Grants seed social science research, conferences

By: James Dean,  Cornell Chronicle
Mon, 12/09/2019

Studies exploring the effects of disadvantaged neighborhoods, a reimagined school recess and customized avatars were among a slate of faculty projects receiving grants this fall from the Cornell Center for Social Sciences (CCSS).

In all, the center’s Fall 2019 Small Grant Awards supported 14 proposals, including nine research projects and five academic conferences, with a total of $90,000.

The awards provide seed funding to help early career social science faculty members develop ambitious projects likely to lead to external funding and publication.

“These grants fund cutting-edge research by social scientists across colleges,” said Sahara Byrne, CCSS co-director and associate professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “As a recipient of a CCSS grant in the past, the funds made all the difference, allowing me to collect pilot data for a project that led to a National Institutes of Health-funded grant.”

A CCSS grant will help Steven Alvarado, assistant professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), research “Multigenerational Neighborhood Effects,” a study of how successive generations of childhood exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods affect the future well-being of adults and their children. “Inequality in life chances is often rooted in the opportunity structure of previous generations,” Alvarado notes.

Janet Loebach, assistant professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis in the College of Human Ecology (CHE), will analyze a program that seeks to encourage more creative and self-directed play during recess by introducing “loose parts” – items such as tires, cardboard boxes and tubes, crates and sand. In “Reimagining Recess: Examining the Impacts of Schoolyard ‘Loose Parts Recess’ Programs on the Outdoor Play Behaviors of School Age Children,” Loebach will observe outdoor play, learning and social activities at two public elementary schools, one in Ithaca and one in Toronto.

Andrea Stevenson Won, assistant professor of communication in CALS, will investigate the potential for more realistic avatars that could enhance “a sense of embodiment” important to some medical and educational applications. “The Effects of Avatar Appearance and Customization on Embodied Applications” will advance understanding of what choices users want and how avatars affect various social science measures.

Additional research projects receiving small grants of up to $12,000 include:

The five conferences receiving grants of up to $5,000, planned for the spring of 2020, include:

This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.


  Arts Quad in summer