Sleep Researcher &

Behavioral health


Career path:

Sleep Researcher and Behavioral Health


Veteran's Association


Undergraduate at New York University

Masters at University of Michigan

Doctoral in Public Health (health behavior) and Geriatric Social Work at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill


Meet Jaime Hughes PhD, a sleep researcher and behavioral health expert. Jaime's first formal experience working in aging was as an undergraduate at NYU where one of her courses connected her to volunteering at an Adult Day Center to participate in a storytelling program for individuals with memory challenges. As a lifelong dancer and artist, Jaime has always believed in the power of creativity to express ideas, share stories, and connect individuals. The magic of this program was something extraordinary—through creative storytelling, everyone in the room became an equal and suddenly any concerns about memory vanished. Working with older adults and their caregivers, researchers, and aging professionals in this setting was one of Jaime's first experiences working in patient-centered, holistic care. It was also proof that she could have a career that would allow her to equally exercise her creative and scientific sides of my brain. 

Most of Jaime's work has been in the research sector. Jaime completed her Masters (University of Michigan) and Doctoral (UNC at Chapel Hill) degrees in public health (health behavior) and geriatric social work. Much of her focus rests on developing and evaluating health promotion programs for older adults and their caregivers. Jaime's more recent work combines principles of health services research to explore how researchers, clinicians, patients, community workers, and educators can come together to collaboratively identify and pursue innovative avenues for benefitting behavioral health programs. Such approaches involve brief interventions delivered in primary care, telehealth programs delivered to a patient’s home, or community-based programs delivered by a peer educator.  By promoting health early, more older adults can remain functionally independent and age in place.

Jaime currently works at the Veteran's Association in Durham and most of the older adults she works with are overwhelmed by multiple chronic conditions and are unsure how to change and/or prioritize different health behaviors. She believes in involving older adults in every part of the program design and evaluation process – a little asking and listening can go a long way. This is where Jaime's artistic training really comes in – being able to meet older adults where they are, plan programs that meet their needs, and remain comfortable in situations that are complex and unfamiliar often require a little storytelling, creativity and improvisation!

Career Advice from Jaime Hughes PhD: "Follow your heart and trust your gut. There is much work to be done what will require passionate, committed individuals with a diverse set of interests and experiences."