Peter Enns Named Director of Cornell Center for Social Sciences

Peter K. Enns, professor, Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and Department of Government in the College of Arts and Sciences, and executive director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, has been named Robert S. Harrison Director of the Cornell Center for Social Sciences (CCSS), which accelerates, enhances, and amplifies social science research at Cornell. The announcement was made by Emmanuel Giannelis, vice president for research and innovation.

Enns begins his three-year appointment July 1.

“Peter is the quintessential social scientist,” Giannelis said. “He is strongly rooted in scholarship but also mindful of social impact. We are truly fortunate that he is willing to lead the Center for Social Sciences. I am confident that under his leadership the Center will be able to coalesce researchers across the campus, address their emerging infrastructure needs and become a catalyst for cutting-edge research, scholarship and innovation.”

Enns embraces the CCSS mission to support ambitious social science research. “We want to provide whatever services or infrastructure researchers need at the time they need it: computing, data services, access to relevant statistical software,” Enns said. “We’re here to understand any challenges social science researchers face at Cornell and help erase them.”

CCSS, which opened in 2019, is part of a broader network of changes at Cornell that focuses on the social sciences, including the Jeb E. Brooks School for Public Policy and new cross-college super departments in psychology and sociology. Enns believes that one goal of research should be to lead the way to change. “The School of Public Policy encompasses a broad map of fields from data science, to international topics, to race and racism,” Enns said. “With all of these social science pieces coming together, Cornell now covers the full space, from research to educating the next generation of policymakers."

Enns says that the center’s work helps to position Cornell as one of the leading social science research hubs in the world by leveraging the strength of individual social science researchers, often in multidisciplinary partnerships. “Cornell has outstanding faculty in the social sciences. As the center facilitates collaborations on high impact research, Cornell’s visibility and influence grows. We also want to support large grants, which enable some of the ambitious work being done in the social sciences at Cornell. CCSS wants to build opportunities and support to help Cornell researchers be as successful as possible.”

Giannelis agrees. “The support of a center like CCSS strengthens the human component, not just the research infrastructure. Bringing together cross-disciplinary teams in the spirit of radical collaboration and making sure those researchers have the time and resources to do cutting-edge work has incredible value. The vast energy, intellectual creativity, and robust resources supporting the social sciences at Cornell enable us to recruit and retain the best students, teachers, and researchers.”

Within CCSS, the research incubation hub hosts several programs aimed at catalyzing groundbreaking social science research at Cornell. A fellows program, with 11 members in the current cohort, offers time and space for research projects and a shared community of intellectual exchange. Seed grant funding from CCSS is available to faculty, including a grant offered jointly with the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. The 2021 grant-writing development program aims to mentor social science faculty through the process of planning and submitting a National Institutes of Health (NIH) proposal.

Maria Fitzpatrick, professor, Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and Department of Policy Analysis and Management in the College of Human Ecology, and associate vice provost for social sciences, said, “As co-director of CCSS since its founding, Peter has already had a fundamental positive impact on social science research at Cornell, helping to move the needle on research support and catalyze new research and innovation. We are excited, and very grateful, that Peter will continue to lead the center and to enact his extraordinary vision for enhancing social science research at Cornell in the coming years.”

Enns envisions CCSS as the go-to place for faculty and students to ask any social science research or support question. “In a lot of cases, we have the services and the people to address the need or question immediately. If not, we can facilitate connections. If you don’t see what you need on the CCSS website, let us know and we’ll get you where you need to go efficiently,” he said. “Recently we procured a university-wide license for a specialized statistical analysis package. A researcher came to us and said the enterprise license wasn’t much more than the individual license so we made sure it would be available to everyone. The first PhD students to use the tool will provide training to others. This is the kind of collaboration and partnership we support. We need to hear about opportunities so we can be part of the solution. There is a suggestion box at the bottom of every page on the CCSS website and we want it to be used.”

Enns came to Cornell in 2007. He received his PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his undergraduate degree from Colorado College. Enns was appointed executive director of the Roper Center in 2015.

CCSS Accelerated Research Fellows Program Maximizes Opportunities

The Cornell Center for Social Sciences is introducing the CCSS Accelerated Research Fellows Program to support social scientists involved in multiphase research grants. To better support research that influences societal-level changes at a rapid pace, funding opportunities increasingly follow a two-phased approach. After a phase-one award, research teams have a short window to complete the proposed research and compete for an even more ambitious phase-two award for the project. Examples of two-phase funding opportunities include the NSF Convergence Accelerator and the NSF SBIR/STTR programs.

The Cornell Center for Social Sciences has developed the CCSS Accelerated Research Fellows Program to support Cornell researchers during their phase-one research. This program is designed to help maximize the opportunities for a successful phase-two proposal. As a CCSS Accelerated Research Fellow, faculty will receive one course buyout during their phase-one year and up to $10,000 (per team) to support unanticipated costs during phase one. See the CCSS website for complete details.

This story originally appeared on the Cornell Research website.

Ellen Hartman is the Director of Communications for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.

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