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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Human System Integration
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
BOHSI Member Spotlight
Sara J. Czaja, Ph.D.
Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
   and Industrial Engineering
Co-Director, Center on Aging
Director, Center on Research and Education for Aging
  and Technology Enhancement
University of Miami

In this issue we place the spotlight on Dr. Sara Czaja, a BOHSI member since 2010.
What is your current position and area of research?
I am currently a Leonard M. Miller Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. I am also the Scientific Director of the Center on Aging at the University of Miami and the Director of The Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE), a multisite Center funded by the National Institute on Aging that focuses on aging and technology systems. CREATE involves collaboration between the University of Miami, Florida State University and Georgia Institute of Technology. I hold a secondary appointment in Industrial Engineering at the University of Miami.

My research interests include understanding the implications of normative age-related changes in cognitive functioning as well as those associated with cognitive and emotional impairments on everyday functional performance and quality of life. Within this space I have a particular interest in how technological systems can be used to support the independence and quality of life of older people and their families and how these systems need to be designed to be commensurate with the needs, characteristics, and preferences of these user groups especially within the healthcare domain. I also conduct research in family care giving, functional assessment, and behavioral interventions.
What led you to this field/area of research?
My interest in this field stemmed from a course I took as an undergraduate on the Psychology of Aging and one of my mentors Dr. Irene Hulicka. It was further inspired by my interactions with older adults and the fact that the disciplines of engineering and behavioral sciences in additional to clinical/biological sciences has the ability to make strong contributions towards enhancing quality of life and independence of older people and the promotion of “successful aging.” It is also spurred by my conviction that older people can continue to make strong contributions to society. 
What, in your opinion, has been the greatest achievement in your area of science?
I think it is hard to select one achievement. One great achievement is the recognition of the need for a multidisciplinary approach to study complex issues such as aging and the collaborations among engineers, clinicians and behavioral sciences. I also think my field has done a great deal in underscoring the need for applied as well as basic research. Finally, the recent acknowledgement across many fields and problem spaces of the value of and need for a Human Systems Integration approach.
Where do you see your field progressing over the next 10 years?
I think there will be great advancements in using technology systems to support healthcare and vulnerable populations. I also think that there will be an increased emphasis on the need for a multi-disciplinary approach that includes an attention to human/behavioral issues within system design efforts.
What is the best part of being on on the board?
The honor to serve on the board and the “best part” of serving is multifaceted and includes: the ability to be at the forefront of and being able to help define critical issues confronting society; the ability to interact with esteemed colleagues; and the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of perspectives on a wide variety of topics as Human Systems Integration is a fundamental component of so many issues. 
If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be?
Jacqueline Kennedy – a woman of refined intelligence, style and grace.

What is the greatest book you ever read, and why?
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole – it is extremely well written, enormously funny, a great story and is a book you can go back to time and time again. I also highly rank Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger.

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