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Message From The Director

Cheryl Dye, Director, Clemson University Institute for Engaged Aging
Cheryl Dye
Director, Clemson University Institute for Engaged

Dear Friends,

2020 has certainly brought a unique and challenging spring and summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the IEA continues to build infrastructure and increase our impact on the lives of older adults.  Renovations on our new research space at Oconee Memorial Hospital in Seneca, part of the Prisma Health system, have been paused because of the pandemic but we hope they will be resumed in the fall.  As we establish our labs and education spaces there, we will be joined by a new Endowed Chair in Cognition and Aging, Dr. Lesley Ross.  I’m very excited to welcome this internationally renowned researcher to the IEA to build our research agenda in advancing optimal cognitive functioning of older adults. Excerpts from an interview with Dr. Ross follow.

Clemson’s impressive growth, commitment to research and teaching excellence, strong community ties with partners including PRISMA, IEA, and opportunities for new collaborations initially drew Dr. Ross to the Endowed Chair position. Dr. Ross is moving from Penn State and will join Clemson as an Associate Professor of Psychology, SmartLIFE Endowed Chair in Aging and Cognition, and Associate Director of the IEA beginning in August. As is her approach to any leadership position, Dr. Ross plans to first listen and learn so that she can get to know the local community and build collaborative teams. She is looking forward to learning about the needs of the Clemson community and tailoring her research to these needs.  She stated, “there is not a one size fits all, rather, I want to be able to provide a multitude of resources that enable individuals to pick what works best for them”. Dr. Ross will continue her overall research goal of maintaining brain health and everyday functioning while supporting new students at Clemson and implementing different types of intervention and assessment programs. She hopes to bring her research to the next level as the Endowed Chair in Cognition and Aging as well as bringing it closer to the community through dissemination.  Dr. Ross will also be bringing the Study of Healthy Aging and Applied Research Programs (SHAARP) Lab to Clemson University. The SHAARP Lab ( examines factors that keep older adults independent and mobile focusing primarily on cognitive and functional abilities that may be modifiable through targeted interventions. In looking towards the future, Dr. Ross says, “my main overarching goal is to keep people independent and healthy as long as possible, and really, happy. It’s that quality of life piece that is really essential”.

I look forward to working with Dr. Ross, IEA Faculty Associates, CU students, community members and organizational partners across the state to advance research and community outreach focused on improving quality of life of older adults.  The IEA has a focused commitment to enabling older adults to stay optimally engaged in life as they age and to maintain relevance in our evolving society.  Thank you for your support of our work.

Stay safe and be healthy!

Dr. Cheryl Dye
Institute for Engaged Aging