• Kira Birditt

    Kira Birditt

    Research Professor, University of Michigan

    Ph.D., Human Development & Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University


    Dr. Birditt’s research focuses on the negative aspects of relationships, stress, and the implications of relationships and stress for health and well-being across the life span. She is particularly interested in understanding how relationships differentially influence health and well-being depending on the context of stress. Most of her projects involve examining individuals and dyads either over time and or within families.

  • Vicki A. Freedman

    Vicki A. Freedman

    Research Professor, University of Michigan

    Ph.D., Epidemiology, Yale University


    Dr. Freedman has published extensively on the topics of population aging, disability trends and long-term care and has investigated the connections among disability, time use and wellbeing in later life. She has co-led the National Health and Aging Trends Study and the National Study of Caregiving since their inception and has served as an Associate Director of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Through these efforts she has been instrumental in disseminating new measures to study disability and care needs of older adults.

Network Affiliates


  • Emily M. Agree

    Emily M. Agree

    Research Professor, Johns Hopkins University

    Ph.D., Sociology, Duke University


    Dr. Agree is a demographer with an interest in aging, health and the role of families and technology in later life. She has studied the use of assistive technologies by older adults,  how older Americans navigate the Internet to find health-related information, and changing families of older adults.  

  • Karen Fingerman

    Karen Fingerman

    Professor, University of Texas at Austin

    Ph.D., Psychology, University of Michigan


    Dr. Fingerman studies how relationships with family members, friends, and acquaintances change from young adulthood to old age, with particular attention to emotional qualities of ties and support exchanges. She is currently overseeing the NIA-funded Daily Experiences and Well-being in Late Life Study, which focuses on older adults’ social relationships and physical and cognitive functioning in a daily context using a variety of sensory devices and ecologically valid assessments.   

  • Esther Friedman

    Esther Friedman

    Research Associate Professor, University of Michigan

    Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles


    Dr. Friedman’s research examines how families and communities facilitate the health and wellbeing of older adults. Much of her recent work focuses on family caregiving, including social support networks of family caregivers, the economic costs of family caregiving, and current and future kin availability for dementia care. Dr. Friedman leads MiCDA’s Network core and Longitudinal Studies on Aging in the U.S. Network.

  • I-Fen Lin

    I-Fen Lin

    Professor, Bowling Green State University

    Ph.D., Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison


    I-Fen Lin’s area of expertise include family sociology, aging, and survey methods. Much of her work examines parent-child relationships over the life course, with a focus on parents’ investment in children and adult children’s support of their aging parents. Her current projects examine the antecedents and consequences of gray divorce, family caregiving in late life, and discordance in parents’ and children’s reports of intergenerational transfer.

  • Rachel Margolis

    Rachel Margolis

    Associate Professor, University of Western Ontario

    Ph.D., Demography & Sociology, University of Pennsylvania


    Dr. Margolis’ research focuses on how family dynamics shape population change over time. She studies how and why grandparenthood is changing over time, how family networks are evolving, and how the thinning of kinship networks affects older adults.  

  • Sung S. Park

    Sung S. Park

    Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton University

    Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles


    Sung S. Park is a sociologist and demographer studying how social relationships contribute to population-level inequality. Her research focuses on the family’s role as a safety net for racial minorities, race/ethnic disparities in work and employee well-being, and the role of kin networks within and across borders for immigrant incorporation. 

  • Sarah E. Patterson

    Sarah E. Patterson

    Research Investigator, University of Michigan

    Ph.D., Sociology and Demography, The Pennsylvania State University


    Dr. Patterson’s research addresses whether and how social norms and family composition influence caregiving behaviors and wellbeing for family members. She has also studied the role of complex families and kinlessness in the lives of older adults.

  • Courtney Allyn Polenick

    Courtney Allyn Polenick

    Assistant Professor, University of Michigan

    Ph.D., Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University


    Dr. Polenick’s research interests center on family relationships and family caregiving. She is particularly interested in understanding mutual influences within older couples managing chronic conditions including dementia and multimorbidity.

  • Rin Reczek

    Rin Reczek

    Associate Professor, Ohio State University

    Ph.D., Sociology, University of Texas at Austin


    Dr. Reczek is a sociologist and social demographer who studies family care across the life course using qualitative and quantitative approaches. Their research pays particular attention to how LGBTQ people navigate family life, including caregiving, within the context of LGBTQ discrimination and stigma. 

  • Adriana Reyes

    Adriana Reyes

    Assistant Professor, Cornell University

    Ph.D., Sociology and Demography, The Pennsylvania State University


    Adriana Reyes is a sociologist and demographer studying intergenerational family dynamics and health disparities across the life course. She is particularly interested in how family ties provide social capital to help individuals navigate the life course, and how these family ties perpetuate inequalities across race and class. 

  • Judith A. Seltzer

    Judith A. Seltzer

    Professor, University of California, Los Angeles

    Ph.D., Sociology, University of Michigan


    Dr. Seltzer’s research interests include kinship patterns, intergenerational obligations, relationships between nonresident fathers and children, and how legal institutions and other policies affect family change. She is especially interested in kinship institutions that are in flux, such as marriage and cohabitation in the contemporary United States or divorced and non-marital families.

  • Yulya Truskinovsky

    Yulya Truskinovsky

    Assistant Professor, Wayne State University

    Ph.D., Public Policy (Economics Concentration), Duke University


    Dr. Truskinovsky is a health economist who studies aging, long term care and labor market outcomes. Her current research focuses on the impacts of social insurance programs on how individuals and families make decisions about work and family caregiving.

  • Emily  Wiemers

    Emily Wiemers

    Associate Professor, Syracuse University

    Ph.D., Economics, University of California, Los Angeles


    Dr. Wiemers studies economic well-being and intergenerational ties across the life course. She is particularly interested understanding the role that families play in promoting health and well-being and the differences in the connection between family and well-being across socioeconomic status, race-ethnicity, and geography.

  • Douglas A. Wolf

    Douglas A. Wolf

    Professor, Syracuse University

    Ph.D., Public Policy Analysis, University of Pennsylvania


    Dr Wolf’s research areas include the well-being and life course-patterns of the older population, such as household composition and parent-child coresidence; informal care of older persons, especially the care provided by family members; and the spatial distribution of kin and migration choices.

  • Jennifer L. Wolff

    Jennifer L. Wolff

    Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

    Ph.D., Health Services Research, Johns Hopkins University


    Dr. Wolff’s research focuses on the care of persons with complex health needs and disabilities and their family and other unpaid caregivers. She conducts survey- and claims-based research to assess the quality of care and experiences of older adults and their caregivers, drawing heavily on the National Health and Aging Trends Study and its linked National Study of Caregiving.

  • Huijing Wu

    Huijing Wu

    Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Western Ontario

    Ph.D., Sociology, Bowling Green State University


    Dr. Wu’s research interests include union formation, health, and well-being in older adulthood. Her recent research project investigates how partnership status and family structure are related to the unmet need for help with personal care in later life. 

  • Steven H. Zarit

    Steven H. Zarit

    Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University

    Ph.D., Committee on Human Development, University of Chicago


    Steven H. Zarit has conducted pioneering research on caregiver burden and stress, including development of research measures and conducting studies that examined the effects of programs to lower stress among caregivers.  His most recent research used novel methods for measuring biological markers of stress to demonstrate the benefits of use of adult day care on the health and well-being of family caregivers of persons with dementia.