Center for Social Sciences announces 2021-22 faculty fellows

Political polarization, environmental justice and inclusion in higher education are a few of big issues faculty members will tackle in the next academic year as fellows at the Cornell Center for Social Sciences (CCSS).

The center has announced a dozen faculty fellows for its 2021-22 cohort, representing seven colleges and schools. The program seeks to nurture the work of primarily early-career faculty in the social sciences, providing time, resources and community to help them pursue and complete ambitious research projects.

Nominated by their deans, the fellows may be awarded up to $8,500 to support their work and will spend one semester in residency at CCSS. The fellows meet throughout the year to discuss their research, important topics in the social sciences and other professional development opportunities, building an atmosphere of intellectual exchange and interdisciplinary scholarship.

“This is one of the largest classes of fellows we have ever had and we are thrilled by the high-impact social science research each of these scholars has proposed,” said CCSS co-directors Sahara Byrne, professor in the Department of Communication, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and Peter K. Enns, professor in the Department of Government, in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S).

Faculty fellows who will serve CCSS residencies during fall 2021 and their projects are:

  • Giulia Brancaccio, assistant professor and Himan Brown Faculty Fellow in the Department of Economics (A&S), will investigate the value of standardization in the $4 trillion U.S. municipal bond market. “Intermediaries and Product Selection in the Municipal Bond Market” will quantify the extent of distortions and inefficiencies in the market and discuss policies targeting standardization.
  • Cristina Florea, assistant professor in the Department of History (A&S), will develop “Crossroads of Empire: Revolutions and Encounters at the Frontiers of Europe,” a book exploring the history of Bukovina, a territorial entity created through imperial conquest and divided out of existence after World War II. Florea says the Eastern European borderland offers an ideal context for studying coexistence and conflict in diverse societies.
  • Jenny Goldstein, assistant professor in the Department of Global Development (CALS), is researching the transformation of Indonesia’s peatlands from forested wetlands into flammable landscapes over the past several decades. “Land of No Return: Indonesia’s Development Out of Ruins” will examine the peatlands as hotly contested sites of competing visions of tropical land restoration and development, with implications for the global climate.
  • Marlen Gonzalez, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development, in the College of Human Ecology (CHE), says four-year colleges have created diversity and inclusion offices and employed “sense of belonging” strategies to improve racial disparities graduation rates, but lack mechanisms employing neurological moderators. “The Neuroecology of Space Use, Belonging and Underrepresented Minority experience in Higher Education,” will propose a neuroecological model to facilitate students’ context-based memory and enhance connectivity between memory and motivational neural systems.
  • Katherine Sender, professor in the Department of Communication (CALS), will advance a book project tentatively titled “Sexual Mobilities.” The book investigates how new media technologies and cheaper travel have precipitated the rapid transnational circulation of queer, transgender and sexual media.
  • Simone Tang, assistant professor in the School of Hotel Administration, part of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, will pursue an empirical and theoretical analysis of how organizations are humanized – for example, positioned as an underdog with the perceived ability to suffer. “The Antecedents, Psychological Processes and Consequences of Perceiving Organizations as Humans” will provide a roadmap for understanding what kinds of organizations are humanized, and under what circumstances.

Fellows serving CCSS residencies in the spring semester of 2022 are:

  • Alexandra Cirone, assistant professor in the Department of Government (A&S), will explore the potential of citizens’ assemblies – a randomly selected group tasked with debating an issue and developing a recommendation – to fight growing polarization and misinformation. “A Citizens’ Assembly in Ithaca: Deliberative Democracy and Local Policymaking” plans to pilot a citizens’ assembly in Cornell’s hometown to test theories and develop strategies that could be applied to a larger trial.
  • Kathryn Fiorella, assistant professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, in the College of Veterinary Medicine, will study aquatic food systems’ rapid transformation from wild caught to farmed systems. “The Social-Ecological Impacts of Ascendent Aquaculture” will include a case study of Africa’s Lake Victoria, where millions of fishers and traders are highly dependent on wild fish catch and aquaculture production is rapidly expanding.
  • Nicholas Klein, assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning, in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, plans to expand upon his research on car ownership among low-income households, which plays a vital role enabling participation in society. “Car Ownership Transitions Among Low-Income Households” will examine how low-income households navigate the used car market and the consequences of becoming carless.
  • Barum Park, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology (A&S), will study how deliberative democracy in the online sphere is possible. “Political Polarization and the Role of Online Foci in Deliberative Discussions” will focus on the creation of shared identities and norms in online forums, Facebook pages and blogs, which can exacerbate polarization and extremism but are also essential to countering those tendencies in the creation of meaningful political deliberation.
  • Nicholas Sanders, assistant professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management (CHE), is researching how environmental threats and their associated regulations and policies drive differences in outcomes across race and socioeconomic status. “Environmental Justice and the Differential Effects of Pollution: The Role of Place, Income, and Resources” will study how childhood exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to lasting inequalities across the lifecycle.
  • Eleanor Wilking, assistant professor of law and Gearns-Russo Family Faculty Fellow at Cornell Law School, will analyze firms’ classification of workers as employees or independent contractors, which affects regulatory compliance costs, labor protections, benefits eligibility and tax treatment. In “Worker Classification and Misclassification: Evidence from Employer Insurance Mandates,” Wilking suggests there is substantial legal ambiguity about which classification is appropriate in practice, and that enforcement is challenging.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.

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