Dean Emerita Heather M. Young and Executive Associate Dean Terri Harvath for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis are among the 89 new fellows of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Leaders of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging announced this year’s class at the GSA’s Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston Nov. 14-17.
Over the past decade, Young served as founding dean and led the establishment of the school itself and its five graduate-degree programs, cultivated a faculty numbering more than 28, launched a research program, oversaw the design and construction of the 70,000-square-foot Betty Irene Moore Hall and celebrated a ranking among the top 50 of all master’s-degree nursing programs. She stepped down from her leadership position this past July to contribute in a new way — championing research that aligns with her interests in family caregiving and healthy aging for older adults.
“GSA has been my intellectual home for more than 30 years because the society brings together so many disciplinary perspectives on issues of aging,” Young said. “I am honored by this recognition and thank my nominators as well as the many colleagues with whom I have collaborated over the years.”
In addition to overseeing the education and community engagement missions of the School of Nursing, Harvath serves as the founding director of the school’s Family Caregiving Institute, which launched in 2017 to advance research, education and policy to support caregivers. An internationally recognized expert in gerontological nursing and nursing education, Harvath focuses her research on understanding and improving the relationship between individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers to improve home-health care. In partnership with AARP and the Home Alone Alliance, she developed a series of videos designed to assist family caregivers to manage complex medication regimens.
“For me, the society has been my professional home since 1987,” Harvath said. “This recognition by interdisciplinary peers is an important acknowledgement that I, as a nurse, have made contributions not only to gerontological nursing, but to the field of aging studies. I am grateful to my nominators who supported my application.”
The status of fellow — the highest class of membership within the society — is an acknowledgment of outstanding and continuing work in gerontology. This recognition can come at varying points in an individual’s career and can acknowledge a broad scope of activity. This includes research, teaching, administration, public service, practice and notable participation within the organization. Fellows are chosen from each of GSA’s four membership sections. Young was selected by the Social Science and Policy section and Harvath was selected by the Health Sciences section.
“Given their extensive research in the field and lifelong dedication to caring for older adults, Drs. Young and Harvath are worthy of this recognition,” said Debbie Ward, interim dean. “We are fortunate that these incredible women had the foresight early in their nursing careers to focus on older adults. Their continued focus on this growing population will make a significant impact on the way people age and care for others in a healthy manner.”
The principal mission of GSA is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers and the general public.