My interest in gerontology began when I worked as an undergraduate student volunteer for the Peace Drum Project, an after-school program that uses arts and community service to promote positive intergenerational interactions between older adults and teens residing in five Boston neighborhoods. During my junior year, I also had an opportunity to attend the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative conference in 2014, where the University of Massachusetts Boston research team presented a comprehensive report on healthy aging indicators for every city and town of Boston. Seeing how academic work, policy, and community actions inform one another, I became aware of how evidence-based research could promote healthy aging for diverse individuals and directly inform clinical care. These experiences have shaped my initial research focus and led me to pursue graduate work in aging after receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Philosophy (double major) from Boston College.
In 2020, I obtained a Ph.D. degree in Gerontology with an emphasis on aging perceptions, family relationships, and health disparities from the University of Massachusetts Boston. I received rigorous training across a broad spectrum of research methods and datasets throughout my graduate studies, including multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling, and dyadic analysis techniques. My research program particularly investigated how the aging experiences of older individuals are shaped in the context of close social and family relationships. My dissertation was comprised of three independent studies that found different ways in which parent-child ties in very late life, parent/in-law ties in midlife, and spousal relationship in midlife influence individuals’ subjective aging views.
My graduate training in an interdisciplinary gerontology program has laid the groundwork for the postdoctoral position at the University of Texas at Austin, which coincided with the global COVID-19 pandemic. During my postdoctoral training, I have expanded my research focus to linking the social environment and the use of information and communications technology to older adults’ health and well-being. Utilizing datasets such as the Daily Experiences and Well-Being Study, the Health and Retirement Study, and the National Health and Aging Trends Study, I have collaborated with a multidisciplinary team of experts in the areas of technology and aging to examine the social impacts of technology access and use in later life (e.g., older adults' daily social media use). My current research program centers around the issue of the digital divide among the older adult population and its relevance to the growing health disparities. Ongoing projects include assessing a) how patterns of information and communications technology use among older adults and their family caregivers affect older adults’ risk of relocation to a residential facility over time, and b) how older adults with functional limitations overcame the existing barriers in accessing and using different online health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.