Training a new batch of researchers in TR methods this summer

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BCTR staff, presenters and CTRSI participants (photo: Lori Biechele)

Twenty-nine researchers from across the nation spent two-and-a-half days at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research this summer to learn better ways to conduct research in real-world settings and how to use empirical evidence to improve the lives of people.

The second annual Cornell Translational Research Summer Institute took place on the Ithaca campus from June 26 to 28 and featured Cornell scholars who are considered some of the leading social sciences researchers.

“The BCTR is uniquely positioned to assist both emerging and established scholars identify and develop skills for engaging in translational research — research with clear practice and policy relevance,” said Janis Whitlock, associate director for Teaching and Training at the BCTR and the institute’s lead organizer. “Through interacting with Cornell researchers with expertise in this area and by dedicating time to think through their own translational research goals, participants leave with ideas, resources, and a network of others with similar interests.”


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Karl Pillemer presenting at the CTRSI (photo: Lori Biechele)

The covered two main topics: building constructive partnerships with community organizations and using data to tell a story. And it offered intensive training, discussion and reflection on specific elements of translational research including ethics, recruiting, diversity, funding and telling a story with data.
Liz Coppola, a fourth-year doctoral student at Purdue University, attended the institute. She studies risk and resilience throughout the life course with specific interests in military families and exposure to adversity.

Coppola said that the institute is unique because there are limited opportunities for researchers to learn about translational research. “I felt like attending this program would fill some gaps in my skill set, which indeed, it did!” she said.

When asked about her biggest lesson learned, Coppola said, “There are too many to count! It was very validating to hear Cornell professors state that translational research in all of its phases—even early, descriptive phases— is valuable and useful for stakeholders, even if it is disseminated outside of traditional academic outlets.”

She plans to use her new skills in writing a report about a longitudinal study on military families. “I hope to produce a report that is meaningful and accessible to military families,” she said.