Highlights from Announcements 10/19/20

Elena Michel's family cat watches her defense presentation on Zoom.

Zoom defenses allow large audiences--including the family cat--to participate.

Zoom Defenses Draw Large Audiences

Defending a dissertation is the final step in an often arduous journey to a doctoral degree. Students typically enter a small conference room filled with their special committee chair and other faculty members.

This year, Cornell doctoral candidates followed a different playbook. They logged onto Zoom.

For Elena Michel, Ph.D. ’20, and Aaron Joiner, Ph.D. ’20, Zoom allowed friends and family from around the world to attend in greater numbers than the standard size conference rooms typically used for defenses.

Read the full story

Don’t Forget — Complete the Daily Check!

Person in mask staring at phone with text, "Keep COVID-19 in check. Do the Daily Check. Live Smarter. Dailycheck.cornell.edu"Any student in the greater Ithaca area needs to complete the Daily Check every day, including weekends, regardless of course modality.

Many students are completing the Daily Check regularly. Continuing the level of success seen on campus in terms of low transmission rates takes everyone logging in each day, in addition to wearing masks, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing. With the weather getting colder and time spent indoors increasing, it becomes even more critical to complete the Daily Check.

Complete the Daily Check and learn more.

Special: Election-related Events and Information


The 2020 U.S. election is one that will impact all members of our community for at least the next four years. The strong emotions and memories from 2016 make addressing this election in classrooms, mentoring/advising conversations, and other educational spaces both more urgent and more difficult than before.

For teaching assistants:

For all students:

Election-related Events:

Do You Need a Change of Scenery?

Olin Library has designated study spaces for graduate students on floors three to six on the west side of the building. Room 501 requires a code that will be given to grad students only at the welcome desk. Be ready to show your reservation and don’t forget your Daily Check. View more information on library services.

New Music Library to Support Cornell-related Multimedia Projects

Music and sound effects can make a multimedia project come alive, but creators must ensure they are using audio recordings in compliance with relevant copyright laws.

Cornell now offers the online music database of FirstCom Music free to all current faculty, staff, and students with music and sound effects to make your multimedia projects stand out.

The resources available in the FirstCom Music database are for use in Cornell promotional productions only and are not for personal use. Find out more and register.

Make an Impact. Comment on Proposed Visa Rules.

Send your comments by October 26

Commenting is open to all domestic and international students, faculty, and staff.

On September 24th, the Department of Homeland Security proposed a new rule that could dramatically change the visa process for international students and exchange visitors.

Your comments could offer your perspectives on the following:

  • Impacts you foresee on students completing degrees, as rigid time frames are not typical for many graduate degrees
  • Any possible risks for students who might be unable to finish after years of investment
  • How this proposed rule may change perceptions on whether international students feel welcomed in U.S. educational programs, future collaborations, and more
  • The financial impacts this change could impose on students

To learn more:

  • Read the fact sheet developed by the Presidents’ Alliance and the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law School.
  • NEW: Review Global Learnings new FAQs under at the bottom of the page under “New and Proposed Immigration Rules“.

If you are interested in this issue, comment on this proposed rule on or before October 26, 2020.

(If this link were to change, you can go to www.regulations.gov and search for DHS Docket No. ICEB-2019-0006 to find where to submit a comment.)

You may also contact your house or senate representative.

Student-Parent Dependent Care Grant

Application deadline is October 30.

If you are a student-parent, funds may be available to support you! Visit the Students with Families website for more information.

New in 2020-21: Student-Parent Dependent Care Grant. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the grant program goal has changed to provide greater access to intentionally support more student-parents to provide financial support that allows student-parents more flexibility and autonomy to determine how best to use the funds to support their child(ren) and individual situations. All student-parents should apply as eligibility has changed: No requirement for funds to be used for child care expenses; no requirement that a spouse/partner be engaged in activity outside the home; if your family's AGI is under $150,000/year you are eligible for support. More information and application is available on the Students with Families website.

Alumna Spotlight: Valeria Dani, Ph.D.

Valeria DaniValeria Dani, Ph.D. ’19, is an alumna of the romance studies program at Cornell from which she holds a Ph.D. Now, she will be starting a new position as community engagement director at the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison as a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow.

Read the full alumna spotlight

Interested in what other alumni have accomplished since leaving Cornell?

Check out our alumni spotlights, Q&As with former students about their current work, experiences, and skills learned at Cornell.


Woman typing on laptop with face mask on with text "verses in the coronaverse: poetry chapbook edited by Annie Sheng, funded by Cornell Council for the Arts"Doctoral Candidate Awarded Funding for Poetry Chapbook and Reading Project

Anthropology doctoral candidate Annie Sheng was awarded Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) funding to work on a poetry chapbook and reading project, titled “Verses in the Coronaverse“, to be published and presented in Spring 2021.

Doctoral Student and Professor Develop Chemical Tool

Bibudha Parasar, chemistry and chemical biology doctoral student, and Pamela Chang, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, developed a chemical tool to control AhR activation with spatiotemporal precision within cells and to modulate Th17 cell differentiation on demand using UV light illumination. This will enable an understanding of the dynamic functions and behaviors of Th17 cells in vivo during immune responses and in mouse models of inflammatory diseases. Learn more on the ACS Publications website.

Screenshot of [Figure 1.A.] virtual exhibition 2020: Home Microscopy by Azul Pinochet Barros, Cornell University, USA

Doctoral Alumna’s Photography Featured in Virtual Exhibition

Photography by microbiology doctoral alumna Azul Pinochet-Barros, Ph.D. ’20, is being featured in [Figure 1.A.]: The Scientific Art Exhibition. On episode two of the virtual exhibition, “Home microscopy”, Pinochet-Barros shares her inspiration for the piece. View the video on [Figure 1.A.]’s Twitter.

Ashoke BoseE.M.H.A. Candidate Publishes Paper in Journal of Health Care

Ashoke Bose, an executive master of health program candidate, published a paper titled, “Healthcare without Health Insurance: A Peer to Peer Healthcare Platform,” in the Journal of Health Care: Current Reviews. This paper was based on his capstone project.

Student Startup Selected as Second Place Winner in Pitch Competition

The startup JustGreenz, which proposed an additive-free dehydrated vegetable powder mix, received second place in “Pitch for the People” competition. Team members included Annie Sheng, anthropology doctoral candidate; Marcin Sawczuk, civil and environmental engineering doctoral student; and Susan Lin, E.M.B.A. candidate. Read more in the Cornell Chronicle.