Training Program Names New Director

Dr. Perry discusses the importance of volunteering for research at a spring Lunch & Learn on self-care.

Tam Perry, PhD, took the lead as director of training last fall, overseeing the IOG's 12 doctoral student trainees researching diverse aspects of gerontology. She had been co-director of training under Gail Jensen Summers, PhD, who retired after a long and prestigious career jointly appointed as a professor of economics at Wayne State. Dr. Summers directed trainees at IOG for almost a decade before her retirement.

Dr. Perry is jointly appointed with the Department of Social Work and has been teaching at WSU since 2012. She recently served as the national president of the Gerontological Social Work organization where she advocated for policy to make housing and home repair more affordable for older adults wishing to age in place. She also promoted the need to adopt a more holistic understanding of health for persons of all ages. "I have dedicated my work to advancing long and productive lives. Much of it centers on the relationship older adults have to their homes and how involuntary displacement affects that," she said.

Dr. Perry is a core co-director of the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research. The center, through its Healthier Black Elders outreach, encourages older adults in Detroit and Flint in understand their health needs and to volunteer for research.

As the IOG's new director of training, Dr. Perry embraces the chance to mentor the talented students selected to be IOG trainees. "We may add a few activities (e.g., writing groups) or get-togethers to help students connect with peers and faculty. But we will definitely continue to emphasize interdisciplinarity as the key to moving the field of gerontology forward," she said. "As someone with an interdisciplinary doctorate (social work and anthropology), I want students to treasure the richness of interdisciplinary scholarship and dialogue."

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