Student Spotlight

Jaqueline Contera-AvilaJaqueline Contera-Avila

I am a PhD candidate in the Population Health Sciences program, and my research focuses on aging, biostatistics, and health services research. As a graduate student in the Preventive Medicine and Community Health Department, I have had the opportunity to work with multiple population-level datasets that are available to students, and to strengthen my ability to perform various research methods.

I also have had the opportunity to be mentored by Dr. Rebeca Wong, the Principal Investigator of the Mexican Health and Aging Study. This is a nationally representative prospective cohort of older adults in Mexico and is part of a worldwide initiative to understand global aging. Her mentorship and the resources available to me in my department and the Sealy Center on Aging housed at UTMB provide the best setting in which to develop my research interests.

My dissertation focuses on cross-national comparison of aging, using two nationally representative prospective cohorts: the Mexican Health and Aging Study and the US Health and Retirement Study. I study how diabetes impacts cognitive decline among older adults in Mexico and the United States using longitudinal data analysis, over 14 years of follow up. These two countries offer a good opportunity to compare how cognitive decline occurs in countries with different aging patterns and life course experiences. I hope to achieve a greater understanding of global aging, and become a researcher who is able to conduct collaborative research with other countries.

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