UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) at Penn State recently announced the addition of two new associate directors: Cheryl Thompson and Erica Frankenberg.
Thompson is a professor in the department of public health sciences at the Penn State College of Medicine, the Interim Vice Chair for Education and the Endowed Chair in Cancer Population Sciences, and the Chief of the Division of Epidemiology. She is a genetic and molecular epidemiologist at the Penn State Cancer Institute who is interested in the intersection of behavioral, lifestyle and environmental factors with inherited variation to influence individual risk of cancer or cancer outcomes. Using human populations, she seeks to understand what causes cancer development and progression in hopes of identifying ways to prevent and treat cancer.
She joined Penn State in 2022 after serving as an assistant dean of educational initiatives at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. in genetic and molecular epidemiology and M.S. in computer science at Case Western Reserve University.
Thompson said regarding her appointment, “I am thrilled to join the executive committee of the SSRI and hope to help build stronger connections between SSRI and the College of Medicine”
Frankenberg is a professor of education and demography in the College of Education at the University Park campus, an SSRI faculty affiliate, a Population Research Institute (PRI) faculty research associate, and an affiliate faculty member of Penn State Law. She is also the director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights. Her research interests focus on racial desegregation and inequality in K-12 schools, and the connections between school segregation and other metropolitan policies.
Prior to Penn State, Frankenberg was the Research and Policy Director for the Initiative on School Integration at the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA. She received her Ed.D. and Ed.M. from Harvard University with a concentration in administration, planning, and social policy.
“One of the strengths of Penn State is its commitment to interdisciplinary research, and I’ve benefited from SSRI during my time as a faculty member here, which makes me excited to contribute to it through this new role,” Frankenberg said.
Thompson and Frankenberg will join SSRI Director Deborah Ehrenthal, MD, and six other associate directors.
“SSRI is fortunate to have such talented faculty join our leadership team,” Ehrenthal said.
SSRI enables and facilitates research that addresses critical human and social challenges at the local, national, and international levels. The institute supports over 60 co-funded faculty positioned within nine colleges and over 500 faculty across nine campuses via various funding mechanisms.