Meet your current executive and find out about the goals they have for NZAG.

Current National Executive Members:

President: Professor Ngaire Kerse

I am committed to improving the health and wellbeing of older people in New Zealand and have led a programme of research about maximising health for older people for over 20 years. It is a privilege for me to hold the role of president of the New Zealand Association of Gerontology. My areas of interest are falls prevention, activity promotion, health and wellbeing in advanced age and technology to assist independent living. People with dementia and their carers are also important for older populations.

 Vice President:  Dr Debra Waters, Dunedin

To help NZAG promote national and international research and education on positive active ageing. I am the Director of Gerontology Research at the University of Otago, which is a joint appointment across the Department of Medicine and School of Physiotherapy. I am also the Director of the University of Otago research theme called Collaboration of Ageing Research Excellence (CARE) and the Deputy-Director of the Ageing Well National Science Challenge. I work closely with Age Concern Otago and am part of the Southern wide multi-sector falls governance group. I also hold a research appointment at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in the US, and have collaborators in France and The Netherlands.  My areas of research focus are on falls prevention using community-based and peer-led models and body composition changes with ageing, how this impacts on physical function and frailty, and effective life-style interventions. Ageing well and staying independent is my overarching goal for older adults.

Treasurer: Carol Wham

As Associate Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Massey University Carol teaches gerontology nutrition and supervises postgraduate students undertaking research in this field. Carol leads the ENRICH study (Evaluating Nutrition Risk and Intervening to enCourage Healthy-eating) which aims to develop an innovative approach for preventing and reversing malnutrition among vulnerable older adults. She is also an  investigator for (LiLACS NZ)  “Life and Living to Advanced Age: a Cohort study in NZ”.  The dietary assessments undertaken in this study have provided novel findings related to the nutritional status of adults in advanced age and has helped identify modifiable factors related to risk of malnutrition. Carol is a member of Dietitians New Zealand’s Special Interest group in Gerontology Nutrition, an advisor to the Committee on Healthy Ageing of the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation and an Associate Editor for ‘Nutrition and Dietetics’. She is keen to support NZAG to foster improved health and quality of life for older people and support initiatives to enable older people to remain independent in their own homes.  In particular Carol is committed to improving the nutrition status of older adults through enterprises which improve the procurement, preparation, cooking and enjoyment of food.

Committee Member: Asmita Patel

Dr Asmita Patel is a Research Fellow in the School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies at Auckland University of Technology. My doctoral thesis examined older adults’ perceived motives, benefits and barriers for physical activity within the context of the Green Prescription physical activity scripting programme. My postdoctoral work (funded by Cancer Society New Zealand and the Movember Foundation) focused on the role of physical activity in prostate cancer survivorship. My other area of research has focused on the role of Chinese medicine in New Zealand. I also hold a teaching position at New Zealand College of Chinese Medicine.  I am currently involved in a research project that is examining issues related to loneliness and social isolation in individuals with complex medical issues.  I am interested in health promotion and quality of life research that can contribute to successful and meaningful ageing throughout the lifespan.

Committee Member: Dr. Gary Cheung

I am an academic old age psychiatrist. I currently hold a joint appointment between Auckland District Health Board as a community old age psychiatrist and the University of Auckland as a Senior Lecturer. I am the Director of Academic Programme for the Auckland Regional Psychiatric Training Programme. I have a particular interest in post-graduate psychiatry training and research supervision. I am very involved with the training and examination committees of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. My clinical expertise includes the assessment and management of dementia and mild cognitive impairment, capacity assessment and late-life depression. I have a broad research interest with a focus on improving health outcomes and quality of life of older adults. My key research projects include cognitive interventions in dementia, the lived experience of people with dementia, suicide in older adults, and psychosocial group therapy for older adults with loneliness.

Committee Member: Dr. Kathy Glasgow

Dr Kathy Glasgow has a background in health, policy and research.  She holds a MA (applied) in Social Science Research and a PhD in Social Policy. For her doctorate she explored attitudes to ageing amongst the baby boomer cohort in New Zealand, underlying values and implications for social policy. She currently works as a Senior Nursing Advisor in the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer at the Ministry of Health and within this role has a focus on the older persons’ health workforce. She is a registered nurse (RGON) with a background in critical care, graduate nurse education, occupational health, and primary care. Kathy has also worked as a policy analyst, project coordinator and researcher, including for Age Concern New Zealand promoting positive ageing, and for the NZ Institute for Research on Ageing as a research fellow. She maintains a keen interest in societal attitudes to ageing and older people.

Regional Hub Representatives:

 Lower North Island: Rosie Gibson

Rosie Gibson has a background in psychology and clinical sleep medicine. She is a Research Officer at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University, where she leads projects within the Sleep in Aging and Dementia profile. Her work explores prevalence, risk factors and outcomes for sleep disruptions with ageing, dementia and caregiving. She also works qualitatively to represent the experiences and psycho-social context of sleep. Current projects include exploring sleep as a predictor for transitions to formal care and gaining a better understanding of how sleep changes with advancing age for older Māori and non-Māori (HRC Emerging Researcher and Lotteries Post-Doc.). Rosie is also a co-investigator on the Ageing Well through Eating, Sleeping, Socialising and Mobility (AWESSoM) programme of research funded by the National Science Challenge. She serves on the Research Committee of the Australasian Sleep Association and is an advisor on an Australian Sleep Health Foundation project regarding sleep deficits of Australian carers. She is keen to support NZAG to support health promotion for ageing well, particularly how sleep can be enhanced non-pharmacologically to support waking life and reduce decline. She is also keen to support events and networks to engage students and early stage researchers of ageing research.


South Island: Linda Robertson, Dunedin

I am an Associate Professor at the School of Occupational Therapy at Otago Polytechnic where I also have the role of the research coordinator  in the school. My areas of teaching are Clinical Reasoning and Client Education. As a researcher my interest lies in older people and in critically exploring evidence based practice. My recent publications have been on the topics of how novices make sense of evidence based practice and the use of peer leader in community based falls prevention groups.

Student Representative

Lara Vlietstra

I am a PhD Candidate at the University of Otago. After successfully graduating as a physiotherapist in 2014 in the Netherlands, I decided to pursue two postgraduate degrees – in Clinical Health Sciences and in Geriatric Physiotherapy – at the Utrecht University/University Medical Centre Utrecht and Avans+, both in the Netherlands. Soon, I was struck by the phenomenon of sarcopenia, and after graduating from both my master degrees, I decided to submit a PhD proposal within the sarcopenia research area, which successfully got accepted. By the 1st of February 2018, I started my PhD within the Department of Medicine and School of Physiotherapy at the University of Otago, working with Debra Waters and Kim Meredith-Jones. I feel very honored that I am the student representative and I am looking forward to focussing on developing and supporting a student section of the NZAG in the forthcoming years.