Kristen Lovely '18


Mental illness, research

ILR Experience

Research Assistant, Institute for Compensation Studies
Prison Reform and Education Project
Cornell Orientation Leader
Reflecting on her research assistantship with the Institute for Compensation Studies, Kristen says: “Going after the most ambitious opportunities has given me an amazing job, great relationships with professors, and a rare and priceless experience.”

Institute for Compensation Studies (ICS)

The first week of my freshman year, I attended an ICS reception and spoke to some professors to learn about their research. I reached out to the founding director, Professor Kevin Hallock, and he put me in touch with Hassan Enayati, my current research professor. When I interviewed for the project, I learned that it focused on mental illness in the workplace, which was appealing to me because I've learned a lot about mental illness through personal interest and reading about its current role in society. My passion for the topic became evident, and I got the position.


Every week, I meet with Hassan and he would send me studies to read and data sets to analyze. During the first semester, I put together a literature review—I read studies relating to mental disabilities in the workplace and the role of mental illness in prisons, and then summarized them, identifying how this data would be relevant to policy reform and increasing awareness. The goal was to define mental illness, determine how it impacts the labor market, and then see how we could reduce the stigma against it in the professional world.

Understanding the implications and consequences of mental illness, the lack of awareness, and the stigma against it made me rethink my career goals. It's opened my eyes to real-life problems people face and has made me a more considerate, conscientious person.

Throughout the second semester of my freshman year, I worked on a government-funded project studying Green Infrastructure and the qualities of jobs that qualify as “green”, a matter of increasing importance in today’s environment. This project was more data-heavy and gave me insight into statistics and data analysis in the research world.

I'm passionate about this research, and feel lucky to be a part of it. It’s the kind of work that I see myself continuing throughout my years at Cornell—turning literature reviews and data into a project that will hopefully open doors for development in industries that are rapidly becoming essential to the global economy.

Prison Reform and Education Project (PREP)

I became heavily involved in the Prison Reform and Education Project this year as I heard about their initiatives to reduce solitary confinement. This work excites me because it is at the front lines of improving the American landscape financially and academically. Reforming the American prison industrial complex will provide more employment opportunities for people with a criminal history, and the less money spent on prisons, the more money there will be for areas like financial aid and higher education.