A WVU student walks to class in Woodburn Circle on Oct. 14, 2020.

A WVU student walks to class in Woodburn Circle on Oct. 14, 2020.

The Appalachian Gerontology Experiences: Advancing Diversity in Aging Research (AGE-ADAR) Scholar’s Program is starting to recruit students for a new two-year research program at WVU. 

Gerontology is broadly defined as the study of the aging process, as well as the study of aging people, according to Julie Patrick, the program’s principal investigator. 

“In West Virginia, the only state contained entirely within Appalachia, aging poses special challenges,” Patrick said. “We have higher rates of diseases and disability here, and we often must travel long distances or wait a long time before accessing medical services.”

For their first year in the program, students will participate in an intensive summer workshop in aging and health disparities to learn important research skills, Patrick said. They will work in small groups and analyze national data on aging and health disparities. 

“Each scholar will present at regional or national conferences and we hope that most will publish a scientific article from this experience,” Patrick said. 

Patrick said that during their second year in the program, students will work with a mentor in their specific discipline to infuse their MSTEM work with an aging focus, and these projects will also result in conference presentations and possible publication. 

Students will benefit from joining this program in numerous ways, according to program assistant Amber V. Rusch.

“Our scholars will obtain research experience, develop analytical skills, take part in several personal and professional development activities, and will be paid for their participation,” Rusch said.

Areas in gerontology and aging research are continuously growing within many careers, so this specialized program will put students at an advantage while in the job market or when they apply to graduate programs, Rusch said.

The AGE-ADAR program is actively recruiting its first cohort of students. An online application can be found on the program’s website, or students who are interested can email age-adar@mail.wvu.edu for a PDF version of the application. 

Rusch said application forms are due Jan. 15, 2021, and students can expect to start the program in spring 2021.

“Scholars should be rising sophomores and juniors with a GPA of 2.0 or higher, and enrolled full-time in a program that focuses on MSTEM,” Rusch said.

The AGE-ADAR Scholars Program invites all interested faculty, staff and students to register for the Virtual Open House from 4-5 p.m. on Nov. 16. The registration form can also be found on the website.  

All registered participants have a chance to win several $25 gift cards.

“We are excited to be among only seven programs funded this year, bringing the national total to 22 programs,” Patrick said. “Clearly, in terms of aging, Mountaineers are leading the way.”