Student Profile: Boah Kim

February 07, 2023

Boah Kim is currently working on her PhD degree in Gerontology. She completed her master's degree in Public Health from Seoul National University. Boah's research will focus on three interrelated theses papers to highlight the experiences of informal caregivers that provide integrated care for older adults.

Can you tell me about your academic background? Specifically, what led you to the Gerontology program at SFU?

I obtained my master’s degree in Public Health from Seoul National University. Afterward, I worked as a scientific researcher at the Institute of Dementia in the National Medical Center (NMC) in South Korea, conducting many national research projects. I particularly enjoyed the project building the 2021-2025 national dementia strategy and the project researching global trends in dementia policy as these projects added depth to my expertise and amplified my interest in the field.

My involvement in the NMC’s various projects on health policy for older adults shaped my goal to become a specialist in aging research. This passion and motivation naturally led me to the gerontology program at SFU, especially because I was very much impressed by the department’s abundant and distinguished infrastructure that allows students to conduct in-depth aging studies with professional insight.

Can you tell me how you became interested in Gerontology?

I am from South Korea, one of the world’s fastest-aging countries. Growing up, I naturally observed how aging impacts not only the individual but society as a whole. This triggered my interest in the field. I began to perceive aging, a natural process, as a subject of study and research for dissecting a wide range of issues accompanying aging and how it touches every nook and cranny of our daily life. I find it very interesting to identify the direct and indirect, causal and non-causal relationships between aging and social changes related thereto. Ultimately, I want to contribute to improving the quality of life of older adults and their informal caregivers.

What is your research about? How does your supervisor facilitate your goals?

My Ph.D. dissertation will focus on three interrelated theses papers. The first paper will be a scoping review of the experiences and perspectives of informal caregivers on integrated care for older adults. The second paper will utilize the General Social Survey (GSS) to conduct secondary data analysis with the goal of investigating key factors that contribute to the difficulties faced by informal caregivers when navigating the community and health care systems. The third paper will be a qualitative study focusing on the experiences and perspectives of informal caregivers in providing integrated care while navigating the systems.

Professor Andrew Wister, my senior supervisor, is very supportive of work and daily endeavors in various ways. First of all, he greatly helped me shape my research proposal. To make the proposal more concrete and specific, Dr. Wister gave his time to have frequent meetings and discussions on potential research ideas, as well as my general academic progress during the doctoral program. Moreover, he provided me with a variety of research opportunities so that I could develop my research skills and broaden my view. Secondly, he has also been very supportive of my daily endeavors, helping me to better adapt to the new environment in Vancouver. His in-depth understanding of the difficulties faced by an international Ph.D. student has alleviated this burden. Such wonderful support allows me to not only focus on my doctoral study but also enjoy my life inside and outside the campus.

Outside of school, are you involved in any research projects or community initiatives?

I am now working as a research assistant for a research project focusing on social isolation among older adults with my supervisor Dr. Wister and Lun Li, an assistant professor in Social Work at MacEwan University. I have been conducting systematic reviews regarding the social isolation and loneliness of informal caregivers and I am planning to do a second data analysis using the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) in line with this research topic.

Also, as one of the executive members of the Gerontology Graduate Caucus (GGC), I have been actively engaged in various events for the Department, such as Careers Night and other social/recreational activities being held throughout the year.

What are your plans after you finish your program?

I want to stay in academia to continue my journey to be a specialist in gerontology. By constantly improving my research capabilities and enriching relevant field experience, I hope to contribute to implementing a more desirable community and health care system capable of fulfilling the complex needs of older adults and their caregivers. As one of the means to influence the implementation of such a desirable community, I am eager to foster and train new generations of gerontologists by teaching in higher education and sharing my experience and knowledge with my students.

Do you have any advice for prospective students interested in Gerontology?

  1. Remind yourself often why you first became interested in Gerontology or related fields. This will keep you focused on your long journey.
  2. Don’t be afraid of building networks across various fields. Gerontology involves a wide range of disciplines with people from various backgrounds. The networks you build now will go a long way.

Connect with Boah at: