COVID-19 and interdisciplinary research: What are the needs of researchers on aging?

  • P.J. White Institute of Technology Carlow, Ireland
  • Gésine Alders McMaster University, Canada
  • Audrey Patocs McMaster University, Canada
  • Parminder Raina McMaster University, Canada
Keywords: aging, interdisciplinary research, co-design, COVID-19, pandemic, research, older people, older adults


COVID-19 has had an extreme effect on older people. Now more than ever we need collaborative approaches to address complex issues within research on aging. However, the pandemic has dramatically changed the way we conduct, interact, and organize research within interdisciplinary groups. This paper describes a case study of how an interdisciplinary institute for research on aging has managed the process of change during COVID-19 restrictions. A design lead, researcher centered approach was used to understand the needs of researchers as they adapted across 6 months. Firstly, an online survey (n=51) was conducted to understand the scope of change and needs. The survey found broad themes ranging from assistance with finding additional funding to adjusting current research proposals. Following the survey, two Co-Design Sessions were conducted. The first session (n=53) diverged thinking to scope ideas from the survey and actionable themes were created. The second session (n=36) was conducted to converge thinking and focus on solutions based on one of these themes. The results revealed a diversity of ideas addressing the needs of interdisciplinary researchers in aging. These ideas spanned from exploring the capacity to do research remotely and creating virtual collaboration spaces to rethinking stakeholder engagement.

Received: 1 July 2021
Accepted: 12 October 2021


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Author Biographies

P.J. White, Institute of Technology Carlow, Ireland

PhD in Product Design, is Principal Investigator and Lecturer DesignCORE, at the Institute of Technology Carlow, Carlow (Republic of Ireland). He is also a visiting scholar at McMaster Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University, Canada. His main research areas include Social Design, Co-Design, Design Anthropology, and Human Centric Design as a means of understanding human behaviours and cultures. As a Product Designer, he has extensive experience innovating for small to multi-national businesses. As a Design academic, he has worked at Maynooth University, within the Department of Design Innovation and has lectured and conducted research at universities internationally. He is an editor for Iterations Design research review, has consulted for Irish Government policy initiatives in Design and is an External examiner up to Doctoral level. He is currently a member of the Irish Gerontological Society and Institute of Designers in Ireland.

Gésine Alders, McMaster University, Canada

PhD in Neuroscience, is a Research Coordinator at the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario (Canada). Her research interests are in neuroimaging of neuroplasticity in mood disorders, and neuroplasticity and neuroprogression in mood disorders across the lifespan. Her role at the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA) involves facilitating and supporting interdisciplinary collaboration on research in aging, grants administration, and supporting the MIRA trainee network.

Audrey Patocs, McMaster University, Canada

Research Manager at the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (McMaster University, Canada). She is focused on methods for developing interdisciplinary research programs of research, integrating stakeholders and end users into the research process and novel ways of evaluating research impact. She has worked in the field of HIV epidemiology, behaviour, beliefs and HIV-related cognitive changes, and is currently working in interdisciplinary aging research.

Parminder Raina, McMaster University, Canada

PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, Lead Principal Investigator of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) and Scientific Director of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA). As well, Parminder holds a Canada Research Chair in Geroscience and the Raymond and Margaret Labarge Chair in Research and Knowledge Application for Optimal Aging and is one of the founding members of the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal and the Ontario Research Coalition of Aging Institutes/Centres. He was also member of the National Seniors Council from 2018 – 2021. Parminder specializes in the epidemiology of aging with emphasis on developing the interdisciplinary field of Geroscience to understand the processes of aging from cell to society. He has expertise in epidemiologic modeling, systematic review methodology, injury, and knowledge transfer. 


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How to Cite
White, P.J., Gésine Alders, Audrey Patocs, and Parminder Raina. 2021. “COVID-19 and Interdisciplinary Research: What Are the Needs of Researchers on Aging?”. Tuning Journal for Higher Education 9 (1), 239-63.