Janis Whitlock


Janis Whitlock

Research Scientist BCTR 
202A Beebe Hall
Phone: (607) 254-2894
Email: jlw43@cornell.edu
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Curriculum Vitae
Biographical Statement:

Janis Whitlock is a Research Scientist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. She is also the Director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery. She is the author of publications on non-suicidal self-injury in adolescence and young adulthood as well as in youth connectedness to schools and communities. She earned a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University (2003) and a Masters of Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill (1994). In addition to research, she has worked in adolescent and women’s health in a variety of clinical, administrative, and education-related capacities for over a decade. Her primary research focus includes development of early detection and intervention in mental health and wellbeing for youth in college and community settings, recovery from self-injurious behaviors, parental influence in and experience of young people's self-injury and suicidality, the relationship between connectedness and self-injury and suicide behaviors, and development and evaluation of interventions for youth and parents of self-injurious youth. She is currently pursuing a newer line of research related to the sexual health and develpoment in the digitial age and the interaction between mental health, development, and social media-linked behavior.

Teaching and Advising Statement:

I annually advise 8-10 students through my research lab. I also co-run a lab with Natalie Bazarova and Dan Cosley with a rotating set of 4 -6 graduate students from Communications and Computer Science and I supervise another 3-4 in independent studies or honors theses per year. I also co-teach a course with John Eckenrode for graduate students and CIPA masters students (PADM 5380 & HD 6580) that typically enrolls anywhere from 12 - 25 students (this is the first year we will have taught CIPA students). I enjoy interacting with students and view my see their involvement in lab settings as a tremendous asset since the vast majority of them are motivated, highly talented, and capable of significant focus when engaged.  In both lab and classroom settings I believe strongly in coupling cognitive engagement with opportunities for applying concepts learned through development of materials, synthesis, and other concrete products useful for the project (e.g. materials that go onto our website for distribution).  Students benefit through acquiring new skills and, in some cases, having reports or other publications to add to their resume and the program benefits through their fresh perspective, ideas, and finished work.  They also work in teams to accomplish these goals so benefit through new relationship ties and the shared learning that happens in this environment. 


Current Professional Activities:

My current professional agenda is dedicated to research, outreach, advising, and adminstration. My research revolves around young adult social and emotional health with a focus on connectedness, self-injury and suicide prevention and intervention development. I am also pursuing a new emphasis on sexual health and development in the digital age and the interaction between social media and wellbeing. I also regularly provide training and talks to youth serving professionals in and outside of university settings on issues germane to college mental health and young adult development.


Current Research Activities:

My current research is dedicated to exploration of the relationship between context, development, and behavior, with a focus on longitudinal assessment and development and testing of interventions. Although known for my work in non-suicidal self-injury, my current work focuses more broadly on health and wellbeing trajectories with particular interest in the relationship between meaning making, emotion regulation and development of adverse or productive coping capacity over time. Because of emergent findings from our work, focus on the role of parents in supporting recovery and wellbeing is becoming a new focus of research activity. This has generated international collaboration and local collaboration on the interaction of mental health and social media use. I am also working on two interventions that I anticipate will be released this year; one is geared toward youth professionals and the other to parents.

In addition to my work in mental health, I have added a line of inquiry dedicated to understanding the interaction between sexual health and social media. This line of inquiry has resulted in one small grant, awarded to my colleague Jane Powers and I, to study youth and adult perceptions of the behaviors and consequences of on-line and app-based sexual activity. It has also led to development of a much larger NIH proposal that will be submitted soon. The goal of this last project would be to develop a tool that can be used for measuring what we are calling "technology mediated sexual activity" in adolescents and young adults. I also supervise a project being conducted by one graduate student and two undergraduate students on use of the social media app, "grindr" in college populations.




Current Public Engagement Activities:

All of my research activities contain outreach components of value to the Cornell Extension mission. Since I feel strongly about the importance of disseminating information amassed through the research process, I work hard to find mechanisms for supporting the dissemination and outreach component. For example, students in our lab as well as professionals associated with our team develop "translational" products intended to make cutting edge science accessible to lay audiences through fact sheets, web-based power point presentations, and web accessible video segments. We add materials to this pool of resources every year. Materials have been designed for a broad constituency: individuals with self-injury history, parents, peers, and schools and other youth serving agencies seeking guidance about protocols for handling self-injury in institutional settings. Many of these fact sheets have been translated into multiple languages including French, German, and Spanish. The website receives over 7,000 unique visitors a month and our factsheets are downloaded multiple times a day. In addition, I regularly do talks to local and national groups, academics and non-academics, in areas related to my expertise and much of my youth-development and school climate-related research is conducted as part of university-community partnerships. All research findings are then made available to our partners and, through them, to the larger communities they affect.


2003. Ph.D., Human Development, Cornell University.
Dissertation: Voice, Visibility, Place, and Power: Correlates to School and
Community Connectedness Among 8th, 10th and 12th Grade Youth

1994. MPH, Health Behavior & Health Education, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Masters Thesis: Helpless but not Hopeless: Parental Perspectives on Adolescent Dating Abuse

1988 B.A., Social Sciences Field Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Undergraduate Thesis: The Women's Self Help Movement: Ideology and Action.                  

Courses Taught:

HD 3530: Risk and Opportunity in Childhood and Adoelscence (not curently offered)

HD 4170: The Translation of Research Evidence into Practice and Policy

PADM 5380 / HD 6680: Seminar in translational research: Bridging research, programs and policies

Related Websites:

Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery:  www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu

Social Media and Mental Health Lab


Administrative Responsibilities:

Within BCTR:
•    Chair of the student engagement committee

Within Human Ecology:
•    Faculty liaison for Cornell College of Human Ecology to Cornell Engaged Learning + Research initiative

•    Member Council on Sexual Violence Prevention
•    Member Council of Sexual Violence Prevention Research and Evaluation Workgroup
•    Member Council of Mental Health and Wellbeing
•    Member Mental health Programmers workgroup

Selected Publications:

Recent Publications (since 2013)


Whitlock, J. & Lloyd-Richarson, E. (under contract). Parents on the edge: Understanding and living with your child’s self-injury. Oxford University Trade Press. New York, New York. Anticipated publication: 2017.


Tsypes A., Lane, R., Paul, E., & Whitlock, J. (2016). Non-suicidal self-injury and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in heterosexual and sexual minority young adults. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 65: 32-43.


Lloyd-Richardson, E., Lewis, S.P., Whitlock, J.,Rodham, K. & Schatten, H. (2015). Research with adolescents at risk for non-suicidal self-injury: Ethical considerations and challenges. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 9(37). PMCID: PMC4584461


Whitlock, J.L, Prussein, K., & Pietrusza, C. (2015).  Predictors of non-suicidal self-injury and psychological growth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 9(19). DOI 10.1186/s13034-015-0048-5. PMCID: PMC4495705


Bazarova, N. N.,  Choi, Y. H., Sosik, V., Cosley, D., & Whitlock, J. (2015). Social sharing of emotions on Facebook: Channel differences, satisfaction, and replies. Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing: 154-164, March 14-18, Vancouver, Canada.


Kress, V., Newgent, R., Whitlock, J., Mease, L. (2015).  Spirituality, life satisfaction, and life meaning: protective factors for non-suicidal self-injury. Journal of College Counselling 18(2): 160-174.


Orlando, C., Broman-Fulks, J.J., Whitlock, J., Curtin, L., Michael, K.D., (2015). Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Suicidal Self-Injury: A Taxometric Investigation. Behavior Therapy, 46(6): 824-833.


Paul E., Tsypes A., Ernhout C. , Eidlitz L., & Whitlock J. (2015). Associations of non-suicidal self-injury characteristics and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Psychiatry Research, 225(3): http://dx.doi.org/



Whitlock, J.L., Exner-Cortens, D. & Purington, A. (2014). Validity and reliability of the non-suicidal self-injury assessment test (NSSI-AT). Psychological Assessment 26(3): 935-946.


Whitlock, J.L., Wyman, P., & Moore, S. (2014). Connectedness and suicide prevention in adolescence. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. 44(3) 247-272.


Whitlock, J.L. & Selekman, M. (2014).  Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) across the lifespan. In Oxford Handbook of Suicide and Self-Injury, edited by M. Nock. Oxford Library of Psychology, Oxford University Press.


Whitlock, J. & Rodham, K. (2013).  Understanding NSSI in youth.  School Psychology Forum: Research in Practice, 7(4): 93-110.


Eisenberg, D., Golberstein, E., Whitlock, J. (2013). Peer Effects on Risky Behaviors: New Evidence from College Roommate Assignments. Journal of Health Economics, 33: 126-132.


Whitlock, J. Pietrusza, C. & Purington, A. (2013).  Young adult respondent experiences of disclosing self-injury, suicide-related behavior, and psychological distress in a web-based survey. Archives of Suicide Research, 17(1): 20-32.


Whitlock, J., Muehlenkamp, J., Eckenrode, J., Purington, A., Barrera, P., Baral-Abrams, G., Kress, V., Grace Martin, K, Smith, E., (2013). Non-suicidal self-injury as a gateway to suicide in adolescents and young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(4): 486-492.


Selected Keywords:
adolescent development,mental health,self-injury,suicide prevention,sexual health, school connectedness,community connectedness, intervention development

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.