Roberto to Receive GSA’s 2012 Distinguished Mentorship in Gerontology Award


For Immediate Release
August 14, 2012

Contact: Todd Kluss
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Roberto to Receive GSA’s 2012 Distinguished Mentorship in Gerontology Award

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen Karen A. Roberto, PhD, of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University as the 2012 recipient of the Distinguished Mentorship in Gerontology Award.

This honor is given to individuals who have not only fostered excellence in the field, but have made a major impact by virtue of their mentoring, and whose inspiration is sought by students and colleagues. To be eligible, the mentor must have had influence on graduate, undergraduate, and professional students as evidenced by the number and accomplishments of these mentees. The winner's influence on the next generation of gerontologists also may be evident through training programs, written materials associated with pedagogy, research supervision, or clinical training. Membership in GSA’s Behavioral and Social Sciences Section also is required.

The award presentation will take place at GSA’s 65th Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 14 to 18 in San Diego. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process. Visit for further details.

At Virginia Tech, Roberto is a professor of human development and the director of both the Center for Gerontology and the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment. She also serves as an adjunct professor for the Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Her research examines the intersection of health and social support in later life. Her primary interests include older women's adaptation to chronic health conditions, family relationships and caregiving, and elder abuse and mistreatment.

Roberto has had a unique and important role in mentoring not only undergraduate and graduate students during her long career as a faculty member, but also new and experienced faculty members as a research administrator.

She has consistently included graduate students on her research teams and in her lab, thereby modeling many facets of their work from start to finish and coaching them in the steps required to complete their own projects. Similarly, her graduate research assistants participate in all phases of the research process and are expected to undertake significant research and writing assignments that enable them to present findings at scholarly conferences and co-author research reports for publication in scholarly journals.

Roberto is a GSA fellow, which represents the Society’s highest class of membership, and a former chair of GSA’s Behavioral and Social Sciences Section.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,400+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education.


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