Laura Donorfio

Associate Professor, PhD

Human Development and Family Sciences

Research Interests

My general research interests have changed a bit over my career but seem to have also recently come full-circle. As a graduate student via UConn’s HDFS program, I was specifically interested in intergenerational relationships across the lifespan (and achieving affective change) and later life dependency issues, specifically in the areas of caregiving and transportation. When I graduated with my Ph.D. (1996), I was recruited/offered a market research position in what was then the largest corporate gerontology group/department in the country (The Hartford Financial Services). I took this position and over the next six years I led a team of qualitative researchers, learned how to effectively and efficiently conduct very applied qualitative research, work as a liaison with a 45-person quantitative researcher arm of our research department and assisted with mixed methods research and survey design. In this position, I primarily worked with both AARP and the MIT AgeLab on older driver transportation issues and training 26,000 on how to communicate/relate/market to the different generations across the lifepsan. When I re-entered academia in a tenure track position in HDFS (2004), I continued working with MIT’s AgeLab (I am still an associate member) and in the research area of caregiving, but I realized I also missed my intergenerational work. Fortunately, UConn’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) is based at the Waterbury campus which I am also based and I picked back up my intergenerational research with new intergenerational classroom opportunities, while addressing pedagogy, andragogy, and geragogy. I am recognized in my professional organization (Academy of Gerontology in Higher Education–education arm of the Gerontological Society of America) as a leader in intergenerational research and programming (chair committee) and for innovative gerontological pedagogical techniques. I was asked to develop and run a Teaching Institute to train my fellow aging educators on cutting edge pedagogy, andragogy, and geragogy techniques. I have been providing this service to AARP for the past 9 years. While this seems to be where my passion is, I have come full-circle and am back in the research area of caregiving, specifically working with a doctoral student on exploring perceptions of personhood in the Early Stage of Dementia between a marital dyad. I believe I can add value to InChip by sharing my areas of research and vast research experience.

My current/future research initiatives involve two main areas: 1) later life dependencies of older adults and how they impact their families (i.e., caregiving and transportation/mobility) and 2) affective change across the generations, particularly between traditionally aged college students and older lifelong learners. I am interested in being a research affiliate to work in an interdisciplinary way with InChip on current aging issues. I have been asked to be a member of your newly formed Aging Research Interest Group and most recently, I have been asked to assist in the developing/giving a workshop on qualitative methods. I see this to be a very exciting time for the intersection of all of the aforementioned! I believe I can add to Mission Goal #2–leveraging my skills set via a diverse field (HDFS)–and Goal #4–educate and mentor students, researchers, faculty and community members via my areas of expertise and also effective interventions related to my areas of specialization/research.


Ph.D., UConn, 1996

Recent Publications

Donorfio, L. (2019). AGHE’s Teaching Institute—What is it? Why is it? And a Decade in the Making! The AGHE Exchange, 41(3),

Froude, C., Rigazio-DiGilio, S., Donorfio, L., Bellizzi, K. (2017). Contextualizing the Young Adult Female Breast Cancer Experience: Developmental, Psychosocial, and Interpersonal Influences. The Qualitative Report, 22(6), 1488-1510.

Vhetter, R., Myllykangas, S.A., Donorfio, L.K.M., & Foose, A.K. (2011). Using creative movement as a stress reduction intervention for the caregiver. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance, 82(2), 35-39.

Donorfio, L.K.M., Vhetter, R., & Vracevic, M. (2010). Effects of three caregiver interventions: Support, educational literature, and creative movement. Journal of Women & Aging, 22(1), 61-75.

Donorfio, L.K.M. & Chapman, B. (2009). Engaging the older learner on growing old—Positively. The LLI Review, 4, 9-21.

Donorfio, L.K.M., Mohyde, M., D’Ambrosio, L., & Coughlin, J. (2009). To drive or not to drive? That isn’t the question—the meaning of self-regulation among older drivers. Journal of Safety Research, 40, 221-226.

Donorfio, L.K.M., D’Ambrosio, L., Coughlin, J., & Mohyde, M. (2008). Health, safety, self-regulation, and the older driver: It’s not just a matter of age. Journal of Safety Research, 39, 555-561.

Donorfio, L.K.M., Mohyde, M., Coughlin, J., & D’Ambrosio, L. (2008). A qualitative exploration of self-regulation behaviors among older drivers. Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 20(3), 323-339.

D’Ambrosio, L.A., Donorfio, L.K.M., Coughlin, J., Mohyde, M., & Meyer, J. (2008). Gender differences in self-regulation patterns and attitudes toward driving among older adults. Journal of Women & Aging, 20(3/4), 265-282.

Donorfio, L.K.M. & Healy, C. (2008a). Teaching an interactive television course on adulthood and aging: Making it happen. Educational Gerontology, 34(6), 1-19.

Donorfio, L.K.M. & Healy, C. (2008b). Student engagement equals student success: What does your risk continuum look like? NEFDC Exchange, 19(2), 8-10.

Donorfio, L.K.M. & Healy, C. (2007). Helpful suggestions for teaching interactive television courses. NEFDC Exchange, 18(2), 10-12.

Donorfio, L.K.M. & Kellett, K. (2006). Filial responsibility and transitions involved: A qualitative exploration of caregiving daughters and frail mothers. Journal of Adult Development, 13(3-4), 158-167.

Donorfio, L.M. & Sheehan, N.W. (2001). Relational dynamics between aging mothers and their caregiving daughters: Filial expectations and responsibilities. Journal of Adult Development, 8, 39-49.

Sheehan, N.W. & Donorfio, L.M. (1999). Efforts to create meaning in the relationship between aging mothers and their caregiving daughters: A qualitative study of caregiving. Journal of Aging Studies, 13, 161-176.

Contact Information
Phone(203) 560-0760
Mailing Address99 East Main Street Waterbury, CT 06702 United States