The PhD in Gerontology

resources for doctoral students

UMass Boston Gerontology Celebrates 100+ PhDs!

This spring, UMass Boston Gerontology will award our 99th, 100th and 101st PhDs. On April 21, 2021, we hosted a special online event to celebrate this milestone.  Speakers included the program founder, distinguished alumni, University leadership and faculty. It was a chance to catch up with old friends and learn about their life after the doctoral program. Use the links below to:

See more video statements from alumni here

From the Gerontology Chair and Doctoral Program Director

We’re very pleased to announce the UMass Boston Gerontology PhD program’s 100th dissertation defense! Established in 1989, our globally renowned PhD program is one of the oldest in the world, and has produced more PhDs in Gerontology than any other institution. Doctoral education takes a commitment to the field and a willingness to sacrifice; the alums of our program exemplify dedication, perseverance, and passion for research that makes a difference in society. As we mark this milestone, we celebrate the hard work of our graduates, and the impact they make in the world. Please register here to join us for this event.

In 1995, Amy Stern was the first Gerontology student to defend a dissertation. Krystal Kittle successfully defended number 100 on March 19, 2021. Between the first dissertation defense and the 100th, our students have produced many innovative, cutting-edge research projects and publications in scholarly journals. They add significantly to the knowledge base on aging, while informing practices and policies that impact older adults, their families and communities.

Our alums have been major contributors to the strong international reputation of UMass Boston Gerontology. They live all over the United States and across the globe, including in Canada, China, Israel, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and Thailand. They work in universities as educators, researchers and administrators; in health care settings; for local, state, and federal government agencies; as well as for non-profit and for-profit organizations that address aging issues. And of course, our alums serve as inspiration and models for current Gerontology students.

One highlight of faculty life is our ability to maintain relationships with graduates as they progress in their careers. We see them at conferences and other professional settings; welcome them as guest speakers in the Gerontology Seminar Series and Careers in Aging events; collaborate on research, policymaking, and community engagement projects; and exchange advice on professional and academic matters. A few have even served as instructors in our Management of Aging Services Master’s program, where their practical and applied policy knowledge as aging professionals is highly valued. It is particularly gratifying to see the close personal and professional bonds that develop among our students continue throughout their lives and careers.

The mission of the Gerontology PhD program is to provide advanced training and research in gerontology within an interdisciplinary framework, bridging theories, concepts and research methods drawn primarily, but not exclusively, from the social and behavioral sciences. As the ranks of our alumni swell, the dedicated faculty and staff of UMass Boston Gerontology stand ready to offer strong support for our current students, and those that will join us in the future. Here’s to all our grads, and to the next hundred!

Jeffrey Burr, PhD
Professor and Chair, UMass Boston Department of Gerontology
Edward Alan Miller, PhD
Professor and Doctoral Program Director, UMass Boston Department of Gerontology

Please contact for more information about the event.

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Joseph B. Berger, PhD

Provost, University of Massachusetts Boston.


In nearly 20 years of strategic academic leadership experience, Provost Berger has worked to develop innovative academic programs, enhance faculty development, improve opportunities for inclusive student success, build improved administrative infrastructure, promote sponsored research, cultivate mission-driven fundraising, engage community partners, promote international collaboration, and champion social justice. Berger joined UMass Boston in 2017, as dean of the College of Education and Human Development, where also holds an appointment as professor of education. He previously served as senior associate dean in the College of Education and director of the Center for International Education at UMass Amherst. Before his more than two decades of experience in the UMass system, he was a member of the faculty at the University of New Orleans. He has provided leadership for international projects, and served as the chair of the Global Higher Education and Research (GHEAR) Initiative for the Worldwide Universities Network. Berger earned a PhD in Education and Human Development, Higher Education Administration, from Vanderbilt University.


David Cash, PhD

Dean, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies


Dean Cash earned a PhD in public policy from Harvard University, concentrating in environment and natural resources. He has sought to develop, share, and apply knowledge to support informed policymaking and legislative decisions. In senior positions at the Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Public Utilities, and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, he helped develop and implement nation-leading science-based regulatory programs. Cash participated in a State Department mission to India on clean energy and climate, and via USAID collaborations with regulators and policymakers in Tanzania and Ghana. Cash is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the U.S. EPA, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Harvard University, the Institute for the Study of World Politics, Howard Hughes Foundation, Earthwatch, and the Environmental Leadership Program.


Rita Kiki Edozie, PhD

Associate Dean, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies


Since receiving her PhD in politics from the New School for Social Research, Professor Edozie has been a teacher-scholar and higher-education administrator for about twenty years. She served as Professor of international relations and African affairs at the James Madison College of Public Affairs at Michigan State University (MSU), director of African American and African Studies at MSU, and as deputy director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Edozie has authored several books, and earned MSU’s Lilly Teaching Excellence Fellowship (2008-2009), the Academic Leadership Fellowship (2011-12), Detroit’s “Outstanding and Dedicated Service to the Community” award (2015), and she holds an honorary appointment as research associate at the University of South Africa, Pretoria.


Scott A. Bass, PhD

Dr. Scott Bass

Founder and inaugural Director of the Gerontology Institute and Ph.D. Program in Gerontology at UMass Boston


Dr. Bass is a pioneer in gerontology, and is widely recognized today as an innovator in higher education.  He is now Professor of Public Administration and Policy in the School of Public Affairs and Provost Emeritus at American University, where he directs the Center for University Excellence. A Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, Dr. Bass was awarded the Donald P. Kent Award (2011) for exemplifying the “highest standards for professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service, and interpreting gerontology to the larger society,” and the Clark Tibbitts Award (1997), among other awards. While at UMass Boston, Bass was inaugural co-editor of the Journal of Aging and Social Policy.


Bei Wu, PhD ‘00

Director, Global Health and Aging Research, Rory Meyers College of Nursing at New York University, & Inaugural Co-Director, NYU Aging Incubator


Bei Wu is an internationally known leader in gerontology, distinguished by interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in various disciplines, including nursing and dentistry, in the United States and abroad. Her research covers a wide range of topics related to aging and global health, including oral health, long-term care, dementia, and caregiving. She has published over 400 peer-reviewed papers, books, and conference abstracts and has delivered presentations at hundreds of conferences. She has mentored hundreds of faculty members, visiting scholars, and students. Wu is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, and the New York Academy of Medicine. She is an Honorary Member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Wu is the former president of the Geriatric Oral Research Group of the International Association for Dental Research. She has served on a number of NIH review panels and is a frequent reviewer for multiple international funding agencies. She was honored as the 2017 IADR Distinguished Scientist in Geriatric Oral Research.


Antonia Coppin-Renz, PhD ’03

Director, TA Lead Digital Therapeutics & Deputy EU QPPV at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialisation Europe


Antonia Coppin-Renz is a leader in Digital Therapeutics where she advocates for older adults as a valuable and savvy user group of digital technology. She earned her Medical Degree in Venezuela, a Master’s degree in Gerontology, Health Care Organization and Planning at the Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond VA, and a PhD in gerontology at UMASS Boston. During her postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Institute on Aging, she conducted research on mobility disability, physical function, and cognition. Antonia has recently published in Drug Safety and presented her work at the World Drug Congress Europe. Antonia currently serves as a corporate and personal mentor to emerging talent in healthcare. In her hometown, Antonia has an active role as an elected member of the local city council, where she is engaged in activities related to health and social services for older adults.



James “Jay” Bulot, PhD ’04

Vice President at WellSky


Dr. Bulot is considered a national expert on aging and disability services, long-term services and supports (LTSS) and health policy. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in gerontology at UMass Boston. He has taught at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, the state’s only gerontology master’s program, which was recognized as the first long-term care accredited graduate program in the United States. He was also employed for five years as director of the Institute of Gerontology and two years as the department head of gerontology, sociology and political science. Bulot served as director of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, and as director of the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services, where he administered a statewide system of services for seniors, their families, and caregivers.


Elizabeth Chen, PhD ‘16

Secretary, Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs


Secretary Chen leads an agency whose mission is to promote the independence, empowerment, and well-being of older people, individuals with disabilities, and their families. Dr. Chen previously served as an Assistant Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) where she oversaw bureaus and programs that promote safety and quality health care for all residents of the Commonwealth. Dr. Chen served as President and Trustee of the New England College of Optometry and New England Eye Institute, and as President and CEO of biotech companies, Circe Biomedical and Marathon Biopharmaceuticals. Her academic work focuses on advance care planning when facing late-stage chronic illness. Dr. Chen has a BA from Yale University; an MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; and, an MPH from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Danielle Waldron, PhD ‘20

Assistant Professor in Healthcare Administration, Stonehill College


Waldron’s research interests include the health, healthcare, and social experiences of adults and older adults on the Autism Spectrum (AS). She is committed to bridging the gap between research and policy to improve care for older adults and individuals with disabilities. Waldron regularly presents at regional and national conferences and has published work related to healthcare reform, AS, and student empowerment. Waldron joined the Stonehill faculty after completing a fellowship in Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which was federally funded through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration.


Jeffrey Burr, PhD

UMass Boston Gerontology Department Chair


Professor Burr published widely in the aging field in journals such as Demography, Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, Research on Aging, Journal of Aging and Health, Social Forces, and Population Research and Policy Review. Burr’s research has been funded by the National Institute on Aging, National Science Foundation, AARP Andrus Foundation, and the Administration on Aging. His current stream of research seeks to uncover the reasons why social relationships are related to various aspects of health, including hypertension, oral health, disability, and depression. Burr also has on-going research activity in living arrangements in later life, especially among immigrants as well as in productive aging in later life. Professor Burr is the editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed journal, Research on Aging. He is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (Behavioral and Social Sciences Section) and a member of Sigma Phi Omega, the national gerontological honor society.


Edward Alan Miller, PhD

Doctoral Program Director, UMass Boston Gerontology


Dr. Miller’s research focuses on understanding the determinants and effects of public policies affecting vulnerable populations, focusing especially on older adults in need of long-term services and supports. He has published numerous books, and articles in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Miller is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Aging & Social Policy and Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science and Health Services Organization & Policy from the University of Michigan, after which he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health at Yale University. Dr. Miller also holds an A.B. and M.P.A. from Cornell University, and spent time in New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar and Congressional Research Service as a social policy analyst. He was formerly an Assistant Professor at Brown University, where he is now an Adjunct Professor of Health Service, Policy, & Practice.

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