By Noah Ravan ’23
Emily Lang ’23 recently presented her summer research on the science of aging at Harvard University.
The research involved Lang, a psychology major from Lexington, South Carolina, working with Dr. Kara Bopp, professor of psychology, to look at resources available to seniors in Spartanburg County while conducting interviews and creating a definition of successful aging.
“Once we understood what was available in Spartanburg, we looked at other cities and proposed areas of improvement locally,” says Lang. “Since then, we’ve presented our findings locally and distributed pamphlets to resource centers.”
During Interim, Lang presented her findings at the National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard University.
“It was a fantastic opportunity,” says Lang. “The conference was closed to the public, and everyone presenting was an undergraduate student. In total, there were 250 presenters from all over the country, so I met a lot of interesting people.”
“Emily’s work with Wofford’s Lifelong Learning program led her to ask some important questions about access to local senior resources,” says Bopp. “Her interest provided the opportunity for research to have an immediate positive impact on our senior community.”
Dr. Ramon Galiñanes, director of undergraduate research at Wofford, helps facilitate several student-led research projects, over the summer and during Interim.
“This Interim, we had a variety of student research projects,” says Galiñanes. “One student went to Tennessee to study gene sequencing and brought some of those research techniques back to Wofford. Another student spent Interim investigating lead levels in the soil around Spartanburg. Other students spent Interim studying Indian culture and religion. Those students travelled to India as part of their research.”
Students’ research can have a lasting impact on their lives.
“Undergraduate research is a great opportunity for Wofford students to dive deeper into a particular subject, to build skills, gather information and interrogate questions that interest them,” says Galiñanes. “The skills that students develop come in handy in a variety of professions and continue to help our students after they leave campus.”
Lang has already made the connection between her research and plans for a career.
“I’ve applied to a few social work programs,” says Lang. “I’m hoping to earn a gerontology certificate and work in aging therapy. In the Upstate of South Carolina, there’s a lack of therapeutic resources available for older adults. I’d like to change that.”