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Elizabeth Day honored with postdoc award

Tags: award,   community,   Elizabeth Day,   media mention,  

picture of 6 men and women holding award plaques

From left, postdocs David Toews, Ana Maria Porras, Elizabeth Day, Tisha Bohr, Susan Cheng and Oliver Bracko

Adapted from an article by Katya Hrichak for the Cornell Chronicle

Six postdocs at Cornell were honored with an inaugural Postdoc Achievement Award Sept. 17 at the Big Red Barn as part of the kickoff to National Postdoc Appreciation Week. The BCTR's Elizabeth Day received one of two Excellence in Community Engagement Award. Day Elizabeth Day is a Cornell Project 2Gen postdoctoral fellow with training in human development and family studies and expertise in the use of research by policymakers.

The awards recognize postdoctoral scholars who have made contributions to community and show commitment to promoting inclusion at Cornell and in society. Postdocs were nominated and endorsed by letters from faculty, graduate and undergraduate students in one or more categories. A committee of three people who interact with postdocs regularly reviewed the nominations and made final decisions.

“We thought it would be important to recognize what postdocs do on top of their research, in terms of leadership, community engagement and teaching and mentoring,” said Christine Holmes, director of postdoctoral studies. “Postdocs are so important to our research community that it is also great to emphasize other aspects of their contributions to Cornell and the community.”

Sara Xayarath Hernández, Graduate School associate dean for inclusion and student engagement, said recognition and awards available to graduate students have evolved and increased, but a gap existed for Cornell postdoctoral scholars. “We really need to highlight the critical role that postdocs play in research, mentoring, organizations and the community,” she said.

“I think it’s incredible to recognize postdocs across campus because there are a lot of postdocs doing a lot of awesome work,” said Day, following the award presentation. “Sometimes postdocs get lost in the shuffle because we’re not students and we’re not faculty, and the Office of Postdoctoral Studies has done a fantastic job of bringing us all together to celebrate our work.”

Chris Schaffer, associate professor of biomedical engineering, attended the event to watch Bracko, a postdoc in his lab, receive the award.

“Postdocs are truly unsung heroes at Cornell University, Schaffer said. “Postdocs conduct some of the most demanding research on campus. They play essential leadership roles in their research labs, where they are frequently the primary day-to-day mentors for graduate students and undergraduate researchers. These awards represent a fantastic way to recognize such contributions.”

The other recipients are: Oliver Bracko (biomedical engineering) and David Toews (laboratory of ornithology), for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring; Tisha Bohr (molecular medicine) and Susan Cheng (ecology and evolutionary biology), for Excellence in Leadership; and Ana Maria Porras (biomedical engineering), for Excellence in Community Engagement.

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Dunifon on WSKG Radio’s Community Conversations


dunifonBCTR associate director Rachel Dunifon participated in the WSKG program Community Conversations on the topic of Women and the Workplace. Dunifon was in discussion with host Crystal Sarakas and guest Phoebe Taubman, Staff Attorney at A Better Balance. The group considered income inequality, specific difficulties for lower income working women, issues of work/family balance, and how policy could address such issues.

Audio of the program can be heard here.

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Community input in the formation of Rachel Dunifon’s Role of Grandparents study


Rachel Dunifon’s research program, The Role of Grandparents in the Lives of Adolescent Grandchildren, would not have come about if it weren’t for the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Educators with whom she works in her parenting program. They are the ones who made Dr. Dunifon aware of the prevalence of grandparent-headed households, who told compelling stories about the families in their communities who are in this situation, and who made her realize what a rich area this would be for research. Based on the knowledge Dunifon gained from the field, she embarked on a multi-year research project, funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, on grandparents raising grandchildren. Dunifon worked with CCE and other community educators to develop the research questions, to bring together focus groups to increase her knowledge of the issues facing such families, to pilot test study instruments, and to recruit participants in the study. The interviews took place in CCE offices throughout the state. The cycle is ongoing as Dunifon is producing a series of fact sheets based on the results of her research, which can be used by educators in their work with families in which grandparents are raising grandchildren.

Receiving input from practitioners and community members to inform research is a crucial step in practicing translational research to insure the studies done are relevant in community settings. As shown by this example, connecting with community educators can raise awareness among researchers about important and relevant issues. The resulting research is then easily translated back into resources useful to the community, as it was developed based on community input from the start.

The fact sheets from this research can be found on this page.

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