Faculty Research & Honors
Imaginative Scholarship & Creativity
Fresh takes on humanity-serving scholarship and creativity have always been a trademark of Cornell research. Cornell’s scholars—a faculty of visionaries—delve into fascinating mores and values as they emerge in our society. They bring us new perspectives on the past. They are driven to teach, learn, and satisfy curiosity, creating a body of scholarship that enriches our lives in ways unexpected.
- Genes Affect Political and Economic Preferences
- Daniel Benjamin, Economics
- Cornell’s Collaborative Decision-Making Research
- The Institute for the Social Sciences’ 2009–2012 theme project—Judgment, Decision Making, and Social Behavior
- About Collecting
- Jeremy Braddock, English
- Branding, a Game Changer
- Chekitan S. Dev, Hotel Administration
- Remembering The Future
- Shimon Y. Edelman, Psychology
- Darwin, an Economist?
- Robert H. Frank, Johnson Graduate School of Management
- “We’ll Always Have Paris.”
- Thomas D. Gilovich, Psychology
- A Chemist’s Art and Science
- Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann, Chemistry and Chemical Biology
- America in Red Ink
- Louis R. Hyman, Industrial and Labor Relations
- Vietnam Definitively Chronicled
- Fredrik Logevall, History
- Global Financial Markets
- Annelise Riles, Law
- Knitting, Braiding, and Weaving Buildings
- Jenny E. Sabin, Architecture
- The Joy of Math
- Steven H. Strogatz, Mathematics/Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
- Trying Times
- Daniel R. Schwarz, English
Genes Affect Political and Economic Preferences
Daniel Benjamin, Economics, led a research team that studied 3,000 people with comprehensive genetic data and information on economic and political preferences. They reported that unrelated people who are more similar genetically tend to have more similar attitudes and preferences. The findings suggest that genetic data, taken as a whole, could eventually help predict economic and political preferences.
Cornell’s Collaborative Decision-Making Research
The Institute for the Social Sciences’ 2009–2012 theme project—Judgment, Decision Making, and Social Behavior—resulted in 85 scholarly publications spanning economics, psychology, government, law, policy analysis and management, human development, and business, generated by 12 Cornell faculty members. Sharing office space and meeting weekly, this group of experts significantly advanced research on decision making. Two major national conferences, public lectures with visiting scholars, and Cornell workshops and seminars were also important outcomes.
Jeremy Braddock, English, gives a fresh perspective on the making of modernism in his book Collecting as Modernist Practice (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). He explores the importance of art collections, anthologies, and archives as collective forms of modernist expression in the United States.
Branding, a Game Changer
Chekitan S. Dev, Hotel Administration, describes how the hospitality industry has gone from a traditional operations-centric business model to a brand-centric model in his book Hospitality Branding (Cornell University Press, 2012). He blends recent history and cutting-edge research, offering hospitality organizations advice on how to survive and thrive in today’s competitive global business environment. Creating and building great brands has become the primary purpose of the business, with the preeminence of a brand driving the never-ending quest for market share. Dev says, “Not only has brand become the chief means of attracting customers, it has, more broadly, become the chief organizing principle for most hospitality organizations.”
Remembering The Future
Shimon Y. Edelman, Psychology, perceives a sense of happiness as something to be pursued, rather than captured, inspiring his book The Happiness of Pursuit: What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About the Good Life (Basic Books, 2012). Edelman poses the question: Why do we grow restless once we’ve attained a peak? He says evolution favors creatures that can see a bit into the future, so it’s in our nature to look and think ahead. We make predictions based on past performance, patterns, and trends that allow us to look into the future and chase satisfaction.
Darwin, an Economist?
Robert H. Frank, Johnson Graduate School of Management, argues that economies are not driven by supply and demand, but rather survival of the fittest, in his book The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good (Princeton University Press, 2011). Frank says that Darwin understood the true nature of competition better than Adam Smith, the intellectual father of economics. Although Frank agrees that unbridled competition often promotes the common good, as Smith claimed, he argues, “Charles Darwin understood how individual interests conflict sharply with group interests, and in those cases, individual interests tend to prevail.”
“We’ll Always Have Paris.”
Thomas D. Gilovich, Psychology, revealed in earlier research that buying experiences gives us more happiness than buying material things. Now his research team has revealed why telling stories makes us enjoy the experiences even more. We talk about our experiences more than our purchases, so telling stories furthers our enjoyment.
A Chemist’s Art and Science
Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, writes on a variety of topics, including chemistry, writing, art, science, and education. Twenty-eight of his essays have been collected in a new book, Roald Hoffmann on the Philosophy, Art, and Science of Chemistry (Oxford University Press, 2012). The book represents Hoffmann’s unique understanding of chemistry and its broader contexts in philosophy, literature, and the arts.
America in Red Ink
Louis R. Hyman, Industrial and Labor Relations, wrote the first book to follow the history of personal debt in Debtor Nation: The History of America in Red Ink (Princeton University Press, 2011). Hyman traces the evolution of debt over the course of the 20th century, following its transformation from fringe to mainstream, thanks to federal policy, financial innovation, and retail competition.
Vietnam Definitively Chronicled
Fredrik Logevall, History, traces the path of France and the United States in Vietnam, delving deeply into the historical record to answer unresolved questions about the demise of one Western power in Vietnam and the arrival of another, in his book Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (Random House, 2012). The book brings events and personalities to life in a dramatic account. Logevall won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for History for the book.
Global Financial Markets
Annelise Riles, Law, explores the legal infrastructure underlying global financial markets in her book Collateral Knowledge: Legal Reasoning in the Global Financial Markets (University of Chicago Press, 2011). Who are the agents of financial regulation? Is good or bad financial governance the work of legislators and regulators? Riles asserts that financial governance is accomplished not only through top-down laws and policies, but also in the daily use of mundane legal techniques such as collateral by secondary agents, including legal technicians, retail investors, financiers, academics, and even computerized trading programs. Although collateral may keep a low profile, its activities should not be ignored as we think about how markets should work and be governed.
Knitting, Braiding, and Weaving Buildings
Jenny E. Sabin, Architecture, designed a textile pavilion for Nike in New York City using photoluminescent, solar-active and reflective threads, inspired by the company’s new footwear. Commissioned as part of Nike’s Flyknit collection—featuring a new technology that uses machine-knitted fabric and eliminates many toxic glues from the manufacturing process—the project gave Sabin an opportunity to probe “how the simplicity of knitting is coupled with the dynamics and complexity of the human body.” Sabin wondered, “Could we knit, braid, and weave buildings?” Her project demonstrated the potential of soft textile-based architecture.
The Joy of Math
Steven H. Strogatz, Mathematics/Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, explains some of the most elegant ideas in math and shows math’s surprising connections to our daily lives in his book The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Ponder these connections, for example: How many people should we date before settling down? How does Google search the internet?
Daniel R. Schwarz, English, who says he has had “a lifelong love affair with The New York Times,” takes an in-depth look at the newspaper during 10 difficult years in his book Endtimes? Crises and Turmoil at The New York Times, 1999–2009 (State University of New York Press, 2012). Schwarz discusses the contemporary newspaper, from columnists to cultural coverage. He examines how the paper has responded to constant updating in broadcast and online news by providing increased analysis—as opposed to reporting—of the news, including features on health, investing, and travel.