The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen Robert Joseph Taylor, MSW, PhD, of the University of Michigan as the 2021 recipient of the James Jackson Outstanding Mentorship Award.
This distinguished honor is given annually and recognizes individuals who have exemplified outstanding commitment and dedication to mentoring minority researchers in the field of aging. It was renamed in 2021 in memory of James Jackson, PhD, FGSA, a pioneering psychologist in the fields of race and culture and the impact of racial disparities on minority health, and himself a previous recipient of the award.
The award presentation will take place at GSA’s 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 10 to 13 in Phoenix, Arizona. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process.
At the University of Michigan, Taylor is the Harold R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Social Work, the Sheila Feld Collegiate Professor of Social Work, the director of the Program for Research on Black Americans at the Institute for Social Research, and principal investigator of the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research.
He has published extensively on the informal social support networks (i.e., family, friends, and church members) of Black American adults. He has been the principal investigator of several grants from the National Institute on Aging that examine the role of religion in the lives of Black and white older adults. He has been co-principal investigator with Jackson on several grants from the National Institute of Mental Health on the correlates of mental health and mental illness among Black Americans, including the only major national study of the prevalence of mental illness among Black Americans (The National Survey of American Life). He is the author of three books, 190 peer-reviewed journal articles and 42 book chapters.
One of the most significant contributions that Taylor has made to the field of aging is the mentoring that he has provided to hundreds of young scholars for more than three decades through his various roles. Consistent with the training priorities of the Program for Research on Black Americans, he has organized and held annual summer training workshops since 1998 for junior faculty and doctoral students. The objectives of these programs are to identify and mentor junior investigators who are committed to conducting research on Black Americans across the life course and to contribute to enhancing the quality and quantity of research conducted with this population.
Taylor also serves as director of the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research Education Core, which is focused on training and mentoring scholars. And as chair of the Gerontology Learning Community at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, he has helped to expand its visibility for alumni and current students.
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.