My research interests lie in two main areas: ageing and citizenship, and community engaged research – specifically qualitative and participatory research methods. My work has evolved over the past number of years from gender and public policy to critical perspectives on policies for ageing societies, also known as critical gerontology. The challenge of population ageing is multi-faceted, requiring research evidence from a range of disciplines. As a result, all of my work has tended to be inter-disciplinary, involving collaboration with university and community partners. Collaborators have included the Social Policy and Ageing Research Centre (TCD), the Community Knowledge Initiative, Child and Family Research Centre and the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. At present I am collaborating with Cambridge University on a proposal called Construct-Age: a project which aims to discover the potential of our ageing population.My work has been published in Ageing and Society, Journal of Aging Studies, Action Research, Critical Social Policy and the European Journal of Ageing and Gender & Soceity.
Previous work made a contribution to policy formulation and critique in the area of civil society engagement with the State, in particular on corporatism and policies for disadvantaged groups in the Republic of Ireland. I was also one of team of researchers on Changing Generations, a longitudinal, grounded theory study of solidarity between generations in the Republic of Ireland ( In recent years, my work has taken a more global focus, idetifying policy responses to ageing populations as problematic in a range of country context. To this end, I am involved in a network called Gender Equality and Public Policy. With Dr. Rossella Ciccia, I am developing theory and methods which allow us to examine the gender implications of increased demand for eldercare in ageing societies.
I am keen to support applications for postgraduate research in any of the above areas but especially on furthering our understanding of ageing and older people, and the implications of policy design for citizenship.

Gemma is a member of the British Society of Gerontology.


  • –present
    Lecturer, Queen's University Belfast