USC professor Sharon DeWitte is steeped in death, specifically the Black Death that ravaged Europe during the 14th century. DeWitte is studying how conditions in Europe before and after the plague and the effects of the disease on the lifespan of survivors changed life in medieval Europe.
DeWitte says, "I found that a significantly higher number of people were living to really old ages after the Black Death. Many people lived beyond the age of 50 and particularly above the age of 70," DeWitte said. "I honestly was surprised by how dramatic the difference was in their survival. I've analyzed risks of mortality within the pre-and post-Black Death populations, and the preliminary results suggest lower overall risks of mortality after the Black Death."