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Cornell experts on coronavirus - Societal impact

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Gillian Smith

If you are interested in other angles to this story, please find a list of experts who can discuss the pandemic's impact on the economy, job markets and specific industries, as well as a list of faculty on the science and public health aspects of this crisis.

Jamila Michener

Jamila Michener

Assistant Professor

Jamila Michener is an assistant professor of government and an expert on poverty and racial inequality. She says during times of public health crisis the consequences of inequalities surface and it’s going to be a huge challenge to support K-12 students facing school closures at home and also in their communities.

Max Zhang

Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering

Max Zhang, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and fellow at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for Sustainability, studies sustainable energy systems and the effects of pollutants on air quality and climate change. He can speak about the short and long-term impact of the coronavirus on carbon emissions and pollution, and recently engaged on the topic with VICE News.

Professor Rooks is an associate professor in Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Noliwe Rooks

Professor in Africana Studies and Feminist, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Noliwe Rooks, professor of American studies and author of the book “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and The End of Public Education,” says economically vulnerable students will be at a disadvantage when it comes to learning online due to school closures. She says for students who utilize free internet at libraries, navigating the academic landscape and social distancing will be difficult. 

Stephen Wicker

Stephen Wicker

Professor of electrical and computer engineering

Stephen Wicker, professor of electrical and computer engineering, is an expert in information network privacy issues. He says in the age of increased internet use due to coronavirus, personal data can be collected and manipulated, and that Congress needs to introduce regulations.

Karl Pillemer

Karl Pillemer

Director Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development, Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College

Karl Pillemer, expert on human development and social relationships, is available to discuss the impact of surviving crisis from the perspective of a generation who has done it before. His work is informed by interviews with people who lived through the Great Depression, World War II and the 1918 Influenza.

Suzanne Mettler

Professor of American Institutions

Suzanne Mettler is a professor of government and an expert on social welfare policies and the congressional stimulus package, as well as how the response to the coronavirus relates to American's low sense of confidence in government and concerns about democracy.

Sahara Byrne

Professor of Communications

Sahara Byrne, professor of communications, studies when and why youth resist campaigns, interventions and policies designed to protect them from engaging in risky behaviors. She is concerned about teens who may be secretly vaping during this coronavirus pandemic, because their parents may not take them to the hospital if their symptoms worsen. Byrne is part of a team of researchers who are studying the most effective health warnings to include in advertisements for electronic cigarettes. 

Professor in Cornell University’s Department of Government

Sarah Kreps

Professor in Cornell University’s Department of Government

Sarah Kreps, professor of government, studies artificial intelligence and misinformation. She says that tech firms are highly influential in the spread of information, and that the coronavirus will be a test of their ability to combat fake news.

Valerie Reyna

Lois and Melvin Tukman Professor of Human Development, Director of the Human Neuroscience Institute, and Co-director of the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research

Valerie Reyna, professor of human development, studies the neuroscience of risky decision making and its implications for health and well-being. She says changing advice contributes to the perception that experts might not know what they are doing, which is false. Emotions and actions in reaction to a risk depend crucially on how people understand the gist of the risk.  Providing the facts is important, but it is how people interpret those facts that determines behavior. 

Natalie Bazarova

Associate professor, Department of Communication

Natalie Bazarova, professor in the Department of Communication and director of the Cornell Social Media Lab, examines social-psychological and communication processes in social media and mobile interaction. With the Prosocial Behaviors Collaborative project supported by the Cornell Center for Social Sciences, she and her collaborators are examining how students deal with these disruptions, as reflected in their discourse on university subreddits, and how stress peaks correspond to crisis response decisions and announcements at the university, local, state, and federal levels.

Qi Wang

Qi Wang

Professor of Human Development

Qi Wang, professor of human development, is able to address impacts of social distancing in the current context of COVID-19. She says social isolation can cause loneliness, but people can be proactive to counter the negative ramifications by staying connected via social media and other technological means.

Anthony Ong

Anthony Ong

Professor of Human Development

Anthony Ong, professor of human development, can talk about the emotional impacts of self isolation. He says while self isolation may intensify feelings of loneliness, it’s also an opportunity to connect virtually and learn from each other.

Jonathan Lunine

Jonathan Lunine

David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences

Jonathan Lunine, professor of physics and chair of the astronomy department, can speak to the impact of coronavirus on the astronomy community. He says most scientific exchanges already happen by teleconferencing and that the coronavirus crisis may force a long-term rethinking of scientific gatherings that reduces travel.

Astrid Van Oyen

Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics

Astrid Van Oyen is a Roman archaeologist with a special interest in material culture. She can speak about hoarding trends associated with coronavirus and how prepared we are as a society to store goods and supplies — the way our ancestors have done in prior crises.

Kim Haines-Eitzen

Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions with a specialty in Early Christianity, Early Judaism, and Religion in Late Antiquity in the Department of Near Eastern Studies.

Kim Haines-Eitzen, expert in religious studies, is available to discuss isolation and solitude. Her teaching focuses on about ancient apocalyptic thinkers in early Judaism and early Christianity. These ideas may offer hope in a time that seems dire.

Huiju Park

Associate Professor in the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design

Huiju Park, an expert in functional apparel design, researches ways to improve the mobility and thermal comfort of personal protective clothing. He is available to discuss the design and evaluation of protective clothing related to heat and stress, disposable and reusable protective gear, manufacturing issues and quality evaluation.

Samuel Bacharach

Professor of Labor Management

Sam Bacharach, expert in labor management, negotiation and organizational politics, is available to discuss tips for managers who are now working with remote staffs. He says the working relationship does not have to be hierarchical all the time, especially in a remote work situation.

Theomary Karamanis

Senior Lecturer of Management Communication

As the virus progresses, comms from healthcare officials as well as elected officials becomes more crucial, Theomary Karamanis, expert in crisis and health communication, can discuss what authorities need to keep in mind when addressing the public about the coronavirus public health crisis.


René Kizilcec

Director of the Future of Learning Lab and Assistant Professor of Information Science

René Kizilcec is director of Cornell's Future of Learning Lab and assistant professor of information science. He can speak about the impact the Coronavirus pandemic is having on how students learn and how teachers teach, and what it means for the long-term future of instruction.

Douglas L. Kriner

Professor of Government

Douglas Kriner, professor of government, is an expert on presidential privilege and the separation of powers. He is the author of "Investigating the President: Congressional Checks on Presidential Power" and can speak to how the COVID-19 crisis has and will impact presidential power and congressional oversight, in particular, how the crisis may influence the election in November. 

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.