In the years since, Steverink has turned that interestinto a research career in "successful aging," which she defines as "how people age with a high level of well-being." She looks at why "some people are doing very well up to very old age while othersare doing much less well, and how you can explain that from social and psychological factors," says Steverink, a senior researcher in the social and behavioral sciences with appointments at theUniversity of Groningen and the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands.
Steverink's research spans the theoretical and practical: She has developed a theory of psychological well-being inolder people, she studies their capacity to manage their own well-being, and she creates courses to teach elderly people self-management skills. "Her work is a textbook example for how to do rigoroussocial-scientific research that can be translated for the benefit of society," Rafael Wittek, the chair of both the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS) and theDepartment of Sociology at the University of Groningen, writes in an e-mail to Science Careers.
An interdisciplinary background
Exposure to different disciplines has been an important factor in theevolution of Steverink's research. "I had a lot of opportunities to work with others, and speak with others, during my career," she says. "It opens up your mind and it challenges you to integrateinsights" from other fields.
Steverink initially pursued a music career, but "during my music studies I discovered that I wanted not to be a music teacher but to do something with people and behavior,"...