Elizabeth R. Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L
Dr. Skidmore is Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with secondary appointments to the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
Dr. Skidmore received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in February 2016. For more information, read the White House press release.
Dr. Skidmore was named one of the 100 Influential People in Occupational Therapy by AOTA.
Dr. Skidmore describes her research interests below.
My NIH-funded research program examines the influences of cognitive impairments and mood symptoms on activities of daily living outcomes, and interventions designed to ameliorate these influences, focusing in two areas: Interventions designed to improve rehabilitation outcomes for individuals with cognitive impairments after acquired brain injury (stroke, traumatic brain injury). Activities of daily living disability among community-dwelling older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Major Depression Disorder. Currently, I am conducting a series of studies examining client-centered, activity-focused strategy training programs designed to promote independence and community integration among adults with stroke-related cognitive impairments. These studies examine active ingredients that promote learning and generalization of strategy training principles delivered in acute rehabilitation, as well as neurological and behavioral moderators and mediators of intervention response. (Retrieved on September 16, 2015 from https://www.shrs.pitt.edu/skidmore/.)
Q AND A
Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
I didn’t know how to answer this question, so I asked my mentors and colleagues. These are the words they provided: Diligent, Insightful, Dedicated.
How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I hope to strengthen the focus on cognitive and mood changes after stroke, and to generate science that not only improves our understanding of these phenomena, but also provides tools to reduce disability associated with these changes.
What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
To truly be successful as a career scientist, I think that immersion, training, mentoring, and long-term relationships in a scientifically-rich environment is critical. Just as we require focused training, fieldwork, and supervision to acquire clinical skills in occupational therapy, I think the same is necessary to acquire scientific skills that inform the science and practice of occupational therapy.
Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy?
Theories and mechanisms of behavioral activation as they pertain to occupation, participation, and health are critical for our field. I think it is important that we lead the charge in this area, as many scientific disciplines examine theories and mechanisms that support healthy behavior choices, but occupational therapy scientists are uniquely equipped to examine the mechanisms through which individuals select occupations that support participation and overall health.
Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
There are so many roles that mentors have played, it is difficult to identify one. I have had several mentors – academic mentors, clinical mentors, scientific mentors, career development mentors – and each has been important in their own right as I have gleaned something from each of these individuals to shape my science and my career. If forced, I think that the most important role has been one of “guided discovery” – providing an environment and guidance for me to learn and grow while still allowing me to develop an independent trajectory unique to me.
Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
I really enjoy camping and hiking in remote areas. My favorite locations are in northern Michigan.
What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
I really enjoy mentoring doctoral and postdoctoral trainees and early career scientists. I find it very rewarding to “pay it forward” and partner with trainees as they formulate, implement, and “realize” their research programs.
Skidmore, ER. (2015). Training to optimize learning after traumatic brain injury. Current Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Reports, 3, 99-105.
Skidmore, ER, Dawson, DR, Butters, MA, Gratta, ES, Juengst, SB, Whyte, EM, Begley, A, Holm, MB & Becker JT. (2015). Strategy training shows promise for addressing disability in the first 6 months after stroke. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 29, 668-676.
Toto, PE, Skidmore, ER, Terhorst, L, Rosen, J & Weiner DK. (2015). Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) in geriatric primary care: a feasibility study. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 60, 16-21.