Eva Kahana

Recipient of GSA’s 2011

Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology Award



The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging, has chosen Eva Kahana, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University as the 2011 recipient of the Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology Award.

This distinguished honor is given annually to an individual whose theoretical contributions have helped bring about a new synthesis and perspective or have yielded original and elegant research designs addressing a significant problem in the literature. The award presentation will take place at GSA’s 64th Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 18 to 22 in Boston, MA.

At Case Western Reserve University, Kahana is the Pierce T. and Elizabeth D. Robson Professor of Humanities & Sociology and director of the Elderly Care Research Center. Throughout her career, she has pursued an applied program of research aimed at contributing to improved quality of life for older adults and focused on conceptualizing and operationalizing older people in a context — i.e., how person/environment transactions explain late life well-being and quality of life.
While many scholars in the field of gerontology have focused on the deficits associated with aging, Kahana’s work has focused instead on the positive aspects of later life. She has offered the field of gerontology novel conceptualizations that consider the adaptation of individuals in a sociological and environmental context.

She has conducted pioneering work in the field of traumatic stress in later life. Together with Boaz Kahana, PhD, she began the first study of long‐term adaptation of older Holocaust survivors living in the U.S., Israel, and Hungary. This research underscored important distinctions between social and psychological outcomes in the aftermath of extreme stress endured early in life. Accordingly, survivors were found to exhibit important social achievements and strengths even as they struggled with enduring mental health symptoms. Many articles and a recent book, “Holocaust Survivors and Immigrants: Late Life Adaptation,” emerged from this work.

Kahana, a former chair of GSA’s Behavioral and Social Sciences Section, is a GSA fellow, which represents the Society’s highest class of membership. She also is a previous winner of GSA’s M. Powell Lawton Award and Distinguished Mentorship in Gerontology Award.