Sophomore Anna Lifsec ILR ’21 was awarded the Roberta M. Berns ’65 Memorial Research Award for her research on vulnerable children, especially those involved with the foster care system or whose parents are involved with the criminal justice system. The award – given by the BCTR – will fund Lifsec’s work during the 2019-20 school year.
As the Berns Research Award recipient, Anna will work with a faculty mentor to conduct studies on the intergenerational effects of mass incarceration and the experiences of youth transitioning out of child protective services and the criminal justice system.
Lifsec is a sophomore majoring in industrial labor relations with minors in economics and crime, prison, education and justice. She is also the co-chair of policy and public outreach for Cornell’s Prison Reform Education Project.
“Anna is an exceptional talent in terms of both her research preparation and her intelligence,” said Christopher Wildeman, Lifsec’s research advisor, a professor of policy, analysis and management and director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. “As just a sophomore, her research skills and read of the literatures on mass incarceration and the foster care system far surpasses what I would expect in an advanced graduate student. I simply cannot imagine a student who will better use this award, and I am incredibly grateful that the generosity of the Berns family has made it possible for us to give such a significant award to a Cornell undergraduate.”
Lifsec is planning to work on three separate studies as the Berns Research Award recipient. The first will use technology to check in with youth in the six months before and after they leave state care. For the second, she will analyze data on how family incarceration history affects relationships among family members and well-being. The third will investigate how parents of young children involved in the foster care system interact with school personnel.
“I feel very fortunate to be receiving an award that will allow me to continue investigating critical issues around important topics of injustice and inequality in American society today,” Lifsec said. “The intergenerational effects of mass incarceration as well as the struggles that system-involved parents and children experience are very salient and pervasive in our culture and disproportionately affect communities based on race and socioeconomic status. I hope to remedy some of these injustices through my research and am incredibly grateful that the Roberta Berns Research Award will give me the resources to continue to work towards answering critical questions and developing productive solutions to these problems.”