Victoria Atabakhsh

PhD student, Aging, Health and Well-being

Victoria Atabakhsh.

Channeling passion into research: Victoria’s path to doctoral studies

Victoria Atabakhsh has always had an admiration and respect for older adults. Growing up as an only child, she recalls spending plenty of time with her grandparents and volunteering at nursing homes. Now an Aging, Health and Well-being researcher, Victoria aims to enhance understanding and awareness around the needs of older adults.

In her recent article, Social distancing: 6 ways to help older adults change their routine, Victoria identifies actions and considerations for family members and care partners as they navigate the challenges of COVID-19. While her article focuses on circumstances related to the pandemic, the principles that she explores are important in any context. Respecting the autonomy and self-rule of older adults and preventing social isolation are key pillars in Victoria’s work.

Being a second-year PhD student in the collaborative Aging, Health and Well-being program, Victoria is in the early stages of her research. Guided by feminist theory, she plans to focus on the care partnership between adult daughters and their older adult parents. In particular, she is interested in exploring intergenerational cohabitation and the way that it influences daily life, relationships and leisure.

Despite her personal experience, it was not until one fateful term during her undergraduate studies that Victoria discovered her academic interest in aging. After finding that all of her desired elective courses had filled up during registration, Victoria enrolled in an aging course through which she found a love for the field.

Victoria and her Grandparents

Victoria's grandparents have been a source of inspiration for her research. Left: Victoria as a child with her Grandpa. Right: Victoria and her Grandma.


After completing her master’s, Victoria was drawn to the collaborative Aging, Health and Well-being PhD program at Waterloo and quickly felt at home in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. She now refers to her fellow students, colleagues and professors as family.

Once I did my master’s degree, it really solidified for me that I am not done learning and seeing how I can contribute to this area of research. I knew that Waterloo had a collaborative Aging, Health and Well-being program and once I met my supervisors, I knew it was the right fit. I am grateful to be here.

Outside of her academics, Victoria enjoys reading about astronomy and biology - especially marine biology. She also loves to spend time with her parents and friends along with her dog named Johnny Cash. During her graduate studies, Victoria has also developed a passion for teaching and a desire to foster a reciprocal learning environment where she and her students learn from each other.

Victoria pursued her PhD because she had a drive to continue learning. With a mission to challenge stereotypes and facilitate a greater understanding of older adults, she is eager to continue on her academic journey and contribute to this important field.

Learn more about the collaborative PhD in Aging, Health and Well-being.