Meet the Faculty: Neil Lewis Jr.


Neil Lewis Jr., assistant professor, communication

Academic Focus: Motivation and goal pursuit, behavioral science and policy, social disparities, intervention science.

Previous Positions: Interim Director of Preparation Initiative Program, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Academic Background: B.A. economics and psychology, Cornell, 2013; M.S., 2015, and Ph.D., 2017, social psychology, University of Michigan

Last book read: “Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy,” by Robert H. Frank.

When not working: Running, hiking, cooking, Netflix, wine tours of the Finger Lakes with friends.

Gets me out of bed: Working on studies to understand (and hopefully address) social disparities, particularly disparities in education, health, and sustainability outcomes.

Current research projects:

  • We recently got a grant to study racial disparities in environmental activism (given disparities in climate change impacts), so my colleagues and I will be conducting field studies of environmental attitudes and behaviors in racial-ethnic minority communities across the U.S.
  • I’ve spent the past few years studying how people of different backgrounds interact on science and engineering teams, and the implications of those interactions for outcomes like long-term retention in STEM fields. I’m starting new collaborations here (including with the college of engineering) to continue that line of research.
  • Using social norms and social network techniques to reduce racial-disparities in attention to health information.

Courses I’m most looking forward to teaching: research methods at the graduate level, and persuasion and social influence at the undergraduate level.

What most excites me about Cornell CALS: The commitment to supporting interdisciplinary research that not only advances scientific theory, but is also applicable to addressing real-world problems.

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