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Martin Hyde

Q&A with Martin Hyde, PhD, FGSA, from Swansea University in Swansea, U.K.

hydeMeet Martin.

“... Develop your networks. As I have said, ageing touches on so many different aspects of our lives and society that it is impossible to approach it from just one (disciplinary or national) perspective. Being part of a wider network of researchers from different disciplines and in different countries has enabled me to develop new ideas, new skills, travel the world and make some really good friends.”

Q: How long have you been a GSA member?
A: I have been a member of the GSA for over a decade. My first GSA conference was Dallas in 2006. I was encouraged to join and to start going to the conferences by my PhD supervisor Prof Paul Higgs to get a more global view of what was going on in gerontological research. To date I have only missed one conference since Dallas and always look forward to going.

Q: How has membership in GSA benefited you?
A: Being a member of the GSA has benefitted me and my career immeasurably. The conferences are of the highest quality and I always come away having learnt something new or with new ideas for my own research. But more than that, being a member of the Society provides a way to connect with a wider network of scholars in the field, either through GSA Connect, social media, or networking with colleagues at various events. It also provides insights into how gerontology is progressing in the US and, for me, has been crucial in ensuring that I position my research within a wider, global scale.

Q: How did you get interested in the field of aging?
A: I got into research on ageing by a happy accident. Throughout my undergraduate and Master’s degrees I knew I wanted to stay in academia. But I wasn’t ready to start a PhD straight away. I wanted to start working and applied for a job as a researcher on a project to develop a questionnaire on Quality of Life. Although my initial interest was in the methodology, I quickly got interested in the wider topic itself. After that I could see the importance of ageing for so many aspects of our lives that I wanted to continue working in the field, to learn more and to do more.

Q: Why is it important for other individuals to join GSA?
A: I would definitely recommend that people join the GSA. It provides an excellent forum to share ideas, learn about upcoming research and to be part of a wide-ranging community of scholars. I have been lucky enough to meet so many interesting people through the GSA, particularly at the annual conference, both from within my research area and beyond. Through GSA Connect, the newsletter Gerontology News, and the Society’s social media activities, I feel that I am continually engaged with that community and what is going on in the USA even though I am thousands of miles away. Population ageing is a global phenomenon and, as such, it is important that gerontology becomes a global discipline.

Q: Are you a member of a GSA Interest Group? If so, which ones?
A: I am a member of the Aging Workforce Interest Group. Being part of this group has motivated me to set up a similar group, the Work and Retirement Special Interest Group, at the British Society of Gerontology. I was also lucky enough to be invited to speak at the International Aging and Migration Interest group in 2016 about my work on globalization and ageing – and joined after that. This is also a really exciting group to be part of.

Q: What are your key responsibilities at your job?
A: At the moment, my main responsibilities are writing research and (trying) to get research funding. The Centre for Innovative Ageing is a great place to work for this. We have a really dynamic, multidisciplinary team so there are always people around to bounce ideas off. Working in Wales has also been a game changer for me. Academics, policy makers, employers and third-sector organisations work closely together here and there is a real understanding of the importance of ageing at both the population and individual level. Aside from this, I have also done a bit of teaching on our MA in Gerontology and will run a module on Global Ageing in the coming academic year.

Q: What has been your most memorable experience in gerontology and aging research?
A: I think everyone remembers the first paper that they get published. That was a really great moment, and I am really happy that I continue to get requests from around the world, most recently from Viet Nam, to translate and use the measure of quality of life that we published in that paper.

Q: Do you have any tips for emerging gerontologists?
A: My main piece of advice for emerging (possibly, all) gerontologists is to develop your networks. As I have said, ageing touches on so many different aspects of our lives and society that it is impossible to approach it from just one (disciplinary or national) perspective. Being part of a wider network of researchers from different disciplines and in different countries has enabled me to develop new ideas, new skills, travel the world and make some really good friends. Nowadays this also means being active on social media. I really enjoy using Twitter (@HydeM1976) and have had some really good exchanges and made some invaluable contacts from around the world.   

Q: Tell us a little about your most recent activities/accomplishments.
A: Last year my first, first-authored book (Ageing and Globalization, with Paul Higgs) was published. I am currently working on developing a program of work based on the arguments we advanced in the book. Alongside this, I am increasingly involved in a number of projects looking at issues around work and retirement. I am working with colleagues on a couple of projects with the Centre for Ageing Better on retirement planning and retirement adjustment. I am also working with partners from across Welsh Government and Ageing Well in Wales to look at a range of issues around work and retirement in later life.

Q:Have you had an important mentor in your career? If so, how did it make a difference?
A: I have been lucky enough to work with many great people in my career who have guided me and given me great advice. However, although I am indebted to all those who have helped me, I owe a special debt to Prof Paul Higgs. We have worked together on a number of projects (most recently co-authoring a book) and he was my PhD supervisor. Without his guidance, support, and insights I have no doubt that I would not be where I am today.

Want to ask Martin a question? Contact him on GSA Connect!

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