U.Va. Grad Student Lands Exclusive Internship with National Institute on Aging

April 12, 2011 — Geneva Dodson, a graduate student in quantitative psychology in the University of Virginia's Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, has earned a rare training grant with the National Institute on Aging's Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience. Her work there will also take place under the auspices of the U.Va. Institute on Aging.

U.Va. psychology professor John Nesselroade, who serves as Dodson's primary adviser, said "Geneva is a very talented young scholar who fits our quantitative psychology program well. We have great expectations for her and this appointment both affirms her talent and reinforces our expectations." 

He added, "The work of the group with which Geneva is interning has significant implications for future research and policy." 

The NIA's Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience awarded only 23 grants to 250 applicants, all of whom carried grade-point averages of at least 3.6. 

Dodson plans to explore the relationship between cognitive aging and race, socioeconomic status and health from a multidisciplinary perspective during her 10-week internship this summer. She will work with Alan B. Zonderman, chief of the laboratory's Brain Aging and Behavior Section. Dodson's work is connected to Zonderman's "Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity Across the Life Span" study.

Among the subjects Dodson plans to address are the influences of socioeconomic status and race on normal age-related changes in function. She will also study how status and race contribute to health disparities. Finally, she will investigate any early biomarkers of age-related health disparities that may enhance the ability to prevent or ameliorate the severity of various diseases.

Quantitative psychology is the study of methods and techniques for the measurement of human attributes, the statistical and mathematical modeling of psychological processes, the design of research studies and the analysis of psychological data. This field is central to all aspects of psychology: science, education, public interest, and practice.

Dodson said the education she has received at U.Va. was a major contributor to winning the internship. "This internship is a valuable opportunity to enhance my skills, further develop my professional network and gain exposure to a variety of methods from a multidisciplinary perspective which will support my dissertation and future research," she said.

The U.Va. Institute on Aging sponsors efforts to understand and enhance the aging process throughout the human lifespan. The institute acts as a catalyst and coordinator for interdisciplinary research, education, and service programs within the University and with a broad network of external partners.

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