Monthly Member Spotlight

Q&A with Katherine Carroll Britt, PhD, MSN, RN, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Katherine Carroll Britt PhotoHow long have you been a GSA member? What GSA member benefit do you like best and why?  OR Why did you become a member and what type of involvement do you have?

I have been a member of GSA since beginning my doctoral program in 2019. Through attending the annual meetings, participating in interest groups, and attending webinars, I love connecting with other scholars across disciplines to increase my knowledge and understanding of various topics, to collaborate and grow together, and to build our understanding of ways to help older adults. After a mentor encouraged me, I became a member and attended my first annual meeting in Austin in 2019 but knew very few people. I wasn’t sure what to expect but everyone I met was very kind - I love how we are all working towards the same goal to support older adults.

How has membership in GSA benefited you? OR How does GSA assist with your professional development?

I have participated more and more in GSA interest groups in the last year which has really helped me get to know others in my field. It has created ample opportunities for me in my career and I am grateful to have these working friendships. GSA has also given me many opportunities to present my work as a student and now as a postdoctoral fellow.

How did you get interested in the field of aging?

I began my nursing career in pediatrics. After my own family experience of caring for my aging parents who received advanced health diagnoses and passed away, I shifted to caring for older adults, their caregivers, and family members. I saw up close the need for more support, sharing of resources, and the disconnect of many systems that I felt like I could change by getting more involved. This prompted me to seek my PhD where I have been working ever since to bring a better quality of life to older adults living with cognitive impairment and dementia and their caregivers. I hope to make a difference in the lives of families facing dementia and decline and to bring some hope to the struggle.

Are you a member of a GSA Interest Group? If so, which ones?

Yes, I am mostly involved in the Health Sciences ESPO group as a Junior Leader II this year working with Kyle Moorhead, PhD (Junior Leader I). This has been a rewarding experience as I am getting to know the HS committee leaders, participating in planning events, supporting other scholars, and contributing to growing our knowledge and understanding of aging science. I am also co-leading the Religion, Spirituality, and Aging interest group with Chad Federwitz, MA, MA. I learned a lot from Lydia Manning, PhD, who was co-leading before me. Chad and I are excited to grow this interest group as the scientific study of spirituality, religion, and health is advancing with exciting findings.

What are your key responsibilities at your job?

I am currently a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Pennsylvania in the School of Nursing working with mentors, Nancy Hodgson, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Lauren Massimo, PhD, RN, CRNP. My key responsibilities are research, publishing and presenting my findings, writing grants, participating in leadership opportunities, participating in various scholar meetings, and training to become an Assistant Professor at a research university focusing on resilience in older adults.

What is your most memorable research/patient experience? OR What has been your most memorable experience in gerontology and aging research?

What drives my work is my personal experience with my father who had Lewy body dementia. As the medical representative in my family, I took on the heavy responsibility of leading and assisting in decision-making and care. I struggled through this experience and am determined to make a difference in the lives of others who are facing similar situations with dementia and supporting their loved ones. There is so much work to do to improve support, identify modifiable risk factors that may reduce risk, and to bring meaning and purpose for peace and well-being to those facing advanced illness.

Do you have any tips for emerging gerontologists?

Find what you are passionate about, then get involved. GSA has a plethora of resources available - you just need to figure out where they are and begin your work. Plug in to a group with other scholars who have similar interests so you can help each other and build the science of our understanding and knowledge. One thing I have learned so far in academia, is to persist! There will be rejections but there will also be acceptances. It can be discouraging but you are not alone. Don’t give up but reach out to others who may be experiencing the same thing. Share your story and encourage each other. You can and will make a difference.

Tell us a little about your most recent activities/accomplishments.

I am excited to participate in two interdisciplinary training programs this summer. I am joining the 4th cohort of Michigan Integrative Well-being and Inequality (MIWI) Training Program on methods, conceptual frameworks, study designs, data collection needs, and analytic approaches necessary to conduct investigation into the intersection of mental and physical health with an emphasis on how this relates to health disparities. I will participate in a summer workshop on ADRD disparities at Johns Hopkins to advance my skills in designing studies related to ADRD disparities.

I recently traveled to Montreal (a very cool city!) for the Hospice and Palliative Care Annual Assembly to present some work from my dissertation on prayer and symptoms of dementia progression in older adults. I’m excited to travel to Amsterdam this summer for the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, where I will present some of my postdoctoral work on spiritual needs in dementia.

I had the privilege of working with some amazing leaders in the nursing and aging field on two recently published guest editorials. Dr. Mary Naylor and Dr. Pam Cacchione and I published an editorial on addressing the needs of aging adults by partnering with faith-based organizations in Research in Nursing & Health ( This was prompted by monthly discussions by The Caregiving NOW initiative at the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at Penn School of Nursing of how we can support caregivers today ( and by the 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers which reports on how public and private sectors can better support caregivers, mentioning faith-based organizations. Dr. Jill Hamilton and I published an editorial on ways to support the spiritual and religious practices of older adults with cognitive impairment and dementia in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing (

I am excited to moderate an upcoming webinar titled: Coffee & Conversation: Writing & Publishing on behalf of the PIA to Elevate Early Career Researchers (PEERs) Executive Committee with panelists Heather Farmer, PhD and Jason Flatt, PhD, MPH, organized by Darina Petrovsky, PhD, RN, for early-career scholars on best practices, tips, resources, and experiences in writing and publishing in interdisciplinary research on June 9th at 10am CT: register here:

I recently received pilot funding for my postdoctoral study on Spirituality and Brain Health in Older Adults examining spirituality, cognitive function, and AD biomarkers from the Population Aging Research Center (PARC) at the University of Pennsylvania. I also grateful for this support and the support of my mentors.

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