More AlumniKathryn Berlin
Andres E. Carrillo
Katie Hill Gallant
Tetyana P. Shippee
John Spruill III
April J. Stull
Roland J. Thorpe
Katie Hill Gallant
How did you get interested in gerontology?
My dissertation committee recommended the "Biology of Aging" course for my plan of study. My PhD research focused on adolescence in the area of nutrition and bone health. Because osteoporosis is generally a disease that manifests in the later years of life, it was a natural interest for me to learn more about aging. The "Biology of Aging" course with Dr. David Waters was one of the best courses I took at Purdue, and it prompted me to complete the gerontology minor.
What do you remember about your time in the Center on Aging and the Life Course? What were some of the most important experiences you had at Purdue that helped shape your career?
I really treasure the connections I was able to have with students and faculty
outside of my home department and program. This gave me a true appreciation
for broad interdisciplinary interactions. CALC was such a supportive
environment. I always felt so welcomed and encouraged.
In what ways did your Purdue education help you in your career?
I was fortunate to be a member of not one, but two interdisciplinary graduate programs – CALC and the Interdisciplinary Nutrition Graduate Program (INP). I found that the INP curriculum provided a particularly excellent foundation in science writing and presentation skills. I also took the "Preparing Future Faculty" course offered through the graduate school, which introduced me to the inner workings of faculty positions and faculty life in general.
Who were your mentors and what were the attributes they had that helped you?
My mentors during my PhD included Drs. Connie Weaver (my primary research mentor), James Fleet, and George McCabe. I benefited from their commitment to my development as a student, and for challenging me while also being supportive. Dr. Berdine Martin also played a large role in my training through her day-to-day guidance in conducting my graduate research projects. I am grateful for all their wonderful mentorship and that each continues to serve as a mentor to me.
Anything else you would like to add?
I encourage any graduate student who is working on research that focuses on the life course at any stage – not just the elderly – to consider a minor or dual-title PhD in gerontology through CALC. I didn't really appreciate the "and the Life Course" part of CALC until my third year or so. I wish I would have realized it earlier, but this also goes to show that it’s not necessarily too late for a more senior grad student to get involved. Participating in the CALC program was truly an enriching experience during my time as a grad student at Purdue.