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BCTR Talks at Twelve: Alexander Gravis, Genevieve Meredith, Amelia Greiner Safi, Tuesday, February 6, 2018

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A New Paradigm for Public Health Training at Cornell
Alexander Gravis, Genevieve Meredith, and Amelia Safi, Cornell University

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
12:00-1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



In the fall of 2017, Cornell launched for the first time a Master of Public Health Program, building on a rich tradition of public health research and teaching across its many Colleges and Schools. Locally and globally we are facing complex and urgent public health needs, due in part to accelerating environmental change and social divides. To prepare public health leaders of the future—leaders who ensure the health of current and future populations—student trainees must be equipped to understand and act upon the inextricable, dynamic links between human health and the environment’s health. The new Master of Public Health training program aligns with recently-transformed national accreditation criteria designed to maximize the public health impact of its graduates. Our program is founded on the planetary health paradigm, with guiding principles of sustainability, equity, engagement, and applied research and practice.

Genevieve Meredith (OTR, MPH) is associate director of the  Program and a lecturer in the Department of Population Medicine. For the last 14 years, Gen has worked globally to help build capacity of the public health workforce, and to optimize public health systems to achieve improved health outcomes. Leveraging expertise gained from leading large international development projects in Africa and the Caribbean, and local and state public health programs in the U.S., Gen came to Cornell to help design and lead the MPH program, focusing specifically on engaged learning and applied practice for public health competence development. As an engaged scholar, Gen is also developing and facilitating community-centered courses, and co-leading community-based action research projects in the Southern Tier of New York State.

Dr. Amelia Greiner Safi is an applied social scientist with an interest in the intersection of public health, environmental/ecological health, policy, and communication. She holds a joint appointment between the Department of Communication and the Master of Public Health Program.  She has often served as a bridge across disciplines and professions to find common interests in order to advance health and environmental outcomes. Recently, she has been involved with providing insight from the social and behavioral sciences to a convening of the Rockefeller/Lancet partnership to advance the field of Planetary Health. She is the Project Director for an NIH/FDA grant on vulnerable adults’ and youth reactions to graphic warning labels on tobacco products.

Alexander J. Travis (VMD, PhD) is director of the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program and a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Alex received his AB from Princeton University and his VMD and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. He is associate dean of international programs and public health at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and is founding director of Cornell’s Master of Public Health program. In addition to his NIH-funded biomedical research laboratory that focuses on health diagnostics, Alex takes a broad planetary health approach in his field research, driven by a passion to advance human health at the population level in ways that promote biodiversity conservation. Alex seeks to have impact by training students to design, implement, and test public health interventions that are equitable and sustainable for people and the planet.

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Talks at Twelve: Monika M. Safford, Thursday, November 30, 2017

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Health Equity in the 21st Century: Challenges and Solutions
Monika M. Safford

Thursday, November 30, 2017
12:00-1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



Throughout her distinguished career as a clinician-investigator with clinical expertise in preventive healthcare, treatment of acute and chronic illness, and the coordination of care for those with complex diseases, Dr. Monika Safford is recognized as an expert in patient-centered research on diabetes, cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention, and health disparities. Over the course of conducting four trials in an underserved and largely African American region, the Alabama Black Belt, she has developed the concept of 'community partnered' research that shows promise as a strategy to eliminate inequities in health outcomes. In her talk, Dr. Safford will share how she developed this concept and how it will be operationalized as part of Cornell's new Center for Health Equity.

Dr. Monika Safford is the John J. Kulper Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine and the chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. She is a clinician-investigator with clinical expertise in preventive healthcare, treatment of acute and chronic illness and the coordination of care for those with complex diseases. Dr. Safford previously served at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine as the Inaugural Endowed Professor of Diabetes Prevention and Outcomes Research, Assistant Dean for Continuing Medical Education, Associate Director of the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education, and Co-Director of UAB's T32 Health Services and Comparative Effectiveness Research Training Program. She is an active principal investigator with ongoing support from the National Institutes of Health, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and industrial sources. Throughout her career as an educator, she has trained and mentored numerous medical students, graduate students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty members. She has chaired national meetings for the Society of General Internal Medicine and the American Diabetes Association for which she serves on a steering committee for an ISTEP medical education initiative and was Co-Chair of the ISTEP Writing Committee. Dr. Safford's honors include the American Association of Medical Colleges Learning Health System Research Pioneer Award (2013-14), a Gold Honor Society Humanism Program faculty mentor appointment (2012) and multiple awards for Research Excellence from UAB Department of Medicine, including the UAB Department of Medicine Max Cooper Award for Excellence in Research.

With more than 260 papers published in top tier journals, she is an expert in patient-centered research on diabetes, cardiovascular epidemiology and prevention, and health disparities. Among her published studies are noteworthy investigations on an underserved and largely African-American region called the Alabama Black Belt, where two-thirds of adults are obese and many have diabetes, hypertension or other chronic conditions. Dr. Safford has studied how health coaches and other non-traditional interventions affect patient outcomes, and was recently awarded a $10 million grant by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to test two ways of improving the blood pressure of 2,000 people in the area.

Dr. Safford received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College and her Medical Degree from Weill Cornell. She completed her residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and the Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center in 2003, she earlier worked as an instructor of medicine at Brown University Medical School with a hospital appointment at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island; and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, with a hospital appointment at the affiliated University Hospital.

Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Botanic Gardens lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at pmt6@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

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Teen Outreach Program helps prevent teen pregnancy

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By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

The ACT (Assets Coming Together) for Youth Center of Excellence at the BCTR is helping youth organizations across the state of New York launch a youth development program to help prevent teen pregnancy.

The Teen Outreach Program, or TOP, is a program for youth ages 12 to 17. It was developed for the St. Louis Public Schools in 1978. Since then, research has shown the program helps to prevent teen pregnancy and also improves academic outcomes such as increasing high school graduation rates.

With support from ACT for Youth, six agencies are funded by the New York State Department of Health to implement TOP.  As a replication partner, ACT for Youth staff will train facilitators, offer technical assistance and help the sites evaluate the program’s effectiveness. So far, one site in Long Island has nearly 300 youth enrolled.

2014 Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) portraits.

Divine Sebuharara

The program includes lessons about healthy behaviors and life skills including critical thinking skills, goal-setting, information about healthy relationships, communication, human development, and sexual health. TOP is unique because the curriculum component offers different levels for young people in different age groups, said Divine Sebuharara, an extension support specialist with ACT for Youth.

“Facilitators also have the ability to pull lessons from other levels,” she said. “So as they get to know the kids, they can tailor the lessons to their needs. They can provide more basic information for kids who need it, or they can provide more advanced information for students who are ready for the next level. This requires a skilled facilitator who really knows their youth. Skilled and caring facilitators are an integral part of this program’s success.”

In addition, the program includes a community service learning (CSL) component where students engage in at least 20 hours on a project, or projects, they decide upon and assist in planning and implementing. “By engaging in CSL while learning new content and skills, participants are able to apply their knowledge and develop a sense of self-efficacy,” Sebuharara said.

ACT for Youth was launched in 2000 to reduce risky sexual behavior among youth by advancing the principles of positive youth development. The program is a partnership between the BCTR, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of New York City, Ulster BOCES, and the University of Rochester Medical Center. It receives funding from the New York State Department of Health.

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Improving the health of military families

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BPC_150909_c_AR2_ExecutiveSummary.inddBy Sheri Hall for the BCTR

BCTR researchers have spent two years helping to improve the health and wellness of military members and their families.

The BCTR’s Military Projects team partnered with researchers from the Cornell Office for Research on Evaluation (CORE) to measure outcomes from the Healthy Base Initiative, a short-term project to demonstrate how healthy eating, exercise, and tobacco cessation can improve the lives of active service members and their families. The results were published earlier this year.

Their work was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Department of Defense launched the project at 14 pilot sites across the world. First, they assessed the health and wellness of the military community at each site, then they implemented a variety of initiatives designed to improve health and wellness, such as fitness programs, menu labeling, cooking seminars, and tobacco cessation campaigns.

BCTR and CORE researchers worked with the Department of Defense Military Community & Family Policy and other researchers to evaluate which initiatives worked the best to help military families lead healthier lifestyles and develop conclusions that will inform a larger wellness initiative across the Department of Defense.

“Health care costs continue to be a large and rapidly growing part of the military budget and include the cost associated with active duty service members and their families as well as military members in the reserve components, retirees, and veterans,” explained Brian Leidy, senior extension associate at the BCTR and director of Military Projects. “Just like in the civilian population, metabolic diseases which are largely preventable through proper diet, exercise, and avoiding tobacco play a major role in the acceleration of these costs.”

The project identified a wide range of recommendations such as encouraging different service branches within the military to work together on health and fitness initiatives, finding ways to offer more healthy food options within military communities, offering childcare while adults exercise or participate in wellness activities, and creating more tobacco-free areas.

You can read the full list of recommendations in the Healthy Base Initiative executive summary and full report.

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2017 Bronfenbrenner Lecture: Karen Matthews, Thursday, June 15, 2017

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Karen Matthews

Biological Pathways in Childhood Poverty, Health, Well-being, and Behavior
Karen Matthews, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Thursday, June 15, 2017
9:00 - 10:00 AM
G71 MVR Hall



There are strong and ubiquitous social gradients in childhood health. This talk will examine underlying biological explanations for social inequalities in child health and lay out some strategies for improving research on these pathways. Professor Matthews will review several physiological systems including HPA axis, cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory, and the sympathetic nervous system. She will then go in detail about sleep, the brain, and metabolic dysregulation including obesity. Ideas for future research will focus both on additional physiological parameters as well as measurement and research design issues.

Dr. Karen Matthews is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is Program Director of the Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Research Training Program.  Her work addresses the psychosocial and biological pathways connecting sociodemographic factors and poor health; development of cardiovascular behavioral risk factors in childhood and adolescence; the influence of menopause on women’s health; and the role of stress-induced physiological responses and sleep in the etiology of heart disease and hypertension.   Dr. Matthews is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.  She has previously served as Editor-in-Chief of Health Psychology, and as President of the American Psychosomatic Society and the Health Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association (APA).  Dr. Matthews has won a number of honors, including the 2005 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology and awards from the American Heart Association, APA Health Psychology and Pediatric Psychology Divisions, Society of Behavioral Medicine, North American Menopause Society, American Psychosomatic Society, and the Association of Psychological Science.  She received her B.A. degree from University of California at Berkeley, her Ph. D. from the University of Texas, Austin, and a Ph.D. (Honoris Causa) from University of Helsinki, Finland. 

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Spring 2017 Talks at Twelve

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This semester we welcome speakers from across campus and across the U.S. for our spring 2017 Talks at Twelve series. Talks at Twelve are held in the Beebe Hall second floor conference room and lunch is served. These talks are free and open to all. No RSVP or registration is required, but notice is appreciated if a larger group is planning to attend (email pmt6@cornell.edu).

 

Wednesday, February 22, 12:00-1:00pm
Mental and Behavioral Health Facilities: Critical Research and Design Recommendations
Mardelle M. Shepley, Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University

 

 

comfortTuesday, March 7, 12:00-1:00pm
Beyond the Peer-Reviewed Article: Making Research Relevant for Community Stakeholders and Policymakers
Megan Comfort, Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice Research Division, Research Triangle Institute

 

 

Thursday, March 16, 12:00-1:00pm
Pain and Presence: The Clinical Use of Media
Andrea Stevenson Won, Communication, Cornell University

 

 

 

Thursday, April 13, 12:00-1:00pm
Healthy Base Initiative: Evaluating Programs to Encourage Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyles, and Tobacco-Free Living
Marney Thomas, BCTR, Cornell University

 

 

Thursday, April 20, 12:00-1:00pm
Data Driven Policy-Making in Child Welfare
Dana Weiner, Chapin Hall Center for Children, University of Chicago

 

 

 

Tuesday, April 25, 12:00-1:00pm
Weill Cornell Behavioral Geriatrics: Cognitive Impairment in Hospitalized Adults & Palliative & Mental Health Care
Elissa Kozlov and Keiko Kurita, Weill Cornell Medical College

 

 

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Talks at Twelve: Marney Thomas and Brian Leidy, Thursday, April 13, 2017

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Healthy Base Initiative: Evaluating Programs to Encourage Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyles, and Tobacco-Free Living
Marney Thomas and Brian Leidy, BCTR

Thursday, April 13, 2017
12:00-1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



From 2014 to 2015 the Military Projects staff, collaborating with the Department of Defense and other university partners, undertook an evaluation of the Healthy Base Initiative, a pilot demonstration of multiple evidence-based programs at 14 military installations across all services. Cornell’s task was to contact the target audiences at the end of the implementation period and determine their awareness of and engagement in the programs and note any changes in their eating, exercising, and smoking behaviors. Thomas and Leidy will share lessons learned in their joint presentation about the challenges and successes of evaluating a multi-site, multi-program project.

Healthy Base Initiative final report

Marney Thomas, Ph.D., is a senior extension associate and the former director of the Military Projects (1991-2009).

Brian D. Leidy, Ph.D., is a senior extension associate in the BCTR.  He is the director of the Military Projects, assisting military family support programs in the Army, Army Reserve, and Department of Defense with needs assessment, program evaluation, and research studies of programs and services offered to service members and their families.

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Botanic Gardens lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at pmt6@cornell.edu letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

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Youth consult on research and media projects

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ACT Youth Network

Sara Birnel Henderson and Michele Luc with Youth Network consultants

The ACT for Youth Center of Excellence sponsors a network for young people who are interested in making change and supporting the health and well‐being of youth in New York State. At its heart is the ACT Youth Network NYC, a panel of young adult and teen consultants who meet monthly to provide youth perspectives on health‐related projects for researchers and organizations. Meetings are held at the offices of Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC and are led by Center of Excellence staff Sara Birnel Henderson and Michele Luc.

The ACT Youth Network is available for consultation on health projects that seek to reach youth. Past consulting work has included piloting workshops, surveys, and focus groups, reviewing media campaigns, and giving feedback on written content such as brochures and websites. Topics have ranged from all aspects of health to social causes to community gardening. The ACT Youth Network NYC has consulted for: Weill Cornell Medical College’s Clinical and Translational Science Center; New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Women, Infant, and Adolescent Health; New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault; New York State Youth Development Team; New York University Lutheran; Love Heals; and Opening Pathways: Youth in Latin America, among others. Individual researchers have also benefited from Youth Network consultations.

The ACT for Youth Center of Excellence was launched in 2000 with generous support from the New York State Department of Health. Housed in the BCTR, the Center of Excellence partnership also includes Cornell University Cooperative Extension - NYC, Ulster BOCES, and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

To find out more about the Youth Network, or to schedule a consultation, contact a Youth Network coordinator:

Find the ACT Youth Network brochure here.

Examples of ACT Youth Network Consulting Projects:

  • Immigrant youth survey
  • Youth clinic survey
  • Sexual orientation curriculum
  • Youth development and health website
  • Sexual health media campaigns
  • Lifelong health focus group pilot
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder messaging for youth

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Online course brings self-injury to the surface

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By Olivia M. Hall from the Cornell Chronicle:

The cuts, burns and scars of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) are rarely seen, as they are inflicted in private and hidden under pant legs and sleeves.

Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock, Ph.D. ’03, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery (CRPSIR) and a research scientist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, hopes to spotlight the issue by launching a set of web-based education and training courses. Working with eCornell, the university’s online learning subsidiary, she is showing how researchers can use the internet to broaden their reach well beyond campus.

The curriculum, aimed at individuals who interact with youths in school, community and clinical settings, as well as parents, offers research-based information paired with intervention and prevention strategies to address a phenomenon that is widespread but not yet fully understood.

“It’s a scary thing to encounter,” said Whitlock. “It’s just not your typical, run-of-the-mill risk behavior.”

Individuals practicing NSSI – upward of 15 percent of adolescents and young adults try it at least once – deliberately damage their bodies, for example by cutting, burning or carving their skin or punching objects or themselves to inflict harm. Whitlock cites 15 to 17 percent lifetime prevalence of NSSI among Cornell students, according to surveys.

Although the surface wounds may look like suicide attempts, Whitlock pointed out that NSSI is, in fact, a coping mechanism for individuals trying to deal with intense feelings or attempting to reconnect from a sense of dissociation that stems from a history of trauma or abuse.

After first hearing about NSSI among otherwise functional, nonclinical adolescents more than a decade ago, Whitlock launched epidemiological studies, founded CRPSIR and brought together colleagues to form the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury in 2006. “Now we have so much literature coming out, I can’t keep up with it,” she said. But research on techniques for intervention in schools and families is still nascent, and findings do not always reach those in need.

“When I give presentations in schools, even elementary schools, I can pack a house talking about self-injury – it’s really pretty sad,” said Whitlock. “People come up to me asking for follow-up information. Clearly we need another dissemination vehicle.”

Paul Krause ’91, CEO of eCornell and associate vice provost for online learning, agreed: “We quickly recognized that it would make sense to work together because eCornell has all the capabilities to support the development, delivery and marketing of an online NSSI course.”

Best known for its professional development courses in such areas as marketing, finance and hospitality, eCornell also applies its experience and best practices to specialized curricula such as Whitlock’s to extend research-based education to learners beyond Ithaca.

Some 40 participants have enrolled since the first, self-paced version of the NSSI 101 course launched in February. This month, Whitlock is facilitating co-experts on NSSI by teaching the first iteration of a three-week version that offers eight to 10 hours of interactive instruction and continuing education credits. Shorter, abridged courses are also in development for medical professionals and parents of children who self-injure.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us,” said Krause, under whose leadership eCornell doubled the number of faculty members it works with to more than 100 over the past year. “We have faculty who are leading experts in their fields. eCornell’s mission is to help them use online learning to reach people all over the world.” (Whitlock’s first registrant was from South Korea.)

“The audiences with whom we seek to engage – be they parents, educators or others – need information that is high-quality, based in sound research, is compelling and that they can access on their own schedule,” added Rachel Dunifon, associate dean for research and outreach in the College of Human Ecology. “Working with eCornell to deliver research-based programming allows us to take a cutting-edge approach to our public engagement mission, broadening our reach and enhancing our impact as we seek to fulfill our college mission of improving lives.”

Olivia M. Hall, Ph.D. '12, is a freelance writer and anthropologist.

Online course brings self-injury to the surface - Cornell Chronicle

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New Book: “Emotion, Aging, and Health”

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aging emotions book coverAlthough older adults face significant health challenges, they tend to have better emotion regulation skills than younger or middle-age adults. Why is this so? And how might we use this knowledge to promote better health and well-being in adulthood and later life?

The newest book in the Bronfenbrenner Series on the Ecology of Human Development, Emotion, Aging, and Health (American Psychological Association), explores the reciprocal relations between aging and emotion, as well as applications for promoting mental and physical health across the lifespan. The authors discuss the neural and cognitive mechanisms behind age-related shifts in affective experience and processing.

In addition to presenting emotion regulation strategies for offsetting age-related declines in mental and physical functioning, the book examines the role of culture and motivation in shaping emotional experience across the lifespan, as well as the factors defining boundary conditions between human illness and human flourishing in old age.

By highlighting these major advances in interdisciplinary research, the authors suggest promising avenues for intervention.

The work presented in Emotion, Aging, and Health, edited by Anthony Ong and Corinna Loeckenhoff, is drawn from presentations made at the Fourth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference.

ong loeckenhoff

Anthony Ong and Corinna Loeckenoff at the 2013 Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference.

The book's chapter co-authors include the co-editors and conference organizers Corinna Loeckenhoff and Anthony Ong along with Emily D. Bastarache, Julia K. Boehm, George A. Bonanno, Charles L. Burton, Susan T. Charles, Carmen Écija Gallardo, Frank J. Infurna, Derek M. Isaacowitz, Laura D. Kubzansky, Kate A. Leger, Kimberly M. Livingstone, Gloria Luong, Bruna Martins, Mara Mather, Daniel K. Mroczek, Michaela Riediger, Tamara Sims, Jeanne L. Tsai, Emily J. Urban, Heather L. Urry, Lilian Velasco, Alex J. Zautra, and Eva K. Zautra. The foreword is written by BCTR director Karl Pillemer.

The book is the fourth in the APA's Bronfenbrenner Series on the Ecology of Human Development, each volume in which results from research presented at a Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference. The first three books in the series are:

 

chaos book coverChaos and Its Influence on Children's Development: An Ecological Perspective, edited by Gary Evans and Theodore Wach

 

 

news-trbook-inpost-sm

Research for the Public Good: Applying Methods of Translational Research to Improve Human Health and Well-being, edited by Elaine Wethington and Rachel Dunifon

 

 

neuroscience book coverThe Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making, edited by Valerie Reyna, and Vivian Zayas

 

 

 

Video from the Fourth Biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference

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