for a center that aspires to create a better marriage between science and service. I have had the chance to meet with many alumni who have been highly enthusiastic about the BCTR’s mission, some of whom have made generous gifts to support programs like PRYDE and the BCTR Fellows program. Chris Wildeman’s energy, ideas, and focus on data-driven policy will ensure that the center grows and remains at the cutting edge of translational research.”

Wildeman intends to build on the BCTR’s success by making the center more integral to training and teaching both graduate and undergraduate students. He plans to expand the already-impressive grant portfolio currently under the BCTR umbrella, strengthen connections between the BCTR—and Cornell more broadly—and policymakers in Albany, and make the BCTR even more central to the social sciences by investigating avenues through which Cornell might develop a flagship social science dataset.

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New book examines incarceration’s impact on children and families


news-2017-incarcerationbook-inpostBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

More than 2 million U.S. children have a parent in prison – a circumstance that impacts individual children as well as our society on the whole.

The newest book in the Bronfenbrenner Series on the Ecology of Human Development, When Parents Are Incarcerated: Interdisciplinary Research and Interventions to Support Children (American Psychological Association), analyzes how parental incarceration affects children and what can be done to help them.

The book is edited by Christopher Wildeman, professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell, Anna R. Haskins, assistant professor of sociology at Cornell and Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, a professor in the human development and family studies department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The book explores the issues from multi-disciplinary perspectives. Sociologists and demographers used complex techniques to develop causal analyses with a strong focus on social inequality. Developmental psychologists and family scientists explore how micro-level family interactions can moderate the consequences of parental incarceration. Criminologists offer important insights into the consequences of parental criminality and incarceration. And practitioners who design and evaluate interventions review a variety of programs targeting parents, children, and the criminal justice system.

Editors Chris Wildeman, Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, and Anna Haskins

Editors Chris Wildeman, Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, and Anna Haskins

“The interdisciplinary nature of this book is particularly unique and important, as successful solutions to such complicated issues are beyond the scope of a single approach,” Haskins said. “The perspectives of several disciplines are necessary in broadening understandings around the impact of parental incarceration for inequality among children.”

The work in the book was drawn from the 5th Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner ConferenceMinimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children. Held during September 2016, the conference included scholars from variety of disciplines and more than 12 institutions and programs.

The book is the fifth in a series of volumes based on research presented at a Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference. The first four books in the series are:

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National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect refunded


ndacan-logoBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, or NDACAN, secured a $5.2 million federal contract that will maintain the project over the next five years. 2018 will be the Archive’s thirtieth consecutive year receiving federal funding since the Archive was founded at Cornell in 1988.

NDACAN promotes analysis of data on child maltreatment, child well-being, and adoption and foster care. The Children’s Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, renewed the project’s contract. The Children’s Bureau plans, manages, coordinates, and supports child abuse and neglect prevention and child welfare service programs.

“We know that data archives and technical support for the secondary analysis of research data represent an important part of the research infrastructures of many fields of research, including child welfare,” said John Eckenrode, professor of human development and NDACAN co-director.

“Maximizing the use of child welfare data is key to making important policy decisions, raising public awareness, and identifying targets for prevention efforts,” he said. “In this way, we hope that our modest efforts at NDACAN can help lead to greater safety, permanency, and well-being for America’s children. We are very pleased to partner with the Children’s Bureau in this effort.”

NDACAN’s holdings include data from national surveys, administrative data from state and federal agencies, and individual studies by child welfare researchers. In addition to acquiring and processing data, NDACAN staff provide technical assistance to child welfare researchers and encourage networking among them in order to exchange information. These efforts have resulted in several hundred published studies.  NDACAN also conducts analyses of archived data to support the work of government agencies, foundations, advocacy groups, and the press.

“In the next five years, we plan to make the Archive even more integral to the child welfare research community by making aggregate data available in readily accessible formats and by opening up our micro-data holdings in ways that facilitate completely new and innovative types of analyses that can better inform child welfare policy—and social policy more broadly,” said Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of Policy, Analysis and Management and NDACAN co-director.

Researchers can find more information and review and order data sets at for no charge on the NDACAN web site.

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Conference spotlights consequences of parental incarceration


By H. Roger Segelken for the Cornell Chronicle:

haskins

Anna Haskins speaking

With millions of American parents, mostly fathers, locked in jails and prisons, a national conference at Cornell Sept. 15-16 shined the spotlight on their kids back home.

“Minimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children” was the topic of the Fifth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, featuring a multidisciplinary mix of scholars from more than a dozen institutions and programs.

“One of the most shocking phenomena this country has witnessed in the last century has been the unprecedented rise in mass incarceration,” said conference co-organizer Anna Haskins, Cornell assistant professor of sociology and member of the Center for the Study of Inequality. An estimated 1 in 14 American children (about 7 percent) has a parent incarcerated at some point in their young lives, observed Haskins. Of special concern, she emphasized, “is the overwhelming disparity in which this issue touches African-American and Hispanic but not white populations.”

Haskins hopes the conference opens new areas of inquiry for social scientists. “We know more about the deleterious consequences for imprisoned individuals and former inmates,” she said, “but less attention has been paid to the broader fallout for families.”

The conference series and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) are named for Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005), the renowned developmental psychologist who taught at Cornell for more than 50 years and developed the so-called ecological systems theory. Several conference-goers said the ecological approach could help to untangle incarceration’s effect on family and society.

wildeman

Christopher Wildeman speaking

Christopher Wildeman, associate director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research and associate professor of policy analysis and management, speaks at the conference.
Said conference co-organizer Christopher Wildeman, BCTR associate director and associate professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology: “The conference’s multidisciplinary focus, in addition to being highly consistent with Urie’s own academic orientation, is also unique within this research field – where psychologists, sociologists, economists and criminologists who study the consequences of parental incarceration rarely publish in the same journals, attend the same conferences or grapple with each others’ perspectives.”

One productive outcome of the conference, Wildeman said, will be a proceedings volume with authors from all those fields, published by the American Psychological Association.

A third conference co-organizer, Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, professor of human ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that “developmental perspectives are lacking” so far in most studies of incarceration’s consequences. Scholars need to know “how parental incarceration can get under the skin of children and influence through an entire life course.” When considering a child’s resilience in the face of parental incarceration, Poehlmann-Tynan said, researchers should remember “resilience is a process, not a characteristic or trait.” Some children appear to do surprisingly well during parental incarceration, she said. “We can’t paint the picture that parental incarceration (inevitably) is doom.”

Sara Wakefield, an associate professor in the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice (and co-author, with Wildeman, of “Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality”) sought to correct some popular misconceptions. Many parents hide their criminal activity from their children – until, that is, they’re arrested, prosecuted and punished, she said. Furthermore, long sentences in state or federal prisons aren’t the only source of stigma and trauma among convicts’ children. Hundreds of thousands of Americans cycle through local jails every month, Wakefield said, “and even short spells in jail are highly consequential for children.”

Sociologist Kristin Turney, from the University of California, Irvine, highlighted possible effects of parental incarceration, including strains on parental relationships, economic well-being and health, and suggested children might develop behavior problems or experience diminished cognitive skills. Among the youngest children of incarcerated parents, boys seem to be most affected, Turney said. But as children mature, girls are more likely to be troubled by a father’s incarceration.

Joyce Arditti, professor of human development and family studies at Virginia Tech, reported some children growing up with an incarcerated biological parent they never knew – outside or inside prison walls – can still be affected by that stigmatizing association.

As for the Bronfenbrenner conference venue as an apt place to discuss family-ecological perspectives of child development, Arditti said: “It’s kind of cool to be here in his ‘backyard.’”

Conference spotlights consequences of parental incarceration - Cornell Chronicle

Video of the full conference is available on our YouTube channel and in the media library on this web site.

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Fifth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, Monday, October 15, 2018

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Fifth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference

Minimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children

September 15-16, 2016

Conference program

The fifth biennial conference in honor of the legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner convened a panel of leading researchers in an effort to cultivate interdisciplinary perspectives and consider the micro-, meso-, and macro-level interventions that best minimize the consequences of parental incarceration for children, families, and communities. Presentations emphasized the strongest interdisciplinary research on the consequences of paternal and maternal incarceration for children (with special attention to mediators and moderators) as well as discussing policies and individual-level interventions that could help lessen the likelihood of parental incarceration or help children whose parents have experienced incarceration. The conference’s overarching goal is to strengthen the connections between research, policy, and practice in the area of collateral consequences of mass incarceration for children.


Minimizing the Collateral Damage: Interventions to Diminish the Consequences of Mass Incarceration for Children

September 15-16, 2016

Conference program

The fifth biennial conference in honor of the legacy of Urie Bronfenbrenner convened a panel of leading researchers in an effort to cultivate interdisciplinary perspectives and consider the micro-, meso-, and macro-level interventions that best minimize the consequences of parental incarceration for children, families, and communities. Presentations emphasized the strongest interdisciplinary research on the consequences of paternal and maternal incarceration for children (with special attention to mediators and moderators) as well as discussing policies and individual-level interventions that could help lessen the likelihood of parental incarceration or help children whose parents have experienced incarceration. The conference’s overarching goal is to strengthen the connections between research, policy, and practice in the area of collateral consequences of mass incarceration for children.

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Doing Translational Research podcast: Christopher Wildeman, Monday, October 15, 2018

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Doing Translational Research podcast: Christopher Wildeman

Incarceration and Inequality
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Christopher Wildeman
Department of Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University


Incarceration and Inequality
Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Christopher Wildeman
Department of Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University

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Doing Translational Research podcast with Chris Wildeman


wildemanIn episode 6 of the BCTR podcast Doing Translational Research, center director Karl Pillemer talks with Christopher Wildeman about his research on mass incarceration and inequality. Christopher Wildeman is an associate professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell, where he is also co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect and a faculty fellow here in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

Chris talks about his research and the way working with communities has strengthened his work. His research and teaching interests revolve around the consequences of mass imprisonment for inequality, with emphasis on families, health, and children. He is also interested in child welfare, especially as relates to child maltreatment and the foster care system.

Ep. 6: Incarceration and Inequality with Christopher Wildeman - Doing Translational Research podcast

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Conference shares latest youth development research


By Olivia M. Hall from the Cornell Chronicle:

burrow presenting

Anthony Burrow, assistant professor of human development and PRYDE co-director, presents a poster on youth and life purpose at the Youth Development Research Update.

Runaway slaves, social media, environmental education, the wisdom of elders – the sixth annual Youth Development Research Update June 1-2 in Ithaca covered a lot of ground.

Funded by the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) in the College of Human Ecology, the conference brought together 55 Cornell Cooperative Extension educators and program leaders, youth service providers from community agencies and Cornell faculty members from across campus to explore how these and other topics relate to children and teens and how to better serve their needs.

“This event creates a unique, interactive space for practitioners and researchers to engage in sustained dialogue about ongoing research and the potential for future collaboration,” said assistant professor of human development Anthony Burrow, who organized the event with Jutta Dotterweich, director of training for BCTR’s ACT for Youth project.

Stephanie Graf, a Youth and Family Program leader with Jefferson County Extension, has developed several fruitful partnerships over five years of attending the conference. For a past project on Defiant Gardens for military families, for example, she worked with professor of natural resources Marianne Krasny, who this year spoke about environmental education programs to support positive youth development.

Krasny outlined how environmental stewardship activities have potential to stimulate positive growth in young people, leading to healthier physical habits, skills for future employment or greater self-confidence and emotional self-regulation. Educators, meanwhile, face the challenge of guiding youth without overly imposing their own experiences and decision-making – a dilemma for which she suggested a reflective practice of providing structure, support, mutual learning, open communication and ultimate accountability. “Positive youth development is possible,” she said, “but it’s not easy.”

Graf found research by Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of policy analysis and management and a BCTR faculty fellow, on the stigma associated with parental incarceration to be equally relevant to her work, where she sometimes encounters children of inmates in her county’s after-school programs.

Wildeman reviewed research on the United States’ historically high rate of incarceration – which at 500 prisoners per 100,000 citizens far outstrips other developed democracies – and its disproportionately negative impact on minority families. He then described a new experimental study in which teachers, presented with hypothetical students new to their classroom, expected more behavioral problems and less competence from children whose fathers are in prison. These results support the “sticky stigma” attached to paternal incarceration, Wildeman said.

History professor Edward Baptist drew a link from Wildeman’s talk when discussing his Freedom on the Move project. “I think that mass incarceration probably wouldn’t exist and certainly wouldn’t have the shape that it does without the strategies that were created to try to control and continue to force people into the institution of slavery,” Baptist said.

One such strategy was for slave masters to place runaway slave ads in newspapers, reinforcing the persistent scrutiny under which even free African-Americans found themselves. Collaborating with colleagues at Cornell and other universities, Baptist has built a crowdsourcing platform that will engage the public in transcribing and parsing data from some 200,000 ads that survive from the period between 1722 and 1865.

A poster session on the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE) concluded the conference, allowing attendees to question researchers about work in its four focus areas: healthy transitions for adolescents; intergenerational connections between high schoolers and older adults; the productive use of social media; and leveraging youth purpose to increase engagement and learning in 4-H.

Burrow, PRYDE co-director, said: “The update provides a rare space for researchers to attend a conference alongside needed collaborators. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too.”

Conference shares latest youth development research - Cornell Chronicle

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Alumni gifts to the center support the greater good


Growing up on a dairy farm in rural Vermont, Rebecca Q. Morgan '60 was drawn to 4-H. At cattle shows and fashion displays and as president of her local club, Morgan says eight years in 4-H taught her everything from public speaking and accounting to leadership and dressmaking.

preschoolers examine butterflies at Madison County Head Start

Preschoolers examine butterflies at the Madison County Head Start, a new partner for Casasola's research thanks to her work as a BCTR Faculty Fellow. Photo: Madison County Head Start/provided.

"It was a wonderful outlet for me to develop a great deal of practical skills and gain confidence in my abilities," says Morgan, who went on to become a California state senator, where she stood out as an advocate for child development and education.

With a $1.2 million gift to Cornell's Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR), Morgan is giving back to improve 4-H and community-based youth education programs from the ground up. Her gift, made in late 2015, provides three years of startup funding for the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), an initiative launched this spring by Cornell social scientists to foster groundbreaking research in partnership with New York State 4-H and its 200,000 children and teen participants in four areas: life purpose, healthy transitions into adolescence, intergenerational connections and productive social media use. In close collaboration with 4-H staff and youth, PRYDE seeks to integrate evidence into new and existing programs while also sparking young people's interest in social science.

The BCTR, based in the College of Human Ecology, received another boost during the Cornell Now campaign thanks to a $1.6 million gift from Evalyn Edwards Milman '60 and Stephen Milman '58, MBA '59. The couple endowed the Evalyn Edwards Milman '60 BCTR Faculty Fellowship, part of a new program to embed professors in the BCTR and link their research directly to community needs.

Totaling nearly $3 million, the gifts represent an unprecedented level of alumni support for the center, which formed in 2011 to bridge the gap between social science research and practice.

"One of our major goals as a center is to encourage more faculty members to conduct translational research, inspiring them to consider how their work applies to real-world problems and can serve people throughout the life span," says BCTR Director Karl Pillemer, the Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development. "Both of these gifts provide new avenues for faculty to take cutting-edge scientific research and move it into real-world settings."

4-H teens collaborate on a STEM project

At Camp Bristol Hills in Canandaigua, N.Y., 4-H teens collaborate on a STEM project. PRYDE enables Cornell researchers to partner with community educators to work on improving 4-H and other out-of-school education programs. Photo: 4-H/provided.

In New York, Cornell oversees 4-H through the BCTR and Cornell Cooperative Extension, offering the ideal environment for PRYDE to test interventions through a community-based participatory research model developed and refined by BCTR researchers. Campus-county teams will identify research needs, design studies and interpret and disseminate data through a statewide "research ready" network.

"I am most excited that PRYDE is taking science and putting it into service to help young people," says Morgan, president of the Morgan Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to youth, education and the environment. "4-H offers a ready-made network for translating Cornell research into effective youth programs. The program is positioned to become a national leader on this topic."

PRYDE will also host campus visits and provide opportunities for 4-H members to observe social science research firsthand. Furthermore, it is forming a group of undergraduate PRYDE Scholars, launching this summer, to enable Cornell students to work with faculty mentors and train in translational research methods.

As the first Milman BCTR Faculty Fellow, Marianella Casasola, associate professor of human development, is also extending her child-development research into community-based settings. Her Cornell Infant Study Laboratory works closely with Madison County, New York, Head Start, testing Casasola's previous research on how preschool children acquire spatial skills and language in a new school environment.

"I am excited that Professor Casasola has chosen to work with Head Start, for this was a vision of Professor Urie Bronfenbrenner," says Evalyn Milman, who studied under Bronfenbrenner, a child psychologist and BCTR namesake. "His purpose was to establish a comprehensive program in early childhood education -- working with children from low-income families -- designed to establish an environment for the development of cognitive skills. This research into constructive play by young children, and exploration of how spatial and language skills develop, will bring results that will have lasting impact in the field of education."

Joined by Rebecca Seguin, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, and Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of policy analysis and management, in the inaugural group of BCTR Faculty Fellows, the scholars receive funding for a graduate research assistant, pilot studies and translational research pursuits.

"With our focus on public engagement, not only do gifts to the BCTR support Cornell, but they serve the greater good due to our work helping a wide range of populations, such as struggling adolescents, children in foster care, families in the military or older adults," Pillemer says. "It will help to generate new knowledge for the benefit of communities and to allow faculty and students to marry science and service, which was a hallmark of Urie Bronfenbrenner's work."

Bronfenbrenner Center gifts support the greater good - Ezra Update

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