Associate Professor, Biological Anthropology and Gerontology
Director, International Programs
Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Ice’s research interests include human biology, aging, stress, long-term care and grandparenting. For many years she has been looking at the impact of the HIV epidemic on older adults in Africa. As HIV has ravaged the middle generation, senior members of the community often look after the young, many of whom are orphans. Ice studies the impact of that relationship on the caregiver, from their stress levels, their mental health, their physical health, diet and nutrition.
Until recently she was studying the relationship between stress and the nutritional intake of grandparents in Kenya. Now working in Botswana on a biocultural project, Ice is exploring the interaction between social environment and health. More particularly, her work focuses on stress and aging and on the relationship between orphans and grandparents.
After conducting a four-year longitudinal study, Ice found that the grandparents weren’t as burdened in their roles as caregivers as other reports and studies suggested. For example, older grandmothers who had orphans living in their homestead fared better than those who didn’t. One possible explanation, Ice suggests, is that their interdependence fosters a mutually supportive relationship and encourages the elders to be physically active. Also, caring for a younger child might give the elders a sense of purpose they previously lacked.
In addition to her field research, Ice is currently collaborating with the Baylor Botswana Center for Excellence and working with the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA) to help them develop their research training program. Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Botswana’s Ministry of Health, she is also coordinating a nurse training project.