Patricia Morton

Patricia Morton

Assistant Professor of Sociology/Public Health
Adjunct, Institute of Gerontology


313-577-2735 (fax)

 2251 Faculty/Administration Building

Curriculum vitae

Patricia Morton

Dr. Morton received her dual-title Ph.D. in Sociology and Gerontology from Purdue University. Broadly, Dr. Morton's academic interests center on understanding health and aging throughout the life course. Her research primarily focuses on the ways in which different domains of childhood disadvantage (e.g., socioeconomic disadvantage; maltreatment) influence health and mortality in adulthood. This line of work underscores how early-life disadvantage can impact later-life health through multiple mechanisms such as socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and physiology.

Dr. Morton's approach to studying the early origins of adult health also addresses conceptual and methodological issues surrounding life course research. Her work has been published in various journals such as Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Social Science & Medicine, and the Journals of Gerontology: Series B; highlighted by national and international news outlets; and received several awards, including the Gerontological Society of America's Theoretical Developments in Social Gerontology.

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • Aging and the Life Course

  • Population Health

  • Health Disparities

  • Social Inequality

  • Quantitative Methodology


Health and aging over the life course.


  • Ph.D., Sociology and Gerontology (dual-title), Purdue University
  • M.S., Sociology, Purdue University
  • B.S., Applied Sociology, Texas State University

Awards and grants

  • Outstanding Publication Award, Honorable Mention, Section on Aging and the Life Course, American Sociological Association, 2022.

    Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Wayne State University, 2021

    Behavioral and Social Sciences Student Research Award, Dissertation Level, Gerontological Society of America, 2016

    Distinguished Dissertation Award, Purdue University, 2016

    Theoretical Developments in Social Gerontology Paper Award, Gerontological Society of America, 2014


  • National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH) “Childhood Misfortune and Adult Health among Black, White, and Hispanic Americans.” PI: KF Ferraro. (R01AG043544; converted to RF1AG043544, August 2020). $824,948, 2020-2024.
    Role: Site PI and Co-Investigator

Selected publications

Morton, Patricia M. 2022. “Childhood Disadvantage and Adult Functional Status: Do Early-Life Exposures Jeopardize Healthy Aging?” Journal of Aging and Health Advance access online (doi: 10.1177/08982643211064723).

Morton, Patricia M., and Kenneth F. Ferraro. 2020. "Early Social Origins of Biological Risks for Men and Women in Later Life." Journal of Health and Social Behavior 61:503-522.

Ferraro, Kenneth F. and Patricia M. Morton. 2018. “What Do We mean by Accumulation? Advancing Conceptual Precision for a Core Idea in Gerontology.” The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Social Sciences 73:269-278.

Courses taught by Patricia Morton

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Winter Term 2024

Fall Term 2023

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022