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  Cornell University

Engaged Undergraduate Student Grants 2016 Recipients



Advancing High Road Student Research: Social Sector Studies in Action

Abstract: Buffalo is a city that is experiencing an economic renaissance, but it still struggles with high poverty, segregated neighborhoods, and low urban high school graduate rates. In 2008, Cornell created the High Road Fellowship that places 20 students in internships in organizations in Buffalo that are focused on community and economic development. This project will increase the number of High Road projects that have an engaged research component to at least half of the fellowships. To date, student research projects have included an analysis of the economic impact of immigrants and refugees on the economy in Buffalo and research for a study of racial inequality in employment in the region. After the High Road fellows return to campus, they will present the results of their projects at a new applied research showcase to the Cornell community.

Keywords: Buffalo, community-engaged research, economic renaissance, poverty, segregation, metro area, community development, economic development

Team members:

  • Lou Jean Fleron, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Shannon Gleeson, labor relations, law, and history, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Marya Besharov, organizational behavior, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Ron Applegate, labor relations, law, and history, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Diane Burton, human resource studies, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Megan Connelly, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Sam Magavern, School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Community Partners: Partnership for the Public Good

 



Collaborative Engaged Research to Improve Community Health in Coastal Ecuador

Abstract: In this cross-cultural project, students from Cornell will travel to Ecuador and spend a summer working on research projects aimed at improving community health in the country’s coastal region. The following year, students from Ecuador will visit Ithaca to work on engaged research related to global health. The Cornell students will conduct research in nutrition, technology, and maternal and child health at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, the premier academic institution in Ecuador. During a 10-week summer research program, the students will work on multi-disciplinary teams with Ecuadoran students on a variety of projects, including analyzing epidemiological surveillance data, conducting household surveys, and assisting in primary data collection. At the end of the summer, the students will share the results of their research in Ecuador and at Cornell.

Keywords: global health, maternal and child health, community health, nutrition, coastal Ecuador, epidemiological surveillance data, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral

Team members:

Community Partners: Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Center for Interamerican Studies Foundation

 



Community-Engaged Research in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve

Abstract: Nearly 16 percent of the 1.2 million people living in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve of Southern India are members of indigenous groups who are among the region’s most marginalized communities. Five years ago, faculty from four colleges at Cornell began collaborating with the Keystone Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that has focused for 20 years on environmental conservation and economic development in partnership with indigenous forest-dwelling communities of the region. Since 2015, groups of Cornell students have traveled to the region to spend a semester at the Nilgiris Field Learning Center, engaging in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural study of sustainable development and conducting research on one of six projects: community wellness, land-use governance, water and waste, dietary diversity, infant feeding, and wildlife management. Cornell students partner with students from indigenous communities in cross-cultural teams, and, at the end of each semester, they share results of their research with indigenous community members and local government leaders.

Keywords: sustainable development, indigenous people, forest communities, environmental conservation, nutrition, community wellness, dietary diversity, infant feeding, land-use governance, water, waste, wildlife, Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Southern India

Team members:

  • Neema Kudva, city and regional planning, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
  • Rebecca Stoltzfus, nutritional sciences, College of Human Ecology
  • Andrew Willford, anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Steven Wolf, natural resources, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Community Partners: Keystone Foundation

 



Cornell Undergraduates Engaging with Citizen Scientists: Thinking outside of the (Nest)Box for Biological Research and Science Communication

Abstract: More than 100,000 enthusiastic people interested in birds are actively engaged with Cornell scientists by gathering and reporting information about birds in their neighborhoods. This project will allow students to learn how to tap into this group of citizen scientists to solicit research questions that the students will investigate. The suggestions for research topics will be developed by leaders of birding organizations in New York, California, and Texas who will seek requests from their membership. Students will work with staff at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to set up research protocols by installing nest boxes that will attract cavity-nesting songbirds. After monitoring local nests and distilling information from the scientific literature, students will report their findings through digital media to the public and through peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Keywords: ornithology, birds, songbirds, birdhouses, ecological research, bird banding, science communication, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Team members:

  • David Bonter, Lab of Ornithology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Robyn Bailey, Lab of Ornithology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Wesley Hochachka, Lab of Ornithology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Todd Bittner, Cornell Plantations, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Miyoko Chu, Lab of Ornithology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Community Partners: New York State Bluebird Society, California Bluebird Recovery Program, Texas Bluebird Society

 



Crafting Independent Scientists Through an Analytical Approach to Craft Beer

Abstract: Craft brewing is a growing industry, representing about 20 percent of the $100 billion domestic beer market. Small independent breweries, however, do not have access to the expensive equipment they need to make science-driven decisions on how to improve their production processes. For the past two years, a group of Cornell students majoring in food science or chemistry have collaborated with the Ithaca Beer Company to conduct research projects to address challenges the small brewery faces. The projects give the students an opportunity to apply their scientific knowledge to a local business, while the beer company benefits from the students’ and faculty members’ expertise and its access to equipment at Cornell that analyzes food chemistry. The research teams have also been working with Cornell’s Vinification and Brewing Laboratory, which ensures that their research will serve the larger brewing community in New York state.

Keywords: craft brewing, craft beer, food science, brewery, chemistry, Ithaca Beer Company, beer industry, independent breweries

Team members:

  • Brian Crane, chemistry and chemical biology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Gavin Sacks, food science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Chris Gerling, food science, Vinification and Brewing Laboratory, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Community Partners: Ithaca Beer Company

 



Engaged Risky Decision Making

Abstract: New research shows that adolescents are driven to risky behavior not only because of their desire for sensation and reward but also because of the way they process information. When making decisions, adolescents rely on verbatim details, while adults focus on the gist, or bottom-line meaning of information, which reduces risk taking. In this project, Cornell students will conduct a research project that will give a group of adolescents in the College Discovery Program at the Ithaca Youth Bureau the opportunity to gain insight into their own risks. The undergraduates will engage the adolescents in discussions about risky behaviors, such as those involving sports injuries and, specifically, concussions. The undergraduates will then collect and analyze the data in the Laboratory for Rational Decision Making in the College of Human Ecology.

Keywords: risk taking, risky behavior, adolescents, decision making, gist-based processing, verbatim-based processing, fuzzy-trace theory, College Discovery Program, Ithaca Youth Bureau, concussions, sports

Team member:

Community Partners: College Discovery Program at the Ithaca Youth Bureau

 



High Energy Cost Burdens for Low-to-Moderate Income Rentals in Tompkins County

Abstract: In a region with relatively long cold seasons, energy costs of living comfortably are a serious concern for many Tompkins County residents, especially low-to-moderate income renters. Due to poor infrastructure, knowledge gaps, and fixed incomes, they often struggle with high energy cost burdens. To assess and highlight this issue, a group of Cornell students will collaborate with Sustainable Tompkins, a community organization, to survey and interview up to 500 low-to-moderate income residents. The collected data will strengthen Sustainable Tompkins’s advocacy for energy-efficiency policies, such as the Home Energy Rating and Disclosure (HERD) project (underway), to aid low-to-moderate income residents with their high energy cost burdens. The student researchers will also aid community residents with applications for LIHEAP, a federal program to help pay for heating bills.

Keywords: high energy costs, heating bills, rental housing, low-income residents, energy efficiency, sustainability, Sustainable Tompkins

Team members:

  • Christopher Barrett, applied economics and management, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Business
  • Howard Chong, School of Hotel Administration and College of Business
  • Sara Hwong ’18, environmental and sustainability sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Kelly Strohm ’17, environmental and sustainability sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Community Partners: Sustainable Tompkins

 



Monitoring Riparian Restoration: Trees for Tribs in the Hudson and Beyond

Abstract: Land development in many upstate New York watersheds has caused destruction to streams and rivers by increasing sediment deposits and reducing aquatic biodiversity. This project will evaluate a state program called Trees for Tribs (tributaries) that is aimed at restoring riparian areas along the Hudson River by working with partners to assist in educating local residents about the importance of stream buffers and offering free native shrubs and trees for planting. Students will conduct research at two new watershed planting sites in Middletown and Newburgh to experience the planting process. They will also analyze other restored areas in the Trees for Tribs program by measuring factors such as stream slope and in-stream aquatic habitat. At the end of the research experience, the students will prepare a final report and will be encouraged to present it at an environmental advocacy conference or meeting.

Keywords: riparian restoration, watershed management, stream buffers, riparian vegetation, Hudson River, ecology, aquatic habitat, streambeds, stream slopes, biodiversity

Team members:

  • Michael Todd Walter, biological and environmental engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Alex Flecker, ecology and evolutionary biology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Clifford Kraft, natural resources, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Brian Rahm, biological and environmental engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Community Partners: Hudson River Estuary Program

 



Rust to Green Binghamton: Living with Water Initiative

Abstract: In 2014, Cornell launched a project in Binghamton as part of its Rust to Green initiative that was created to foster sustainable community development in post-industrial cities in upstate New York. The initiative in Binghamton, Living with Water, is a community-engaged research project addressing the city’s vulnerability to climate change and flooding. Binghamton experienced record flooding in 2006 and 2011, and this project will use a variety of research strategies to engage local and state government officials with residents and artists to achieve community flood resilience. Working with faculty at Cornell and Binghamton University, the students will interview residents who were affected by the 2011 flood. Students will also assess the impact a new play, which will explore living with water, has on community development and flood resilience.

Keywords: Binghamton, flooding, flood resilience, climate change, sustainability, community development, rust belt, post-industrial, participatory action research, community-engaged theater

Team members:

  • Shorna Allred, natural resources, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Paula Horrigan, landscape architecture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Joana Chan, natural resources, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Scott Peters, development sociology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Amy Kuo Somchanhmavong, Public Service Center
  • Robin Blakely-Armitage, development sociology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • David Kay, development sociology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Keith Tidball, natural resources, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Community Partners: City of Binghamton, Civic Ensemble, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County, Binghamton University, Ordinary People