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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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Career Explorations puts future in 4-H’ers hands

Tags: 4-H,   media mention,   STEM,   youth,   youth development,  

teenaged boy shakes hands with a robot

A participant at the 2018 4-H Career Explorations learns to program Baxter, a robot in Cornell’s Department of Computer Science.
photo: R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension

By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

More than 500 middle and high school students from across New York gathered at Cornell’s Ithaca campus June 26-28 to participate in life-changing workshops taught by Cornell faculty, staff and graduate students during the annual 4-H Career Explorations conference.

“The goals of 4-H Career Explorations are for young people across New York state to have the opportunity to come to Cornell and learn about themselves, their peers, campus life and careers,” said Alexa Maille, extension associate with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. “We hope they have the opportunity to try out new identities and possibilities for their futures and discover pathways and people who can help them pursue their individual future goals.”

Dozens of scholarships were made available through the New York State 4-H Foundation and Cornell University.

The conference’s 27 programs connected youth to academic fields including engineering, animal science, astronomy, environmental science, food science, nanotechnology and human development, facilitated by the Colleges of Human Ecology, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering, the Faculty of Computing and Information Science, and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art.

youth standing with mannequins wearing dresses

4-H'ers in the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design photo: R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension

New this year was “Dress Code,” a program that allowed participants to explore the integration of fashion and computer science.

“From the jacquard loom, known as the first computer, to the current use of algorithm-driven design and fashion management practices, technology and fashion go hand in hand,” said program leader Katherine Greder, a doctoral student in the field of fiber science and apparel design.

Students made pocket looms that they used to weave binary code into small samplers, visited the Cornell Costume and Textile Collection to see examples of old punch cards and intricate jacquard woven fabric, and learned about the connection between 3D body scanning and coding.

“The reason we wanted to present this more tech-focused approach to fashion is because the industry is rapidly changing,” Greder said. “Many of the future jobs in the fashion industry will require a proficient command of computer-aided design and an understanding of coding.”

The Women in Science program, part of Career Explorations for 17 years, explored how social science can be used to investigate the question of why fewer women than men are found in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, and exposed students to social science fields such as human development and psychology.

“One of the focuses of the program is how diverse science is; it’s not just chemistry or engineering,” said Caisa Royer, the Women in Science program leader and a graduate student in the dual J.D./Ph.D. program in developmental psychology and law. “For me, the primary goal is for students to start thinking differently about both science and their opportunity to become scientists, but also to help students get excited about college and the types of opportunities they will have in the future.”

Graduate students discussed their research, experiences in the academic world and love of their specific scientific studies, as well as potential careers in science disciplines and what types of credentials are necessary to pursue these careers.

Wendy Williams, professor of human development and academic lead of the Women in Science program, said: “By focusing on social science questions and methods, my program shows students that not all scientists work in wet labs. Some scientists study human behavior, motivation, goals and attitudes, and answer questions about how human behavior can be understood and modified.

“By attending Career Explorations and spending time on the Cornell campus, these students get a feel for college life, and it is demystified for them,” Williams said. “If my program reaches young women and men and encourages them to apply to college, it will have done its job.”

The hands-on experiences at Career Explorations have been influential for many students.

Livingston County 4-H’er Serena Blackburn said she “had a really interesting experience” at Cornell’s Wilder Brain Collection: “I was able to hold a human brain, and being able to hold what was someone’s entire consciousness in my hands was a really eye-opening experience.”

Blackburn, who graduated from high school last month, said her participation at the Career Explorations conference the past two years helped her decide to study sociology at the State University of New York College at Brockport this fall.

“I was looking at psychology and learned about sociology there – what it entailed, how it compared to psychology, the research areas, etcetera – and it influenced my decision to go into sociology.”

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Conference takes multigenerational approach to youth development


Jutta Dotterweich, Stephanie Graf, and Tom Hirschl talking and laughing

Jutta Dotterweich, Stephanie Graf, Tom Hirschl, and Kimberly Fleming in discussion at the YDRU

By Sheri Hall for the Cornell Chronicle

What can youth learn through interviews with older adults? How does immigration status affect the lives of youth and their parents? Can we better design towns and cities to meet the needs of children and senior citizens? How is the opioid epidemic affecting the well-being of children and teens?

These were among the questions discussed by Cornell faculty experts, Cornell Cooperative Extension county leaders, 4-H educators and community partners at the eighth annual Youth Development Research Update, May 30-31 in Ithaca. The event is sponsored by the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE) in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR), College of Human Ecology.

This year’s conference, “Multi-Generational Approaches to Youth Development,” focused on research and programs that reach across generations.

“The idea is to connect people who are leading and running programs in the communities with faculty so they can apply cutting-edge research to their programs,” said Jen Agans, conference organizer and assistant director of PRYDE, which sponsored the conference. “We also plan time in the conference for practitioners, who know so much about their communities, to share their knowledge with researchers.”

A prime example of this collaboration is the program Building a Community Legacy Together (BCLT). The idea began when Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist and BCTR director, began working on a book to capture the wisdom of senior citizens. Pillemer and his research assistants were incredibly moved by their interviews and wondered if they could provide the same experience to youth participating in 4-H.

Researchers for the book worked with 4-H leaders to develop a program that trains youth to conduct interviews with senior citizens from their community. After youth interview the elders, they organize the lessons they learned and create a presentation to share with their community.

Early results found the program promotes respect toward elders and combats the problem of ageism. Youth also learn valuable skills, such as interviewing and research techniques, and make meaningful connections with older member of their communities.

To date, 150 youths in New York state have participated in the program, and 4-H leaders are in the process of adding it to the national 4-H curriculum.

“Partnering with CCE educators to implement this program is exactly what translational research is all about,” said Leslie Shultz, a BCTR researcher who helped launch BCLT. “The program’s success was, in part, based on our ability to work together and adapt the program to the individual needs of each implementation team. While the core curriculum was maintained, we were able to stretch and mold the program in consideration of each community’s specific population, interests and structural resources.”

Other researchers presented on a wide variety of topics. Matthew Hall, associate professor of policy analysis and management, discussed his research showing that undocumented students are less likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college due to their immigration status.

Mildred Warner, professor of city and regional planning, talked about how city planners can make decisions about parks and recreation, neighborhood design and transportation that benefit children and older adults, and ultimately result in social and economic benefits for the community.

And Laura Tach, associate professor of policy analysis and management, discussed a new program called Cornell Project 2Gen that supports research, policy development and practice that address the needs of vulnerable children and their parents.

Stephanie Graf, CCE youth and family community program leader in Jefferson County, presented about her role in implementing BCLT – the program that teaches youth to interview elders – in her community.

“The connections between researchers and the Cooperative Extension practitioners in the field are stronger than they’ve ever been,” she said.

The conference helped practitioners to understand the data behind the work they do, she said. “We all know that children growing up in low-income families don’t have the same capacity to do well in school compared to children with higher socio-economic status,” she said. “But we learned about the data behind that.”

Conference takes multigenerational approach to youth development - Cornell Chronicle

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PRYDE Scholars garner multiple awards


From left, Town of Dryden Supervisor Jason Leifer, Greta Sloan '18, Cornell Vice President for University Relations Joel Malina and Town of Dryden Deputy Supervisor Dan Lamb.

The first cohort of PRYDE Scholars graduate this year. Two seniors who served as PRYDE Scholars for the past two years have received prestigious awards for their leadership, innovation, and commitment to improving the world.

Julia Lesnick HD ’18 was awarded the 2018 Human Ecology Alumni Association’s Outstanding Senior Award, which recognizes a graduating senior who consistently exemplified the mission of the College of Human Ecology during their years at Cornell. And Greta Sloan HD ’18 has been named the 2018 winner of the Cornell University Relations’ Campus-Community Leadership Award, which honors a graduating senior who has shown exceptional town-gown leadership and innovation.

PRYDE, or the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement, aims to develop social and behavioral interventions that will benefit youth in 4-H and, ultimately, their communities. The PRYDE Scholars program chooses rising juniors who spend two years learning how to apply findings from basic research to 4-H programming in New York.

As a PRYDE Scholar, Julia works under the guidance of associate professor Jane Mendle in the Adolescent Transitions Laboratory. Her research has focused on rejection sensitivity and relationship outcomes in adolescent girls. Her poster for this work was accepted for presentation at the Society for Research on Adolescence conference for this year in April.

Julia Lesnick presenting her research poster

Julia Lesnick presenting her research

“I'm so honored and excited to receive this reward and represent the College,” Lesnick said. “The learning, research, and service opportunities I have been able to pursue through Human Ecology are incredible, and I'm so grateful to be a part of this community. I hope that I can continue to contribute to CHE [College of Human Ecology] and represent its mission and values in my future endeavors.”

Lesnick also won the Biddy Martin Undergraduate Prize for Writing in LGBTQ Studies and the Florence Halpern Award for Leadership in Community Service.

Sloan focused her research on cumulative risk in childhood ecological systems and severity of hyperactivity and impulsivity.

“I found that the accumulation of stress on a caregiver, family conflict and factors associated with poverty were linked to hyperactivity and impulsivity in a sample of youth at an East Coast behavioral health agency I interned at last summer,” Sloan said. “I was grateful for this opportunity, and care about these families.”

In addition to her work as a PRYDE scholar, she volunteered for four years and this year served as co-president of Cornell’s Youth Outreach Undergraduates Reshaping Success program, which mentors youth in mobile home parks in the town of Dryden, New York. This fall, she will serve as a Teach for America corps member, teaching in an elementary school.


Youth advocate Greta Sloan ’18 wins campus-community leadership award – Cornell Chronicle

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Using comics to convey research


By Lori Sonken for the Cornell Chronicle

A 3-panel comic showing - panel one: text, "join the NFLC - Spring 2079!" above a group image of student; panel 2: header text "what the hell is the NFLC?" above image of a student with a speech bubble saying, "It's the Nilgiris Field Learning Center in Kotagiri, India!"; panel 3: two students are talking one says, "We study sustainable development and do research in communities with our partners." the other says, "Yep, there are equal numbers of Cornell students and young people from tribal communities in the Nilgiris, like me!"

The first page of a comic Neema Kudva, associate professor in city and regional planning, is using in recruitment efforts for the Nilgiris Field Learning Center in India.

Cornell faculty members and academic staff participating in the Knowledge Matters Fellowship presented their projects, including comics, videos and websites, at a showcase wrapping up the yearlong transmedia training program May 10 at A.D. White House.

“My students said they better understood the papers they read” after creating a comic strip illustrating research and findings from a peer-reviewed journal article, said Jennifer Agans, assistant director of the Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

Agans asked undergraduates enrolled in Human Development 4850 to make a 12-frame, persuasive comic making the research relevant for nonacademic audiences. Before tackling the assignment, students received instruction in developing comics from Jon McKenzie, the Arts and Sciences Dean’s Fellow for Media and Design and visiting professor of English, who runs the Knowledge Matters Fellowship.

Another Knowledge Matters fellow, C.-Y. Cynthia Lin Lawell, associate professor and the Robert Dyson Sesquicentennial Chair of Resource Economics in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, produced a four-minute video that highlights research in a paper she wrote with a former Ph.D. student in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management about the effects of driving restrictions on air quality.

Making the video “made me think about how to make the research my students and I are doing interesting and accessible to a general audience,” she said.

To solicit support for a clemency case, Sandra Babcock, faculty director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide, is developing a PechaKucha – a presentation format that uses narration and 20 slides displaying for 20 seconds each to convey information concisely.

Maureen Hanson, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, worked with a volunteer WordPress expert to build a website for the Center for Enervating Neuroimmune Disease, which conducts research on myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome, supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The Knowledge Matters Fellowship, sponsored by the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity (OFDD), Cornell University Library, Office of Engagement Initiatives and the Center for Teaching Innovation,will be offered in 2018-19, said Yael Levitte, associate vice provost for faculty development and diversity. Email OFDD more information.

Faculty uses new formats – including comics – to convey research - Cornell Chronicle

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Grant unites Project 2Gen, partners in fight against opioids


By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

Portraits of Rachel Dunifon, Laura Tach, and Anna Steinkraus.

Project leaders Rachel Dunifon, Laura Tach, and Anna Steinkraus. Dunifon and Tach are also co-directors of Cornell Project 2Gen in the BCTR.

The College of Human Ecology, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension-Tompkins County (CCE-Tompkins), has been awarded the William T. Grant Foundation’s first Institutional Challenge Grant to respond to increasing rates of opioid abuse and child maltreatment in low income, rural communities in upstate New York.

The foundation supports research to improve the lives of young people. The award seeks to shift how research institutions value research and to encourage them to build sustained research-practice partnerships with public agencies or nonprofit organizations to reduce inequality in youth outcomes.

“Typically, universities reward faculty members for publishing articles in academic journals,” said Adam Gamoran, foundation president. “This grant challenges universities to reward faculty members whose research is directed to public service. The winning application will support research on one of our most vexing social problems, the opioid crisis, in a partnership that is poised to take action on the basis of the findings.”

The winning team, led by College of Human Ecology researchers Rachel Dunifon and Laura Tach and CCE-Tompkins program coordinator Anna Steinkraus, will attempt to understand the association between opioid use and child maltreatment rates; examine the role of family drug treatment courts in mitigating child maltreatment; and evaluate evidence-based interventions that may reduce the risk of opioid abuse for low-income youth and families. Findings from each study will be used to improve local practices and programs.

“We are honored to have been chosen, as the vision of the grant reflects the mission of our college and the land-grant mission of Cornell University,” Dunifon said. “The College of Human Ecology’s public engagement mission from the start has been about breaking down boundaries between academic research and its application to policy and practice.”

She continued, “This grant supports a true collaborative research-practice partnership that brings together faculty and community educators to address a pressing local issue: the opioid epidemic. We will not only generate cutting-edge research on this important topic, we will also provide faculty and our community partners with the time, funds and skills necessary to engage in this type of research collaboration. By doing this, we will pave the way for future research-practice partnerships to succeed.”

A committee of faculty and CCE-Tompkins staff will select faculty members to serve as fellows and receive mentoring from the partnership leads. Tach, an associate professor of policy analysis and management, is the first faculty fellow selected under the grant, and will bring her expertise in poverty and social policy to the project.

To support this work, housed in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Cornell has committed a postdoctoral fellow for the first half of the award, a faculty fellowship, and an undergraduate internship at CCE-Tompkins. The College of Human Ecology will also review current support for research-practice partnerships, initiate conversations about how such work is measured and valued, and build capacity at CCE-Tompkins to facilitate high-quality evaluation work.

“We are excited to partner with the College of Human Ecology on this project, focusing on the opioid epidemic that has affected communities all across New York state and the country,” said Steinkraus, a principal investigator on the grant.

The College of Human Ecology will receive $650,000 over three years, with the opportunity to apply for a two-year continuation grant.

Grant to unite Cornell, partners in fight against opioids - Cornell Chronicle

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High schoolers spawn fish, grow lettuce on NYC school rooftop

Tags: CCE,   CUCE-NYC,   education,   media mention,   school,  

By Jon Craig for the Cornell Chronicle

Philson Warner works with Teishawn W. Florostal Kevelier, a 2012 graduate of Food and Finance High School. Kevelier is now a 4H youth development associate and 4H research assistant. Jason Koski/University Photograpahy

Philson Warner works with Teishawn W. Florostal Kevelier, a 2012 graduate of Food and Finance High School. Kevelier is now a 4H youth development associate and 4H research assistant.
Jason Koski/University Photograpahy

Atop a roof overlooking Manhattan’s skyline at sundown Oct. 25, more than 300 public officials and proud parents of Food and Finance High School students toured a first-of-its-kind aquaponics greenhouse.

Philson A.A. Warner, founding director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension – New York City (CUCE-NYC) Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Lab, offered lively, personal tours of the newly opened greenhouse. The structure is used to grow lettuce and fish through a natural process that conserves energy and the environment.

“The youngsters learn to do more with the sciences,” Warner said of his teenage students, whom he called “Cornell colleagues.”

Eight computers monitor “the weather situation above us,” to help control indoor temperatures, moisture and ideal humidity for growing vegetables, Warner said.

“This is what we call a green, green, green greenhouse,” he said, noting it produces “clean, safe, fresh foods. ... Nothing goes to waste.”

Even its solar panels are producing surplus energy that is fed into the grid.

Heads of lettuce that can take up to 10 weeks to grow outdoors are cultivated in just three weeks at the school on West 50th Street. About 8,000 pounds of tasty fish spawned monthly are another benefit of the scientific project.

As part of the greenhouse’s grand opening ceremony, dozens of high school students greeted guests and served crab cakes, vegan meatballs, fancy desserts and other hors d’oeuvres that they cooked in the school’s kitchens.

Jennifer Tiffany, Ph.D. ’04, executive director of CUCE-NYC, heaped praise on everyone who helped produce the hands-on learning environment and thanked the “brilliant students” who served as caterers and provided warm hospitality for the event.

“What an amazing, amazing community of young people,” Tiffany said during the ceremony.

Warner designed the 1,664-square-foot greenhouse, which is now part of the New York City Department of Education’s Park West Educational Campus. The project was financed through private donations, the New York City Council and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said she was very proud to have been instrumental in approving and helping secure public and private funding for the project. “You are training people for the future,” she said.

“You could be in the Bronx and they are talking about the fish” produced at the Manhattan high school, Brewer gushed. “Without Cornell, this would not have been possible. This is a very exciting project.”

The Food Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation, also has been a key partner in developing and sustaining the learning labs. Nan Shipley, chair of the board of the Food Education Fund, proudly pointed out that the Food and Finance High School has a 91 percent graduation rate, with most of its students advancing to college or full employment in related fields.

About 400 students are enrolled at Food and Finance High School. The school’s curriculum includes paid internships at restaurants and other food service businesses. The opening of the greenhouse marked the latest expansion of ongoing learning lab programs in a long-standing partnership with Cornell University.

High schoolers spawn fish, grow lettuce on NYC school rooftop - Cornell Chronicle

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Celebrating the launch of Cornell Project 2Gen


By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

Lori Severens, Lindsay Chase-Landsdale, and Lisa Gennetian in panel discussion

Lori Severens, Lindsay Chase-Landsdale, and Lisa Gennetian in panel discussion

At an Oct. 23 symposium, Cornell researchers launched a new Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research initiative: Cornell Project 2Gen, a project that leverages cutting-edge approaches to support vulnerable families and disrupt the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Project 2Gen, led by co-directors Laura Tach and Rachel Dunifon of the College of Human Ecology’s Department of Policy Analysis and Management, focuses on addressing the needs of at-risk children and their parents to capitalize on the strong connection between parents’ well-being and children’s healthy development.

“Project 2Gen takes a two-generational approach to addressing the needs of vulnerable families by supporting research and programs that consider both parents and children,” Dunifon said. “And so the two-gen approach acknowledges that parents’ well-being and children’s well-being are intertwined, and that we really can’t address one without the other.”

According to Dunifon, the project reflects the mission of the College of Human Ecology, which combines that of a land-grant institution and an Ivy League university. Through this focus, the project aims to build a vibrant research community and outreach network.

“Project 2Gen is going to be a hub of innovative work that brings together research, practitioners and policymakers, developing and carrying out work in this area, testing new approaches, evaluating their effectiveness, and implementing them locally and throughout the state,” Dunifon said.

The approach is gaining momentum because research documents a strong connection between parents’ economic, psychological and social well-being and children’s healthy development.

The project, which will leverage collaboration between the work of students and faculty members across Cornell, is developing partnerships with community, state and national organizations and government agencies to support parents and children simultaneously.

Within this approach, there are several methods researchers and practitioners can use. Some two-generational programs begin by focusing on children and then add a component to support parents, such as parent education or skills classes. Others may focus on parents, then add a component for children, such as child care or nutrition support. Still other approaches target systems that influence families, such as schools or workplaces.

Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick

Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick

The Oct. 23 symposium included a panel of experts focused on the topic Disrupting the Cycle of Poverty: Two-Generation Approaches from Research, Practice and Policy. Panelists were Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, the Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University; Lisa Gennetian, research professor at the Institute for Human Development and Social Change, New York University; Svante Myrick ’09, mayor of Ithaca; and Lori Severens, assistant director at Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

“I want to say thank you for the work you do,” said Myrick, who as a youth took part in the Head Start program, which promotes the school readiness of young children from low-income families through agencies in their local community. “My siblings and I all had an opportunity to start working at age 16, and we were all able to be successful because of the work that you’ve done, the research that you’ve done, to prove that this isn’t only the big-hearted thing to do, but the hard-headed thing to do.”

New initiative launched to support vulnerable families - Cornell Chronicle

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