When Megan Dolbin-MacNab stood before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in Washington, D.C., last year, she provided a stark portrayal of grandparents who have had to raise their grandchildren because of the impact of the opioid addiction epidemic.

At the same time, she was uplifting, advocating for more governmental support and resources for these often-resilient caregivers.

Dolbin-MacNab, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, has a passion for gerontology research and advocacy for grandfamilies, as demonstrated during her Senate testimony. For her dedication and outstanding contributions in the field, she has been elected by the Gerontological Society of America as a fellow in its Behavioral and Social Sciences Section.

The Gerontological Society of America is the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and professional practice in the field of aging. Its fellows are society members nominated by peers for their work in advancing the study of aging through research, administration, and teaching.

“Dr. Dolbin-MacNab’s steadfast commitment to improving the well-being of grandparent families is evidenced by her research, expert testimonies, teaching, awards, and community outreach,” said April Few-Demo, interim head of the Department of Human Development and Family Science. “Grandparent families have in her a lifelong advocate. The department is proud to have an outstanding colleague whose stellar work embodies the spirit of the land-grant mission and pushes family science forward.”

Dolbin-MacNab first joined Virginia Tech as an assistant professor in the marriage and family therapy doctoral program in 2004. Seven years later she received tenure as an associate professor and has served as director of the doctoral program since 2016.

Her inspiration for doing research on grandparents raising grandchildren came from her own relationship with her grandmother, as well as her clinical experiences as a marriage and family therapist.

“Grandparents make critical contributions to their families,” she said. “My goal is to develop knowledge that can be used to improve the lives of grandparents and grandchildren, as well as the other members of the family.”

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences has awarded Dolbin-MacNab two Excellence in Graduate Student Advising Awards and a Certificate of Teaching Excellence.  She was also a coauthor for the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy’s Best Article of 2013.

Dolbin-MacNab received her bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies from The Pennsylvania State University, and she earned her master’s and doctorate in child development and family studies, with a specialization in marriage and family therapy, at Purdue University.

The society will recognize her as a new fellow in November during its 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston.

“Being named a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America is an honor,” Dolbin-MacNab said. “I am excited to join this exemplary community of scholars, practitioners, and advocates, and I look forward to making continued contributions to the field of gerontology.”  

Written by Leslie King and photographed by Richard Allnutt