Mary Beth is a demographer at the University of Michigan whose work focuses on population aging. Her specific research interests include intergenerational relations and support, the connections between socioeconomic status and health, transitions in health and functioning in old-age, utilization of health and long-term care services, methodological issues relating to panel surveys, and comparative research.
Before attending the University of Michigan for graduate school in sociology, Mary Beth worked at the University of Washington‘s Institute on Aging. While in graduate school she collaborated closely with her mentor Al Hermalin, leading research on health, aging, and the family in Taiwan including ambitious primary data collection that drew heavily on her time working on the US Longitudinal Study of Aging. She worked at the National Center for Health Statistics for several years before returning in 1998 to the University of Michigan at the Institute for Social Research.
She has served as PI or co-PI on numerous large, ambitious projects funded by NIH. Many of these projects assess population aging in the United States and Asia. She was Associate Director of the Health and Retirement Study, the nation’s leading longitudinal study of aging. Her expertise in surveying older adults is widely recognized and widely shared, having advised the development of numerous national surveys including those in the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Costa Rica, and Mexico, and others in the international family of HRS studies. She started the US Longitudinal Aging Studies Network within the Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging to support knowledge exchange within the US. She has served the PAA in a variety of capacities including as a member of the Board of Directors.
Mary Beth is widely admired and loved by her collaborators and co-workers at the University of Michigan, as well as other institutions in the US and the rest of the world. She is typically viewed as the “glue” that holds complex initiatives and projects together, and she is also known to perform these important functions quietly and without fanfare, while always giving the majority of credit to the collaborators and staff that work with her.