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Students

Johnson_KarenKaren Johnson
Track: Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
B.A.: Mathematics,Cedarville College
M.S.: Math Science/Stats, Virginia Commonwealth University

Karen’s background includes extensive data analytics experience in the fields of epidemiology and health services research. Currently she serves as a Senior Director in the Quality Measurement department of the National Quality Forum. Karen’s major areas of interest include health care quality improvement and issues related to the end of life. Her dissertation research explores how hospice providers in different roles perceive healthcare quality and quality improvement efforts.

Oconnor-ShannonShannon O'Connor
Track: Policy
B.A.: Psychology, North Carolina State University
M.A.: Sociology, North Carolina Central University

In 2008, Shannon relocated to Baltimore to pursue a PhD in gerontology and an MS in epidemiology. During her graduate education, Shannon has worked primarily in biomedical research, first as a graduate research assistant in the fields of epidemiology and rheumatology, and then as a research coordinator for multiple dementia studies, including clinical drug trials. She is preparing to defend her dissertation in 2016, which utilizes data from the OsteoArthritis Initiative (OAI) study to identify racial differences in surgical treatment of knee osteoarthritis, under the mentorship of Dr. Marc Hochberg and Dr. Nancy Miller. Shannon is currently working in health services research, evaluating models to improve quality of healthcare while reducing costs. She continues to pursue research interests in quantifying and ameliorating racial differences in health care utilization, particularly among vulnerable populations.

Humber_KatherineKatherine Humber
Track:Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
BA: English and Psychobiology, Wellesley College
Computer Studies, UMUC
MA: Clinical/Community Psych, University of Maryland College Park

Kathy has over 20 years experience in the field of mental health, both as a clinician and a researcher. She served as a neuropsychological coordinator at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center overseeing the cognitive testing for clinical trials and neuropsychological protocols with schizophrenic patients. In the past decade, she has served as the program chair for social sciences and gerontology at the University of Maryland University College. She is interested in the impact of ageism on well-being and on the role that technology plays in improving outcomes for older persons. Her dissertation focuses on the experience of social media use in those 65 and older

Johnson-IonaIona Johnson
Track: Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
BA: Psychology & Speech Pathology/Audiology, George Washington University
MS: Speech Language Pathology, Loyola College in MD

Iona is a clinical associate professor in speech language pathology at Towson University (TU). She has worked for many years as a medical speech language pathologist, and became faculty member in 2000.  She entered the PhD Gerontology program to develop her skills as a researcher, and pursue her interests in stroke rehabilitation and recovery. Her dissertation title is Experience of Stroke Recovery for Women 60 or Older. As a qualitative researcher, her goal is to discover more about the reasons for disparity in recovery for women stroke survivors.

Bennett-ColleenColleen Bennett
Track: Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
BA: Sociology and International Relations, State University of New York College at Geneseo
MS: Gerontology, Marywood University

Colleen’s interest in aging began at the SUNY College at Geneseo, where she worked with the IOM Political Rights and Enfranchisement System Strengthening Project researching political displacement and older voters’ issues. As a Graduate Assistant at Marywood University, she focused on recreational and alternative therapies and activity departments in long-term care settings; she also worked closely with Marywood’s Gerontology Advisory Board. Her research interests have since expanded to include family LGBT issues and needs, as well as sexuality and aging in assisted living and long-term care settings. Colleen previously worked as a Graduate Assistant with The Erickson School at UMBC with professors and students in the Management of Aging Services undergraduate program, and in the Center for Aging Studies at UMBC with her mentor Dr. Rubinstein

Dai_Ming_LingMingliang Dai
Track: Policy
BA: International Economics, Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade
MS: Gerontology, University of Central Missouri

Ming is interested in how social and physical environments influence health related behaviors, utilization of health care services and well-being of older adults, and how public policies and programs impact these outcomes. Currently, Ming is working on his dissertation which will examine the effect of family structure and household composition on functional trajectories of community-dwelling elders. As a graduate research assistant, Ming has been working with Dr. Bruce Stuart on research projects investigating the associations between medication taking behavior and total Medicare spending using the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey and Medicare claims data. He has taken a position in the American Board of Family Medicine as a health service researcher.

Howard-Doering-JenniferJennifer Howard-Doering
Track: Policy
BA: Politics, University of California
MPP: University of Erfurt, Germany
MSW: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Jennifer is a researcher with over ten years of experience as an advocate and policy analyst focusing on supports and services for older adults and adults with disabilities. Her research interests are in Medicare and Medicaid duel-eligibility policy, national LTSS rebalancing efforts, LTSS initiatives for special populations, and aging with a disability. Her dissertation is examining aging with a disability from the individual’s perspective.

Loinaz_AlidaAlida Loinaz
Track: Epidemiology
BS: Occupational Therapy, San Jose State Univesity

As a registered occupational therapist and certified American Sign Language interpreter, Alida Loinaz has a background in neurological/orthopedic rehabilitation, human development, adaptation/accommodation, resilience, patient-centered care, cross-cultural mediation, and mind-body interaction. A dementia and dementia care trainer and consultant, Alida appreciates all opportunities to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and their care partners. As such, she advocates for the contribution of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology in comprehensive dementia care. Her dissertation, in progress, addresses a crucial workforce readiness issue: Dementia Knowledge, Skills Confidence, and Attitudes Among Rehabilitation Therapists.

Brazda_MichaelMichael Brazda
Track:Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
BS: Computer Studies, University of Maryland University College
BA: Anthropology, University of Maryland Baltimore County
MA: Applied Sociology, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Michael has always been interested in social and cultural issues. His interest in aging related issues developed while working on his first graduate degree at UMBC. While all social and cultural aspects of aging are of interest, Michael is hoping to focus more on the areas of the aging self; the interplay of aging, technology, and the information age with aging adults; and aging related issues pertaining to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered community. His dissertation is concerned with the study of the self, situated in the intersection of macro and micro sociological views, providing both a focal point and a driving force for the generation of individual identity and ultimately society. 

Frazier_LauraLaura Frazier
Track: Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
M.S: Applied Gerontology, Towson University
B.A: Sociology, University of Maryland

Laura received her B.A in Sociology from the University of Maryland in 2008 and her M.S in Applied Gerontology from Towson University in 2012.  Outside of the academic world Laura enjoys spending time with her cats Bailey and Toffee, traveling, and volunteering as an Emergency Medical Technician at the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department. Laura’s research interests include improving the quality of emergency medical care that older adults receive in pre-hospital, ambulance based settings. Laura is currently working on her dissertation entitled “Age Biases in Pre-Hospital EMS Providers”.

Xu_JingJing Xu
Track: Policy
M.A.: Anthropology, East Carolina University
B.S.: Biotechnology, Fudan University

Jing’s interests in aging developed when she was participating in a research project about long-term care among low-income population in Shanghai, China. She received her M.A. in Anthropology from East Carolina University, and focused her graduate project on ethical dilemmas in palliative care delivery. During her first two years in the program, Jing worked with Dr. Bruce Stuart on medication utilization, cost and health outcomes among Medicare Part D enrollees by analyzing CCW and MCBS data. She was a graduate research assistant at The Hilltop Institute, and conducted evaluation on Maryland Medicaid programs. Currently, she is working on her dissertation, “The Patient Centered Medical Home, Health Care Utilization, and Expenditures for Older Adults with  Cancer: A Quantitative Analysis.” Jing’s career goal is to be a research analyst on aging policy.

Couser_ElizabethElizabeth Couser
Track: Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
B.A.: Psychology and Music, Saint Michael’s College
MSW: Concentration in Clinical Geriatrics (Completed the John Hartford Internships in Aging Program), SUNY Albany

Elizabeth’s research is focused in neuro-ophthalmology and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). She is interested in many areas of this field, from optic biomarkers for AD to the design of living environments to fit changing visual perceptions as AD progresses. Her love for gerontology began as a child, when she would play the piano for nursing home residents. This hobby developed into volunteer and employment positions in memory care facilities, internships in college, a concentration in a Master’s of Social Work program, and finally, to a Gerontology Doctoral program. She began her Gerontology Doctoral studies at the University of Kentucky and transferred to the University of Maryland Baltimore in 2012. Her recent lab experience includes the completion of immunohistochemistries with human brain tissue samples for a study funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Elizabeth’s dissertation hopes to provide a new etiology for Sundowning Syndrome in AD and to further the knowledge of ocular pathology in AD.‌‌

Shae Allen
Track: Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Sciences
BA: Psychology, National University
MSW: University of Maryland School of Social Work

Following service in the United States Navy, Shae developed her interest in geriatrics during her social work internship with the VA Maryland Health Care System (VAMHCS) at the Baltimore VA Medical Center.  Since 2013, she has worked as a geriatric primary care social worker, and now serves as the Ambulatory and Emergency Care Clinical Center Caregiver Support Program Coordinator at the Baltimore VA Medical Center. Shae is a field instructor for MSW candidates who focus in aging and health, as well as MSW SSW Healthcare Education and Leadership Scholars (HEALS) faculty member, and serves on the VAMHCS Student Intern Committee.  Ms. Allen routinely guest lectures at the UMB SSW on Veterans culture and health, working with aging Veterans in medical settings, and interdisciplinary healthcare teams.  Her current research interests are geriatric managed care settings, increasing older adult patient satisfaction in outpatient care,  early interventions for chronic disease management in primary care, and implementing patient-centered care in health care settings.  Shae plans to continue working for the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System, and integrate her managed care experience into research enhancing older adult patient care settings.

 Bunting_MorganMorgan Bunting
Track: Social, Cultural and Behavioral Sciences
B.S.: Gerontology/Long-term Care Administration, Bowling Green State University

Morgan’s primary research interests include the well-being of formal caregivers, quality of long-term care, and the socio-behavioral implications of ageism. She highly values translational research, and strives to bridge scientific progress and public awareness and skills in order to improve quality of life for older adults and their caregivers. Morgan is also an advocate for interdisciplinary research and appreciates the many opportunities the Program has to work with colleagues and peers in multiple disciplines. Applying the skills and experiences gained from the Program, Morgan aspires to take a proactive role in promoting the importance of Gerontology as a science and continuing to build upon the academic progress of the field.

Torain_JamilaJamila Torain
Track: Policy
BS: Community Health, University of Maryland, College Park
MPH: University of Maryland School of Medicine

During Jamila’s undergraduate career in the school of Public Health at the University of Maryland College Park, her interests in health disparities developed. She received her BS in community health in 2010 and her MPH in community and population health from the University of Maryland Baltimore in 2014. Jamila focused her graduate career on health disparities that specifically effect the older adult population in Baltimore City.  Currently, her interests are in trauma in older adults, health disparities and federal and state policies that effect the health care of older adults. She is currently a T-32 Epidemiology of Aging trainee

Holmes_SarahSarah Holmes
Track: Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
BA: Psychology, Miami University
MSW: The Ohio State University

Sarah is a Kentucky native and first became interested in gerontology while volunteering at an adult day center in Lexington, Kentucky. Prior to attending the doctorate program in gerontology at UMB/UMBC, Sarah worked as a research coordinator in the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. In addition to coordinating recruitment activities on multiple NIH-sponsored projects, she developed and implemented community outreach programs designed to provide clinical services, social support, and educational training related to Alzheimer's disease in rural-designated areas across the state of Kentucky using interactive telemedicine and videoconferencing platforms. Sarah's primary research interests physical and social environments in long-term care settings and improving the quality of life for persons with dementia. Sarah is currently working as a graduate research include examining the assistant with Dr. Elizabeth Galik and Dr. Barbara Resnick on multiple studies that involve testing Function Focused Care interventions in nursing homes and assisted living settings.

Mutchie_HeatherHeather Mutchie
Track: Epidemiology
BA: Psychology, Univ. of West Florida

Heather earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in Aging Studies and Spanish from the University of West Florida Honors Program in 2013. She was a research assistant at the Claude D. Pepper Center, Institute on Aging at the University of Florida. In that time she gained experience in many separate aspects of research including grant submission, peer revision, participant contact, data entry, form creation, IND application, and manuscript publication. Her research focuses are on mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, and cognition. She endeavors to bring good scientific progress to the general public and increase understanding among the affected population and their caregivers.

Yang_RuoweRuowei Yang
Track: Epidemiology
BS: Biotechnology, Jiangxi Agricultural University
MHS: Johns Hopkins Univ. Bloomberg School of Public Health

Ruowei found her interest in the aging population while studying at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Prior to coming to University of Maryland Baltimore she was working at the Shanghai Mental Health Center-Emory University Collaborative Center for Global Mental Health, where she assisted the coordination and launch of several research projects on community mental health and older adults. At UMB, Ruowei has been working on projects related to medication use in Medicare beneficiaries as a graduate research assistant. For future research, she intends to explore topics such as the life-course antecedents of cognitive decline and metabolism and mental well-being in older adults 

Zweiacher_HollyHolly Zweiacher
Track: Social, Cultural, Behavioral Sciences
BS: Psychology, Eastern University


Holly’s interest in Gerontology developed over the four years she spent working in the nursing home at Messiah Village. During her time here, Holly became aware of the importance and necessity of social relationships for the residents and their quality of life, as well as numerous discrepancies about the quality/types of care provided between many different parties involved in determining care procedures. While she is intrigued by many of the factors of aging, Holly is mainly interested in pursuing research opportunities focused on improving long ter care experiences, as well as the socialization and relationship building opportunities for residents. 

Haesung (Evelyn) Kim
Track: Epidemiology
BA; Occ
upational Therapy, Yonsei University
MA
: Psychology, Yonsei University

Evelyn hails from Seoul, Korea. She researched cognitive control system at a Cognition Lab with supervisor Dr. Min-Shik Kim. Her current research interest is how cognitive aging or impairments affect aging individuals and how to intervene in their daily life. She hopes to contribute to improve the quality of life of aging adults.


Roberto Millar

Track: Social, Cultural, and Behavioral Sciences
BA: Psychology, Hood College

During his time at Hood, Roberto was as a research assistant in the comparative cognition and the gerontology laboratories.  In the Geriatric Assessment Research Lab (GARL) he collected and analyzed data on the spirituality of older adults receiving palliative care in hospital settings. In addition to field research, he completed a semester-long internship at one of Frederick City’s assisted-living facilities. There he worked directly with older adults experiencing varying degrees of cognitive impairment. Now, Roberto wishes to continue adding to the wealth of knowledge on the social and cultural forces affecting older adulthood. His career goals include teaching and researching the end-of-life care experience of underrepresented older adults at home and in community settings.

Eugenia Stephenson
Track: Policy
BS: Public Policy, Georgia State University
MA: Gerontology, Georgia State University


During Eugenia’s time at Georgia State she worked as a research assistant on projects related to gerontology higher education, older women’s sexual health and care team review. Her research interests focus on the role of location and predisposing characteristics as predictors on accessing healthcare services in rural communities.  Eugenie’s previous work includes her master’s thesis titled, “Perceptions of Access to Healthcare Resources among Rural Dwelling Older Georgians” which sought to explain these differences. She aims to contribute to future gerontology literature with primary goals of increasing access to services through research which supports the development of effective policies to address barriers.