Skip to: Content | Footer | Accessibility | About this Site
This is the Logo for the USC Davis School Gerontology


Elizabeth Avent, MSG

Photo of Elizabeth Avent

Elizabeth is a first year PhD student at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at Georgia State University in 2012, and her Master of Arts in Gerontology at Georgia State University in 2016. Her research interests include elder abuse, particularly the experiences of victims of late-life intimate partner violence, and improving and developing appropriate services for victims through community and policy interventions.

Elizabeth has worked at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, assisting with research on improving care transitions of patients age 65 and older being discharged from the hospital. She has also worked at the Georgia Council on Aging, assisting with planning and executing the quarterly meeting of the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Elderly in which aging issues are selected to advocate to policymakers.

Donna Benton, PhD

Photo of Donna Benton

Donna Benton, PhD, is a Research Associate Professor of Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. She received her graduate training in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and was a Gero-psychological postdoctoral fellow at USC/Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center. Dr. Benton is the Director of the USC Family Caregiver Support Center/ Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center. She has over 30 years of experience in working with families and the community, to help improve services and support to persons with dementia. She has served as a commissioner on the California Commission on Aging (CCOA) and served as chair of the legislative sub-committee for many years.


Ayesha Dixon, MSG, MPA

Photo of Ayesha Dixon

Originally from the Bronx, NY; Ayesha comes from a Military family, living throughout the East Coast. She served as a Program Assistant at n4a in Washington DC, interned at the OC Office on Aging, Program Manager at a CCRC in Anaheim, an RCFE in Los Angeles, Program Manager at the Alzheimer's Association, managing a therapeutic art program for people with Dementia in seven counties in southern California.

She studied French at La Sorbonne Université in Paris, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, and two Masters degrees in Gerontology and Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

Gerson Galdamez, BSG

Photo of Gerson Galdamez

Gerson Galdamez is a second year doctoral student at the Davis School of Gerontology. He completed his undergraduate degree in Human Aging and Development at USC in 2016, during which his research focused on economic security in late life among Latino immigrant groups. This research primarily involved detecting income dynamics across the lifecourse, and how these dynamics vary by citizenship and ethnicity.

Gerson's work in the Secure Old Age lab focuses on Latino economic security and elder abuse. He engages in projects focused on the effectiveness of elder abuse interventions, and hopes to develop further research on legal and criminological aspects of elder abuse.

Haley Gallo, BS

Photo of Haley Gallo

Haley Gallo is a doctoral student at the Davis School of Gerontology. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychobiology, with a minor in Gerontology, from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2017. Her research interests include long-term services and supports and developing policies that enable older adults to maintain independence and stay engaged with society. She is currently working on the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles Initiative, a project that seeks to create livable communities for all ages.

Haley's previous experiences include working in the Drug Discovery Lab and the Memory and Lifespan Cognition Lab at UCLA. She also served as the Executive Secretary for the Task Force on Research and Development for Technology to Support Aging Adults (Tech4Aging) in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Zachary Gassoumis, PhD

Photo of Zach Gassoumis

Zach Gassoumis is a Research Assistant Professor of Gerontology and co-directs the Secure Old Age lab. He has been involved in gerontology research at the USC Leonard Davis School since 2006, earning his PhD in Gerontology from USC following a BSc in Natural Sciences (Psychology & Anthropology) from the University of Durham (England). His research in the Secure Old Age lab has focused on various aspects of quality of life for older adults, with specific concentration on the application of quantitative methodologies to large, population-based datasets.

Zach engages in two primary substantive areas of population-based research. The first involves the financial security of racial/ethnic minority and immigrant populations, with an emphasis on naturalization and the Latino baby boomer generational cohort. The second substantive area is elder abuse, with emphases including etiology, lifecourse patterns, and outcomes. Zach also participates in and advises on many other projects within and beyond the Secure Old Age lab, including: improving supports, services, and service delivery for family caregivers; predicting transitions from nursing facilities to the community; developing an HCBS assessment tool for use within the Medi-Cal program; assessing the impact of end-of-life care across healthcare settings; characterizing injuries among older adults and reported victims of elder abuse; and evaluating an elder abuse intervention, the elder abuse forensic center model.


Danielle Kaiser

Photo of Danielle Kaiser

Danielle Kaiser is a second year undergraduate student studying Public Policy with an emphasis in Health Policy at USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy, and is also pursuing a minor in Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School. So far, she has done research with the Secure Old Age Lab regarding both family caregiving and elder abuse. She hopes to further research how the two correlate in order to help create legislation to make caregiving less of a burden.

Natalie Kaiser, BSG

Photo of Natalie Kaiser

Natalie Kaiser is pursuing her Master's in Health Administration at USC, having completed her Bachelor of Science in Gerontology at USC in May 2016. She is passionate about creating healthcare delivery models that provide high quality care, foster a positive work environment, and support a thriving industry. Currently, Natalie is working with the California Task Force on Family Caregiving to analyze similar task force models, develop useful information tools, and research existing models of caregiver support in California.

Natalie is also an MHA Resident for Keck Medicine of USC's Patient and Employee Experience Departments. Prior to her current positions, she was a Teaching Assistant for the Trojan Marching Band's USC Silks, worked as a Lab Assistant in Dean Pinchas Cohen's Lab at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, and performed data entry on elder abuse research projects for the Secure Old Age Lab. Her interest in long-term care and health administration stems from her belief that only through the creation of innovative and effective policies and projects will the United States improve its status as an international leader in healthcare.

Janeth Marroletti, MPH, CHES

Photo of Janeth Marroletti

Janeth Marroletti has been in the aging field providing direct services to vulnerable seniors for 15 years. She completed a Master's Degree in Public Health with a concentration in Gerontological Health from the California State University, Fullerton and holds a Health Education Specialist certification.

Mrs. Marroletti has extensive experience in grant administration and management. For 10 years, she directed the Social Services Department at a nonprofit, providing nutrition and case management services to 10,000 seniors and caregivers per year in collaboration with 21 cities in Orange County.

She also has served as a board member for the California Association of Senior Centers and a member of the Health and Nutrition Committee for the Senior Citizens Advisory Board in Orange County.

Kylie Meyer, MSc

Photo of Kylie Meyer

Kylie Meyer is a doctoral candidate in Gerontology. Her work focuses primarily on family caregiving policy and intervention and family violence prevention. She is co-Principal Investigator on the KINDER (Knowledge and Interpersonal Skills Training to Develop Exemplary Relationships) intervention to improve relationship quality between caregivers and those to whom they provide care. She is also evaluating CareJourney, an innovative online intervention for family caregivers, using both interviews and utilization data. In addition to evaluation, recent research includes analysis of the financial impact of caregiving, including the impact of the Great Recession on family caregivers using data from a large quantitative data set.

In 2016, Kylie began working with California's Task Force on Family Caregiving to assist with drafting policy recommendations to the state's legislature. In this role, Kylie summarizes research requested by members and oversees a survey on best practices in providing services to caregivers across the state.

Kylie started at USC in fall of 2015 on a USC Provost Doctoral Fellowship. Prior to beginning at USC, she completed an MSc at the University of Southampton on a U.S. Fulbright. Kylie completed undergraduate studies at Kalamazoo College, where she studied anthropology/sociology and French. Her interest in aging took off after an internship with the Michigan Campaign for Quality Care and the Area Agency on Aging IIIA in Kalamazoo.

Laura Rath, MSG

Photo of Laura Rath

Laura Rath is a doctoral student at the Davis School of Gerontology. She received her Bachelor of Science in Gerontology, with minors in Biology and Bioethics from the University of Southern California in 2000; and a Masters of Science in Gerontology from the University of Southern California in 2002. Her research interests include promoting a secure old age for all people, improving the overall health and quality of life for older adults, and family caregiving.

Since 2005, she has been a Program Officer at the Archstone Foundation, a private grantmaking organization, whose mission is to contribute towards the preparation of society in meeting the needs of an aging population. At the Foundation, her duties have included the management of the Elder Abuse and Neglect Initiative, the End-of-Life and Palliative Care Initiative, the Depression in Late-Life Initiative, Family Caregiving and other projects in the foundation's responsive grantmaking portfolio. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was the Coordinator for the Orange County Elder Abuse Forensic Center, at the University of California, Irvine during its initial three year development.

Currently, she is serving a three-year term on the Board of Directors for Grantmakers In Aging (GIA), a membership organization of funders that is a national catalyst for philanthropy, with a common dedication to improving the experience of aging. She lives in Seal Beach, California with her husband and two practically perfect daughters.

Julia Rowan, MSG

Photo of Julia Rowan

Julia Margaret Rowan (née Wysong) is a doctoral student at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Her research interests are evaluation of elder abuse interventions, focusing on multidisciplinary and person-centered approaches. Julia also coordinates the Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) in Ventura County, a multidisciplinary team that provides guidance and support on difficult cases of elder and dependent adult financial exploitation and fraud.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2010, and a Master of Science in Gerontology in 2013. From 2013 to 2016, Julia worked as a research analyst for Ventura County Behavioral Health Quality Improvement. In 2016, she concluded an evaluation of Ventura County's implementation of California's mandated initiative to improve delivery of trauma-informed therapeutic services to children and families within Child Protective Services.

Julia's goal is to contribute to innovative strategies for the prevention of elder abuse and neglect through applied evaluation, with emphasis on collaboration with service providers, advocates, and policy makers.

Kathleen Wilber, PhD, LCSW

Photo of Kate Wilber

Kate Wilber is the director of the Secure Old Age lab and co-directs both the USC Family Caregiver Support Center and the National Center on Elder Abuse. Dr. Wilber's research has focused on improving the quality of life of people with chronic physical and mental health conditions, by improving the formal health and long term care delivery system. Her work on collaborative relationships among providers has examined cost effectiveness and health outcomes of different service delivery structures. This research includes outcomes research for older adults in managed care, the development and evaluation of chronic care models that link acute and long-term care, and the testing and translation of evidence-based long-term care interventions into practice settings.

In addition to health care, Dr. Wilber's research has focused on protective services including the identification and treatment of elder abuse, adult protective services, guardianship and conservatorship, and alternative supportive and surrogate decision-making approaches. She has authored over 100 articles, books, and book chapters. Dr. Wilber regularly teaches courses in public policy, administration, systems management, and long-term care.

Jeanine Yonashiro-Cho, MSG

Photo of Jeanine Yonashiro-Cho

A graduate of USC in Biological Sciences and Gerontology, Jeanine Yonashiro-Cho returned to USC to begin her doctoral studies in Fall 2013. Her research interests focus on improving and preserving the health and well-being of older adults with a particular focus on reducing health disparities and protecting vulnerable elders.

Before returning to California, Jeanine served as the State of Hawaii's Planner for Aging Services where she worked to strengthen Hawaii's aging services infrastructure and development of evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention programs for older adults.

Working under the direction of Dr. Kathleen Wilber, Jeanine is currently studying forensic markers of elder abuse and promising elder abuse interventions, such as the Elder Abuse Forensic Center model.

Former Lab Members

Gretchen Alkema, PhD, LCSW (2002-2007): Vice President of Policy and Communications, The SCAN Foundation - link
Marguerite DeLiema, PhD (2010-2015): Postdoctoral Researcher, Stanford Center on Longevity - link
Katy Fike, PhD (2004-2009): Founder, Aging 2.0; Founding Partner, Generator Ventures - LinkedIn
Melanie Gironda, PhD, MSW (2011-2017): Director of Care Management, WISE & Healthy Aging - link
Brian Kuang, BS (2015-2016): Staff Consultant in Program Improvement, EY - LinkedIn
Adria E. Navarro, PhD, LCSW (2006-2011): Assistant Professor of Clinical Family Medicine, University of Southern California - link
Charlene M. Sullivan, MEd, MSc (2015-2016): Assistant Director of the Faculty at the Canada School of Public Service
Genevieve Waterman, MASM (2015-2017): Program Associate in Economic Security, National Council on Aging - LinkedIn
Tingjian "Jessie" Yan, PhD (2005-2009): Director of Health Services Research, Phar LLC - LinkedIn
Yongjie Yon, PhD (2013-2017): Technical Officer of Violence and Injury Prevention and Healthy Ageing, World Health Organization - LinkedIn

Other Collaborators

Diana C. Homeier, MD

Photo of Diana Homeier

Diana Homeier is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and has a joint appointment as Clinical Associate Professor of Gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Dr. Homeier is the director of both the LAC+USC Adult Protection Team and the Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Forensic Center and is Principal Investigator of a National Institute of Justice-funded study to explore forensic markers of physical elder abuse. She is also a practicing geriatric physician.

Natalie Leland, PhD, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA

Photo of Natalie Leland

Natalie Leland is an Assistant Professor at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Dr. Leland received her BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of New Hampshire and her MS and PhD in Gerontology from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research at Brown University. Dr. Leland has extensive geriatric clinical experience in a variety of rehabilitation settings. Dr. Leland's research is focused on understanding and improving post-acute care quality for older adults and with a particular interest in how occupational therapy can contribute to fall prevention. Dr. Leland is an expert in secondary data analysis and evaluating the impact of health services on quality of care for older adults in post-acute settings.

Laura Mosqueda, MD, FAAFP, AGSF

Photo of Laura Mosqueda

Laura Mosqueda, M.D., is a professor of Family Medicine and Geriatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. She also serves as Associate Dean of Primary Care and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine. She directs the National Center on Elder Abuse which provides information regarding policy, research, training and resources related to neglect and exploitation for policy makers, professional and the public. In 2003, Dr. Mosqueda founded the first Elder Abuse Forensic Center in the United States in an effort to build teams that collaborate across expertise to assist with the evaluation and interventions for complicated cases of suspected elder abuse. Throughout her professional career, she has been involved in extensive research in the field. She is also devoted to the care of older adults by bolstering interprofessional teamwork and enhancing the education of healthcare professional students. While teaching professionals in medicine, criminal justice and social services, she continues to see victims of abuse and neglect in her role as a physician. Dr. Mosqueda has written and lectured extensively on topics in the area of elder care and has been published in top scientific journals and textbooks. She likes cats.

Michael B. Nichol, PhD

Photo of Mike Nichol

Dr. Nichol holds an appointment as Professor of Health Policy at the USC Price School of Public Policy and joint appointments as Professor of Gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and Professor of Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy in the School of Pharmacy.  In addition, he directs the Graduate Health Programs at the USC Price School. Dr. Nichol maintains an active research program enabled by federal and corporate grants. This includes his role as Principal Investigator of a National Institute of Justice-funded project to assess the cost effectiveness of the Elder Abuse Forensic Center model. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles and abstracts on a variety of health topics. He regularly consults for pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, as well as large physician groups within California.

Debra Saliba, MD, MPH, AGSF

Photo of Deb Saliba

Dr. Saliba is a physician with the VA GRECC and serves as the Associate Director for Education for the VA HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation and Policy. Dr. Saliba also holds the Anna & Harry Borun Endowed Chair in Geriatrics at UCLA and directs the UCLA/Jewish Home Borun Center for Gerontological Research. She is also a senior natural scientist at RAND and a member of the American Geriatrics Society Board of Directors. A recognized leader in geriatrics research and quality, Dr. Saliba has served as an expert on multiple national advisory panels addressing quality of care for older adults across care settings. Her research has created tools and knowledge that can be applied to improving quality of care and quality of life for vulnerable elders across the care continuum. A major theme of this work has been giving voice to elders in assessments of their health and healthcare, as demonstrated in her development of the VES-13 survey and revision of the Minimum Data Set (MDS 3.0) for nursing homes.

Fernando M. Torres-Gil, PhD, MSW

Photo of Fernando Torres-Gil

Fernando Torres-Gil is a Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy at UCLA, Director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging, and an Adjunct Professor of Gerontology at USC. His research spans the important topics of health and long-term care, disability, entitlement reform, and the politics of aging. Since its inception in 2005, he has served as the Principal Investigator of the Ford Foundation-funded Latinos & Economic Security project. In addition to his academic pursuits, Professor Torres-Gil has an extensive portfolio of public service. He earned his first presidential appointment in 1978 when President Carter appointed him to the Federal Council on Aging, shortly after which he was selected as a White House Fellow and served as a Special Assistant to the then-Secretary of HEW, Patricia Harris. He was appointed (with Senate Confirmation) by President Clinton as the first-ever U.S. Assistant Secretary on Aging in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, Professor Torres-Gil received his third presidential appointment (with Senate Confirmation) by President Obama as Vice Chair of the National Council on Disability. He has served in various leadership roles in state and local-level government and continues to provide important leadership in philanthropy and non-profit organizations, including as a board member for AARP.