Associated Researchers

Penn State Postdoctoral Scholar

Dr. Erica O'Brien

I earned my B.S. in sociology at Virginia Tech and my Ph.D. in Psychology, with an emphasis on lifespan development, from North Carolina State University in May 2019. My general research focus is on the ways in which we can facilitate improvements in health-related outcomes, such as well-being, cognitive and physical functioning, and mobility, in older adults. I specifically study the psychological, social cognitive, and emotional factors that keep older adults active and engaged in daily activities associated with these health benefits. These factors include those internal to the person, such as motivation, aging attitudes, goals and motives, as well as external ones, such as social support, environmental constraints, and task-related characteristics. As a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Pathways Program, I will work with Dr. Lesley Ross to investigate (a) the pathways by which psychological and ability variables affect or are affected by training and intervention, (b) the health and ability outcomes most affected, (c) the temporal context surrounding these associations (e.g., immediate or delayed, fleeting or enduring), and (d) the characteristics of individuals likely to benefit—or not—from applied programs.