Gerontechnology is an emerging area of interdisciplinary research that combines the study of gerontology with technology, and it’s an area in which Syracuse University School of Information Studies Ph.D. candidate Johanna L.H. Birkland is making a name for herself.

At the International Society for Gerontechnology’s Master Class 2010, Birkland received the Best Poster Award for her submission, “Technology and the Everyday Lives of Older People: ICT Usage and Older Adults’ Roles in Family, Community, and Work.” The poster is a summary of her proposed dissertation work, which focuses on adults over the age of 65 and their usage of information and communication technologies, especially as it relates to their everyday lives. She received a certificate and a gift for her efforts.

This is the second year Birkland has participated in the invitation-only workshop. “It is an opportunity to work and learn with the top faculty members and researchers working in gerontechnology,” she said. Birkland said she worked with faculty and peers at the conference to strengthen her research based on their feedback, and that she completed activities that helped her understand where her work fit within gerontechnology.

Birkland modestly said she owes her success to her faculty advisors and mentors at the iSchool, including Michelle Kaarst-Brown, Steve Saywer, and Bob Benjamin. “Without these people, my research would not be nearly as interesting, or even be best-poster award material,” Birkland said.

Birkland has a multidisciplinary background. As an undergraduate at Cornell, she studied both biological sciences and psychology. She went on to pursue an M.S. in Communications from Ithaca College. Afterwards, she came to Syracuse University, where she completed an M.S. in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation. She has taught courses at the iSchool in enterprise risk management, research methods, statistical methods, and information reporting and presentation. She has earned numerous awards, including the 2010 SU Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award and the Faculty Award for Excellence at Ithaca College.