Darlingtina Atakere

Q&A with Darlingtina Atakere, MS, from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.

atakereMeet Darlingtina.

“My basic strategy is to draw upon knowledge rooted in indigenous and minority settings as an epistemic foundation from which to ‘de-naturalize’ the ways of knowing and being considered as standard in hegemonic sciences. We need to know how shifts in the conceptualization of practices can affect the communities where we may live, work, and engage.”

Q: Tell us a little about what you are doing right now.
A: Currently, I am an Instructor and a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Kansas, at the concluding stage of my Ph.D. research. While I specialize in Social Psychology and Gerontology, my work builds upon and contributes to a wide range of fields including Public Health. I also have Health Psychology and African Studies graduate certificates and broad training in Social Work and Community Development.

Q: Tell us about your most recent activities and accomplishments.
A: I attended the GSA annual conference in Boston, where I made three separate presentations. Also, I was one of the few people who received The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Mentoring and Career Development Technical Assistance Workshop and Junior Investigator Diversity Fellow Travel Award. The workshop offered more than I hoped for. We had the rare privilege of learning first-hand from seasoned professionals in the field. It was a memorable experience for me.

Q: Have you had an important mentor(s) in your career? If so, how did it make a difference?
A: Yes, I have an important mentor in the person of Dr. Tamara Baker. She has been with me every step of my Ph.D. career and has helped shape the researcher that I am now. She provides the appropriate level of push and motivation that I need to keep wanting to be a better version of myself. She is that person to have your corner because you cannot go wrong with her in your life.

Q: What are your motivations (inspirations) for studying aging?
A: I study social determinants of health in older minority males, and I picked up that interest from my curiosity about the life of my father who died from a chronic illness. He checked every box of what we know in mainstream sciences as indicators of health outcomes (e.g., educated, good job). Yet, there existed something that caused poor health outcome in him and eventually led to fatal diagnosis (and death). I wanted to address the critical void as to what is known about the influence of SDoH on health outcomes among older minorities.

Q: Is there anything unique about yourself and experiences that you would like to share?
A: At the core of my research is the application of decolonial perspectives to psychological sciences. I consider the possibility that theory, practices, and research on aging in mainstream sciences do not reflect universal or “just natural” laws of human experience but instead reflect particular constructions of aging, as well as experiences of well-being among people in WEIRD (i.e., Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) settings. These settings disproportionately inform scientific understandings and clinical practice. My basic strategy is to draw upon knowledge rooted in indigenous and minority settings as an epistemic foundation from which to ‘de-naturalize’ the ways of knowing and being considered as standard in hegemonic sciences. We need to know how shifts in the conceptualization of practices can affect the communities where we may live, work, and engage.

Want to ask Darlingtina a question? Contact her on GSA Connect!