McCormack Speaks

December 14, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
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Chae Man Lee is One of First Two Recipients of Gerontology Department’s Postdoc Fellowship

McCormack Speaks sat down with Dr. Chae Man Lee, a 2017 graduate of the Gerontology PhD program and one of the first of two of the department’s postdoctoral fellows.

 

SA: What was your research focus as a student?

CL: My research was focused on senior transportation, older driver safety, and healthy aging data reporting for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. My doctoral dissertation entitled, “Understanding the role of driver, vehicle, environment, and policy factors in crash injury severity among older adults in the United States” investigated how individual characteristics, vehicle elements, environmental elements, and driving licensing policy were associated with level of injury severity, from no injury to fatal injury resulting from car crashes.

SA: What is the main focus of your postdoc fellowship?

CL: As a post doc, I am still doing older driver safety and healthy aging data reporting. I am currently a co-investigator on a healthy aging data report for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, funded by Tufts Health Plan Foundation. I am working with Drs. Beth Dugan and Frank Porell to develop healthy aging data reports for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We also do research on transportation options available for older people in Massachusetts, safety of older pedestrians for MassDOT, and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging Issues in Massachusetts to improve transportation safety.

SA: Are there any new or expanded projects you are able to pursue now that you were not able to do as a student?

CL: Besides working on healthy aging data report, I also plan to expand research about older driver safety related with my dissertation. Regarding hot spot analysis of crash location among older drivers in my dissertation, I was doing it only for the Massachusetts area. But, in the future, I will plan to do more on hotspot analysis of crash locations among older drivers in all of the United States.

SA: How have the resources at the McCormack Graduate School and at UMass Boston assisted with your postdoc goals?

CL: In 2007, I made the first journey to enter the Gerontology PhD program. As a student, I met wonderful mentors, Dr. Beth Dugan and Dr. Frank Porell. They are always supportive to grow my research ability. We have been working together on healthy aging data reports from 2013. From getting my degree and currently working on the healthy aging project, the McCormack Graduate School and UMass Boston are always providing great environments for research. The faculties and staff from the Department of Gerontology are all good. As I am an international student, UMass Boston was great to support my visa status to continuously work in the US.

SA: How do you view your work as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

CL: I have heavily focused on quantitative research design, data collection, management, and analysis. As a part of the healthy aging research team, I have a good opportunity to look at how my quantitative research experiences are effective in the real life of local areas and service providers for older people. I think that our healthy aging products are in accordance with MGS’s mission.

SA: Anything else that you would like to note?

CL: I want to express special appreciation to Drs. Dugan and Dr. Porell. I have spent my entire life in MGS at UMass Boston with them from 2007 to current. Without them, I am not able to finish my degree and to do my postdoc fellowship. They are not only great mentors and professors in school life but also friends and family members in personal life. They always encourage, guide, and advise me to move forward and to produce better works in my research as well as provide the best warmth.

 

 

December 14, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
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Wendy Wang is One of First Two Gerontology Postdocs

 

McCormack Speaks sat down with Dr. Wendy Wang, a recent graduate of the Gerontology PhD program and one of the department’s first two postdoctoral fellows.

SA: What year and program did you graduate from? What was your research focus as a student?
WW: I graduated in May 2018 from the Gerontology PhD program. My research focused on marital relations, intergenerational relations, and health in later life. For my dissertation, I examined how providing grandchild care affect grandparents’ marital quality.

SA: What is the main focus of your postdoc fellowship?
WW: I focus on two main areas. The first area is healthy aging and senior transportation. I work with Dr. Elizabeth Dugan and her research team. Our team creates Healthy Aging Data Reports that report indicators of healthy aging for every community in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We also do research on transportation options available for older people in Massachusetts, safety of older pedestrians for MassDOT, and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging Issues in Massachusetts to improve transportation safety.

The second area is family relations in later life. I am currently working on transforming my dissertation into publishable manuscripts. Other studies I conduct examine older couples’ marital quality, personality similarity, health, and relationships between adult grandchildren and grandparents.

SA: Are there any new or expanded projects you are able to pursue now that you were not able to do as a student?

WW: Many of the research ideas stem from when I was a student, but as a student, I didn’t have that much time to explore all these topics. Coursework and dissertation were my main focus at that time. Now, I have more time and freedom to contribute more to the research team; I also do research that I always wanted to do but didn’t have time to.

SA: How have the resources at the McCormack Graduate School and at UMass Boston assisted with your postdoc goals?

WW: The faculty here are very supportive and easy to work with. I not only work with my mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Dugan, but also collaborate with other faculty members with similar interests on publications. Whenever I have problems, they are always there to help. In addition, the Gerontology Department provides funding for attending conferences, and sponsors activities like job-talk practices and conference presentation practices, which helped our professional development. Finally, I am very grateful that I have my own work space, computer, and printer, which allow a very comfortable environment to work efficiently.

SA: How do you view your work as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

WW: My work contributes to the understanding of population health and well-being among older adults and their family members. We care about disadvantaged groups and racial minorities, and emphasize equal opportunities. Our research ideas stem from real-life problems that the society is facing or will face. By conducting the research projects, our team tries to provide suggestions to local government and service providers to reduce social isolation, improve health and well-being, and preserve older adults’ freedom and dignity. I believe that the work I’m doing aligns with MGS’s mission to understand and remedy important social, political, economic, and environmental issues, and to promote social justice and equity.

SA: What do you hope to do after you complete your postdoc fellowship?

WW: I hope I will become a more competitive candidate to find a faculty position in a university, and continue my research.

SA: Anything else that you would like to note?

WW: I would like to thank my mentor Dr. Elizabeth Dugan and the McCormack Graduate School for providing me this postdoc opportunity. By doing this postdoc, I am able to work with the professors I am familiar with and develop more research experiences. This also gives me a transitional time to be more prepared for my future work.

November 21, 2017
by McCormack Speaks
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A Closer Look at Bulgaria’s Aging Population Challenge

This post originally appeared on the Gerontology Institute blog

by Natalie Pitheckoff, McCormack student

picture of Natalie PitheckoffMost Americans know very little about Bulgaria. Even fewer are aware of its aging population, which is creating great challenges (and opportunities) across the country. People often hear or read about aging in countries such as China and India due to their large projected increases in older adults. It seems like Bulgaria gets lost among the giants, even though the country’s current rate of population aging ranks fourth worldwide behind only Japan, Italy, and Germany (Karpinska & Dykstra, 2014; Velkovska, 2010).

As a Bulgarian citizen, I felt it was due time to shed some light on the country’s aging and demographic landscape. I decided to write a manuscript for The Gerontologist, published in the October edition, which describes in detail the factors that have led Bulgaria to its current circumstance and examines the serious implications for the years ahead. Continue reading.

Natalie Pitheckoff is a PhD candidate in the Department of Gerontology at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School.

April 3, 2017
by McCormack Speaks
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Rhode Island: The Test Case That Never Was for Medicaid Restructuring

by Edward Alan Miller, Professor of Gerontology and Public Policy

Although ultimately withdrawn before a vote, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) proposed by House Republicans would have radically restructured Medicaid by converting the federal government’s open-ended commitment to match state government spending with a per-capita cap on the amount of money a state could receive for each enrollee. An alternative to per-capita caps, Medicaid block grants, is also favored by some Republicans but was not included in this particular proposal. Block grants would replace the federal government’s open-ended financial commitment with a fixed up-front annual allotment for the entire covered population.

Advocates of per-capita caps and block grants invariably cite Rhode Island’s Global Medicaid Waiver as the poster child for block-granting Medicaid nationally. This continued with the most recent debate to restructure Medicaid (see, for example, National Review, The Hill). In the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, Rhode Island’s Republican administration negotiated the state’s global waiver which, beginning in 2009, included a $12.1 billion, five-year cap on total state and federal spending. Block grant proponents point out that Rhode Island was the first state to operate its entire Medicaid program under a global spending cap. In return, proponents claim that Rhode Island received unprecedented flexibility from burdensome federal rules that stymie innovation. They also claim Rhode Island achieved tens of millions of dollars in savings while spending several billion dollars less than the agreed upon cap.

The reality is quite different. Read more.

Edward Alan Miller specializes in aging and long-term care, telemedicine and e-health, intergovernmental relations, program implementation and evaluation, and Medicaid. He also serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Aging & Social Policy. He wrote about Rhode Island’s Global Waiver in Block Granting Medicaid: A Model for 21st Century Health Reform? (2013 hardcover, 2015 paperback, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group).

 

January 12, 2017
by justinmaher
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Goodbye, Hello: Reflections on What’s Next for Public Service

by Justin Maher
McCormack Graduate School Dean’s Office

President Obama Delivers Address, 2016Tuesday night, President Obama took the stage to deliver his farewell address. In it, he painted an optimistic portrait of a nation filled with promise and people of all political stripes ready to continue to fight for an inclusive democracy. He also acknowledged that “our political dialogue has become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service.” That frightening proposition, echoed by polls that show the steady and alarming decline of trust in government, deserves serious reflection.

As the assistant dean for academic programs at McCormack, I spend a good chunk of time talking to prospective students investigating graduate school. There are a myriad of reasons why they choose to pursue graduate study. Some are coming from a bachelor’s program and want to continue to specialize in a field they are passionate or curious about. Others are seasoned professionals ready for a career change or new skills. But, in addition to the personal and professional benefits, they are united by a commitment to improving their local and global communities.  Continue Reading →

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