Public Release: 

Gerontological Society of America awards new Hartford Doctoral Fellowships

The Gerontological Society of America

Eight outstanding doctoral students have been chosen as the newest recipients of the prestigious Hartford Doctoral Fellowship in geriatric social work. The program is funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, administered by The Gerontological Society of America, and directed by Dr. James Lubben.

Each of the Hartford Doctoral Fellows receive a $50,000 dissertation grant plus $20,000 in matching support from their home institutions, which enables recipients to more fully concentrate on their dissertation research projects over the next two years. Fellows also receive supplemental academic career guidance and mentoring, as well as professional development enabling them to more successfully launch an academic career in gerontology and social work.

Elana Buch
University of Michigan
Joint Program in Social Work & Social Sciences
Dissertation Topic: "Home care quality in practice: A comparison of publicly and privately funded home care"

Avani Shah
The University of Alabama
Psychology Department
Dissertation Topic: "Efficacy of an audio-based cognitive behavioral treatment for depression in older adults"

Kimberly McClure Cassie
University of Tennessee
College of Social Work
Dissertation Topic: "The organizational culture & climate of nursing homes"

Mary Lindsey Smith
University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
Dissertation Topic: "Just one more: An examination of the prevalence, correlates, and consequences of concurrent alcohol and medication use in older adults"

Leslie K. Hasche
Washington University in St. Louis
GWB School of Social Work
Dissertation Topic: "Exploring the potential of aging network services to improve depression care for older adults"

Mei Kit Tang
The University of Alabama
School of Social Work
Dissertation Topic: "Cultural values, informal support, and caregiving outcomes among Chinese American caregivers"

Katherina Nikzad
University of Kentucky
Graduate Center for Geronology and the College of Social Work
Dissertation Topic: "Dementia caregiving outcomes: The impact of caregiving onset, role occupancy, and care-recipient decline"

Wanda White
University of California, Los Angeles
Social Welfare
Dissertation Topic: "The intersection of religion, aging, and sexual orientation from the perspective of lesbian older adults

This fellowship program is a component of the nationwide Geriatric Social Work Initiative, which seeks to expand the training of social workers in order to improve the health and well being of older persons and their families. It was created to help social work doctoral students overcome their greatest obstacles, such as limited teacher training and career guidance. These fellowships cultivate the next generation of geriatric social work faculty as teachers, role models and mentors for future generations of geriatric social workers.

Dr. Lubben holds the Louise McMahon Ahearn University Chair at Boston College and is Professor Emeritus at UCLA. A national program advisory committee plays a central role in selecting the Fellows. This year's committee consists of Iris Chi of the University of Southern California, Namkee Choi of the University of Texas at Austin, Ruth Dunkle of the University of Michigan, Jan Greenberg of the University of Wisconsin, Jeanne Marsh of the University of Chicago, Nancy Morrow-Howell of Washington University in St. Louis, and Deborah Waldrop of the State University of New York at Buffalo. Ad hoc members include Barbara Berkman of the Hartford Faculty Scholars Program and Carmen Morano of the Hartford Pre-Dissertation Award Program.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), founded in 1945, is the oldest and largest national multidisciplinary scientific organization devoted to the advancement of gerontological research. Its membership includes some 5,000+ researchers, educators, practitioners, and other professionals in the field of aging. The Society's principal missions are to promote research and education in aging and to encourage the dissemination of research results to other scientists, decision makers, and practitioners.

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