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Student Profiles: Fall 2012



0089_12_015.jpgRebecca Morgan
Undergraduate Student
Human Development

Rebecca transferred from a small community college in Wilmington, NC to Cornell University in 2011, her junior year. In her first semester at Cornell, Rebecca’s interest in non-suicidal self-injury research was ignited when she took Janis Whitlock’s class, Risk and Opportunity in Childhood and Adolescence. Rebecca had a personal attachment to the project, a close friend from home that self-injures, so she was extremely interested in Dr. Whitlock’s work. She immediately started working at BCTR in the fall of 2011, and soon thereafter, fell in love with investigating human behavior and the research process in general. Since discovering this new passion, she has been reading every book and paper on self-injury she could find. Her interest in research evolved into her professional goals: to attend graduate school for her Ph.D. in clinical psychology and to one day work at a research facility like the BCTR.

In her first year working with Dr. Whitlock (director, Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior), she spent a great deal of time creating a recovery model for self-injury, an area of the field that has not yet been explored. After conducting an exhaustive literature review on various recovery models, she constructed a six-stage, nonlinear recovery model for self-injury. Under Dr. Whitlock’s guidance, she identified the possible benchmarks of recovery and explored how behavioral cessation relates to personal growth in the recovery process. Future implications for this theoretical model could include recovery programs for self-injurers, as well as recovery programs for their families. Along with another research assistant, she presented this model and some preliminary findings at Cornell Undergraduate Research Board's research forum and BCTR’s student showcase. For the first time in her life, Rebecca felt as though she had found her niche, thus decided to stay in Ithaca this past summer to continue her research. She worked all summer on finalizing the recovery model in order to present preliminary findings at the 2012 International Society for the Study of Self-Injury (ISSS) conference. This was the highlight of her budding career in self-injury research and reinforced her future career goals in research.

The work she has done on the recovery model transformed into her senior honors thesis: How do differences in parent-adolescent communication affect the adolescent’s experience of self-injury and their recovery from self-injury? Now in her senior year, she is working on her thesis and learning the real “ins and outs” of the research process. She plans to take a gap year to work full-time in a research lab, and is looking for specific research labs to apply to now. Her gap year will be spent applying to clinical psychology programs and exploring which field of human development she hopes to specialize in. When Rebecca is not working and the weather is conducive, she can be found exploring Ithaca’s many gorges, waterfalls, and other natural wonders. Since she was a junior-transfer student, she spends most of her free time enjoying every precious second of her final year at Cornell!


studentprofile-bubricksmallKate Bubrick

As a research assistant at Act For Youth, Kate's work centered around the core values of the center—assets-based thinking, positive youth outcomes, cross-sector partnerships, etc. She managed data sets, generated summary reports and made recommendations to various service providers in communities throughout New York. As a research assistant at the Cornell Research Program for Self-Injurious Behavior, Kate worked to create user-friendly fact sheets and presentations that would increase access to information about interventions and supports available for self-injurious populations.

After graduating from Cornell in 2010, Kate joined Teach For America in Rhode Island. She taught sixth grade math in a high-poverty, public middle school in the heart of Providence. Although she finished her 2-year TFA commitment, Kate has decided to remain in the classroom for a 3rd year.

During this time, she also began graduate work as a fellow in the Urban Education Policy program at Brown University. This program is designed to bring the most pressing issues facing students in urban schools to the forefront of both local and national policy discussions. Similar to BCTR, the Urban Education Policy program has created a community of people that are committed to improving communities, schools, and outcomes for the adolescents that are often considered to be most “at risk”.

In Kate's four years as an undergraduate at Cornell, her time spent working in Beebe Hall and in various other BCTR locations has had the strongest impact on her post-graduate trajectory. "My official title is 'math teacher'; however, I strive every day to create a classroom that promotes collaborative problem solving, healthy-risk taking, and caring and trusting relationships among students and teachers," Kate said. The core values of BCTR, along with exposure to research and theories on resilience, agency, and community connectedness, have ultimately served to frame Kate Bubrick's theory of action as an educator, policy maker, and community member.


0089_12_043.jpgMeghan McDarby
Undergraduate Student
Human Development

Meghan McDarby is a Human Development major in the College of Human Ecology. In the fall of her freshman year, Meghan realized the plethora of research opportunities available at Cornell and looked for a lab with a mission that matched her interests. She found such work with Professor Elaine Wethington and began in the summer of 2011 assisting on projects about life events and aging that were also translational in nature.

Guided by Wethington, Meghan works primarily on a project launched by the Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging (CITRA) and the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL). In a collaboration between Cornell Ithaca and Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York City, Meghan helped draft a consensus document for a conference on pain disparities in racial and ethnic older adults. The nature of pain disparities research is interdisciplinary, an aspect which Meghan has particularly enjoyed. Meghan conducted the literature review for the consensus document and focused on addressing salient disparities in the treatment of pain. In October 2011, Meghan attended the consensus conference at Baruch College, where she met leaders in the field of pain disparities. Meghan continued her work on this project in spring 2012 and will remain involved in the project in the fall. The consensus document is currently being modified for submission for peer-review publication.

In addition to her academic work and research Meghan is Activities Coordinator for the Cornell Elderly Partnership, a campus club which organizes visits to Cayuga Ridge Nursing Facility. Meghan has also encouraged student involvement with residents at Kendal and especially enjoys Wednesday afternoons when she walks with a 92-year-old resident. Additionally, she enjoys being an instructor for Latin Israeli Dance. Meghan pursues a career in geriatrics and intends to attend medical school after her graduation in 2014. Ideally, she would like to work in end-of-care planning for low socioeconomic older adults and their families.


[FILENAME]Elise Paul
Graduate Student
Human Development

Elise is involved in two projects at BCTR. She is currently using the LONGSCAN study data in the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect to investigate the unique impact of childhood psychological maltreatment to changes in adolescent mental health symptoms at age 14. Dr. John Eckenrode is her master’s thesis chairperson. She is also conducting interviews for the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior with Dr. Janis Whitlock. In the future, Elise would like to continue working with the LONGSCAN data on psychological maltreatment outcomes as well as begin analyzing data from the Self-Injurious Behavior study.

After earning her B.S. in biological sciences at the University of California, Irvine, Elise moved to Berlin to teach fifth grade at an English language immersion school for a year. The following year, she moved to New York City for an M.A. in Science Education and another year of developmental psychology coursework from Teachers College, Columbia University. It was during a fellowship she had at a Bronx high school that she realized she wanted to study the impact of poverty on child and adolescent development, with the goal of directing policy with her work. Within the context of poverty, she is interested in both characteristics of the home environment and parent-child interactions and their influence on mental health and academic achievement. Elise is currently a first year doctoral student in Human Development.

After completing her doctoral training at Cornell, Elise hopes to obtain either an academic post-doctoral position at a research intensive university. Her goal is to influence child and family policy with her research. Whenever possible, Elise enjoys modern and contemporary art exhibitions, classical music performances, foreign films, and thrift store shopping.