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Anna Lifsec is Berns Research Award recipient

portrait of Anna Lifsec
Anna Lifsec

by Sheri Hall for the BCTR

Sophomore Anna Lifsec ILR ’21 was awarded the Roberta M. Berns ’65 Memorial Research Award for her research on vulnerable children, especially those involved with the foster care system or whose parents are involved with the criminal justice system. The award - given by the BCTR - will fund Lifsec’s work during the 2019-20 school year.

As the Berns Research Award recipient, Anna will work with a faculty mentor to conduct studies on the intergenerational effects of mass incarceration and the experiences of youth transitioning out of child protective services and the criminal justice system.

Lifsec is a sophomore majoring in industrial labor relations with minors in economics and crime, prison, education and justice. She is also the co-chair of policy and public outreach for Cornell’s Prison Reform Education Project.

“Anna is an exceptional talent in terms of both her research preparation and her intelligence,” said Christopher Wildeman, Lifsec’s research advisor, a professor of policy, analysis and management and director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. “As just a sophomore, her research skills and read of the literatures on mass incarceration and the foster care system far surpasses what I would expect in an advanced graduate student. I simply cannot imagine a student who will better use this award, and I am incredibly grateful that the generosity of the Berns family has made it possible for us to give such a significant award to a Cornell undergraduate.”

Lifsec is planning to work on three separate studies as the Berns Research Award recipient. The first will use technology to check in with youth in the six months before and after they leave state care. For the second, she will analyze data on how family incarceration history affects relationships among family members and well-being. The third will investigate how parents of young children involved in the foster care system interact with school personnel.

“I feel very fortunate to be receiving an award that will allow me to continue investigating critical issues around important topics of injustice and inequality in American society today,” Lifsec said. “The intergenerational effects of mass incarceration as well as the struggles that system-involved parents and children experience are very salient and pervasive in our culture and disproportionately affect communities based on race and socioeconomic status. I hope to remedy some of these injustices through my research and am incredibly grateful that the Roberta Berns Research Award will give me the resources to continue to work towards answering critical questions and developing productive solutions to these problems.”

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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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Record number receive gerontology minor

Photo of Corinna Loeckenhoff, Sylvia Lee and an academic poster on gerontology

Corinna Loeckenhoff and graduating gerontology minor student Sylvia Lee with a research poster Sylvia is presenting

By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

A record number of students will be graduating this year with a minor in gerontology from the College of Human Ecology. Twenty-four students are on track to complete the minor requirements, said associate professor Corinna Loeckenhoff, director of the program. The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research administers the gerontology minor program.

The College launched its gerontology minor in 2010 to offer students a grounding in the issues connected to an aging population. The curriculum offers a choice of more than 20 courses in a wide range of disciplines including design, psychology, human development, policy, and nutrition – all with an eye on the needs of older adults. Students from any major at Cornell University who complete the 12 required credits can earn the undergraduate gerontology minor.

“The population is rapidly aging all over the world, but especially in the U.S. Not only are Americans living longer and getting older, but older adults in the U.S. are changing,” Loeckenhoff said. The U.S. population has become more diverse in recent decades, and now the population of older adults is becoming more diverse as well.

“We need to prepare students to work in this environment,” she said. “The minor is relevant to students pursuing a wide range of careers because everyone will need to serve old adults – people who design cars, people who work in hotels, people who plan to work in the health care industry, trial lawyers who will have to consider the court testimony of older adults. In all areas of life, the greater proportion of older adults will need to be addressed.”

The minor program offers students opportunities to become involved in research projects with faculty in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, work as teaching assistants in gerontology courses, and apply for an experiential learning opportunity in Ithaca, New York City, or Washington D.C.

Before the minor was officially established, the College offered a gerontology certificate, but the minor is more meaningful because it documents the students’ experience in gerontology on their official transcript, Loeckenhoff said.

Students who are interested in gerontology often take related classes without realizing they could be pursing a minor, Loeckenhoff said.

“We want students who are interested in gerontology to learn more about our program and consider how a minor could help them in the future,” she said.

(2) Comments.  |   Tags: Corinna Loeckenhoff    gerontology    gerontology minor    students   

2018 BCTR Student Showcase, Friday, May 4, 2018

Tags: students,  
bctr logo

BCTR Student Showcase

Friday, May 4, 2018
12:00-2:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

The BCTR offers students across campus the opportunity to learn about and participate in community outreach, research techniques, data collection, and analysis as research assistants. This event showcases their work with the BCTR.

Lunch will be served.

(in order of appearance)

Bridging Research and Policy: Insights from Inaugural 2Gen Scholars
Emily Bramhall, PAM ‘19
Jenny Chan, PAM ‘19
Sharon Glick, HD ‘18
Julia Greenberg, Urban & Regional Planning ‘18
Frances Robinson, CIPA ‘18
Cornell Project 2Gen

Disseminating Science in Accessible Ways
Hannah Piambianchi, Bio. ‘19
Lindsay Rokito, Comm. ‘18
Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab (YROL)

Qualitative Investigations of Purpose Development
Aditi Joshi, HBHS ‘21
Brittany Tabora, International Programs ‘18
Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement (PRYDE)

Introducing Pioneer: An App to Promote Youth Purpose
Elena Gupta, DNS ‘19
Rosario Majano, Global Health ‘18

Practitioner Perspectives on Professional Development in Residential Care
Nahisha Alabre, HD ‘20
Jacob Eisner, PAM ‘20
Residential Child Care Project (RCCP)

Better Messaging through Youth Voice: Using Focus Groups to Develop a Public Health Message
Kate Coppa, Engineering ‘17
Kassandra Madulka, Engineering ‘17
Rosario Majano, Global Health ‘18
ACT for Youth

Building Professional Wisdom in 4-H Settings through Developmental Science and Video
4-H Connection Work Group
Franny Alani, Psych. ‘19
Carrie D’Aprix, Development Sociology ‘20

The PRYDE Scholars’ “Nearest Neighbor” Project
Emily Rosenthal, HD ‘18

Changing Self-Injury Behaviors: Extending Previous Qualitative Research
Nadine Farhat, Bio. ‘19
Cornell Research Project on Self-Injury and Recovery

Family Estrangement and Its Effects on College Students
Gregory Chen, HD ‘18
Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging

You Don’t Know What You Can Do Until You Try It: A Study of Physical Activity at Summer Camp
Caitlin Garbo, HD ‘19

Adolescent Sexual Behavior in the Digital Age
Hannah Light-Olsen, HD ‘18

Two Generation Approaches to Family Well-Being and Child Development
Sharon Glick, HBHS ‘18
Cornell Project 2Gen

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2017 BCTR Student Showcase, Friday, May 5, 2017

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bctr logo

2017 BCTR Student Showcase
BCTR student RAs

Friday, May 5, 2017
12:00-2:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

The BCTR offers students across campus the opportunity to learn about and participate in community outreach, research techniques, data collection, and analysis as research assistants. This event showcases their work with the BCTR.


Rebranding the Lab
Lindsay Rokito, Comm. ‘18
Eme Iban, Eng./Global Health ‘17
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

Campus-Community Collaboration: What Do We Need to Know?
Yixin Zhang, CIPA ‘18
Lily McGovern, HBHS ‘19
Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement

Barriers to Youth Employment in Tompkins County
Emily Bramhall, PAM ‘19
Chinonye Uche, Env. Sci. ‘18
ACT for Youth Center of Excellence

An Exploration of Purpose in Youth Development
Rosario Majano, GPHS ‘18
Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement

Rejection Thoughts and Relationship Outcomes:  How Perceptions of Rejection Can Generate Problematic Social Behaviors to Impair Peer Relationships
Julia Lesnick, HD ‘18
Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement

Exploring Video Feedback in 4H Program Settings
Joy Gage, HD ‘18
Nahisha Alabre, HD ‘20
Allie Kemp, DNS ‘20
The Residential Child Care Project

What Stage are You In?: Self-Injury and the Transtheoretical Model of Change
Hannah Pambianchi, BS ‘19
Kaylee Kruzan,  Comm. (Ph.D. candidate)
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

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2016 BCTR Student Showcase, Friday, May 6, 2016

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2016 BCTR Student Showcase
BCTR student RAs

Friday, May 6, 2016
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

The BCTR offers students across campus the opportunity to learn about and participate in community outreach, research techniques, data collection, and analysis as research assistants. This event showcases their work with the BCTR. The presentations below are listed in order of appearance.


Introducing PRYDE: Promoting Positive Youth Development through Innovative Research and Evidence-Based Approaches
Nicolette Rainone, HD ‘16
Hee Jin Jeon, HD ‘18
Matthew Avila, HD ’18
Program for Research on Youth Development and Engagement

Mixed Methodology to Understand Adolescent Sexual Health in the Digital Age
Callie Silver, HD ‘16
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

The Relationship between Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Social Media
Lindsay Rokito, Comm. ‘18
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

Providing Video Feedback to Helping Professionals to Enhance Practice Piloting Video Feedback in 4-H
Elenore Grant, HD ‘16
Libby Nolan, DNS ‘17
Joy Gage, HD ‘18
Superstar Practitioner Project

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Sexual Orientation
Callie Silver, HD ‘16
Néthan Reddy,  Bio. ‘18
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

Refreshments will be served
Open to all

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Engaging Cornell students to study adolescent sexual health in the digital age

Janis Whitlock and Jane Powers

Janis Whitlock and Jane Powers

BCTR researchers Janis Whitlock (director, Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery) and Jane Powers (director, ACT for Youth) have joined forces to study how technology impacts teen sexual behavior. Their project Adolescent Sexual Health in the Digital Age explores youth and “technology-mediated sexual activity” (TMSA): how young people engage in sexually explicit activities through digital technologies, such as online pornography, sexting, and hook up apps. The work is supported by a recently-awarded Hatch grant.

As a starting point, Whitlock and Powers surveyed youth service providers, sex educators, and parents to assess their overall level of awareness and concern about TMSA, and to capture what these individuals have been observing among the youth with whom they interact.

To learn directly from young people themselves, the researchers enlisted the help of undergraduates. In collaboration with Professor Kelly Musick and students in her Research Design, Practice and Policy class (PAM 3120) Whitlock and Powers launched a semester-long project to develop a survey that could be used to explore TMSA among college students. Class members first participated in focus groups led by members of the ACT for Youth evaluation team, research assistants in the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery lab, and Callie Silver (HD ’16), a Cooperative Extension intern and core research assistant for the project. The focus groups prompted students to discuss how they think their peers navigate sex in this new digital landscape. The students then learned how to code the focus group transcripts and generate themes to develop a college survey. Once the survey was developed, students conducted a pilot study, generating approximately 400 responses. Finally, the class presented their findings as well as their recommendations for revisions to the survey.

In this mutually rewarding project, students learned about research methods through a real- world project, and in turn their work provided BCTR researchers with essential information that will be incorporated into an NIH proposal to further examine this understudied, but important, topic.



(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    adolescence    CRPSIR    Jane Powers    Janis Whitlock    sexual health    students   

Congrats to the 2015-16 Kendal Scholarship awardees

This year the BCTR awarded Kendal at Ithaca Scholarships, recognizing excellent student work in the field of gerontology, to Sylvia Lee, a sophomore in Human Biology, Health, and Society, and Arwah Yaqub, a senior in Near Eastern Studies.

Sylvia Lee

Sylvia Lee

"I am so excited and grateful to receive the scholarship. Whether I become a doctor or a researcher in the future, my dream is to help elders who suffer from chronic pain. Gerontology minor has offered me a new perspective on what my role at Cornell is and can be - I’m reminded that I’m not just a distressed pre-med student, who simply works towards becoming this person in the future, but that I’m given this opportunity to start living out my visions now, here on campus."

Beyond her coursework in gerontology, Sylvia worked in Nathan Spreng’s Laboratory of Brain and Cognition in the Department of Human Development throughout her freshmen year. There she focused on analyzing and collecting research participants’ memory and cognitive data by transcribing and conducting analysis on recalled autobiographical memories during fMRI tests. This fall semester, Sylvia began work in Corinna Loeckenhoff’s Laboratory for Healthy Aging, also in the Department of Human Development.

She recently joined Alzheimer’s Help and Awareness, a student-run organization, and received training to volunteer at Clare Bridge, a Brookdale Senior Living community that serves special-care needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Sylvia specifically has an interest in the study of neurodegenerative diseases and chronic pain in elders. She plans to pursue a career in medicine and research. Her current interest lies mostly in the molecular and neurobiological processes that underlie the causes of chronic pain in elders and how chronic pain is treated, cared for, and managed by healthcare providers and families.

Arwah Yaqub

Arwah Yaqub

"The Kendal Scholarship is a gracious opportunity that has helped nurture my passion for gerontology. The kind spirit and vision at the core of this award has been pivotal in helping me integrate other disciplines of study, most of which I initially believed were incongruous with the field. [the donor's] commitment to an education that elucidates the cultural, biological, and economic implications of gerontology, as well as experiential learning, is inspirational, to say the least."

Last year, Arwah served as a volunteer for MEDART, a committee associated with Cornell’s MEDLIFE student chapter. Through this committee, she provided company to residents of Ithaca’s Beechtree Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. Many of these residents are sensory impaired, her group designed simple, weekly art projects to do with residents. Joining the Alzheimer’s Help and Awareness Club at Cornell also helped fortify Arwah's passion for gerontology.

Arwah joined Corinna Loeckenhoff's Healthy Aging Lab over a year ago. The lab research aims to better understand age differences in social relations, personality traits, and emotional experiences and to unravel the effects of these three factors in health-related behaviors and outcomes.

As an aspiring physician, she believes that an understanding of aging across the lifespan is indispensable to the profession.

The Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship

To foster a closer tie between Cornell and Kendal at Ithaca, the nearby continuing care retirement community, an anonymous Cornell alumnus and Kendal resident established a Kendal at Ithaca Scholarship in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.

Each year, the Kendal scholarship award goes to an undergraduate or graduate student interested in gerontology. Preference is given to a student who has some hands-on experience and is anticipating a career in the field.

The donor, who built a career in the corporate world after graduating from Cornell in the 1940s, wished to remain anonymous so that the focus of the scholarship is on the Kendal/Cornell connection. The donor pointed out that “creating a closer link between the two generations of Kendal and Cornell means more students have a chance to learn about the colorful, interesting lives and careers of retirees, and more residents have an opportunity to better understand students of today – their hopes, thoughts, and dreams. Greater involvement will be very stimulating for both.”


(0) Comments.  |   Tags: Corinna Loeckenhoff    gerontology    gerontology minor    Kendal Scholarship    Nathan Spreng    students   

CRPSIR research assistant graduates with honors

Tags: CRPSIR,   students,  

2014_1022_075.jpg Kemar Prussien, who has worked with Janis Whitlock in the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery (CRPSIR) for the last two years, graduated with honors in psychology this year. While her main interest is in sickle cell anemia, seeing Dr. Whitlock speak during a class earlier in her Cornell career led her to pursue working with CRPSIR. During her time as a research assistant in the BCTR she pursued her interest in psychological processes related to stress and challenging health conditions - for the individual who is experiencing the stress and his or her family.

Working with CRPSIR was so influential an experience that she chose to write her honors thesis on a self-injury topic: Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Self-Worth: Psychosocial Influences on the Relationship between Threats to Self-Worth and NSSI. She also co-authored a paper during her time in the BCTR, Predictors of Self-Injury Cessation and Subsequent Psychological Growth: Results of a Probability Sample Survey of Students in Eight Universities and Colleges.

Next Kemar is off to study with Dr. Bruce Compas, a leading sickle cell anemia scholar, at Vanderbilt University.

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2015 BCTR Student Showcase highlights undergrad work

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Lauren Aronson, Olivia Eilers, Néthan Reddy, Kemar Prussien, Kate Goldberg, Rachel Cooper, Elenore Grant, Bridgette Aumand, Michelle Jeffers, and Margaret Fleming

On Friday, May 1 students from the BCTR presented summaries of their work at the 4th annual BCTR student showcase. A total of 10 students, representing The Cornell Research Program on Self Injury and Recovery, the Superstar Practitioner Project, and ACT for Youth, demonstrated knowledge and skills gained through their research experiences. Presentation topics ranged from assessing the needs and resources of independently living youth in Tompkins County to the production of an info-graphic on mental health issues designed for dissemination via social media.

ACT for Youth students Kate Goldberg and Rachel Cooper presented their poster on the evaluation of evidence-based sexual education programs, which was awarded “Best Social Science/Design/Humanities Poster” at the annual Cornell Undergraduate Research Board’s spring forum. Kemar Prussien presented findings from her honors research project on the intersection of non-suicidal self-injury and perceptions of self-worth. Kemar graduates with honors from the psychology department this month.

One of the most impressive aspects of each year’s showcase was its demonstration of  how unique and diverse each student’s experience can be, even when working within the same project. The evidence of this breadth of experience in undergraduate research opportunities at the BCTR made for an engaging afternoon for the students and the showcase attendees.

Full Program:

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Self-Worth: Influences on Engagement and NSSI Characteristics
Kemar Prussien, Psych ‘15
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

Independent Living Survey 2015: Continuing our Understanding of Independently Living Youth in Tompkins County
Olivia Eilers, HD ‘15
ACT for Youth

Mental Health and Social Media Outreach
Michelle Jeffers, Psych ‘15
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

Perceptions of Practitioners and Supervisors on Facilitating Client Engagement: The Superstar Practitioner Project
Bridgette Aumand, HD ‘15
Elenore Grant, HD ‘16
Superstar Practitioner Project

Social Media and Self Injury in Adolescence
Néthan Reddy, Bio ‘18
Michelle Jeffers, Psych ‘15
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Evidence-based Sexual Education Programs
Rachel Cooper, HD ‘17
Kate Goldberg, HD ‘17
ACT for Youth

Childhood versus Adolescent Victimization and Self-Injury: A Research Project
Margaret Fleming, Psych ‘15
Lauren Aronson, HD ‘17
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery

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