Research Opportunities

HomeResearch Opportunities

OLLI @ Berkeley is aligned with the public research emphasis of UC Berkeley. To that end, OLLI partners with researchers to advance its research focus and to offer OLLI members opportunities to participate in research studies. 

OLLI @Berkeley’s research focus is:

  • The science of learning, specifically lifelong learning for the 50+ adult
  • The science of healthy living and dynamic aging

When research partnerships offer opportunities for interested OLLI members to become volunteer research participants, OLLI’s Advisory Research and Evaluation Team will provide this information along with an overview of the study purpose, eligibility criteria, and study contact information. Selected studies are subject to Institutional Review Board (IRB) oversight through UC Berkeley or other universities.

Current Research Opportunities

UC Berkeley is conducting research focused on reducing caregiver burden associated with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia (ADRD) through the development of home sensing equipment to aid in the detection of potential safety concerns in homes. Specifically, this is a three-month pilot study aimed at using software to identify certain safety-critical events. Participants will be asked to allow small cameras and wireless sensors to be placed in the home to collect data to test how well software algorithms can detect:

  • when the individual with dementia has left the residence alone
  • when an individual has fallen down
  • when the sink or bath is overflowing
  • when the stove has been left on unattended

This pilot study is the next phase of the work that the OLLI Advisory Research and Evaluation Team reviewed and approved. The study is the work of George Netscher, a Ph.D. candidate in the UC Berkeley School of Engineering. George's work is overseen by Alexandre M. Bayen, the Liao-Cho Professor of Engineering - Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences / Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering & head of the Mobile Sensing Lab. George, per ARET requirements, has provided the Protocol ID for the study that received full UCB IRB approval on April 11, 2016 - Professor Bayen is the Principal Investigator. A registered nurse has been brought onto the study team who will also be involved in interacting with caregivers.

If you are interested in participating, please review the study notification document and contact the study organizers directly. All contact information for the study is included in the notification document; OLLI will not be an intermediary between interested members and the study team. 


Past Opportunities

Dementia home monitoring

OLLI members involved in caring for a loved one with some form of cognitive decline or dementia were invited to participate in a series of small group sessions to gather input into the development of a home monitoring system to assist caregivers. The development team was led by a UC Berkeley School of Engineering doctoral candidate and included participation from the School of Public Health, the Haas School of Business, and CITRIS (Center for Information Technology and Research in the Interest of Society). 

SilverLearning study

An opportunity for OLLI members to participate in an online survey study that is investigating the formal lifelong learning behaviors of mature adults in the United States and Germany. Eligibility criteria are to be 65 or older and to be currently taking or auditing courses or lectures (non-credit or credit). You can learn more about the study at

UC Berkeley wellness research: BeFriend Study

The UC Berkeley Friendship, Emotion and Wellness study (BeFriend) recruited women volunteers, along with a friend, between the ages of 25 and 80 years old, to participate in the study in order to investigate the social, emotional, cognitive and biological factors associated with friends helping each other during challenging life events. Learn more at the BeFriend website