NEWS 2020

Announcing new SAAS officers for the 2020-2021 academic year!

Announcing new SAAS officers for the 2020-2021 academic year!

President: Monica Nelson
Vice President: Joanne Elayoubi
Treasurer: Christi Nelson
Treasurer Elect: Mia Torres
Student Liason: Carly Nelson
Co-Secretaries: Hillary Rouse and Victoria Marino

If you want to join the Student Association for Aging Studies, you will click below and then follow the rest of the directions on the image below:

Congratulations to PhD student Dylan Jester for his 2020 GSA SRPP Outstanding Student Poster Award

We are pleased to announce that PhD student Dylan Jester's 2020 GSA poster presentation ("Deficiency Citations in Nursing Homes that Predominantly Serve Residents with Serious Mental Illness") has been selected for the 2020 SRPP (Social Research, Policy and Practice) Outstanding Student Poster Award. 

This year there were 12 highly competitive finalists. Panel members independently reviewed and rated the poster presentations, using a score sheet compromising six factors: importance of topic, sound methodology, appropriate presentation of findings, discussion of practice/policy implications, poster clarity/style, and oral presentation. Dylan's poster received the highest average total score! 

Congratulations, Dylan!

Aging Studies Professor Presides Over Online Conference, Finds Hope in the Scholarship

In a year of challenges like no other, School of Aging Studies Professor Kathryn Hyer found a reason for optimism in the diverse array of research being presented at this year’s Gerontological Society of America research conference. 

As the 2020 GSA President, Hyer presided over the conference earlier this month. It was GSA’s 75th annual meeting, expected to be held in Philadelphia, PA, but transitioned to an online format because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The science presented by the doctors, nurses, social workers, economists, educators, demographers, humanities scholars, and policy experts, as well as the gerontologists and others who devote their lives to research on aging will “move the field forward and ultimately enhance the lives of people everywhere,” Hyer said in her opening remarks. 

The conference included more than 40 presentations from USF School of Aging Studies faculty and students.

Hyer described the key role GSA has played in advocating for research on aging over the decades, noting it helped lead the effort to establish the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. And she lauded the productivity of GSA scholars in their recent contributions to the understanding of COVID-19, which has had a devastating and disproportionate effect on older adults.  

This year’s GSA conference included 300 symposia, 450 papers, and 1,500 posters authored by scholars from around the world. The USF contributions covered a range of topics that reflected the School of Aging Studies' interdisciplinary strengths. The topics included caregiving, sleep health, cognitive function, mental health, end-of-life care, quality across the continuum of long-term care, and disaster preparedness for older adults.   

This year's GSA theme was “Turning 75: Why Age Matters.” Its aim was to communicate that age is more than a chronological marker, Hyer said. Individually and collectively, it is a defining characteristic of the human experience. And she challenged scholars to think broadly about the meaning and purpose of their work and why it matters to older adults and to society.  

Go here for more about GSA. 

Congratulations to Dr. Tetlow for successful completion and defense of her dissertation

PhD candidate, Amber Tetlow, defended her dissertation, Evaluation of Aging and Genetic Mutation Variants of Tauopathy, on Monday, November 2, 2020  with co-major professors, Dr. Andel and Dr. Morgan.

Congratulations, Dr. Tetlow!

Seeking students to join Sigma Phi Omega for 2020-2021 school year

Sigma Phi Omega is a nationally recognized academic and professional honor society focused on aging studies. The organization was established in 1980 to promote scholarship, professionalism, research in aging, and service to older adults. We represent the Upsilon Chapter at the University of South Florida. Some of our past events include card writing for older adults in the community, helping older adults with their technology (TAG Program), the Walk to End Alzheimer's, and Meals on Wheels. We are happy to announce this year's executive board and meeting dates for the rest of Fall 2020.

The 2020-2021 SPO Executive Board:
Dr. Debra Dobbs, Faculty Advisor
Christina Mu, President
Daniel Pupo, Treasurer
Rachel Kosan, Secretary

Fall 2020 Meetings Dates/Times:
Tuesday, October 20th from 3-4 PM
Tuesday, November 17th from 3-4 PM
Tuesday, December 8th from 3-4 PM (may change due to finals)
*All meetings will be on Microsoft Teams, please see BullSync for meeting details."

Here's how to join SPO:
Register for the national organization (Upsilon Chapter for USF) and receive graduation designations:

Register for Upsilon Chapter's updates:

*To be a part of the national organization, you must meet the membership requirements and pay annual dues ($25).

Please contact or with any questions or concerns. Thank you, and we hope to see you there!

The Sleep, Stress, and Health (STEALTH) Lab to present their research at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting!

The Sleep, Stress, and Health (STEALTH) Lab is proud to announce that eight outstanding team members have been accepted to present their research at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting! Six of the eight team members will be presenting their research at a professional conference for the first time. Team members will present their original research at one of the most distinguished interdisciplinary conferences committed to research, education, and exploring best practices in the field of aging. GSA brings together some of the nation’s most prominent researchers, educators, scientists, health care professionals, and industry experts in the field of aging. In addition, Dr. Soomi Lee, the director of the STEALTH lab, will present and discuss the important role of sleep in health as part of several GSA symposia.

Congratulations to following team members for their noteworthy research:

Taylor Vigoureux, Lab Manager – “Job Strain and Late-Life Cognition: Findings from the Puerto Rican Elderly Health Conditions Study”

Christina Mu, Lab Manager – “The Effects of Severe and Frequent Back Pain on Mental Health: Does Perceived Socioeconomic Status Matter?”

Angelina Venetto, Research Assistant and Team Lead – “Daily Association Between Sleep and Stressors: Role of Personality Traits”

Breann LaRocque, Research Assistant and Team Lead – “Poor Sleep Health and Next Day Work Impairment: The Mediating Role of Fatigue”

Cassandra Richardson, Research Assistant and Team Lead – “Emotional Tone of Dreams and Daily Affect”

Karley Deason, Research Assistant – “Personality and Sleep Health: Do Lifestyle Habits Play a Role?”

Britney Veal, Lab Alumna – “Differences Between Day and Night Shifts: The Association of Nightly Sleep with Subjective Cognition”

Taylor Harris, Lab Alumna – “The Daily Association Between Sleep and Stress: The Moderating Role of Parenting Status”

We are very proud of our team members for achieving this honor! Keep up the outstanding work!

Congratulations to Dr. June for successful completion and defense of his dissertation

PhD candidate, Joseph June, defended his dissertation, Assisted Living Facilities in Florida: Examining the Factors Associated with Entries, Closure, and Licensure Change, on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. 

Faculty members Dr. Hyer and Dr. Dobbs were in attendance while Joseph defended his dissertation through the use of Microsoft Teams. 

Dr. Kathy Hyer is instructing a 26-hour Assisted Living Facility core training course

The University of South Florida proudly offers this convenient, well-designed, online ALF Core Training course for prospective assisted living administrators or those interested in learning about assisted living.  Our course meets the requirements established in Florida Statute 429.52 and Florida Administrative Code 59A-36.011 and prepares you to pass the core exam to become an administrator.

The course contains downloadable material for all required 11 modules and provides access to all required legislative and regulatory materials that govern the operations of Florida assisted living communities.

For more information, click here!

GSA has created an infographic titled, Understanding Ageism and COVID-19.

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has created an infographic titled, "Understanding Ageism and COVID-19." The infographic addresses ageism as it relates to COVID-19 with research in an easy to understand format.

Ageism is discrimination based on negative assumptions about age. Ageism can have a big impact on older people’s lives. It begins with biases that are implicit and unseen, resulting in a tendency to regard older people as debilitated, unworthy of attention and resources, or unsuitable for employment. When older people internalize negative attitudes about aging, their physical and mental health are adversely affected. 

The School of Aging Studies Faculty Receive Funding from the USF COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program

Congratulations to Drs Andel, Small, and Peterson on your funding!

A Pandemic Response Research NetworkTM (PRRN) with nine Research Hubs has been established at USF in the past month. A Rapid Response grant program was announced, giving faculty less than a week to develop and submit proposals for $25,000 in funding. More than 400 researchers were involved in the submission of 128 proposals matched to the key areas of the PRRN Research Hubs. These short-term projects were reviewed and 14 proposals were selected for an initial round of funding. The PRRN and the research hubs (e.g., Behavioral, Socio-emotional, and Educational Wellbeing Hub) are developing interdisciplinary research clusters of faculty interested in collaborative projects and responding to the many funding opportunities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following projects involving The School of Aging Studies faculty were funded:

Social Closeness Despite Social Distance: A Study of Strategies to Fight Loneliness During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Co-PI: Brent Small along with several colleagues in the College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology
The COVID-19 pandemic has fractured social support systems and the effects of loneliness will likely be magnified during social distancing, especially among those with pre-existing psychological vulnerabilities, such as depression and anxiety. The project will document and analyze the impact of COVID-19 on psychosocial and physical well-being and work to develop new tools and solutions to help vulnerable people maintain social connections while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The USF Rapid-Risk Assessment and Intervention for COVID-19

Co-PI: Ross Andel & Lindsay Peterson along with several colleagues in USF Health College of Nursing
The human behavioral response during a pandemic illness such as COVID-19 is not well understood, and the abundance of information shared through various channels can reduce the public's ability to identify and adhere to evidence-based guidelines. The project will lead an interdisciplinary study to analyze risk behavior, risk mitigation and chronic disease management and work to deliver tailored messaging to encourage safer behaviors among individuals at risk for infection.

Dr. Kathryn Hyer answers questions to AARP Florida on Long-Term Care Facilities

Dr. Hyer, faculty at The School of Aging Studies and GSA President, was asked by AARP Florida to answer some questions on the factors that Floridians with loved ones in long-term care facilities should consider in light of the rapid growth of coronavirus cases in Florida's long-term care facilities. 

Click here to read the article.

Congratulations to Dylan Jester for Outstanding Graduate Student Research

Dylan has a new paper that will soon be available to read at The Gerontologist, titled "Quality Concerns in Nursing Homes that Serve Large Proportions of Residents with Serious Mental Illness" with Dr. Kathryn Hyer here in the School of Aging Studies and Dr. John Bowblis of Miami University.

To access the paper, type in the following Digital Object Identfier: 10.1093/geront/gnaa044

The School of Aging Studies Announces Its Annual Scholarships and Awards


Congratulations to the following recipients of student scholarships and faculty service and teaching and community partner awards.

The following students received awards: 

Edith Stephens - Kymberly Jane Harris Endowed Scholarship in Long Term Care Administration 
Amanda Crane - Tollette Family Endowed Scholarship in Gerontology
Danielle Stuermer - Wiley P. Mangum Scholarship 
Nicole Carroll - Dick Rotsell Memorial Endowed Scholarship 
Jordan Juniewic - Harold L. Sheppard Endowed Memorial Scholarship in Gerontology 
Skye Rudy - Kenneth and Peggy Sponagle Endowed Graduate Scholarship in Gerontology 
Christi Nelson and Laura Vonch - Wolowec Scholarship 
Kallol Kumar Bhattacharyya and Hillary Rouse – H. Edward and Mildred E. Greely Endowed Fellowship in Aging Studies 

The following faculty received awards: 

Dr. Kathryn Hyer - Wiley P. Mangum Outstanding Service Award in the Field of Gerontology 
Mary Jean Etten - Sue V. Saxon Outstanding Teaching Award in the Field of Gerontology 

The following partners received the School of Aging Studies Community Partner of the Year award: 

Debbie Franklin, Florida Health Care Association 
Steve Strumpf and Kevin O’Neil, Promise Pointe at Tampa Oaks

The following School of Aging Studies Alumni received the Outstanding Alumni Award: 

Liz Barlowe, Barlowe & Associates, Aging Life Care Experts 

In addition, each year the School of Aging Studies recognizes leaders in community organizations who give their time and effort to provide School of Aging Studies students with experience in the field. We are deeply grateful for their help with our program: 

Scott Allen, Fletcher Health and Rehabilitation Center 
Maggie Dalton, Lutz Healthcare & Rehabilitation,
Elizabeth Donfila, Central Park Health & Rehabilitation 
Kimberley Doughty, Hillsborough County Aging Services 
Avi Elias, The Residence at Timber Pines
Genevieve Faulk, Aging Care Advocates
Laurie Ferguson, Concordia Village of Tampa 
Patricia Henderson, Senior Connection Center
Dan Jones, Excel Care Center
Kimberly Lehigh, Sun Towers Retirement Community 
Veronica Maxwell, Hillsborough County Aging Services 
Bob Murphy, Whispering Oaks 
Everton Spencer, Opis Highlands Lake Center 
Steve Strumpf, Promise Pointe of Tampa Oaks 
Ronald Tencza, St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center 
Matthew Thompson, The Manor and Villa at Carpenters

Congratulations to Dr. Meng on his new funding!

The Research Advisory Committee has awarded Dr. Meng funding for a project! The goal of Dr. Meng's project is to build a mobile application that can be used by professional and informal caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients to deliver the music intervention in Assisted Living, adult day service centers, and homes. Congratulations to Dr. Meng!

As the Chair of the American Psychological Association (APA), Dr. Bill Haley and colleagues have developed information on COVID-19 and Older Adults

This information was developed and distributed by the American Psychological Association Committee on Aging, which is chaired by Dr. Bill Haley, Professor in the USF School of Aging Studies.

Key Points on COVID-19 and Older Adults
For additional information on APA's Committee on Aging, go to the following website:

Dr. Hyer and Dr. Peterson write in "The Conversation"

Dr. Kathryn Hyer and Dr. Lindsay Peterson of the USF School of Aging Studies write in "The Conversation" about the extreme difficulties facing nursing homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Death rates in nursing homes are rising, a situation that demands attention and answers.

The article can be read here.

Ph.D. students attend Purple Dining Program

3 of our Ph.D. students attended a Dementia Sensitivity Program yesterday held by the Dementia Care & Cure Initiative with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. The training ended with our students receiving their Purple Dining Program Certification (PDP), enabling them to educate and train others to be a dementia friendly restaurant. The training offers a comprehensive experience to educate restaurant establishments on how to effectively engage this growing population of patrons, with the goal to recognize the importance of empathy when interacting with a person who is affected with a form of dementia.

Rolling out as of May 15th, PDQ will be the first restaurant to implement Purple Dining. If you are interested in becoming Purple Dining Certified, go to this link for more info:

Congratulations to Dr. Lee on the Junior Faculty Excellence Award!

Established in 2007, the WLP Faculty Excellence Award Program provides annual grants to USF System faculty whose research and creative efforts focus on women and issues affecting women. These awards are presented in the spring of each year through a competitive selection process, with the recipient receiving a one-time $5,000 award to support their research. Congratulations to Dr. Soomi Lee for being recognized for your leadership, outstanding research, and commitment!

For more information on the program, click here:

Dr. Hyer announced as Gerontological Society of America (GSA) President

Dr. Kathryn Hyer, Professor and Director, Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging at USF, has officially taken office as GSA's President. Dr. Hyer is the 76th person to hold the office since the Society was founded in 1945.

"For 75 years, GSA has helped lead our conceptualization and understanding of age and aging. Our work has helped countless older adults, families, professionals caring for older adults, and communities," Hyer said. "We have accomplished a great deal over the history of GSA, but now is our opportunity to focus on our next 75 years. I'm hoping that at our 2020 meeting we can have lively discussions about how we help the next generation of students and scholars think about aging," Hyer said. For more information, visit the official press release:

Dr. Debra Dobbs attended the European Commission kick-off meeting in Brussels, Belgium

Dr. Dobbs attended the kick-off meeting in Brussels, Belgium on January 15, 2020 as a member of the Steering Committee for the Horizon 2020 EU funded project to develop methodologies and models for an active aging workforce. This 4 year project has 13 country partners and will provide opportunities for EU researchers and the School of Aging Studies faculty to collaborate on issues related to the aging workforce. For more information, check out this overview on Research and Innovation in the field of ICT for Health, Wellbeing & Ageing Well.

International Scholar Presentation welcomes Nengliang (Aaron) Yao, PhD

The Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging and USF School of Aging Studies was proud to welcome Nengliang (Aaron) Yao, PhD from Shandong University as part of our International Scholar Presentation series. Dr. Yao is currently developing home in health care in China as well as a gerontology program at Shandong University. You can find additional information on Dr. Yao on his home page for the Shandong University website.

Distinguished Lecture welcomes Sheryl Zimmerman, PhD, MSW

The School of Aging Studies would like to thank Dr. Sheryl Zimmerman for taking the time to be part of our Distinguished Lecture series! Dr. Zimmerman shared some research and resources that can be beneficial to patients in nursing-homes, including Mouth Care Without a Battle.

James C. Appleby, BSPharm, MPH, ScD (Hon), CEO of GSA and Reframing Aging

James C. Appleby, BSPharm, MPH, ScD (Hon), the Chief Executive Officer of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation's largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging, spoke to the School of Aging Studies today to discuss the Reframing Aging Initiative. Reframing Aging has created the following achievable aims: building an infrastructure to sustain the momentum of the initial activities; engage the practice, education, and research communities in the field to increase awareness of the principles of Reframing Aging and the know-how to use the Reframing Aging tools; provide basic technical support services for individuals representing state, local, and national organizations who successfully complete training; and support state and local organizations’ efforts to adopt Reframing Aging principles. For more resources, check out