Janis Whitlock
Research Scientist BCTR 
Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research
Human Development

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 the Director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery and has authored 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). Dr. Whitlock was a 2019 recipient of the Francqui prize, a prestigious Belgian prize awarded in recognition of academic achievement in social sciences.

Dr. Whitlock's current primary research focus includes understanding and addressing adolescent and young adult mental health challenges, wtih a focus on non-suicidal self-injury and suicide. She also studies the role that social media and other technological affordances play in mental health and in sexual health and development. She is currently a Principal Investigator for a strength-based sexual violence prevention project for middle school boys. 

Lastly, she is dedicated to translational research principles and focuses on assuring that resaerch she conducts with implications for practice and policy are broadly disseminated through her website, web-based training and education programs, and through work with nonacademic policy and program organizations. Her recent book, Healing Self-Injury: A Compassionate Guide for Parents and Other Loved Ones brings together cutting edge science with practical tools and techniques for using strength-based approaches to support a young person who self-injures. She also serves as an advisor for multiple national and international organizations and directs an annual translational research institute dedicated to training researchers in translational research approaches.

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 have also developed and support a web-based training and educational programs for youth serving professionals and parents and serve as an advisor on multiple national and international foundation and organizational boards.

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 and Cornell PI on another CDC proposal intended to evaluate the New York State Department of Health Healthy Nightlife Initiative. 




Kruzan, K., Whitlock, J., Bazarova, N., Miller, K., Chapman, J., & Won, A. (In Press). Supporting Self-Injury Recovery: The Potential for Virtual Reality Intervention. In Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’20).


Whitlock, J. & Masur, P. (2019). Disentangling the Impact of Screen Time on Development and Well-Being Problems, Challenges, and Opportunities. JAMA Pediatr.Published online September 23, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.3191


Taliaferro, L. A., Jang, S. T., Westers, N. J., Muehlenkamp, J. J., Whitlock, J. L., & McMorris, B. J. (2019). Associations between connections to parents and friends and non-suicidal self-injury among adolescents: The mediating role of developmental assets. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatryhttps://doi.org/10.1177/1359104519868493


Kruzan, K. P., & Whitlock, J. (2019). Processes of Change and Non-suicidal Self-Injury: A Qualitative Interview Study With Individuals at Various Stages of Change. Global qualitative nursing research6, 2333393619852935.


Lewis, S. P., Heath, N. L., Hasking, P. A., Hamza, C. A., Bloom, E. L., Lloyd-Richardson, E. E., & Whitlock, J.(2019). Advocacy for improved response to self-injury in schools: A call to action for school psychologists. Psychological services. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ser0000352


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. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300533


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. 


Lewis, S.P., Heath, N.L., Hasking, P.A., Whitlock, J.L., Wilson, M.S., & Plener, P.L. (2019). Addressing self-injury on college campuses: Institutional recommendations. Journal of College Counselling.


Kruzan, K. & Whitlock, J. (2019). Prevention of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury. Non-suicidal Self-Injury: Advances in Research and Practice.edited by J. Washburn. Routledge Press. 


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


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 Communication23(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+ Society4(1), 2056305118759290.

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 also serve as a Sr. Advisor for the Jed Foundation and have informed both media practices and development of secondary school curriculum.

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.


Teaching: I teach a course for graduate students (PADM 5380 & HD 6580) that typically enrolls anywhere from 25-40 students and is offered in the spring. In summer of 2019, I taught a course on the intersection of adolescent development and wellbing and social media. I also annually advise 2-8 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 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:  www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu

Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab: https://www.yrocornell.com/

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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