Search Cornell

Doing Translational Research podcast: Marianella Casasola

Share

casasolaIn this episode of the Doing Tranlsational Research podcast Karl Pillemer talks with Marianella Casasola about her work examining infant cognitive development, early word learning, and early spatial cognition. Dr. Casasola talks about her experiences partnering with Head Start to do research, details of her more recent findings, and she gives some advice that any new parent can easily employ to boost infant learning.

Marianella Casasola is an associate professor of human development and a faculty fellow of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) at Cornell University. She studies infant cognitive development and early word learning with a particular interest in the interaction between thought and language during the first few years of development. She is especially interested in the emergence of spatial concepts, the early acquisition of spatial language, and the interplay between spatial cognition and spatial language in infants and young children.

Doing Translational Research episode 7: Talk to Your Child with Marianella Casasola

Also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: childhood    children    doing translational research    human development    Karl Pillemer    Marianella Casasola    podcast   
Share

Doing Translational Research podcast: Marianella Casasola

Share

Talk to Your Child
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Marianella Casasola
Department of Human Development, Cornell University

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: BCTR Fellows    children    doing translational research    education    human development    Marianella Casasola    podcast   
Share

Alumni gifts to the center support the greater good

Share

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

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: 4-H    BCTR Fellows    Christopher Wildeman    Karl Pillemer    Marianella Casasola    media mention    PRYDE    Rebecca Seguin    youth development   
Share

Introducing the first BCTR Fellows

(0) Comments  |   Tags: BCTR Fellows,   Christopher Wildeman,   faculty,   Marianella Casasola,   media mention,   Rebecca Seguin,  
Share

Casasola, Wildeman, and Seguin

Casasola, Wildeman, and Seguin

The BCTR is proud to introduce our first faculty Fellows, who will work closely with the center from 2015-2017. Acting director Elaine Wethington notes, “our aim is to embed the fellows and their students in BCTR activities and have them learn from others doing translational research.” The Fellows Program will help further the center's translational mission by bringing faculty members in the College of Human Ecology into the orbit of the BCTR, actively encouraging their engagement with the center and it's projects, and deepening their knowledge and use of translational research.

BCTR Fellows receive two years of support that includes:

  • An academic-year graduate research assistant (GRA)
  • Pilot study funding
  • Additional funding upon request for costs related to translational research activities (for example, developing relationships with community agencies or dissemination of research to practice audiences)
  • Access to proposal-writing support, including assistance with accessing community populations, working with agencies, IRB issues in translational research, consultation on proposals (including a “mock study section” review)
  • Space for fellows' GRAs in Beebe Hall

Our inaugural fellows are Marianella Casasola, associate professor of human development, Rebecca Seguin, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, and Christopher Wildeman, associate professor of policy analysis and management. A recent article in Human Ecology Magazine presents each fellow's plans for their time in the center:

Casasola plans to continue her research on how to most effectively engender spatial skills and language in children, including their comprehension of words such as ‘rectangle,’ ‘horizontal,’ and ‘corner,’ and their mental rotation abilities.

...

Seguin will continue her research on evaluation measures designed to support healthy living in rural areas, including an objective audit tool to assess environmental factors that make healthy eating and physical activity easier or more difficult for local residents.

...

Wildeman...will co-organize a BCTR conference on children of incarcerated parents, followed by an edited book on the topic. He plans to study whether teachers perceive children with incarcerated parents differently and is working on a proposal to renew the BCTR’s National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, a resource for researchers nationwide.

The new Fellows program is partially funded by a gift from Evalyn Edwards Milman ’60 and Stephen Milman ’58, MBA ’59.

 

Community Connections: Bronfenbrenner Center launches Faculty Fellows Program - Human Ecology Magazine

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: BCTR Fellows    Christopher Wildeman    faculty    Marianella Casasola    media mention    Rebecca Seguin   
Share

Talks at Twelve: Marianella Casasola, Thursday, December 10, 2015

(0) Comments  |   Tags: BCTR Fellows,   BCTR Talks at Twelve,   children,   human development,   Marianella Casasola,  
Share
 
Marianella Casasola, Professor in Human Development, portrait picture.

Spatial Language and Spatial Play in the Early Development of Spatial Skills
Marianella Casasola, Human Development

Thursday, December 10, 2015
12:00-1:00PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room



This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except fo 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.

Spatial skills contribute to a number of important abilities—navigation, building from instructions, or imagining an object’s appearance from a different angle. In a one-month study, Dr. Casasola found that providing spatial language as preschool children engaged in constructive play (e.g., building with blocks) yielded greater gains in their spatial skills than constructive play alone. In a Head Start training study, she found that constructive play provided a better context for acquiring spatial language than other play activities (e.g., arts and crafts, book reading). These findings point to a synergistic relation between spatial language and constructive play in the development of young children’s spatial skills and suggest an accessible, cost-effective approach to promoting spatial skills and spatial language in preschool children.

Marianella Casasola is an associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology. She received her Ph.D. (2000) and M.A. (1995) from the University of Texas at Austin, and her B.A. (1992) from the University of California at Berkeley. She has been associate editor of Developmental Psychology since 2012 and a board member of the Cognitive Development Society since 2013. Casasola’s talk reports on work done as a BCTR Pilot Study Grant recipient. She is also a current BCTR Fellow, one of three in the program’s inaugural year.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: BCTR Fellows    BCTR Talks at Twelve    children    human development    Marianella Casasola   
Share