Search Cornell

Elaine Wethington retires


portrait of Elaine Wethington

Elaine Wethington

by Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Professor Elaine Wethington, a medical sociologist who made meaningful contributions to translational research at Cornell, retired in December after more than 30 years at Cornell University.

Wethington was a professor of human development, sociology and gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and an associate director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. She also served as a co-director and pilot core director of Cornell’s Edward R. Roybal Center, the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL).

Wethington’s research focused on social relationships and isolation among older adults and the role of stressful life events in affecting mental and physical health across the life course. She also conducted ground-breaking research on developing measures of stressor exposure throughout her career.

“Elaine Wethington has been deeply engaged in the Bronfenbrenner Center since its inception, and her contributions range from garnering large grants, to mentoring countless students, to building bridges between Cornell’s Ithaca Campus and our Medical School in Manhattan,” said Karl Pillemer, professor of human development and gerontology and senior associate dean for research and outreach in the College of Human Ecology. “In addition, she has made major scientific contributions in a number of areas, including discovering better ways of linking research to solve problems in real-world settings. There are not many of us who deserve the term ‘irreplaceable,’ but Elaine is one of them.”

Wethington was known particularly for her interdisciplinary work. Over the course of her career, she held a variety of leadership and research positions at the College of Human Ecology and centers across Cornell. She is the author or co-author of four books. The most recent, Research for the Public Good: Applying the Methods of Translational Research to Improve Human Health and Well Being, demonstrates how social and behavioral scientists can use translational research methods to inform public policy and practice.

“I have had the fortune to work with Elaine for the past 15 years, and I would describe her as a masterful mentor and collaborator,” said Dr. Cary Reid, a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and director of TRIPLL. “She provides supportive feedback in a timely way. She is a team player in the truest sense of the word. She has exceptional abilities to see connections across disciplines, thereby enhancing the breadth of the work.”

BCTR Director Christopher Wildeman said Wethington’s personal qualities and dedication to her work helped advance the field of translational research.

“Elaine in many ways exemplifies what we hope the BCTR is and will continue be – smart, tough, fair and engaged in the weeds of the world in order to improve both the world and academic research,” he said. “Although we wish her well, losing her is absolutely devastating for us. She is, simply put, someone who cannot be replaced.”

Wethington joined Cornell in 1987 as assistant professor of human development. Over the course of her tenure at the university, she has served as acting director and co-director of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center, co-director of the Cornell Gerontology Research Institute, associate director and acting director of the BCTR and co-director of the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life. She served on the Cornell Institutional Review Board for Human Participant Research from 1995 until her retirement, chairing the committee from 2000 to 2006. She has also been the recipient of numerous teaching and advising awards at the university.

“I am very grateful for the support of my colleagues in Human Development, Sociology, and Weill Cornell Medicine,” she said. “I also drew inspiration from the students of Cornell University. Their enthusiasm for the work that I and other researchers on the sociology of health and aging has been a constant source of inspiration for me since I began teaching here.”

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Elaine Wethington    retirement   

Wethington named AAAS fellow


portrait of Elaine Wethington

Elaine Wethington

by Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Elaine Wethington, professor of human development, sociology and gerontology in medicine, and associate director of the BCTR, was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society.

Wethington is recognized for her contributions to medical sociology, focusing on the social aspects of physical and mental illnesses, their epidemiology and rigorous measurement, and for making her findings translatable to diverse audiences, including patients and the public.

Her research focuses on social relationships and isolation among older adults and the role of stressful life events in affecting mental and physical health across the life course. She also conducted ground-breaking research on developing measures of stressor exposure throughout her career.

“I am thrilled to have earned this prestigious recognition for my work in translational research to improve health and well-being,” Wethington said. “This is not something I could have done on my own, and I am grateful for the support of Cornell’s Roybal Center for Translational Research on Aging and its directors since 1993.”

Wethington is one of nine Cornell faculty members and 416 researchers across the world who were elected this year to honor their efforts to advance research and its applications to benefit humankind. Wethington and the other new fellows will be inducted into the association at its annual meeting on February 16 in Washington D.C.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: award    Elaine Wethington    health    mental health   

Research on later life pain and mood presented at meeting

Tags: aging,   conference,   Elaine Wethington,   pain,   TRIPLL,  

Researchers from across Cornell and investigators affiliated with the BCTR’s Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL) shared new research findings earlier this month at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual scientific meeting in Boston.

TRIPLL is one of the most active and long-standing collaborations among the Cornell campuses. It comprising researchers and graduate students from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech. The investigators presented research on barriers to older adults receiving mental health care at the end of life, why older adults seek information and make the decisions they do and an intergenerational program that teaches youth to interview older adults to learn life lessons.

portrait of Elaine Wethington

Elaine Wethington

“The Gerontological Society of America meeting is the leading international venue for presenting new findings on aging and health to our scientific peers” said Professor Elaine Wethington, one of the co-directors of TRIPLL and director the pilot study program. “It is an opportunity to showcase the work of our pilot investigators and to network with the world’s leading gerontologists. “

Much of the research presented by TRIPPL focused on the relationship between pain, mood and psychological distress and methods for managing chronic pain besides medications.

A TRIPLL-sponsored symposium looked specifically at developing and testing innovative pain interventions that do not involve taking medications. Researchers documented the psychological elements of pain and how cognitive-behavioral interventions can change patients’ perception of pain. They also found that coping skills training, step monitoring and goal-setting to encourage exercise were the intervention activities most likely to lead to pain relief among older adults.

One study, led by human development graduate student Abby Yip and associate professor Corinna Loeckenhoff, demonstrated how positive and negative emotions are associated with pain on a daily basis. TRIPPL researchers sent daily surveys to older adults with chronic pain to measure their mood and pain experiences. They found that patients who experienced positive feelings experienced less pain. They also found that experiencing negative emotions in the context of pain was associated with maladaptive coping strategies, such as avoiding physical activity, which may worsen pain in the long run.

TRIPPL pilot investigator Dr. Una Makris also reported on an intervention designed to improve outcomes of disability and depression in older veterans with chronic low-back pain and depression. The intervention will involve telephone calls from a health coach to encourage physical activity.

TRIPLL was founded in 2009 with a grant from the National Institute on Aging. It is one of 12 federally-funded Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translation of the Behavioral and Social Sciences of Aging across the nation; each one focuses on a different aspect related to the health and well-being of older Americans.

The institute brings together faculty from a variety of disciplines, including the social and behavioral sciences, gerontology, clinical medicine, epidemiology, and computer science to focus on non-pharmacologic methods of pain relief.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    conference    Elaine Wethington    pain    TRIPLL   

BCTR and the new Cornell Center for Health Equity


From right, Drs. Avery August and Monika Safford, co-directors of the Center for Health Equity, celebrate the center's opening with Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, and Dr. David Satcher, the founding director of and senior adviser to the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Cornell Tri-Campus Health Equity Symposium, March 15-16 at Weill Cornell Medicine.

From right, Drs. Avery August and Monika Safford, co-directors of the Center for Health Equity, celebrate the center's opening with Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, and Dr. David Satcher, the founding director of and senior adviser to the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Cornell Tri-Campus Health Equity Symposium, March 15-16 at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Adapted by Sheri Hall for the BCTR from an article by Timothy Malcolm for the Cornell Chronicle

The newly-formed Cornell Center for Health Equity (CCHEq) held its inaugural symposium on March 15 and 16 at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. David Satcher’s keynote address emphasized that health equity means “everyone has the opportunity to achieve their highest state of health.”

The CCHEq brings together researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell’s Ithaca campus, and Cornell’s Tech Campus in NYC. Together they will work to better understand why health outcomes vary among demographic groups and generate new evidence on how to eliminate health disparities with the goal of achieving health equity for people locally, regionally, and nationally.

Portrait of Jennifer Tiffany

Jennifer Tiffany

Jennifer Tiffany, BCTR’s director of outreach and community engagement is a key faculty member working with the CCHEq. Tiffany also serves as the

executive director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s New York City programs (CUCE-NYC) and leads the Community Engagement in Research team at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Center.  These roles enable her to work with the CCHEq to bring together researchers from New York City and Ithaca and to promote partnerships with communities, practitioners, and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).

“At a time when economic inequality within the U.S. and New York state is extreme and rising, working actively to promote health equity is particularly crucial,” Tiffany said. “Partnerships with communities that experience extreme health disparities are vital to this work, as are the kinds of multidisciplinary and cross-campus partnerships the CCHEq seeks to develop and sustain. The BCTR has strong interests, resources, and capabilities in all of these areas.”

Tiffany and Elaine Wethington, an associate director of the BCTR, both participated in the March symposium. Tiffany presented on “Using Geospatial Mapping to Plan and Assess Programs" as part of the session on community-partnered research. She also participated in a panel called "Building a Sustainable Community-Engaged Research Program.”

Portrait of Elaine Wethington

Elaine Wethington

Wethington, who is co-director and director of pilot studies of the BCTR’s Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life, has been working for over a year with CCHEq investigators and other Ithaca-based investigators on proposal submissions through the CCHeq. She has also recruited other Ithaca investigators to take part in proposals and other collaborative projects with CCHEq.

“I hope that many other Ithaca faculty follow me in affiliating with the Center for Health Equity,” Wethington said. “Collaboration with the CCHEq is an outstanding opportunity for social scientists to partner on research projects that will have immediate application to improve the lives of New Yorkers living with disadvantage.”

The CCHEq will address disparities in heart disease, stroke, and cancer outcomes in disadvantaged minority communities in the diverse, urban New York City area, as well as in more rural regions of New York state. Working with organizations and providers deeply engaged in their communities, including caregivers and local health centers, the investigators will analyze the role of policy, societal biases, socio-economic status, educational attainment, health care providers, and the home and family environment in overcoming these disparate health outcomes.

For one of its projects, the CCHEq is engaging with Afro-Caribbean communities that increasingly use New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Using data showing higher prevalence of hypertension among populations of African descent, center investigators are working with colleagues at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist to plan events that encourage residents to be screened and receive treatment for hypertension. They hope that these activities will also motivate residents to be screened for common cancers – including breast, colon, and prostate cancers – that are also of higher prevalence in African-descent communities.

Along with that work, the CCHEq hopes to use data collected by Dr. Margaret McNairy, the Bonnie Johnson Sacerdote Clinical Scholar in Women’s Health and an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, on the prevalence of emerging cardiovascular diseases in Haiti. Her work may become useful in identifying and promoting treatment of cardiovascular diseases in Haitian communities in New York City, said Dr. Monika Safford, co-director of the Cornell Center for Health Equity and chief of general internal medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

In Ithaca, Rebecca Seguin-Fowler, associate professor of nutritional sciences in the Colleges of Human Ecology and of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is seeking to reduce heart disease risk factors among women in the central, upstate, and Finger Lakes regions of the New York. In one project, called Strong Hearts, Healthy Communities, Seguin-Fowler is collaborating with CCE educators and the Bassett Healthcare Network’s Center for Rural Community Health to implement and evaluate a six-month cardiovascular disease risk-reduction program for overweight or obese women who are sedentary. The first phase of this community-randomized trial demonstrated effectiveness in reducing multiple disease risk factors, including weight loss and improved physical activity.

As the CCHEq grows, students in New York City and Ithaca will conduct research and work with fellow scientists and staff members across the two campuses. This aligns with one of Cornell’s strategic priorities, which emphasizes a connection between the medical school and other parts of the university through a distinct focus, in this case improving health equity.

The translational nature of the work, which brings together researchers across Cornell campuses and involves community members, is in line with the BCTR’s mission to speed and strengthen connections between research and practice.

“We want to drill down on this issue, so we are partnering with communities to understand their priorities and perspectives, collaboratively developing interventions based on science as well as community realities, and partnering with community organizations to sustain those interventions,” Safford said. “Cornell has such a broad reach. While we’re at the very beginning stages of our center, tapping into that Cornell community and potentially making an impact regionally is really exciting.”

Cornell Center for Health Equity established - Cornell Chronicle

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: collaboration    CUCE-NYC    Elaine Wethington    health    healthcare    inequality    Jennifer Tiffany    NYC   

PRYDE conference on social media literacy in youth


news-2017-prydeconf-inpost

front (l to r): David Dunning, Elaine Wethington, Kristen Elmore, Jutta Dotterweich, Jamila Simon, Esther Kim, Rachel Sumner. back: Chinwe Effiong, Paul Mihailidis, Kayla Burd, Josh Pasek, Jonathon Schuldt, Monica Bulger, Neil Lewis, Norbert Schwarz.

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

What does the research tell us about how young people use social media? And what can educators do to teach youth how to use social media in productive, positive ways?

These were the questions researchers addressed at the second annual conference hosted by the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE). The conference, titled “Media Literacy and Citizenship Development in Youth and Emerging Young Adults,” was held from November 9 to 11 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. It included multidisciplinary researchers and media developers from across the nation focused on youth, communications, misinformation, and media use.

Elaine Wethington, professor of human development and sociology and an associate director of the BCTR, organized the conference. She is a medical sociologist whose research focuses on stress, protective mechanisms of social support, aging, and translational research methods.

Sam Taylor presenting

Sam Taylor presenting

“There are few topics more urgent to address than the relationship of increased reliance on social media as a means of communication and the impact of the new media on social and political institutions,” Wethington said.  “Our long-term goal is to develop new ideas about how to translate research on promoting productive social media use among youth into effective programs that engage youth and emerging adults and their development as informed citizens.”

In addition to invited talks from leading media, communication, and social and developmental psychological researchers, the conference included discussions and group activities about how to teach youth to become positive stewards of social media and the information exchanged on the web. Moving forward, those ideas will help to inform projects in the Cornell Social Media Lab, a PRYDE collaborator.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: conference    Elaine Wethington    PRYDE    social media    youth    youth development   

Workshop: How to Navigate the Revised Common Rule, Tuesday, April 10, 2018

 
how to workshops

How to Navigate the Revised Common Rule
Elaine Wethington, associate director, BCTR

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
9:00-10:30 AM
102 Mann Library



This workshop will summarize proposed changes to US federal regulations for the protection of human participants (scheduled to go into effect in July 2018) and how these regulatory changes may affect the work of researchers who do community-based research and other types of health/clinical research in practice settings. The presentation will also document how federal and foundation funders have already implemented new expectations for research practices based on the pending changes (including changes to standards for informed consent). Workshop attendees will discuss case studies and learn the principles used by IRBs to review studies of this type.

To Register:

Please contact Lori Biechele at lb274@cornell.edu.
Breakfast will be served.
This workshop is open to all Cornell faculty, staff, and grad students.


event-htdrrws-event-image2Part of an interactive workshop series

Researchers are increasingly conducting studies in community settings and applying for grants that require documentation of real-world impact. Indeed, some funders now require components such as dissemination plans, stakeholder engagement, or community participation. To meet these new demands, researchers may wish to collaborate with non-academic groups and craft research questions and results that inform practice or policy. This series of interactive workshops shares the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research’s extensive experience conducting research in real-world settings and translating empirical findings into practice. Each workshop addresses a key challenge that researchers face in doing translational research and provides practical tools for overcoming obstacles to conducting effective translational research.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Elaine Wethington    How to Do Research in Real-World Settings    workshop   

Joining forces to ease chronic pain


triplllogo-smallerBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Pain relievers are some of the most commonly-used medicines among older adults. But a Cornell-based organization called the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life, or TRIPLL, is exploring alternative ways to alleviate pain in older adults.

TRIPLL is one of the most active and long-standing collaborations among the Cornell campuses — comprising researchers and graduate students at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Researcher (BCTR), Weill Cornell Medicine, and Cornell Tech, plus dozens of community organizations serving seniors in New York City.

“It’s a very broad and deep collaboration,” said Karl Pillemer, TRIPLL co-director and director of the BCTR. “Because of our use of video conferencing, Skype and frequent meetings, it’s honestly not much different than if we were all in the same building. A number of us work with our TRIPLL colleagues even more than with people on our own campuses.”

TRIPLL was founded in 2009 with a grant from the National Institute on Aging. It is one of 12 federally-funded Edward R. Roybal Centers for Translational Research on Aging across the nation; each one focuses on a different aspect related to the health and well-being of older Americans.

TRIPLL brings together faculty from a variety of disciplines, including clinical medicine, epidemiology, gerontology, the social and behavioral sciences, computer science to focus non-pharmacologic methods of pain relief.

“Pain is a huge problem — it’s one of the things that keeps people homebound,” says Riverdale Senior Services director Julia Schwartz-Leeper, who regularly uses the institute’s webinars to train her staff. “The work that TRIPLL does is critically important.”

Karl Pillemer and Elaine Wethington

Karl Pillemer and Elaine Wethington

As the American population ages, the issue of treating pain in older adults is only getting more pressing. TRIPLL co-director Dr. Elaine Wethington, a medical sociologist and an associate director at the BCTR, notes that one-third of older adults has chronic pain — “and the majority of those find inadequate relief.”

Effective, evidence-based alternatives to pharmaceuticals are needed because many older adults have pre-existing conditions, such as heart failure or kidney problems, that pain medicines can exacerbate. The epidemic of opioid abuse also complicates matters. Fear of addiction may discourage older people from taking pain drugs. And reducing the number of opioid prescriptions keeps the drugs out of a medicine cabinet where they could be misused by family members or others, Pillemer said.

“Our inability to deal with chronic pain through non-drug methods is a huge problem,” he said. “In terms of an issue that makes the largest number of people miserable, chronic pain is at the top. But it’s not a high-profile problem that has an easy cure, so it doesn’t attract as much research funding.”

In an effort to combat the problem, TRIPLL’s researchers award grants for pilot studies; hold monthly seminars linking researchers on the various campuses; mentor graduate students, post-docs, fellows and junior faculty; and serve as a resource to New York City community service agencies, whose tens of thousands of clients provide a deep bench of volunteers for research studies.

“For years there’s been a consensus among researchers that pain is not just a biological phenomenon, it’s also a social and a psychological one, but there are few centers in the United States that look at pain from this biopsychosocial perspective,” Wethington said. “Our commitment is to understand these aspects as completely as we can — to get really smart people working on them, to publish papers in places where they’ll have an effect on practice.”

This story is adapted from an article that was first published in Weill Cornell Medicine, Vol. 16, No. 1.

Save

(1) Comment.  |   Tags: aging    Elaine Wethington    gerontology    Karl Pillemer    pain    TRIPLL   

Workshop: How to Address IRB Issues in Translational Research, Tuesday, April 11, 2017

 
how to workshops

How to Address IRB Issues in Translational Research
Elaine Wethington, BCTR

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
8:30-10:00 AM
G87 MVR Hall



In this workshop you will learn how to present a community-based translational research study to an institutional review board (IRB) for human participants. We’ll cover the federal regulations and guidance documents that are relevant to IRB review of community-based studies. Workshop attendees will discuss case studies and learn the principles used by IRBs to review studies of this type. Greater knowledge of the IRB process may help participants prevent review delays. Workshop participants will also learn how the pending revision of the Common Rule may impact the review of community-based translational studies.

Elaine Wethington, Associate Director, BCTR; Professor of Human Development and Sociology

To Register:

Please contact Patty Thayer at pmt6@cornell.edu
Lunch will be served.
This workshop is open to all Cornell faculty, staff, and grad students.

event-htdrrws-event-image2Part of an interactive workshop series

Researchers are increasingly conducting studies in community settings and applying for grants that require documentation of real-world impact. Indeed, some funders now require components such as dissemination plans, stakeholder engagement, or community participation. To meet these new demands, researchers may wish to collaborate with non-academic groups and craft research questions and results that inform practice or policy. This series of interactive workshops shares the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research’s extensive experience conducting research in real-world settings and translating empirical findings into practice. Each workshop addresses a key challenge that researchers face in doing translational research and provides practical tools for overcoming obstacles to conducting effective translational research.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Gerontological Society selects experts on aging as fellows


By Tyler Alicea ‘16, MPS ‘17 for the College of Human Ecology tumblr

wethington loeckenhoff

Wethington and Loeckenhoff

For their work on aging, two College of Human Ecology faculty members have been named fellows for the Gerontological Society of America.

Corinna Loeckenhoff, associate professor of human development and associate professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC), and Elaine Wethington, professor of human development and of sociology and professor of gerontology in geriatrics at WCMC, were two of 94 professionals named on May 31 to the society, which is the largest of its kind seeking to understand aging in the United States.

As fellows, Loeckenhoff and Wethington are being recognized for their “outstanding and continuing work in gerontology,” specifically in the behavioral and social sciences section of the society.

Loeckenhoff, who directs the Laboratory for Healthy Aging and oversees Cornell’s gerontology minor, researches various topics related to health, personality, and emotions across the lifespan. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses on the various aspects of adult development and healthy aging.

Wethington, director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Human Development and associate director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, focuses on stress and how outside factors can affect one’s physical and mental health.

The society will formally recognize Loeckenhoff, Wethington, and its other new fellows at its 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans this November.

Gerontological Society selects experts on aging as fellows - College of Human Ecology tumblr

Save

Save

Save

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    Corinna Loeckenhoff    Elaine Wethington    gerontology    media mention   

$1.2M gift funds new BCTR youth development project


From the Cornell Chronicle:
By Sarah Thompson

With the newly-formed Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), Cornell researchers are joining with the New York State 4-H program and the 200,000 children and teens who participate annually to foster groundbreaking research on youth development.

girl doing experiment

"Smart Clothing, Smart Girls" middle school participants work on design projects.
Photo credit: Dani Corona/College of Human Ecology

PRYDE will lead projects in real-world settings and seek to improve community-based youth education programs from the ground up.

Funded by a three-year, $1.2 million startup gift from Rebecca Q. Morgan ’60, PRYDE staff and faculty affiliates plan to create a hub for serving young people’s developmental needs in four theme areas: life purpose, healthy transitions into adolescence, intergenerational connections and productive social media use. PRYDE experts will conduct translational research in close collaboration with 4-H staff and youth across New York, accelerating the speed at which evidence can be applied to new and existing programs while also sparking young people’s interest in social science.

Based in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) in the College of Human Ecology, PRYDE is believed to be the first university program in the nation to apply innovative social science methods to strengthen 4-H programs.

“Rigorous research is needed to help identify and recognize the specific ingredients of youth programs that have the best impacts on youth,” said Anthony Burrow, PRYDE director and assistant professor of human development. “Essentially, ensuring that research and evidence-based programming are part of these programs enables others to know that the good work they are doing is producing the outcomes they are striving for.”

PRYDE will rely on a community-based participatory research model developed and used by BCTR researchers for more than two decades. Tapping a Community Engagement Work Group comprising 4-H educators and field staff, campus-county teams will identify research needs, design studies and interpret and disseminate data through a statewide “research ready” network. They hope to fill knowledge gaps on how to best nurture healthy youth development through 4-H and other out-of-school programs. Training to build research literacy, as well as an annual Youth Development Conference for off-campus 4-H staff to hear the latest evidence from Cornell researchers, will deepen campus and county connections.

kids shooting rocket

4-H members participate in the "Have a Blast with Rocketry" program during 4-H Career Explorations at Cornell.

“The opportunity to apply practices with a strong evidence base, and work with faculty who can evaluate current efforts and identify what’s working and why, has potential to make a huge difference. This work team will create a space for real engagement and shared program development,” said Andrew Turner, PRYDE advisory committee member and state leader of the New York State 4-H Youth Development Program, part of the BCTR and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

PRYDE leaders selected the program’s research priorities based on input from 4-H educators, as well as the potential to address urgent needs of young people. Burrow, who studies human purpose and identity, will examine how these developmental assets can be woven into youth learning and engagement programs. Jane Mendle, assistant professor of human development who has previously used the 4-H network to test expressive writing interventions for teen girls, will lead research on how to support the well-being of children as they enter puberty.

Social media, often seen as a danger to youth, will be studied for its potential to connect them to each other and their communities in a project led by Elaine Wethington, professor of human development and of sociology. Karl Pillemer, BCTR director and Hazel E. Reed Professor of Human Development, will test new models to bring together people of all ages in meaningful activities.

In its work, PRYDE seeks to expose adolescents to cutting-edge human development research and train future generations of youth development specialists. Cornell undergraduates are being recruited for the first group of PRYDE Scholars, who will be mentored by faculty in youth development research. PRYDE plans to hire graduate research assistants and will also host campus visits and create other outlets for 4-H members to observe social science research firsthand.

For these reasons, the program “greatly piqued my interest,” said Morgan, a donor with a longstanding interest in youth development. A former California state senator, Morgan participated in 4-H while growing up on a Vermont dairy farm and briefly served as a 4-H agent in Tompkins County after her Cornell graduation. At cattle shows and fashion displays and as president of her local club, Morgan credits 4-H with teaching her everything from accounting to leadership to dressmaking.

“I am most excited that PRYDE is taking science and putting it into service to help young people,” Morgan said. “4-H is the largest youth organization in the U.S. and it offers a readymade network for translating Cornell research into effective youth programs. The program is positioned to become a national leader on this topic.”

PRYDE will officially launch with a campus panel discussion May 5, featuring prominent researchers and practitioners discussing the future of translational youth development research. The event will be live streamed for the public.

“The generosity of Becky Morgan will allow us to speed up the process of uniting science and service in youth development, bringing world-class researchers together with expert practitioners to create a better world for young people,” Pillemer said. “It is rare when a gift can have such far-reaching consequences.”

$1.2M gift launches research program to better serve youth - Cornell Chronicle

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    Anthony Burrow    Elaine Wethington    Jane Mendle    Karl Pillemer    media mention    PRYDE    youth    youth development