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College of Social Work


Because people are living longer and birthrates are declining, older adults now account for an increasing proportion of the world’s population. Our faculty are exploring critical topics in aging, such as the workforce, independent living and global challenges.

At the College of Social Work, our faculty are on the cutting edge of gerontology research. In collaboration with experts in engineering and computing, we are developing new technological products to help older adults remain independent through the university’s SmartHOME Center initiative.

Dementia and Long-term Care

Our faculty are also exploring best practice implementation strategies to serve aging adults with dementia in China, home to the world’s largest aging population, with implications that could advance elder care globally. This project’s collaborative partners include the University of California, Davis; Stanford University and Harvard University Medical School. Another faculty member is analyzing data from a year-long field survey of long-term care for older adults in China that was funded by a core Fulbright U.S. scholar research award.

HIV/AIDS Among the Elderly

Recognizing South Carolina’s sizable HIV/AIDS population and that older women are our state’s fastest-growing infected population, our faculty responded by creating a novel web-based community to educate women about their risk of infection and empower them to make choices to promote their own health. Many older women in South Carolina mistakenly view the threat of HIV infection as a youth issue and do not take appropriate steps to safeguard themselves, such as insisting that partners use condoms.

Undergraduate Research

Because South Carolina is home to a sizable aging population that is growing due to the state’s popularity as a retirement destination, our faculty are also active in growing the state’s gerontology expert pool. With funding from the National Institutes for Health’s National Institute for Aging, our faculty have created an undergraduate program to promote a diverse aging research workforce. Students from the state’s historically black colleges and universities attend a summer program at the university where they are paired with mentors, gain firsthand lab experience, present posters and set goals to prepare them for graduate school in areas related to aging, such as medicine, nursing, biology, engineering, computer science and social work.  

Faculty also study older workers, job satisfaction and productive aging. In addition, the college is home to the South Carolina Center for Gerontology.


Topics of Interest

  • Enhancing the well-being of older adults in vulnerable situations
  • Improving family support and caregiving, client-worker relationship in long-term care, workforce participation among older adults and discrimination against older workers
  • Reducing health disparities for older populations through information and communication technologies
  • Advancing technologies that promote informed health and cancer decisions among African-Americans


Current Grants/Projects

  • National Cancer Institute: Effect of Emotion on Prostate Cancer Treatment Decision Making
  • Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation: An mHealth (mobile app) Mindfulness-based Approach to Multiple Behavior Change and Symptom Management for Individuals Facing Lung Cancer
  • National Institutes for Health, National Institute for Aging: Advancing Diversity in Aging Research

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