Daniel Casasanto, a new member of the HD faculty, heads an NSF investigation of brain areas activated by hand movements when communicating through ASL.
In a new study led by Anthony Ong, people who experienced the widest range of positive emotions had the lowest levels of inflammation throughout their bodies.
Marianella Casasola is working with Head Start Centers and day schools in New York City to promote development of spatial skills and language acquisition in preschoolers.
New research by Adam Anderson reveals why the eyes offer a window into the soul.
STUDENTS IN THE NEWS
Daniel Rosenfeld '18 and his adviser Anthony Burrow, have developed a new way of thinking about what it is to be a vegetarian.
Elizabeth Cavic '18 was a 2017 College of Human Ecology CCE Summer Intern working on the project "Enhancing Children’s Play and Parent’s Knowledge in Suffolk County" under the direction of Dr. Marianella Casasola. Read about her internship experience.
The Cornell Chronicle, April 20, 2017.
By Susan Kelley
They say you are what you eat.
But that may not be true for vegetarians.
A Cornell undergraduate and his academic adviser have come up with a new way to think about vegetarians. And it’s not just about what’s on their plates.
The new theory proposes that vegetarianism is an identity, not just a series of decisions about what to eat. Choosing a plant-based diet – and a wide variety of ways that people think, feel and behave in relation to that choice – provides vegetarians with a sense of self, the researchers said, just as race, religion, gender or sexual orientation can provide an identity for others. The paper was published Jan. 18 in Appetite.
“It might seem that vegetarianism is just a diet,” said Daniel Rosenfeld ’18, co-author of the paper. “But for a lot of people, it can have a large impact on how they feel about themselves and how they reflect on who they are. Following a plant-based diet is really a core part of their identity.”
Eating a vegetarian diet and identifying as vegetarian are two different things, the authors said. For example, a 2012 survey found that 5 percent of adults in the United States considered themselves vegetarian. But only 3 percent actually ate a plant-based diet. And some who avoid animal products may not consider themselves vegetarian at all, according to the paper.
Rosenfeld, a human development major, came up with the idea of a vegetarian identity when he was taking a class on racial and ethnic identity with his co-author, Anthony Burrow, assistant professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology.
Learning about theoretical perspectives on race as identity, Rosenfeld began to see similarities between how people speak about vegetarianism and race. “Race and vegetarianism seem so different,” he said. “But when we look through a psychological lens at how any behavior or self-attribute can define who we are, it becomes very clear that people who identify with a racial group or with this plant-based diet group can both be thought of through identity frameworks.”
Drawing on several psychological theories, the Rosenfeld and Burrows’ Unified Model of Vegetarian Identity describes 10 measurable “dimensions,” or aspects, of a vegetarian identity.
The first three aspects – historical embeddedness, timing and duration – involve the social contexts that shape how someone sees themselves as an eater. For example, the time and place in which we live can affect expectations about how and what we eat; moving to a city with lots of vegetarians may influence someone to adopt a more vegetarian diet and maybe even change how they self-identify.
Other dimensions include how people incorporate their food choices into their sense of self. Salience and centrality, for example, involve the extent to which being vegetarian is a defining feature of one’s identity.
Motivation also plays a role. A notable finding is that vegetarians have different dietary motivations than people who eat just a small amount of meat but aren’t fully vegetarian. While only 21 percent of those in the low meat-eating group were motivated by animal welfare concerns, this figure was a whopping 71 percent among vegetarians, Rosenfeld said.
“These results suggest that having ethical motivations about animal welfare is more strongly associated with going full-on vegetarian, rather than just decreasing one’s meat intake,” he said.
Some dimensions refer to how positively or negatively a person feels about vegetarians and omnivores. For example, a vegetarian may feel disgust, anger or resentment when she sees someone wearing a fur coat or leather jacket; those feelings are part of what Rosenfeld and Burrow call “low omnivorous regard.”
Of course, food choice is also a factor. The dimension of “strictness” measures how closely one adheres to a plant-based diet, while the dimension dietary pattern refers to the foods one avoids, such as eggs, dairy or fish.
Dietary strictness has caused some methodological inconsistencies across studies, Rosenfeld points out.
“If a participant identifies as vegetarian but eats meat occasionally, should a researcher label them as a vegetarian?” he said. “It’s these intricacies that make studying vegetarianism so exciting. Going forward, I hope our identity model can provide a new perspective for making sense of what seems nonsensical.”
Reprinted from Ezra Magazine, September 2016 Issue
Camille Sims '15 says fate brought her to Cornell. And now it has propelled her to reign as Miss New York and to finish second runner-up in September's Miss America competition.
"After that, I said, 'Mom, this is it, this is my school! I have to be there!'" Sims recalls.
As a freshman and a Meinig Family Cornell National Scholar, Sims sought out Anthony Burrow, assistant professor of human development, whose research on youth purpose and identity she had been tracking since high school. She took "every class that he offered" and conducted research and an independent study through his Purpose and Identity Processes Laboratory. Her project explored how mass incarceration impairs adolescent transitions into adulthood and sparked her to work with Ultimate Re-entry Opportunity of Tompkins County, which supports former inmates.
Today, she continues her work on reintegration and other social justice issues as a coordinator with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Multicultural Resource Center.
"I wouldn't be doing the work that I am doing now had it not been for the conversations and experiences in Professor Burrow's classes and lab," Sims says.
"Because of her innovative scholarship and passion to contribute to the health of the communities in which she lives, Camille makes a formidable ally to those enduring imprisonment and who will eventually re-enter the community," Burrow says. "Her particular talents are noticeable and effective -- she's the kind of student who demands there always be greater meaning to the assignments in which she engages."
Crowned Miss New York in May, Sims is using her title to raise awareness for her platform, Ensuring Wellness and Fostering Food Justice. Sims was drawn to the cause from her early experiences fighting hunger, as well as her work as a Cornell undergraduate at Ithaca's Southside Community Center, where she has helped low-income families with eating healthfully on a budget. Sims credits Cornell's Public Service Center for matching her with local groups as a freshman and her Human Ecology education with making her more effective as an advocate.
"I took classes in nutrition and health, human development and nearly enough for a minor in policy analysis and management," Sims says. "I've been able to develop an understanding of the food system from all these perspectives and tie that into my Miss America platform."
A jazz singer and songwriter who plans to release her second album this fall, Sims hopes to use her winnings from the Miss New York and Miss America competitions to pay for graduate school, where she plans to continue her research in human development. Ultimately, she hopes to inspire others to engage with their communities and fight for social justice.
"Caring is crucial to moving anything forward," says Sims. "For us to move forward as a society, we must ask questions about the food system and start conversations about inequity. There can't be apathy about inequality and social justice if you want to thrive as a community."
-- Ted Boscia is director of communications and media for the College of Human Ecology.
|Online course brings self-injury to the surface Janis Whitlock, Ph.D. ’03, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery (CRPSIR) and a research scientist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, hopes to spotlight the issue by launching a set of web-based education and training courses.|
|Early puberty in girls raises the risk of depression Perri Klass interviewed Jane Mendle in her NY Times' column, The Checkup, about Mendle's research with girls who begin puberty earlier than their peers. Read here about her findings and the risks these girls face in adolescence.|
|Learning to reduce risky behaviors leads to STEM careers The Laboratory for Rational Decision Making, led by Dr. Valerie Reyna in Human Development, welcomed 24 high school students from 18 different counties in New York State as part of the 4-H Career Explorations Conference.|
|Gerontological Society selects experts on aging as fellows Professors Corinna Loeckenhoff and Elaine Wethington of human development, were two of 94 professionals named on May 31 to the society, which is the largest of its kind seeking to understand aging in the United States.|
Students in the News
|HD graduate student in the news: Sarah R. Moore Sarah R. Moore, Ph.D. student of Dr. Richard A. Depue, was awarded the Early Career Outstanding Paper Award in Developmental Psychology. Read her summary of research on how people differ in their interaction with their environment.|
|Marcos Moreno '17 is named a 2016 Udall scholar The Udall Scholarship supports undergraduates with excellent academic records and who show potential for careers in environmental public policy, health care and tribal public policy. Moreno is a human development major concentrating in neuroscience in the College of Human Ecology.|
|Summer Scholar Spotlight: Deborah Seok ‘17 In faculty research labs, in communities across the state, and at jobs and internships around the globe, Human Ecology undergrads are making a powerful impact this summer as they apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.|
Articles on the Web
|How can current research inform the development of new methods to assess intelligence? Read the fifth post from the six-part series, "Researching Human Intelligence" on fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, with Robert Sternberg, professor of human development.|