NYU College of Nursing names Bei Wu vice dean for research
The Rory Meyers College of Nursing at New York University has named Bei Wu, MS ‘97, PhD ’00, its vice dean for research. Wu has served as inaugural co-director of the Aging Incubator, dean’s professor in global health, director of global health and aging research, and director of research at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at NYU.

An internationally known leader in gerontology, Wu has served as a principal investigator on numerous projects supported by federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She leads an ongoing NIH-funded clinical trial to improve oral health for persons with cognitive impairment. She co-leads a newly funded Rutgers-NYU Center for Asian Health Promotion and Equity, where she also leads a five-year intervention study that focuses on supporting Chinese and Korean dementia caregivers who are at increased risk for high blood pressure and diabetes due to the physical and emotional demands of caregiving.

“I am honored to have been selected as the incoming vice dean for research at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing,” Wu says. “My time at UMass Boston has positioned me well for conducting interdisciplinary research throughout my career, and I aim to continue successful interdisciplinary collaborations in this new position.”


GSA names Danielle Waldron chair of Emerging Scholars & Professionals Organization
The Gerontological Society of America named Danielle Waldron, PhD ‘20, chair of its Emerging Scholars & Professionals Organization (ESPO). She served the last two years as ESPO’s vice chair elect and vice chair.

Waldron joined the Stonehill College faculty in August 2020 after earning her gerontology doctorate at UMass Boston and completing a fellowship in Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a program that was federally funded through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration. As part of the LEND fellowship, Waldron earned a certificate in Disability and Health Policy from Suffolk University (read more about her fellowship). She also teaches in the UMass Boston gerontology doctoral program as a part-time lecturer and serves on the board of directors for the House of Possibilities, an organization serving individuals with disabilities in the Greater Boston Area.

Waldron’s research interests are at the intersection of aging and intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) with special focus on autism. Currently she is exploring potential disparities in health and health service utilization across race in adults with I/DD at varied stages of implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

“During these continued challenging times, I strive to lead ESPO with empathy, authenticity, and hope, alongside an amazing team of fellow officers, junior leaders, task force leaders and co-leaders, and GSA support staff,” Waldron says. “In the coming year, ESPO will offer existing and new opportunities for members to connect with one another, nurture their own professional development and well-being, and contribute to the field of aging in meaningful, innovative ways. I am committed to helping emerging scholars and professionals in gerontology find their purpose and pursue it, fiercely.”


Krystal Rae Kittle wins data science and health equity paper competition
headshot of krystal kittleKrystal Rae Kittle, PhD ’21, is one of three emerging researchers to win the 2021 CONNECT Data Science and SGM Health Equity Paper Competition from the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University.

Kittle is a postdoctoral scholar in the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her paper is titled, “Healthcare of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Middle-Aged and Older Adults: The Role of Minority Stress, Sociodemographic Characteristics and Social Resources.”

“It was an honor to receive the award from The Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, as it is the first university-wide institute in the country focused exclusively on research to improve the health of the sexual and gender minority community,” Kittle says. “I was also proud to be weighed the same as the other two awardees, whose research I find very impressive. The award was actually granted for my dissertation, and because my committee—Kathrin Boerner, Kyungmin Kim, and Ilan Meyer—were so crucial to the production of the paper, the award actually belongs to them just as much as me.” (Another claim to fame for Kittle was that her doctoral dissertation was our 100th to be defended; read more about that achievement here).

Kittle’s current research includes serving as principal investigator on an NIA-funded pilot grant from the Engaging Communities of Hispanics/Latinos for Aging Research (ECHAR) Network that aims to better understand socio-environmental and risk and protective factors related to the health of Hispanic/Latino LGBTQIA+  Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias caregivers. She also serves as co-principal investigator on a three-year grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation focusing on engaging LGBTQIA+ people living with Parkinson’s disease, their caregivers, and care providers.


Kristen Porter tests LGBT film screening as training tool for agencies and providers
kristen porter headshotKristen Porter, PhD ’15, was awarded a grant from the Endowment for Health to test an intervention to increase knowledge around LGBTQ aging issues. Her “Gen Silent Survey Project: New Hampshire” evaluated how viewing Gen Silent, a 2010 documentary film about the unique challenges of LGBT older adults, might impact knowledge, attitudes, and intentions of aging service system providers.

Key findings, based on her pre- and post-survey evaluation tool, found that nine of 10 measures of knowledge, attitudes, and anticipated behavior improved after watching the film; 76 to 79 percent of participants’ post-test scores improved after watching the film, and the percentage of participants who stated they had no interest in LGBT aging prior to the film screen dropped by 50 percent after viewing Gen SilentRead the project report

“Finding ways for agencies and health care providers to access evidence-based and cost-efficient training tools is essential to ensure equitable care,” Porter says. “Especially during pandemic times, we are pleased to report this intervention was effective when screened virtually.”

Porter is founder of Zen Executive LLC and a visiting fellow in the McCormack Graduate School for Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston. Her team on the survey project included Alison Rataj, a UMass Boston gerontology doctoral student, as research assistant and Elizabeth Dugan, associate professor of gerontology at UMass Boston, as a consultant. The project was approved by the UMass Boston Institutional Review Board. Interested in holding a Gen Silent screening? Write to Zen Executive LLC.


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