Elizabeth Fox '09, Ph.D. '16, receives Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Award

Elizabeth Fox '09, Ph.D. '16, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Public and Ecosystem Health, was awarded the Faculty Champion-Junior Faculty Award at the  Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Awards and Recognition Celebration on May 12. The award, given out by the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement and the Graduate and Professional Student Diversity Council, recognizes excellence represented within the graduate community and celebrates students for their accomplishments. The awards presented honor members of the community who have demonstrated leadership and commitment to advancing efforts around diversity, inclusion, outreach, and student engagement.

“This award is really meaningful to me,” says Fox, “I was honored and humbled to learn that I had been nominated for the award.”

Fox’s academic work focuses on the intersection between food systems and people’s lived experiences. In particular, she looks at nutrition decisions, tradeoffs, and value judgments related to what people eat and why. 

Dr. Caroline Yancey, associate professor of practice in the Department of Public and Ecosystem Health, nominated Fox for the recognition. “Dr. Fox is truly deserving of the award,” says Yancey. “Equity and inclusion are prominent across her research, teaching, and service at Cornell University.” 

Fox connects with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) on a personal level. “I am a white Latina; I am aware of the privileges that I have had in navigating academic spaces throughout my training and am also tied to cultural values and experiences that can make academia a challenging and intimidating place,” she says, explaining that inclusive, open mentors and supportive communities helped her along her path. “I try to create those experiences and supports for my own students.” 

 As a mentor, Fox helps identify and implement projects relevant to mentees’ interests and helps them build the skills and experiences they need to achieve their goals. In the classroom, she uses learner-centered and engaged pedagogy to challenge students and strengthen their learning experience. 

Yancey notes Fox’s dedication to being an ally to students. “She makes significant efforts to know students individually, is generous with her time and alert to students’ general well-being,” Yancey says. “She regularly meets with students to provide support, develops lasting mentor relationships with students, and advocates for students.”

Indeed, Fox’s interest in supporting DEI efforts at Cornell goes all the way back to her undergraduate and graduate student days. As an undergraduate, she was part of the Science Organization of Latinos. As a graduate student, she was one of the organizing members of the first “Student of Color Banquet” (as the current Graduate Diversity and Inclusion Award was called at the time). This year marks the tenth anniversary of the celebration.

Today, Fox serves as an advisor for the College and Career Readiness Initiative, a group of undergraduate and graduate students supporting first-generation and low-income high school students applying for college and/or alternative career paths, and worked with the M.P.H. Program’s Anti-Racism, Anti-Discrimination, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programmatic Committee to develop program-level initiatives to support students, faculty and staff in the MPH program. 

“Her role in this committee has helped to ensure a more thorough and equitable process for bringing diversity to faculty hiring pools,” Yancey says. “I am so pleased to celebrate Dr. Fox’s extensive efforts to improve equity at Cornell.”

Written by Lauren Cahoon Roberts