A century of agriculture research goes online

A rich trove of once-hidden Cornell agricultural research from journals and other serial publications is now available to the public. Cornell University Library collaborated with Kathryn J. Boor ’80, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ (CALS), to release copyright restrictions on more than…

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Initiative will connect research across NYC, Ithaca campuses

A new initiative on academic integration will promote, bolster and enhance research across Cornell’s campuses, tying together investigation and discovery collaboratively at Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell Tech and Cornell’s main campus in Ithaca. The broad effort will harness the expanded research capabilities of WCM, which has increased its faculty, funding…

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Startup wields natural bacterium to improve health of livestock

Bactana Animal Health, a new company providing a natural, sustainable alternative to dosing livestock prophylactically with antibiotics and hormones, joined Cornell’s McGovern Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences earlier in May. The new company is exploring the benefits of naturally occurring bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, by introducing it into…

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Sweet compounds aid water retention in dry soil

Organic material added by plant roots and microbes provides nutritious candy for the soil. Literally. Released cellular sugar fortifies water and nutrient retention, and maintains the porous earth, according to new Cornell research in Advances in Water Resources. Scientists examined computational simulations and conducted experiments to unravel the effects and…

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Preserving our ‘pale blue dot’ is focus of first Sagan lecture

Lord Martin Rees, who has probed deep into the cosmos, studied gamma-ray bursts and galactic formations, spoke May 8 at Cornell’s David L. Call Alumni Auditorium on issues closer to home: the preservation of our “pale blue dot.” “Extinction rates are rising. We’ve destroyed the Book of Life before we’ve…

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African circumcision rates rise when clergy endorse procedure

Educating religious leaders in sub-Saharan Africa about male circumcision increases the likelihood that men will undergo the procedure, Weill Cornell Medicine investigators found in a new trial. The results may have profound public health implications, as circumcision has been shown to dramatically reduce the incidence of HIV. Public health experts…

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Big Idea Competition finalists prepare to pitch

The 11 finalists for this year’s Big Idea Competition have ideas that would help detect dementia, prevent hospital falls and educate children in developing countries. They’re honing their three-minute pitches in preparation for the April 28 event, part of Entrepreneurship at Cornell’s two-day Celebration conference. “The number of students who…

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What Trump’s Climate Change Executive Order Means for the Future of Clean Energy

By David Wolfe, professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, and chair of Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Climate Change Consortium. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump is expected to release an executive order that rolls back Obama-era environmental protections. This plan should worry anyone who cares about the environment or…

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CICER brings China experts across campus together

CICER brings China experts across campus together

Panle Barwick


Shanjun Li


 Cornell is an intellectual powerhouse of economic research on China, but until Oct. 1, 2015, when the Cornell Institute for China Economic Research (CICER) launched, experts on the Chinese economy at Cornell had no designated platform through which they could engage with others, including outside stakeholders such as researchers and policymakers. Now, CICER helps coordinate the efforts of scholars across campus and supports research to understand economic growth in China and its impact on the world economy.

CICER grew from conversations and collaborations between Panle Barwick, associate professor of economics in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Shanjun Li, associate professor of economics in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. The two dreamed of creating a platform for Cornell economists to talk about China, but they needed funding. In 2015, they approached administrators who supported the idea and encouraged the two to push forward. The economics department, Dyson and the Institute for the Social Sciences contributed seed money allowing the institute to get up and running.

“We’ve received a lot of support from university leaders, especially President Rawlings; Chris Barrett, the deputy director of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; Ted O’Donoghue, the senior associate dean at Arts and Sciences; and Laura Spitz, the vice provost for international affairs,” Barwick says.

In 2016, CICER became a program of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. Einaudi director Hirokazu Miyazaki says he’s excited about CICER not only because of its distinctive contribution to Chinese studies at Cornell, “but also because of its deeply transnationally collaborative orientation. Its innovative educational and policy-oriented activities will enhance the national and global impact of Cornell’s international studies.”

Li and Barwick say CICER’s core mission is as a research institute to conduct rigorous and impactful economic research on the most pressing social and economic issues in China. Second, it seeks to provide education and training to graduate and undergraduate students at Cornell. And third, it conducts outreach, using CICER’s research to improve policymaking in China.

For the first several years, CICER will focus mostly on research, developing sound and policy-relevant empirical findings (several papers are already near completion). With these findings in hand, CICER will spend more efforts on outreach in China, aiming to affect policy by offering research-based findings. Any influence CICER has will have a wide-ranging impact, Li notes, since China has such significant impact on other countries.

The five key CICER research areas are defined by their relevance to policy rather than to a field, explain Li and Barwick, and include rural development; firm activities and industrial dynamics; financial and real estate markets; international trade; and environmental and energy challenges.

Current research projects include the impacts of industrial policies in China; the dynamics of firm productivity and location choices; the causes, consequences and policy choices regarding air pollution; transportation policies and the housing market; and electricity sector restructuring.

For example, Li and Barwick have been exploring how environmental changes affect the local economy and health issues, using large data sets that cover most of China, including measures of air quality and water as well as high-frequency transactional data on local economies. “For example, what are the economic consequences of congestion and air pollution? These are big problems given the pace of China’s urbanization and economic growth. What are the effective policy options to address these challenges?” asks Li.

This summer, CICER will offer its first summer camp to college students from top universities in China. “The goal of the camp is to help participants make better-informed decisions about their future career, as well as introduce them to opportunities at Cornell for graduate study in business and economics,” Li says. The camp will feature lectures by prominent professors, workshops on graduate school life in the U.S., career options, and cultural and social issues in the U.S., as well as field trips to Washington, D.C., and New York City.

In addition to the summer camp, Barwick and Li would like to organize training programs in the future for Chinese officials. “Many important decisions are made by local officials,” says Barwick. “We want to bring them here and share how our research can help inform their policy decisions.”

This article is written by Linda B. Glaser and was published in the Cornell Chronicle on March 23, 2017.