McCormack Graduate School Well Represented at National Gerontology Conference
December 13, 2012
McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies
Gerontology is the study of the social, psychological, and policy aspects of aging in populations and individuals. Since people are living longer than ever before and the demand for policy changes and services to support the aging population is increasing at a rapid rate, the field of gerontology is an important one.
One of the strengths of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies (MGS) is its Department of Gerontology and its sister research unit, the Gerontology Institute. MGS offers interdisciplinary, award winning graduate programs in this field that link theories, concepts and research methods based on social, behavioral, and policy sciences in the study of aging. UMass Boston is the second university, worldwide, to offer a PhD in Gerontology and, together with the Gerontology Institute, we are one of the leading centers for the academic study of social gerontology.
Last month at the 65th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America in San Diego more than a dozen faculty and doctoral students travelled to San Diego to present their research. The topics included older adults and depression, cognitive performance, social security expectations, LGBT aging cultural competency trainings, frontotemporal dementia and driving status, and health care utilization.
In addition to Department Chair Jeff Burr’s symposium on “Benefits and Costs of Later Life Volunteering” and Assistant Professor Pamela Nadash’s lecture on “Choice-Based Policies and Aging”, department students, either individually or more often in faculty/student research teams, presented 11 posters and 8 papers.
Associate Professor Elizabeth Dugan, an expert on older drivers and transportation, health and aging, and health politics and policy, contributed to nine team posters and two team papers presented with department doctoral students. Dugan, faculty advisor of the UMass Boston chapter of Sigma Phi Omega, the gerontology honor society, even helped plan a student research forum on campus on November 1 so doctoral students could present their papers and posters before the conference.
The following papers were presented by students at the conference:
• “Childhood Disadvantage and Cognitive Functioning: The Mediational Role of Psychosocial and Behavioral Lifestyle Factors” Jiyoung Lyu, PhD student
• “The Elder Economic Security Standard Index for the United States: Geographic and Demographic Aspects” Jan Mutchler, Ellen Bruce, Allison Gottlieb, Gerontology Institute; and Jiyoung Lyu and Mai See Yan, PhD students
• “Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Childhood SES and Cognitive Functioning in Later Life: Moderating Effects of Race/Ethnicity and Education” Jiyoung Lyu, PhD student
• “LGBT Aging Trainings Effectuate Positive Change in Knowledge and Attitudes of Elder Service Providers” Kristen Porter, PhD student
• “Religious Affiliation & Successful Aging among Transgender Older Adults” Kristen Porter, PhD student
Through research assistantship assignments, doctoral students partner with faculty mentors to conduct gerontology research. The following conference papers were presented by student/faculty research teams:
• “The Association between Racial Preference and Cognitive Performance in Mid- and Late Life” Mai See Yan and Patricia Huffman-Oh, PhD students, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “The Association of Socioeconomic Status and Loneliness among Older Adults”
Bruce Haimowitz, PhD student, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “Understanding Long-term Consequences of Sentinel Injury: Accounting for Death”
Yao-Chi Shih, PhD student, and Frank Porell
In addition to papers, faculty and students showcased their gerontology research in poster presentations, too:
• “Acculturation and Unhealthy Behaviors Among Older Asians: Findings from the CHIS Study” Shuangshuang Wang, Ping Xu, Patricia Huffman-Oh, PhD students, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “Depressive Symptoms, Alcohol Intake, and Driving: Findings from the HRS” Maria Devine, PhD student, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “Fatal Accidents Described by Age, Gender, and Physical Environments in California 2010” Chae Man Lee, PhD student, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “Frontotemporal Dementia and Driving: A Literature Review” Kristina Turk and Shuangshuang Wang, PhD students, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “Health Care Utilization and Language Preferences among Older Asians in California” Maryann Nguyen, Lien Quach, PhD students, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “Looking at the Health & Retirement Survey 2008: Factors Influencing Older Adults’ Social Security” Maryann Nguyen, PhD student
• “Mental Health Service Needs and Use among Depressed Older Adults: The Role of Acculturation” Mai See Yan, PhD student, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “Race, Gender and Disability: California Health Interview Survey in 2005” Lien Quach and Maryann Nguyen, PhD students, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “State Policies to Enhance Older Driver Safety: A Systematic Review” Elizabeth Dugan with PhD students Kelli Barton, Caitlyn Coyle, and Chae Man Lee
• “Uninsured Older Adults: Predictors of Elevated Rates in 50 States and DC” Patricia Huffman-Oh, Lien Quach, and Ning Xie, PhD students, and Elizabeth Dugan
• “Who Keeps Driving & How Common Are Psychiatric Disturbances? Findings from the ADAMS Study” Shuangshuang Wang, Chae Man Lee, Kristina Turk, PhD students, and Elizabeth Dugan
The Gerontology Department offers graduate programs in gerontology and management of aging services. Students can earn one of two graduate certificates, two master’s degrees, or a PhD in one of these fields. PhD graduates work as policy makers, researchers, professors, and policy analysts while their Management of Aging Services alumni manage elder care organizations, establish community-based services for the elderly, and work in corporate/business environments.
The Gerontology Institute conducts research on aging and provides education on aging policy issues with an emphasis on four areas: income security, health, productive aging and social and demographic research on aging. The institute also publishes the Journal of Aging and Social Policy.