Jennifer Carson

Jennifer Carson, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor & Director, Gerontology Academic Program


Jennifer Carson is a critical gerontologist who works to envision and develop opportunities for individual and collective growth to combat ageism and improve the inclusion and well-being of elders, with a particular interest in persons living with dementia. Jennifer brings a commitment to service, collaboration and innovation built upon 30 years of practical experience in the fields of long-term care and aging services, bridging direct care and support, organizational leadership, research, innovation and education. Jennifer is a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Community Health Sciences and Director of the Gerontology Academic Program at the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition, she is a co-creator and cast member of Disrupt Dementia, part of Dr. Bill Thomas' international ChangingAging Tour; co-founder and lead facilitator of the Nevada Alliance to Transform the Culture of Aging; lead facilitator of the Dementia-Friendly Nevada initiative, sponsored by the State of Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division; author and facilitator of Bravo Zulu: Achieving Excellence in Relationship-Centered Care, a program of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services; and an Associate with Cognitive Solutions, LLC. With a strong commitment to partnerships and participatory approaches to research and practice, Jennifer's career and scholarship encompass gerontology, dementia, long-term care, culture change, and leisure and aging. Her educational background includes a BA in Therapeutic Recreation from Eastern Washington University (1998); a MS in Therapeutic Recreation from Clemson University (2003); and a PhD in Recreation and Leisure Studies: Aging, Health and Well-Being Program from the University of Waterloo (2015).

Selected publications


  • Reed, P., Carson, J., & Gibb, Z. (2017). Transcending the tragedy discourse of dementia: An ethical imperative for promoting selfhood, meaningful relationships, and well-being. AMA Journal of Ethics, 19(7), 693-703.
  • Dupuis, S.L., Whyte, C., & Carson, J. (2017). Aligning therapeutic recreation with culture change values. In J.J. Bannon (Ed.), Problem Solving in Recreation and Parks (147-151). Champaign, IL: Sagamore Publishing.



  • Dupuis, S.L., Whyte, C., Carson, J., Genoe, R., Meschino. L.M., & Sadler, L. 2012. Just dance with me: An authentic partnership approach in understanding leisure in the dementia context. World Leisure Journal on Leisure, Health, and Disability. 54(3), 240-254.
  • Dupuis, S.L., Gillies, J., Carson, J., Whyte, C., Genoe, R., Loiselle, L., & Sadler, L. 2012. Moving beyond patient and client approaches: Mobilizing authentic partnerships in dementia care. Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice, 11(4), 428-450.
  • Jonas-Simpson, C., Mitchell, G., Carson, J., Whyte, C., Dupuis, S.L., & Gillies. J. 2012. Phenomenological shifts for healthcare professionals after experiencing a research-based drama on living with dementia. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68(9), 1944-1955.
  • Carson, J. & d’Avernas, J. 2012. Working together to put living first: Appreciative culture change in long-term care. Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner: Special Video Issue, 14(5) 13-14.


  • Dupuis, S.L., Gillies, J., Mitchell, G., Jonas-Simpson, C., Whyte, C., & Carson, J. 2011. Catapulting shifts in images, understandings and actions for family members through research-based drama. Family Relations, 60, 104-120.
  • Dupuis, S.L., Whyte, C., & Carson, J. 2011. Leisure in long-term care settings. In H. Gibson & J. Singleton (Eds.), Leisure and Aging: Theory and Practice (217-237). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  • Mitchell, G., Dupuis, S.L., Jonas-Simpson, C., Whyte, C., Carson, J., & Gillies, J. 2011. The experience of engaging with research-based drama: Evaluation and explication of synergy and transformation. Qualitative Inquiry, 17(4) 379-392.


  • Battisto, D., Carson, J.D., Conti, A., Parks, A., & Voelkl, J.E. 2005. Perceptions of public areas in long-term care environments: Activity spaces or therapeutic places. Annual in Therapeutic Recreation, 14, 85-97.


  • Voelkl, J.E., Battisto, D., Carson, J.D., & McGuire, F.A. 2004. A family model of care: Supporting nursing home residents’ continued growth and development. World Leisure Journal, 46(3), 18-29.
  • Voelkl, J.E. & Carson, J.D. 2004. Disability and leisure lifestyles. In G. Cross (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons Reference Books.


  • PhD in Recreation and Leisure Studies (Aging, Health and Well-Being), University of Waterloo
  • MS in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (Therapeutic Recreation), Clemson University
  • BA in Physical Education, Health and Recreation (Therapeutic Recreation), Eastern Washington University