Building Evidence to Improve Practice & Health
AOTF Events at the AOTA Annual Conference

Breakfast with a Scholar

AOTF's signature event, Breakfast with a Scholar provides a forum for sharing the ideas of preeminent scholars (usually from other disciplines) that resonate with occupational therapy.

  • 2018 Molly McCully Brown, poet. Something's Wrong With Me: How Shifting Language(s) of Disability Shape Selfhood. Click here to view photos.
  • 2017  Phil Hansen, artist. Embrace the Shake: Transforming Limitations into Opportunities. Click here to view photos. 
  • 2016  Lisa Genova, neuroscientist and author of Still Alice. Understanding Alzheimer's. Click here to view photos.
  • 2015  Florence Clark and Carolyn Baum, occupational therapy scientists and leaders. 
  • 2014  Kenneth Feinberg, Esquire, "How much is a life worth? A conversation about valuing life quality." Click here to view photos. 
  • 2013  Rear Admiral Marty Evans, US Navy (Retired) "How Will the Future Be Different?"  Click here to view RA Evans talk on Youtube.  Click here to view photos.
  • 2012  Lex Frieden, "Evaluating the Americans with Disabilities Act:  An Accounting of Progress."  Click here to view photos.
  • 2011  Ruth Purtilo, medical ethicist.  A conversation about moral courage.
  • 2010  Brian R. Little, psychologist, pioneer of Personal Projects Analysis as an approach to the study of human personality.
  • 2009  Jan Epton Seale, poet, author of Airlift: The Nuts-and-Bolts Guide to Writing Your Life Story. Lives in words; the poetry of making meaning.
  • 2008  Suzanne Farrell, legendary ballerina, founder and artistic director of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet company.
  • 2007  Brenda Smith Myles, authority on behavior, learning, and autism spectrum disorders.
  • 2006  Rae Linda Brown, music scholar specializing in the lives and works of African-American women composers. Music as voice for occupation.
  • 2005  Elizabeth Yerxa, occupational therapist, scientist, Professor Emerita at the University of Southern California.
  • 2004  Uffe Ulle Jensen, scholar in philosophy and medical ethics.
  • 2003  Steve Zeitlin, folklorist, Director of City Lore in New York City, studies rituals and symbols in dealing with stressful situations. "The Meaning Makers: Folk Art,     Storytelling, and the Construction of the Self Through Time." 
  • 2002  William Least-Heat Moon, professor of English, author of Blue Highways.  
  • 2001  Juliet Schor, Harvard economist, author of The Overspent American.
  • 2000  Graham Rowles, social geographer, studies aging in place in Appalachia. How our geographical environment affects our occupations throughout our lifetime.
  • 1999  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, psychologist, architect of the “flow” theory; examines the importance of joy and happiness in our lives. 
  • 1998  Mary Catherine Bateson, sociologist, author of Composing a Life; The cultural concepts of what constitutes a successful life.
  • 1997  John Hockenberry, former AOTF Board member, noted NBC correspondent who covered the Gulf War from his wheelchair.
  • 1996  J. Seward Johnson, acclaimed bronze sculptor. The significance of everyday activities through his life-size portrayals of people engaged in familiar occupations.
  • 1995  Jane Goodall, noted primatologist. So like us: My life with the chimpanzees.

State of the Science Symposium


Each year, AOTF selects a topic to explore and invites respected researchers to summarize scientifically validated evidence that guides best practice and identify gaps in the evidence and research priorities that must be addressed to support future practice. This integrated review of the state of the science includes a discussion of the implications for practice, education, research, and policy. 

  • 2018 Functional Cognition: The OT Lens on Occupational Performance.  M. Carolyn Baum, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Deirdre R. Dawson, PhD, OTR Reg. (Ont.), Robin Newman, OTD, OTR/L, CLT, CDRS, Juleen Rodakowski, OTD, MS, OTR/L, Timothy J. Wolf, OTD, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
  • 2017 Resilience: Occupational Therapy and its Role in Helping to Adapt to Adversity.  Mark Salzer, PhD, Janet Falk-Kessler, EdD, OTR, FAOTA, Valerie Malhomes, PhD, Kristie Patten Koenig, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. Click here to view photos.
  • 2016 25th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities ActJoy Hammel, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Diane Smith, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA with Robin Jones, MPA, COTA/L, ROH and Elliot Roth, MD. Click here to view photos.
  • 2015  Sensory factors and their impact on daily life across the lifespan.  Leanne Carey, BAppSc(OT), PhD, Winifred Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA with Grace Baranek, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA and Scott Frey, PhD. 


Research Colloquium

An AOTF tradition from 1982 to 2014, the Research Colloquium provided a forum where scientists can engage in the important process of constructive critique and dialogue. 


  • 2014  Health Services Research:  A Priority for Occupational Therapy in Healthcare Reform.  Keynote and Moderator: Barbara Gage, PhD, The Brookings Institution.  Presenters: Trudy Mallinson, PhD, OTR/L, NZROT, Nancy Flinn, PhD, OTR/L, St. Catherine University, Natalie Leland, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, BCG, University of Southern California.
  • 2013  A New Era of Rehabilitation Research in Occupational Therapy: Science and Scientists. Moderators:  Kenneth Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR, FAOTA and Wendy Coster, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA and featured the research in progress and professional journeys of early stage scientists who have received funding from Rehabilitation Research Career Development Training Grants: Barbara Doucet, PhD, OTR, (Neuromechanical Interventions for upper extremity motor recovery in chronic stroke); Timothy Reistetter, PhD, OTR, (Regional variation in patient-centered outcomes for inpatient stroke rehabilitation); and Timothy Wolf, OTD, MSCI, OTR/L, (Strategy training interventions to approve participation in home, work, and community activities following mild stroke).  Click here to view photos. 
  • 2012  Translating Cognitive Research Into Clinical Practice. Moderator: Lisa Tabor Connor, PhD, (Challenges in the development of EEG-guided rehabilitation). Panel: Carolyn Baum, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, (Challenges and lessons learned in assessments of executive abilities in people with stroke)Naomi Josman, PhD, OTR, (Challenges and lessons learned using the virtual action planning-supermarket to investigate executive functions and instrumental activities of daily living); Becky Russell, OTR/L, (Strengths and the challenges of bringing lab to life: a clinician's perspective); and Joan Toglia, PhD, Challenges and lessons learned in intervention of awareness deficits in people with TBI).  Click here to view photos
  • 2011  Sensory Processing Disorders in Occupational Therapy:  Mapping Pathways of Understanding from Cages to Clinics to Communities. Moderator: Shelly Lane, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. Speakers: Grace Baranek, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, (The sensory experiences project: Translational research with children with autism); Stacey E. Reynolds, PhD, OTR/L, (Use of rodent models in the study of sensory processing disorders); Mary Schneider, PhD, OTR, A non-human primate model of atypical sensory processing: brain, behavior, stress reactivity and genes). 
  • 2010  Research on the Role of Environments in Promoting Occupation, Participation, and Health. Moderator: Winifred Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA. Speakers: Wendy J. Coster, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, (Capturing the influence of environment on children's participation); Joy Hammel, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, (Evaluating how environmental barriers and supports affect home and community participation of people with disabilities); Dory Sabata, OTD, OTR/L, SCEM, (Creating a virtual home modification experience based on evidence of a real world); Jon Sanford, MArch (We built it and no one came: So now what?). 
  • 2009  Life in Space: Research on Occupational Performance and Reflections of a NASA astronaut. Moderator: Linda Tickle-Degnen, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. Speakers: Leroy Chiao, PhD, astronaut, (Occupational Performance: perspectives of a space station commander); Jacob J. Bloomberg, PhD, (Improving astronaut functional mobility after space flight using adaptability training); Helen S. Cohen, EdD, OTR, FAOTA, (Space research, adaptive behavior, and functional performance); Lauren Leveton, PhD, (Behavioral health and performance tools and technologies to prevent and mitigate risks in space and after reentry); Jeffrey P. Sutton, MD, (Overview of the research portfolio of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute). 
  • 2008  Charting the past, present, and turtle of research in occupational therapy. Moderator: Mary Law, PhD, OT Reg (Ont), FCAOT, FCAHS. (Participation in occupations: what we know and need to know). Speakers: Winifred Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, (Neuroscience and occupational therapy: linking the brain to everyday life); Laura Gitlin, PhD, (In search of a new paradigm of care for older adults with chronic illness); Ken Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, (From technique to translation: what have we learned in 25 years?).
  • 2007  The significance of population research for occupational therapy.  Moderator: Gary Kielhofner, DrPH, OTR, FAOTA. Sherrilene Classen, PhD, MPH, OTR/L, (Population-based health promotion perspective for older driver safety: conceptual framework to intervention plan); Sun Wook Lee, MS, OTR/L, Diane Smith, PhD, OTR/L, (Disability, gender and unemployment relationships in the United States from the behavioral risk factor surveillance system); Renee Taylor, PhD, (A population-based study of chronic fatigue syndrome). 
  • 2006  Moderator: Terry K. Crowe, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. Presenters: Brenda Beagan, PhD, (Strong Black women: everyday racism and the daily occupations of Black Nova Scotian women); Anne Blakeney, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, and Amy Marshall, MS, OTR/L, (Occupational justice in the Appalachian coal fields); Bonnie Kennedy, PhD, OTR, (Participation, occupation, stress, and symptoms of women with HIV);  Reg Urbanowski, EdD, OT(C), Reg. (NS), (The use of mediated empowerment and community-based research in the development of living space).
  • 2005  Synthesis of anatomy of a scholar: identity, teaching and research. Moderator: Elena Andresen, PhD.  Presenters: Winifred Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, Michael Iwama, PhD, OT(C), Debra Stewart, PhD, OTR(C), Mary Lawlor, ScD, OTR/L.
  • 2004  Occupational therapy and the Environment: Beyond client-centered practice.  Moderator: Charles Christiansen, EdD, OTR, FAOTA. Presenters: Mary Ann McColl, PhD, Elizabeth Townsend, PhD, OT(C), Reg NS, FCAOT, Joy Hammel, PhD, OTR, Christine Helfrich, PhD, OTR.
  • 2003 International Classification of Function and Disability: social participation, sensory processing, and participatory action research. Moderator: Charles Christiansen, EdD, OTR, FAOTA. Presenters: M. Carolyn Baum, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, and Monica Perlmutter, MA, OTR, (Impact of stroke on activity participation and sense of well-being); David B. Gray, PhD, Holly Hollingsworth, PhD, and Kerri Morgan MS, OTR/L,  (Environment Measurement System); L. Diane Parham, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, (Measurement of sensory aspects of participation); Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, PhD, (Empowerment and participatory evaluation of community interventions: Implications for occupational therapy).
  • 2002 Making Practice Count: Innovative Outcomes Research. Moderator: Erica Stern, PhD, OTR. Presenters: Renee Taylor, PhD, Joy Hammel, PhD OTR/L, FAOTA, Roger Smith, PhD, OT, Marcia Finlayson, PhD, OT(C), David Nelson, PhD, OTR.
  • 2001  Occupational therapy  & ICIDH-2:  Challenges & opportunities  Moderator: Doris Pierce, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. Presenters:  Wendy Coster, PhD, OTR/L, (Looking at activity and participation through many lenses); Anne Fisher, ScD, OTR, FAOTA, (Developing occupational-therapy-specific assessments:  Challenges and opportunities); Anita Bundy, ScD, OTR, FAOTA, (Creating assessments for OT practice: One Lens, many facets).
  • 2000  The Question-Method Match in Occupational Therapy  Research. Representatives from the Neurobehavioral Rehabilitation Research Center at Sargent College, Boston University.
  • 1999 Assistive Technology. Joy Hammel, PhD, OTR.
  • 1998  Occupation and Adaptation: Activities of the USC AOTA/AOTF Research Center. Moderator: Florence Clark, PhD, OTR, FAOTA. Panel: Jeanne Jackson, PhD, OTR, (Seeding the future for major grant acquisition: From pilot studies to state-of-the-art practice); Mary Lawlor, ScD, OTR, (reading minds in occupation: the intersection of human development and occupational science); Gelya Frank, PhD, (Person centered adaptive systems: the concept revisited). 
  • 1997  the Concept of "Habit" and implications for occupational therapy. Moderator: Charles Christiansen, EdD, OTR. Panelists: Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR, (Habits, What's the Brain got to do with it?); Ruth Zemke, PhD, OTR, (Habit and Routine: The dynamics of stability); Joan C. Rogers, PhD, OTR/L, (The morning care habits of nursing home residents with dementia: Results); Margo B. Holm, PhD, OTR/L, (The morning care habits of nursing home residents with dementia: Comparison of Methods). 
  • 1996  Alternative methodologies for clinical research
  • 1995  What is the proper domain of research in occupational therapy?


Qualitative Research Exchange

The Qualitative Research Exchange provided a forum for sharing new ideas related to current and emerging theoretical and practical issues in qualitative research. 

  • 2008  New Frontiers in Qualitative Research.  Moderator: Cathy Lysack, PhD, OT(C). Speakers: Donald Fogelberg, PhD candidate, OT/L, (Exploring pressure ulcer risk through complex systems theory and the concept of habit); Jessica M. Kramer, PhD candidate, OTR/L, (A picture is worth a thousand words: empowering individuals with development/intellectual disabilities to access research production using visual strategies); Debbie Laliberte Rudman, PhD, OT Reg (Not), (Why deconstruct? Considering the potential contribution of critical discourse analysis to occupational science). 
  • 2007  Emergence in a structured world.  Moderator: Virginia Dickie, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. Speakers: Ruth Humphry, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, (Balancing: informed consent and the "I never anticipated" research process); Melissa Park, PhD, OTR/L, (Narrative trouble and ethical dilemmas: "Tussling" and "a kiss" in an ethnography of a pediatric occupational therapy practice); Melinda Suto, PhD, OTR, OT(C), (Working with ethical issues that arise during fieldwork); Jennifer Womack, MS, OTR/L, SCDCM, (Dynamics of community access and participant status in an ethnographic project). 
  • 2006  The contributions of qualitative research to evidence-based practice.  Moderator: Virginia Dickie, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. Speakers: Gary Bedell, PhD, OTR, (Appraising research evidence to inform intervention decisions: A heterarchical perspective); Janice Burke, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, (How therapists collect evidence during the assessment experience); Ellen Cohn, ScD, OTR, (How we use qualitative research evidence to inform our practice); Kathleen Lyons, ScD, OTR/L, (Using qualitative research to design and modify interventions for persons with cancer).
  • 2005  Experiences with Mixed Methods. Moderator: Virginia Dickie, PhD, OTR/L. Presenters: Loree Primeau, PhD, OTR, (The Community-Based Health Improvement Project); Grace T. Baranek, PhD, OTR/L and Virginia Dickie, PhD, OTR/L, (Managing mixed method madness: examples from the Sensory Experiences Project); Valerie Howells, PhD, OTR, (Making Art: examining the effects of participation in a community arts studio).
  • 2004  Reflections and Emerging Issues. Moderator: Betty R. Hasselkus, PhD, OTR, FAOTA. Panelists: Ellen S. Cohn, ScD, OTR, FAOTA, Virginia A. Dickie, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, Mary C. Lawlor, ScD, OTR, FAOTA, Kathleen Lyons, ScD, OTR/L, Ann Neville-Jan, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, Loree Primeau, PhD, OTR, Susan L. Spitzer, PhD, OTR, Elizabeth Townsend, PhD, OT(C), FCAOT.
  • 2003  New directions and new challenges in qualitative research. Peggy Neufeld, PhD, OTR/L, Tove Borg, Ann Neville-Jan, PhD, OTR, FAOTA.
  • 2002  Narrative in qualitative research. Elizabeth B. Crepeau, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, Diana M. Bailey, EdD, OTR, FAOTA, Toby B. Hamilton, PhD, OTR/L, Jeanne M. Jackson, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, Judith D. Ward, PhD, OTR. 
  • 2001 The theory questions. Elizabeth Crepeau, PhD, FAOTA, (Theory and the interpretative process in qualitative research); Mary Lawlor, ScD, FAOTA, (Theory and the interpretative process in qualitative research); Jean Spencer, PhD, FAOTA, (Alternative theories in studying adaptation to hand injury); Cheryl Mattingly, PhD, (Odd theory).
  • 2000  Narrative: Whose story is it? How should it be written? Moderator: Susan A. Esdaile, PhD, OTR, SROT. Panelists: Betty Hasselkus, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, Sue Rosa, MA, OTR, Ellen Cohn, MS, OTR, Cathy Lysack, PhD. 
  • 1999  Moderator: Susan Esdaile, PhD, OTR. Presenters: Colette H. Duggan, PhD, Ruth A. Hansen, PhD, FAOTA, Bonnie L. Kennedy, PhD, OTR, Wendy Wood, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
  • 1998  Methodology issues in qualitative research: A focus on aging. Moderator: Susan A. Esdaile, PhD, OTR, SROT. Panelists: Mark Luborsky, PhD, Deborah R. Mandel, MA, OTR, Lena Borell, PhD, Virginia A. Dickie, PhD, OTR, FAOTA.
  • 1997. The meaning of family occupations. Moderator: Susan A. Esdaile, PhD, SROT. Janice P. Burke, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Elizabeth Francis-Connolly, MS, OTR, Judith A. Olson, MS, OTR, Elizabeth Larson, PhD, OTR, Mary Lawlor, ScD, OTR, FAOTA. 


  • 2014 Gala -- Express Yourself! AOTF and friends celebrated creativity at this American Visionary Art Museum.  Click here to view photos.  
  • 2013 Gala -- AOTF saluted the military at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Click here to view photos. 






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