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I believe research and education go hand-in-hand. We are all aging, and I propose this statement to serve as a significant opening to challenge students to think beyond their comfort level, discipline, and knowledge base.

Jenay M. Beer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

As an interdisciplinary instructor, my teaching philosophy is to provide a stimulating classroom environment with core values that, I believe, help develop students into community-engaged professionals, no matter their discipline or career path.

Our society is aging as the proportion of older adults in our population increases. Smart technology, such as health care devices, smart homes and robotics, will increasingly become integrated into our everyday lives, and older adults in particular could benefit from such devices. We examine how technology can be designed to be user-friendly for older adults, as well as the ethical considerations for implementing smart technology in our homes and in health care.

The majority of my research falls under a field called “Human-Robot Interaction,” or HRI. Developing assistive robots has proven to be a difficult challenge. More specifically, how should robots interact and communicate with older people, including those with cognitive decline, physical impairments and a loss of vision or hearing? There is a critical need to understand how technology and robotic interventions fit within our efforts to promote health in older adult communities, as well as inform our understanding of aging.

My research program is a mix of social science and technology. I leverage this unique interdisciplinary approach to investigate technology applications that promote health and well-being for older adults. Our ever-growing older population is living in a world where technological advances in computers, smart homes and robotics are shaping health care management, aging-in-place and access to cutting-edge interventions.

I hope my students gain the confidence and inspiration to ask outside-the-box questions. When I was an undergraduate, I never imagined that I would research robots and aging, but I found a way to combine my love of technology, aging and research. I tell my students to let their passions guide them, ask interesting questions and arm themselves with the scientific skillset to answer those questions. That will guide them in any career they choose.

Learn more about Jenay M. Beer