Highlights from Announcements 5/26/20

Phased Research Restart

On May 22, Cornell’s Research and Operations Reactivation Committee released its report and recommendations to guide the safe, phased restart of the university’s on-campus research and discovery functions.

New York State has cleared Cornell to restart, no sooner than May 29, some on-campus research activities focused on health/disease, food/agriculture, national defense, and support for essential businesses. Actual on-campus research activity in these spheres will likely not begin until sometime after that date. Prior to beginning these activities, buildings must be prepared for restart, and faculty leads must develop and submit restart requests/plans for review and approval by department, college, and university leadership.

After plans are approved by university leadership, the faculty, staff, and graduate students who are approved to participate in this phased restart of research activity will need to first complete appropriate training and be provided with appropriate protective equipment. Many additional measures will need to be completed by each research group before restarting.  Even as on-campus research restarts, all activities that can be productively completed remotely should continue to be done remotely. General access to on-campus resources will occur at a later phase.

Graduate students will be notified by faculty when, and under what conditions, their on-campus research is approved to restart. The prioritization criteria to be used in determining which research activities in the above categories will be approved to restart includes assessing the extent to which the research activities proposed for restart address dissertation needs of graduate students.

The report includes guidelines regarding various parameters that faculty, staff, and graduate students will need to follow, as well as checklists that will guide preparations for return, including for personal protective equipment, research practices, cleaning practices, and building practices.

Future stages of additional research reactivation will be announced when appropriate.

Town Hall Meeting: Wednesday, May 27 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. via Zoom.

All faculty, researchers and graduate students are encouraged to attend a town hall meeting on Wednesday, May 27, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. to discuss research reactivation planning and next steps.


  • Provost Kotlikoff
  • Vice Provost for Research Giannelis
  • Vice President for Facilities and Campus Services Burgess


  • Paula Cohen, Associate Vice Provost for Life Sciences

All graduate students are welcome to attend.

In Absentia Status for Fall 2020

Students who need to conduct research or engage in scholarship from a location more than 100 miles from their campus may normally apply for in absentia status. However, because the university currently restricts all Cornell-related research or scholarship travel the Graduate School is not yet accepting applications for Fall 2020 in absentia status. We anticipate that the form will open in late June when the university announces a reopening timeline. The deadline for submitting forms will be extended to August 27th.

Students who hope to travel for research this fall are encouraged to have backup plans in case travel restrictions are not lifted.

Take a Hike at the Cornell Arboretum!

Geese at the Cornell ArboretumTake a hike! Cornell Arboretum roads are closed to vehicles but open to pedestrians. Enjoy spring in Ithaca!

Photo by Associate Dean Jan Allen.

Cornell’s First Black Female CS Ph.D. Blazed Her Own Trail

Rediet AbebeWhen Rediet Abebe, M.S. ’18, Ph.D. ’19, came to the United States from her native Ethiopia, she was surprised to find such drastic inequality.

“At least in Ethiopia, we were sort of resource constrained – I could see why it was that way,” she said. “But here, it just didn’t make any sense to me.”

Around the same time, she began to discover the powerful impact algorithms could have on people’s lives. At Cornell, her doctoral program in computer science allowed her to merge her math degrees with her interest in inequality and social impact.

Read the CS Ph.D. Chronicle story

Einaudi-funded Ph.D. Students Think Globally, Act Remotely

Aparajita Majumdar at the foot of a tree
Doctoral student Aparajita Majumdar is shown at the foot of a Ficus elastica tree while exploring forest routes with local experts last summer in Meghalaya, India.

Aparajita Majumdar, Ph.D. candidate in the field of history, spent six hours last summer hiking through the Khasi hills of eastern India to find one of the region’s famed living root bridges.

Ana Ozaki, Ph.D. candidate in the field of history of architecture and urban development, befriended her cab driver in Maputo, Mozambique, while investigating how race and climate meet in that country’s architecture.

Both students conducted summer international research critical to their dissertations through the 2019 Einaudi-SSRC Dissertation Proposal Development Program. This year, the 16 Ph.D. students in the cohort are refining their dissertation plans with help from faculty mentors and intensive workshops, while adapting to unforeseen obstacles created by the global pandemic.

Read the Einaudi funding Chronicle story

Student Spotlight: Deborah Oluwasanya

Deborah Oluwasanya headshotDeborah Oluwasanya is a doctoral candidate in soil and crop science from Benue State, Nigeria. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria, she chose to pursue further study at Cornell due to the reputation of the field of plant sciences and network of scientists passionate about cassava.

Read the full student spotlight

Interested in what other graduate students are doing both on and off campus?

Check out our student spotlights, Q&As with current students about their research, hobbies, and experiences at Cornell.


Associate Dean’s Holistic Admissions Practices Mentioned in Article

Graduate School Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student Engagement Sara Xayarath Hernández was mentioned in the CALS Magazine article, “New leadership drives diversity and inclusion initiatives at CALS,” for her work on holistic practices in graduate admissions. Read the full story.

PAM GFA Receives SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence

The GFA in policy analysis and management, Eric Maroney, recently received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Staff Excellence. This was announced on May 15th in a Human Ecology town hall, and the announcement can also be viewed on the PAM Twitter.

NSF Awards Grant to Alumni-Founded Company

Ecolectro, co-founded by Cornell alumni Gabriel Rodriguez Calero, Ph.D. ’14 and Kristina Hugar, Ph.D. ’15, was recently awarded a substantial NSF phase 2 grant to develop a new class of reinforced polymers that advance renewable hydrogen and clean energy devices under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award mechanism. Learn more.

M.H.A. Student Awarded Bachrach Family Scholarship

Raina JainSloan M.H.A. student Raina Jain ’21 has been awarded the Bachrach Family Scholarship for Excellence in Healthcare Administration by the Association for University Programs in Health Administration.

Alumnus Co-Founded App That Blocks Noisy Backgrounds

BabbleLabs, for which Raul Casas ’94, M.S. ’96, Ph.D. ’99 is chief scientist and co-founder, released Clear Edge, software that eliminates background noises and enhances speech. Read the press release.