Monica Williams-Farrelly

Monica Williams-Farrelly Profile Picture
IGP:
Gerontology

Mentor / Lab:
Kenneth Ferraro

Specific Research Area / Project:
Medical Sociology, Early Origins of Later Life Health, Social Relationships and Health

Undergraduate Institution:
Butler University


Research Profile:

My long-term research interests fall broadly under the umbrella of medical sociology. Specifically, my academic inquiries are focused on understanding the social origins of health and illness, particularly as it pertains to older adults in the United States. My past and current research extends the literature on the early-life risk factors of adult disease by examining the differential effect of specific domains of early childhood misfortune including socioeconomic and risky parental behaviors, on specific health outcomes, such as stroke, cognition, and remaining free of chronic, life-threatening illnesses. With my dissertation and future projects, I aim to examine how social factors, such as social support and strain, and neighborhood context in adulthood may moderate or mediate the effects of early noxious environments on later life health outcomes.


About Me:

Monica Williams-Farrelly About Me Picture

My interests in health began at an early age, and I started my college career as a pharmacy major. Two years later, I took my first sociology class and began to develop a passion for studying the structural complexities of society that produce unequal opportunities for its citizens. It was this course that prompted me to alter my path towards a career in sociology and in bringing social inequalities to life. Towards the end of my undergraduate education, I had the opportunity to work as an intern at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center. In this experience, I truly began to see how early disadvantage could begin to alter one’s life course early on.

Upon graduation, I began work with the Department of Child Services. In this position, I worked with parents and children who had been involved in cases of abuse or neglect. I continued to see the ways in which adverse childhood experiences influenced the life trajectories of both the children and the adults with whom I worked. Perhaps the most striking occurrence to me was just how many parents experienced misfortune in their own childhoods—yet, despite knowing the consequences of such experiences, they lacked precious resources needed to change outcomes for their children. After two years of working in child welfare, I decided to return to school to pursue a graduate degree in sociology with the intent of researching the effects of poverty and structural inequality on health throughout the life course.

Coming to Purdue was a perfect culmination of my experiences working with disadvantaged children and research on older adults and health. Advancing through the dual-title gerontology curriculum and working with Dr. Ferraro and his research on childhood misfortune has allowed me to nurture my passions in research by highlighting the ways in which experiences accumulate throughout the life course to create poor health outcomes in later adulthood.

Awards:

  • 2019-2020 Purdue Research Foundation Research Grant, “Life Course Origins of Frailty in Later Life.” College of Liberal Arts, Purdue University
  • 2019 Outstanding Graduate Student Paper Award, “Avoiding the Major Causes of Death: Does Childhood Misfortune Reduce the Likelihood of Being Disease Free in Later Life?” Department of Sociology, Purdue University
  • 2017 Robert L. Eichhorn Fellowship Award in Medical Sociology, Department of Sociology, Purdue University
  • 2016 Summer Research Enhancement Award, Purdue University
  • 2015-2017 Frederick N. Andrews Fellowship, Purdue University
  • 2015 Suzanne K. Steinmetz Scholarship, Department of Sociology, Indiana University-Indianapolis

Publications:

  • Williams, Monica M., Blakelee R. Kemp, Kenneth F. Ferraro, and Sarah A. Mustillo. 2019. “Avoiding the Major Causes of Death: Does Childhood Misfortune Reduce the Likelihood of Being Disease Free in Later Life?” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 74(1): 170-180.
  • Ferraro, Kenneth F., Blakelee R. Kemp, and Monica M. Williams. 2017. “Diverse Aging and Health Inequality by Race and Ethnicity.” Innovation in Aging 1(1): igx002, 1-11.
  • Latham, Kenzie and Monica M. Williams. 2015. “Does Neighborhood Disorder Predict Recovery from Mobility Limitation? Findings from the Health and Retirement Study.” Journal of Aging and Health 27(8): 1415–1442.

Presentations:

  • Williams, Monica M., Patricia Thomas, and Kenneth Ferraro. “Does Social Support Mediate the Influence of Childhood Exposures on Cognition in Later Life?” Presented November 16, 2018 at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting.
  • Williams, Monica M., Blakelee Kemp, and Kenneth Ferraro. “Does Childhood Misfortune Increase the Likelihood of Mobility Limitation in Later Life?” Presented July 27, 2017 at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics’ 21st annual World Conference.
  • Zaborenko, Callie, Williams, Monica M., and Kenneth F. Ferraro. “Childhood Misfortune and Late-life Stroke Incidence, 2004-2014.” Presented November 17, 2016 at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting.
  • Williams, Monica M., Blakelee Kemp, and Kenneth Ferraro. “Escaping Disease: Does Childhood Disadvantage Reduce the Likelihood of Being Disease Free in Later Life?” Presented November 16, 2016 at The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting.
  • Latham, Kenzie and Monica M. Williams. “Do Subjective Neighborhood Assessments Predict Recovery From Mobility Limitation? Findings from the Health and Retirement Study.” Presented August 23, 2015 at the Society for the Study of Social Problems
  • (SSSP) annual conference.
  • Latham, Kenzie and Monica M. Williams. “Do Subjective Neighborhood Assessments Predict Recovery From Mobility Limitation? Findings from the Health and Retirement Study.” Presented October 10, 2014 at the Indiana Academy for the Social Sciences (IASS) annual conference.
  • Williams, Monica M. “Social Support and Sexual Well-being” Presented April 17, 2015 at IUPUI’s Center for Research and Learning’s Annual Research Day.

Leadership:

  • Graduate Student Representative- Indiana University-Indianapolis
  • Communications Officer for the Sociology Graduate Organization- Purdue University

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