Research Scientist BCTR 
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research
Human Development
Cornell Institute for Public Affairs

35 Thornwood Drive, 140P



Janis Whitlock is a Research Scientist and the Associate Director for Teaching and Training 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, social media and mental health, and in youth connectedness to schools and communities. She earned a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University (2003), a Masters of Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill (1994), and a BA from the University of California at Berkeley (1988). Her current primary research focus includes development of early detection and intervention in mental health and wellbeing using social media and other technological affordances, particularly in the areas of self-injury and suicide. In addition to NSF funded research in these areas, she focuses on broadening understanding of non-suicidal self-injury, particularly in relation to recovery and parent experiences. She is also a Principal Investigator for an early intervention project aimed at reducing sexual violence and is pursuing a newer line of research related to sexual health and development in the digital age. She is dedicated to translating research into practice and policy through broad dissemination of user friendly materials and through development of web-based training and education programs for parents and professionals (see, largely as an outgrowth of her work as a practitioner in adolescent and women’s health in a variety of clinical, administrative, and education-related capacities for over a decade.


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 role of social media in both affecting mental health and as an intervention tool. The role of parents in supporting recovery and wellbeing has been a major research activity for the past couple of years and is the fodder for a recent book I wrote with a colleague for parents and caregivers of self-injurious youth. I also developed and support a web-based training and educational programs for youth serving professionals and parents.

In addition to my work in self-injury, I collaborate closely with the Cornell Department of Communications Social Media Lab on a number of projects related to the effects of social media on wellbeing and development of design and app-based features useful in promoting wellbeing and prosocial behavior online. Lastly, I am also the Cornell PI on CDC grant intended to evaluate an intervention for middle school boys aimed at reducing or eliminating sexual violence.




Recent Publications (since 2017)

DiFranzo, D., Hyung Choi, Y.,  Purington, A., Taft, J. Whitlock, J. & Bazarova, N. (2019). Social Media TestDrive: Real-World Social Media Education for the Next Generation. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI 2019), May 4–9, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland UK. ACM, NewYork, NY, USA, 11 pages.

Whitlock, J. & Lloyd-Richardson, E. (2019). Healing self-injury: A compassionate guide for parents and other loved ones. Oxford University Trade Press. New York, New York.

Waals, L., Baetens, I., Rober, P., Lewis, S., Van Parys, H., Goethals, E.R., & Whitlock, J. (2018). The NSSI family distress cascade theory. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 12(52). doi: 0.1186/s13034-018-0259-7

Kruzan, K. & Whitlock, J. (in press). Prevention of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury. Non-suicidal Self-Injury: Advances in Research and Practice. edited by J. Washburn. Routledge Press.

Lewis, S.P., Heath, N.L., Hasking, P.A., Whitlock, J.L., Wilson, M.S., & Plener, P.L. (in press). Addressing self-injury on college campuses: Institutional recommendations. Journal of College Counselling.

Whitlock, J. L., Baetens, I., Lloyd-Richardson, E., Hasking, P., Hamza, C., Lewis, S., ... & Robinson, K. (2018). Helping schools support caregivers of youth who self-injure: Considerations and recommendations. School Psychology International, 0143034318771415.

Kazerooni, F., Taylor, S. H., Bazarova, N. N., & Whitlock, J. (2018). Cyberbullying Bystander Intervention: The Number of Offenders and Retweeting Predict Likelihood of Helping a Cyberbullying Victim. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 23(3), 146-162.

Chang, P. F., Whitlock, J., & Bazarova, N. N. (2018). “To Respond or not to Respond, that is the Question”: The Decision-Making Process of Providing Social Support to Distressed Posters on Facebook. Social Media+ Society, 4(1), 2056305118759290.

Whitlock, J. & Hasking, P. (2017). Hurting from the inside out: Understanding self-injury. Educational Leadership75(4), 24-30.

Kiekens, G., Hasking, P., Bruffaerts, R., Claes, L., Baetens, I., Boyes, M., & Whitlock, J. (2017). What predicts ongoing non-suicidal self-injury? A comparison between persistent and ceased self-injury in emerging adults. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 

Whitlock, J, Lloyd-Richardson, E., Fisseha, F., Bates, T. (2017). Parental secondary stress: The often hidden but important underbelly of non-suicidal self-injury in youth. Journal of Clinical Psychology: doi:10.1002/jclp.22488

Bazarova, N. N., Choi, Y. H., Whitlock, J., Cosley, D., & Sosik, V. (2017). Psychological distress and emotional expression on Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20(3), 157-163.



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, sexual violence 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.


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 information briefs 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. We have also worked with e-Cornell to develop and support a series of web-based training programs on self-injury for professionals and parents. I have a new book for parents and other caretakers coming out now which is a natural outreach extension of extant research in this area.

I am also the Associate Director for Teaching and Training for the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. In this capacity, I oversee all regular talks (our "How To do research in real world contexts" series as well as our popular Talks at Twelve series). I also direct the Cornell Translational Research Summer Institute (started in 2018), a 2.5 day workshop that attracts emerging scholars from outside of Cornell and builds on the "How To" series referenced above. All of these are very much focused on engaging the public to bridge science and practice and policy.

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. I am also co-PI on a team in the Communications Department that has received funding from the Morgan Foundation to work with Common Sense Media in developing "Project Test Drive", a social medial simulation for youth designed to prepare them to safely navigate the social media realm and to engage in prosocial behavior.

In addition, my students and I created another website, one intended to encompass a greater array of the activities we undertake, called the Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab: This will be where we share information related to activities not directly germane to self-injury and recovery.

Teaching: I teach a course for HD graduate students and CIPA masters students (PADM 5380 & HD 6580) that typically enrolls anywhere from 12 - 40 students. This course typically runs in the spring. Beginning in summer of 2019, I wil teach a course on the intersection of adolescent development and wellbing and social media. I also annually advise 8-10 students through my research lab and co-run a lab with Natalie Bazarova with a rotating set of 4 -6 graduate students from Communications and Computer Science. I supervise another 3-4 in independent studies or honors theses per year. I am currently an ad hoc member of 3 graduate committees. I enjoy interacting with students and view 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. 


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

HD 1100 Growing up in the digital age: Identity, relationships and wellbeing in the modern era 


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.                  


  • I serve as the Associate Director for Teaching and Training for the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research

•    Member Council on Sexual Violence Prevention
•    Member Council of Mental Health and Wellbeing

Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery:

Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab:

Social Media and Mental Health Lab

 I maintain (with a lot of student support!):

A Facebook page for the CRPSIR

A Twitter account for the CRPSIR 

A linked in account for the CRPSIR

A personal twitter account where I push out professinoal but non-CRPSIR related material



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