Caitlin Coyle, PhD ’14, has been appointed director of the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging (CSDRA) at UMass Boston’s Gerontology Institute. She succeeds Jan Mutchler, PhD, the center’s founding director. Mutchler was named director of the Gerontology Institute in September 2021.

CSDRA conducts applied research to assist communities as their populations grow older. The center’s signature projects include producing the Elder Index, a county by county measure of the income older adults need to meet basic living costs; community assessments to assist Massachusetts municipalities with aging services; and demographic reports on issues ranging from housing and other economic needs to needs assessments for aging services agencies.

Coyle has served as a CSDRA research fellow since 2016. In 2012, as a UMass Boston gerontology doctoral student, she assisted Mutchler in her launch of the center. After earning her doctorate in 2014, Coyle served a postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale University School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management before returning to UMass Boston. She earned two concurrent undergraduate degrees from Ohio State University in psychology and public affairs journalism.

“Caitlin has been essential to the success of the CSDRA since its inception,” says Mutchler. “The center was founded to serve aging stakeholders and Massachusetts communities as well as to provide opportunities for mission-oriented students like Caitlin, who joined UMass Boston gerontology a decade ago. Under her leadership, CSDRA will continue to thrive:  serving the Commonwealth while training and mentoring students.”

“Aging is my passion and love,” Coyle says. “I value the multidisciplinary nature of gerontology, and that my work with the center combines traditional social science with applied primary data collection.”

The center’s contracts for services with Massachusetts communities have grown dramatically in the last few years, from a handful of projects each year to nearly a dozen this past year. CSDRA’s work in aging equity issues is also growing, rooted in strong partnerships with the City of Boston, Massachusetts AARP, and UMass Boston’s CANALA (Collaboration of Asian American, Native American, Latino, and African American) Institute.

Coyle especially values the collaborative research experiences that CSDRA cultivates for students. Undergraduate research is near and dear to Coyle’s heart because she can trace a straight line from her honors thesis on aging, while an undergraduate at Ohio State, to her current work.

“Part of the center’s origin was to fund students during their doctoral experience,” she says. “Today we have a well-oiled machine with students getting rich research experiences they can’t get in their classes, both at the doctoral and undergraduate levels.”

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