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Project 2Gen discusses families, incarceration in Albany


groupof 13 people standing indoors in front of a marble wall

Project 2Gen Scholars went to Albany on April 30, led by Jamila Michener, center left, assistant professor of government; Chris Wildeman, center right, professor of policy analysis and management and director of the Bronfenbrenner Center; and Laura Tach, to Wildeman’s left, associate professor of policy analysis and management.

By Sheri Hall in the Cornell Chronicle

Cornell Project 2Gen – a community of researchers and practitioners focused on supporting children and their caregivers through a multigenerational perspective – visited Albany April 30 to share research about families and incarceration with New York state legislators.

Christopher Wildeman, associate vice provost for the social sciences, director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect and professor of policy analysis and management, presented his research about how children are negatively affected by having parents in jail or prison.

And Jamila Michener, assistant professor of government, shared her research on the positive, multigenerational effects of providing education to prisoners.

After presenting their work to senators and assembly members, Wildeman and Michener then discussed with legislators and their advisors how research findings could shape policies and laws in New York state.

Project 2Gen, launched in 2017 by the Bronfenbrenner Center, addresses issues from the perspective of the entire family to highlight the importance of thinking about both caregivers and children when designing research, legislation and programming, said Elizabeth Day, a postdoctoral fellow for Cornell Project 2Gen who organized the event.

“The goal of our presentation was twofold: to create the opportunity for open discussion among researchers and policymakers around a topic that’s on the policy agenda, and to present nonpartisan research evidence taking a two-generation perspective to criminal justice,” Day said. “We really emphasize the educational approach; we weren’t there to promote any specific policy or program, but instead to provide a range of information including background, current statistics on the issue and a range of promising programs.”

Dianna Goodwin, a senior policy advisor to Sen. Luis Sepulveda, a member of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, said she found the presentations informative and useful.

“We hear many points of view on criminal justice reform in the Legislature, but not often results of careful academic study on real-world problems,” Goodwin said. “I really appreciated the thoughtful, well-researched information presented and will use it to inform my work. I look forward to a continued discussion and partnership with the 2Gen researchers.”

Halle Mahoney, a graduate student at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs and a 2019 Cornell 2Gen Scholar, contributed to research on prison education programs in New York. She became interested in criminal justice policy after visiting Tent City Jail in Maricopa County, Arizona, as an undergraduate.

The Albany event, which she helped organize, underscored for her the importance of communication between researchers and policymakers, she said.

“Each of these groups has something to learn from the other,” she said. “I saw firsthand the importance of data in shaping policy. Data is really important for making evaluations of whether a program or policy is successful or not.

“The conversations I was part of during our visit,” she said, “showed how academic researchers have the tools and background to collect data and provide information for policymakers to make important decisions.”

Project 2Gen discusses families, incarceration in Albany - Cornell Chronicle

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NBA’s Jarrett Allen visits 4-H coders

Tags: 4-H,   Alexa Maille,   media mention,   STEM,   technology,   tv,   video,  

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

4-H participants in Brooklyn had a special visitor last month from NBA Star Jarrett Allen.

Allen, who has loved technology since he was a child, visited 4-Hers during a Code Your World activity, a 4-H program that teachers computer science. The event was featured on NBC’s Weekend Today news program.

“I want (these kids) to know that is a lot of opportunity out there for everybody, if you’re a kid, if you’re an adult,” he said on the news show. “Just take a passion that you love and spread it to other people, like I’m doing.”

Code Your World was last year’s 4-H National Youth Science Day project, designed to spark youth interest in computer science. More than 3,000 youth participated in the project – a four-part challenge that teaches kids ages 8 to 14 to apply computer science to the world around them through hands-on activities.

Code Your World was developed by Google and West Virginia University Extension Service. It includes a computer-based activity on Google’s CS First platform and three unplugged activities that bring coding to life through games and interaction.

As part of the program, Allen let kids “code” a basketball shot by letting them tell him how many steps to take in what direction and when to throw the ball.

“Caring adults like Jarrett Allen become role models for youth, inspiring them to explore new opportunities and expanding possibilities in fields like computer science and technology,” said Alexa Maille, a STEM Specialist with New York State 4-H Youth Development.

Allen said he has had technology in his hand ever since he can remember. When he was a sophomore in high school, he built his own computer by following YouTube videos and reading online forums. “I like it because it’s simple,” he told Weekend Today. “You connect a few things, and it either works or it doesn’t.”

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Podcast explores role of identity in youth engagement

Tags: Anthony Burrow,   audio,   CCE,   media mention,   podcast,   PRYDE,   youth,   youth development,  

three people sitting and talking into microphones

Anthony Burrow, associate professor of human development, center, joined “Extension Out Loud” podcast hosts Paul Treadwell and Katie Baildon on "Extension Out Loud."
photo: R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension

By R.J. Anderson for the Cornell Chronicle

How can exploring identity and sense of purpose help young people get more out of programs such as 4-H?

In the latest episode of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s “Extension Out Loud” podcast, Anthony Burrow, associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology, shares his research on the benefits of helping youth think about long-term personal goals and self-identifying “their why” prior to introducing programming.

Burrow, co-director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research’s Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE), suggested that before program leaders kick off activities, they lead youth participants through a series of exercises designed to identify long-term goals and prompt them to examine their future selves. Tapping into this perspective can give programming more meaning and help youth stay focused.

A sense of purpose can also be a weapon against negative or overreactions in their daily lives.

“We’ve often thought of purpose as a sort of protection against negative experiences or stressors,” said Burrow, recipient of the 2019 Engaged Scholar Prize administered by the Office of Engagement Initiatives. “So on days when challenges happen or negative events or negative experiences happen, might having a sense of purpose help people react less negatively to those experiences?” 

During the 33-minute episode, co-hosted by CCE staff members Katie Baildon and Paul Treadwell, Burrow covers an array of topics, including: 

  • The need to provide youth and adults with safe spaces where they can experiment with different identities to develop purpose, for which 4-H is a great vehicle, Burrow said.
  • How Burrow’s lab has observed the benefits of social media and exploring how it can be a place where youth are exposed to ideas and experiences and can make observations that could not otherwise happen. In his research, Burrow finds having a sense of purpose in life can stave off heightened affective or emotional reactivity to something as simple receiving (or not receiving) a thumbs-up on a social media selfie.
  • How while there is a lot of wonderful development happening through programs and clubs, particularly 4‑H, delivery of those programs and the impacts they are having often go understudied or unexamined. “There’s this gap between the research that’s relevant to youth and the good work that’s happening in communities,” he said. “PRYDE was born out of an attempt to create some infrastructure to bring these two crowds together.”

Full episodes of “Extension Out Loud,” including descriptions and transcripts of each episode, can be found online. Episodes can also be streamed on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Podcast explores role of identity in youth engagement - Cornell Chronicle

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Kopko interviewed on WENY News about kids and screen time

Tags: children,   family,   Kimberly Kopko,   media mention,   parenting,   technology,   tv,  

screenshot of Kimberly Kopko on WENY News

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

BCTR researcher Kimberly Kopko, director of the The Parenting Project: Healthy Children, Families, & Communities, was featured on WENY News in a special report about kids and screen time.

Kopko’s research and extension work examines parenting and family processes. The Parenting Project translates research on parenting into information to help families on topics including literacy, spanking and technology, to name a few.

In the news broadcast, Kopko said when kids spend time using technology, they miss out on important time learning interpersonal skills.

"That lack of face-to-face communication is impacting social skills and there's no opportunity to read body language or facial cues, or to pick up on emotions because it's simply just through a device,” she said. "If it's a question of should I communicate using a device or not, yes you should. But you should also try to have as much of that be face to face as you can.”

To avoid using technology to keep kids entertained, Kopko recommended having activities on hand – even when you’re on the go – that do not involved screens.

"Throw a few non-electronic toys in a bag and snacks,” she said. “Snacks are critical because a lot of the meltdowns are that children are hungry. So to the extent that you can just have that little backpack or care package and hand those things to your child opposed to handing them a device.”

View the full special report.

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Book offers hope to parents of children who self-injure


By Susan Kelley for the Cornell Chronicle

"Healing Self-Injury" book coverParents who discover their children intentionally hurt themselves – by cutting, carving, scratching or burning their skin – often feel guilty and ashamed, assuming they somehow caused their children’s emotional distress.

A new book by experts in self-injury offers parents hope: assurance that they didn’t cause their child’s self-injuring, and guidance on how they can become key allies in helping their child heal.

“Having a child self-injure can be so hard and feel so dark at times. Our intention was to inform, encourage and support caretakers,” said Janis Whitlock, co-author of “Healing Self-Injury: A Compassionate Guide for Parents and Other Loved Ones” (Oxford University Press), available Feb. 4.

The book is based on extensive research – including Whitlock’s work as director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery. The book’s vivid anecdotes are drawn from the researchers’ in-depth interviews with real families in recovery from self-injury.

Co-written with Elizabeth Lloyd-Richardson of the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, “Healing Self-Injury” focuses on life after parents or caregivers have discovered their child is involved in non-suicidal self-injury – self-injury that is not intended to end one’s life. The book covers the background and basics of self-injury, why people do it and, most importantly, how parents and loved ones can help their child, their families and themselves.

Commonly known as “cutting,” non-suicidal self-injury is best understood as a way of coping with stressful emotions and thoughts, the authors say. The relief from the physical pain of a self-injury essentially tricks the brain into perceiving relief from emotional pain too. Self-injury can include such behaviors as embedding objects in the skin and swallowing toxic substances. Most people who self-injure also deal with other mental health challenges. And it is far more common than most people know; between 12 and 37 percent of all teenagers and young adults have self-injured at some point in their lives.

Parenting is generally not the critical factor in causing a child to self-injure; it has more to do with how children perceive themselves and their environment.

portrait of Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock

“So much of self-injury is giving voice to emotional experiences. It’s a way to take an amorphous, emotional cloud of stuff and focus it and control it,” said Whitlock.

Parents are not only critical allies in setting the stage for a child’s ability to recover and thrive, but are also the most helpful confidants a self-injuring child has – even more useful than peers and therapists, said Whitlock.

“There’s an authentic self – a self that exists from the time the child arrives on the planet – that a parent or caretaker has some connection to,” she said. “There’s something about that relationship that can be a very healing agent in this process.”

She encourages parents to simply bear witness to a child’s perceived emotional wounds, rather than try to fix them. “That’s what a lot of kids in our research said: ‘When my parents can just listen, when they can just be present with me, it makes a big difference.’ It opens the door to a tremendous healing capacity.”

The book also encourages parents to get support for themselves, such as therapy or by confiding in a trusted friend. “We try to validate the number and depth of the hard emotions that will come up for a parent,” she said. “It’s very disconcerting to see wounds on your child’s body or see blood left on a sink.”

By taking care of themselves and finding healthy ways to deal with the emotions related to the child’s self-injury, parents are modeling how to deal with difficult issues – which is what the children must learn to do for themselves.

“Demonstrate to your child – even if it’s new to you – how to be authentic. That modeling of authenticity, even if it’s messy, awkward or really uncomfortable, is important,” Whitlock said. “It’s in these hard places where you can most easily find the experience of being an authentic person. It’s where the seeds of hope and growth are.”


Book offers hope to parents of children who self-injure - Cornell Chronicle

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Conference spotlights equality of opportunity for children


18 Bronfenbrenner Conference speakers and organizers pose on a patio overlooking Cayuga Lake

Conference speakers and organizers braving the cold. front row l to r: Jens Ludwig, Stefanie DeLuca, Janet Currie, Laura Tach, Darrick Hamilton, Ariel Kalil, Cybele Raver, Rachel Dunifon, Anna Rhodes, Allison Young, Chloe East; back row: C. Kirabo Jackson, Timothy Nelson, Tyler Watts, Gary Evans, Doug Miller, Sean Reardon, Marianne Page. photo: Heather Ainsworth

By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

As inequality continues to grow in the United States and around the world, a national conference at Cornell Oct. 25-26 shined the spotlight on how to create equality of opportunity for children.

“An Equal Start: Policy and Practice to Promote Equality of Opportunity for Children” was the topic of the sixth biennial Urie Bronfenbrenner Conference, featuring a multidisciplinary mix of scholars from more than a dozen institutions and programs.

“We will be hearing some of the latest and most exciting research focused on policies and programs that enhance opportunities and promote equality for children,” said Rachel Dunifon, interim dean of the College of Human Ecology and conference co-organizer. “The papers presented here will certainly reflect Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of human development, which emphasized the multiple layers of influence that come together to support individual development.”

The conference convened a collection of leading researchers in an effort to cultivate interdisciplinary perspectives and consider micro-, meso- and macro-level interventions that best build opportunities for children to have an equal start in life.

Darrick Hamilton speaking

Darrick Hamilton of The New School for Social Research presenting.
photo: Heather Ainsworth

The conference’s major topic areas included Innovations in Transfer Programs for Children, Making the Safety Net Work for Families, Education and Equality of Opportunity, and Multigenerational Influences of Child Development. Research centered on policy and practice in families, schools, neighborhoods, programs and policies; presentations were organized and structured to help move the field forward in terms of how scholars think holistically about promoting equality for children.

“We charged the presenters with answering the question: What does it take to equalize opportunity for children? We asked them to be bold, and they did not disappoint,” said Laura Tach, associate professor of policy analysis and management and conference co-organizer. “They showcased cutting-edge policies and programs, from behavioral ‘nudges’ to improve parenting to ‘baby trusts’ that reduce intergenerational wealth inequality. Collectively, they showed us how social science can inform policy and practice in ways that are both innovative and evidence-based.”

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 ecological systems theory.

“This system, this ecological perspective from Bronfenbrenner, may give us another avenue to think about policies and practices that may improve children’s lives, and make a difference in some of their trajectories,” said Gary Evans, an environmental and developmental psychologist and the Elizabeth Lee Vincent Professor at the College of Human Ecology. “That, of course, is why all of us are here.”

BCTR takes the “bench to bedside” model of the medical sciences and applies it to the social sciences – training faculty and students in research-practice partnerships; carrying out applied, engaged research; and building research collaborations with policymakers and practitioners.

Papers from the conference will be published by the American Psychological Association.

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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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Time in nature to improve kids’ health


Adapted from an article by David Nutt for the Cornell Chronicle

The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s Academic Venture Fund (AVF) supports collaborations that cut across disciplines to address today’s greatest sustainability challenges. In 2018, the fund awarded $1.5 million to a range of projects that will provide sustainable solutions around the world, from the Finger Lakes to the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia.

Among the 12 projects are efforts aimed at transforming nutrient-rich poultry waste into economically viable fertilizers; developing in-situ conservation strategies for African rice; boosting nature-based engagement for elementary schools in low-income communities; and connecting rural and urban areas across New York state through a public “Internet of Things” infrastructure.

portrait of Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock

Included in the 2018 funded projects is Opening the Door to Nature-Based Engagement, on which the BCTR's Janis Whitlock is a co-investigator.

Young people today show greater rates of stress and anxiety, a trend that coincides with a growing recognition of the threats to the natural environment. Employing a One Health approach, researchers will examine how curricular programing that provides students more time in nature can lead to healthier populations and environments. The project will specifically focus on elementary schools serving low-income communities in urban and rural areas, and will identify curricular best practices and generate data to inform programs and state policy for long-term social and environmental impact. The project also received a Engaged Cornell supplemental grant. Co-sponsored by MPH.

Investigators: Gen Meredith, population medicine and diagnostic sciences; Don Rakow, horticulture; Nancy Wells, design and environmental analysis; Janis Whitlock, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research; Monika Safford, Weill Cornell Medicine; Samantha Hillson, Tompkins County Health Department.

Atkinson's Academic Venture Fund awards $1.5M to 12 projects - Cornell Chronicle

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Police-related fatalities may occur twice as often as reported


By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

According to a new study led by a Cornell researcher, an average of nearly three men in the United States are killed by police use of deadly force every day. This accounts for 8 percent of all homicides with adult male victims – twice as many as identified in official statistics.

These starkly contrasting numbers are part of the study, “Risk of Police-Involved Death by Race/Ethnicity and Place, United States, 2012-2018,” led by Frank Edwards, postdoctoral associate with Cornell University’s Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, published July 19 in the American Journal of Public Health.

“Official statistics show that deaths attributable to legal intervention by police account for close to 4 percent of all homicides with adult male victims,” Edwards said. “We estimated that over this period, police were responsible for about 8 percent of all U.S. homicides with adult male victims – or 2.8 per day on average.”

Past work on police-involved mortality has been limited by the absence of systematic data, Edwards said. Such data, primarily collected through the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Arrest-Related Deaths program or the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report, are widely acknowledged as unreliable due to limited scope and voluntary data reporting.

“Police departments are not required by law to report deaths that occur due to officer action and may have strong incentives to be sensitive with data due to public affairs and community relations,” he said. “Effectively, we don’t know what’s happening if all we look at is the official data.”

In response to such shortcomings, journalists, activists and researchers have begun collecting data that count police-involved deaths through public records and media coverage, a method the Bureau of Justice Statistics says is actually more reliable than relying on police departments to report, Edwards said.

Through this method, the research found that the risk of being killed by police is 3.2 to 3.5 times higher for black men than for white men, and between 1.4 and 1.7 times higher for Latino men.

Edwards and his co-authors identified 6,295 adult male victims of police homicide over a six-year period between Jan. 1, 2012, and Feb. 12, 2018 – averaging about 1,028 deaths per year, or 2.8 deaths per day.

Of those 6,295 victims, 2,993 were white, 1,779 were black, 1,145 were Latino, 114 were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 94 were American Indian/Alaska Native. During this period, black men were killed by police at a rate of at least 2.1 per 100,000 population, Latino men at a rate of at least 1.0 per 100,000, and white men at least 0.6 per 100,000.

The research also showed that this risk varies dramatically by location. The data showed that although risk is high in large urban areas typically associated with police homicide, the majority of police homicides occur in less-populated regions.

“One thing that really stands out within our research is that while the large central metros see a large chunk of killings by police, it is only a third of the total,” Edwards said. “That means two-thirds of all the shootings we’re finding are in suburban, smaller metropolitan and rural areas, which have received scant attention from both researchers and the media.”

In the Mountain States, police were responsible for about 17 percent of all homicides, while in the Middle Atlantic states, police accounted for about 5 percent of all homicides. Police accounted for more than 10 percent of all homicides in predominantly rural areas and about 7 percent of all homicides in large central metropolitan areas.

Edwards says that though this research provides more accurate data on the use of deadly force by police, it does not paint the whole picture.

“The new data that we’re using is capturing a lot more cases than what the official data is showing us, but there is still an undercount,” he said. “Everything that we’ve put forward within our research, we still think of that as being conservative.”

According to Edwards, this data indicates that deaths of men by police use of force is more common and reaffirms that structural racism, racialized criminal-legal systems, anti-immigrant mobilizations and racial politics all likely play a role in explaining where police killings are most frequent and who is most likely to be a victim.

“From a public health perspective, developing targeted interventions for sites with particularly high levels of or inequalities in police-involved mortality may serve as a productive framework for reducing them,” Edwards said.

New study finds police-related fatalities may occur twice as often as reported - Cornell Chronicle

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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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