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Student Profiles: Spring 2014




studentprofile-nagersmallEmory Nager
High School Student Intern
4-H Youth Development

Emory Nager is a senior at North Salem High School (in Westchester County, NY) with a passion for community service and an interest in understanding how people make choices. At the BCTR, he works in 4-H with Nigel Gannon, State Healthy Living Program Specialist, on various projects related to persuading youth to make healthy choices. Emory is an 11-year member of 4-H.

As president of his local 4-H club, Emory organized a successful effort to restore eliminated funding to his county Cooperative Extension office (CCE of Westchester County), achieved by gathering signatures and testifying before county legislators. Emory was named a Distinguished Finalist in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for his work to reinstate CCEW’s funding.

Emory represented New York State as a delegate to the 85th 4-H National Conference, where he worked on nutrition issues with Nigel Gannon. Emory twice led statewide groups through three-day programs for 4-H’s Career Explorations as a focus assistant. In 2013 for the College of Human Ecology program on nutrition and health for a study by Dr. Valerie Reyna and this year for the Bronfenbrenner Center’s program on social science research led by Mary Maley.

Emory’s independent coursework, including AP and college-level courses, has focused on improving nutrition in schools by modifying student behavior. He is enrolled in a three-year science research program at his school. His research paper, Using Psychology to Understand and Solve the Obesity Problem, was awarded the 2014 top prize in the American Psychological Association contest for high school psychology students.

Emory has worked at the Westchester County Health Department assisting in various projects, including a survey of school health teachers and presentations on nutrition to local community groups. He serves on the Youth Advisory Board for the Society for Research on Adolescence.

Emory enjoys the outdoors, especially hiking and running. In college, he hopes to expand his understanding of how people make choices and ways to help them make healthier choices.


1177_13_028.jpgEliza Cook
Graduate Student
Cornell Institute of Public Affairs

Eliza Lathrop Cook (’14) is a Masters of Public Administration Fellow in the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs, with an emphasis in Family Policy. After completing her undergraduate degree in family studies at Brigham Young University, Eliza was interested in ways to bring cutting-edge family and child development research into families' homes. Eliza’s interest in translational research led her to work with Rachel Dunifon and Kimberly Kopko on the Parenting in Context Initiative. The goal of Parenting in Context is to integrate extension and research activities in areas such as parenting, family, and child development.

Since her time with the Parenting in Context Initiative, Eliza has developed numerous research briefs and fact sheets, which are distributed to parents and parent educators on topics such as incarcerated parents, family meals, spanking, and fatherhood. Eliza also analyzes data from parents and youth who attend Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) parenting education classes across New York State (NYS). She develops various reports at the county, program, and state levels which help counties secure additional funding, understand who attends their parenting education programs, and better understand the effectiveness of parenting education programs. Eliza is interested in studying many family and child development topics and recently was awarded a BCTR Pilot Study grant, alongside professors Michael Goldstein and Rachel Dunifon, to study caregiver responsiveness and infant language development.

Previously Eliza worked as a consultant for the NYS Council on Children and Families and recently she began a new position as an Extension Specialist in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell.


1184_13_012.jpgLydia Gill
Undergraduate Student
Human Development

Lydia Gill is a Human Development major in the College of Human Ecology. In 2012 Lydia participated in the Cornell Cooperative Extension Summer Internship Program. During her internship, sponsored by John Eckenrode, Lydia worked in Livingston County and Schuyler County on an intervention called the PROSPER (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience) Partnership Model. The intervention, which is one of the many projects run through BCTR, is designed to reduce risk-taking behaviors in youth, enhance parenting, and strengthen families. Lydia helped introduce the system to the two counties by conducting community forums, writing newspaper articles, and producing informational materials. Last winter, Lydia attended SUNY Day 2013 in the Legislative Office Building in Albany, New York and presented the PROSPER Partnership and her work to state legislative leaders.

Lydia also works with Rachel Dunifon and Kimberly Kopko on the Parenting In Context Initiative. She has enjoyed writing research briefs on topics useful for parent educators and the parents they work with through Cornell Cooperative Extension. Her latest research brief topics include maternal employment and child well-being, implications of video game use, and autism spectrum disorder.

In addition to her work on PROSPER and Parenting In Context, Lydia has explored many areas related to health. She spent the previous summer in India completing her Global Health Minor field experience. She has also pursued a minor in Health Policy and intends to develop her future career path around these interests.


0163_12_037.jpgJessica Su

Jessica Su graduated from Cornell in 2014 with a Ph.D. in Sociology. During her time in graduate school, she was a research assistant for the BCTR project on Nonstandard Work Schedules and Child Development, directed by Dr. Rachel Dunifon. This project examined the relationships between parents’ nonstandard work schedules (work in the evenings, nights, weekends, or on an irregular schedule) and children’s well-being. Jessica worked on empirical studies that examined the associations between maternal nonstandard schedules and children’s behavioral problems, maternal sleep, and children’s sleep. These studies have been published in the Journal of Marriage and Family and Child Development.

Jessica is currently an Assistant Professor in the Sociology department at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Her research focuses on poverty, inequality, social policy, and child well-being. She is currently working on a project with Rachel Dunifon and Sharon Sassler that examines racial differences in the effects of “shotgun” marriage on child well-being. Her other projects include a study that examines the association between unintended births and children’s long term well-being, and a study that examines associations between “shotgun” cohabitation and children’s behavioral and cognitive development. Looking ahead, a future project will examine the link between county-level unemployment rates and unintended fertility.


1177_13_030.jpgNicolas Lozano
Undergraduate Student
Industrial and Labor Relations

Nicolas Lozano (’16) is an Industrial and Labor Relations major within the ILR School. In the fall 2012 semester, Nicolas began working for Adam Davis in 4-H on various projects relating to club enrollment, membership and updating club handbooks. By analyzing club enrollment and membership between and across years, valuable information can be obtained to see what is attracting students and improve retention. Recently, through Nicolas’ bilingual skills in Spanish and English, he has begun translating resources such as the 4-H Club Leaders Manual into Spanish in order to make the information accessible to non-English speakers. This is something he is particularly interested in because he believes that by making more resources available in Spanish to community leaders, many under-represented Spanish speaking students can be introduced to the 4-H organization and have access to all the benefits it can provide. Nicolas is also an active member of the largest political group on campus, the Cornell Democrats. During the summer of 2013, he worked at the Food Safety Inspection Service, a regulatory agency of the USDA, within their Congressional and Public Affairs Office in Washington, DC. Despite not being directly related to the work he has been doing at BCTR, he found the idea of translational research present in much of the work done by the agency, such as their use of research results to improve our nation’s food safety. In the future he hopes to attend law school and improve labor conditions domestically through working in policy making.

1083_13_022.jpgAndrew Jefferson
Graduate Student
Human Development

Andrew Jefferson is a graduate student in Human Development interested in how people think and how to change how they think. He is currently working on developing and evaluating an educational video game, as well as developing new materials and evaluations for the Residential Child Care Project (RCCP).

After studying neuroscience at the College of William and Mary, and how people change their causal theories in response to new information for his Masters, Andrew shifted his focus to educational tools and interventions on how to effectively apply cognitive theories of learning and concept change. He began developing Cellvival!, a video game that teaches high school students evolutionary concepts, in partnership with the ASSET outreach program.

After giving a BCTR Talk at Twelve on video games in 2012, he began talking to Charles Izzo (research associate in RCCP) about possible contributions, leading to his current role in the RCCP. He is presently working on developing new evaluation measures and training materials for the program.

Andrew is interested in how to help people “become smarter,” teach them critical thinking skills, help them engage with material, help them become motivated to learn more, get them to think about systems, and getting groups to effectively work together to solve problems and have meaningful discussions on their own time.

Andrew is particularly interested in education, both in teaching skills and content, and evaluating its impact. This includes figuring out how to leverage new technologies in traditional educational and training settings, how to best implement and evaluate new approaches, and how to go further, changing attitudes and building “communities of practice” around skills or activities. He is also specifically interested in how to teach critical thinking and systems thinking skills, be it to students as part of a science curriculum or an organization’s staff as part of training in a new practice.

Besides playing games (video, board, card, word, etc.) with his wife and friends, Andrew enjoys Ithaca’s waterfalls, sculpting, and making fun of bad movies.