Academy of Research In Occupational Therapy

AOREstablished in 1983, the AOTF Academy of Research in Occupational Therapy recognizes individuals who have made exemplary, distinguished, and sustained contributions toward the science of occupational therapy. Every year, the Academy of Research invites nominations for membership. After consideration of the nominations and supporting materials, the Academy selects individuals to be inducted into this distinguished body of researchers. Normally, inductions occur at the next AOTA Annual Conference and Exposition.  

View Nomination Procedures



Presentations from 2021 Academy of Research Inductees and 2021 Early & Mid-Career Awardees

2022 Inductees to the Academy

Natalie Leland, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FGSA, University of Pittsburgh


Natalie Leland, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FGSA, University of Pittsburgh

Natalie Leland is Associate Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Occupational Therapy within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.  Her interdisciplinary research program is focused on improving quality of care, optimizing desired patient outcomes, and mitigating health disparities.

Her research portfolio reflects the mutual integration of her health services research, implementation science, gerontology, and occupational training.  Her work is known for quantifying care delivery and patient outcomes, capturing stakeholder perspectives on best practice and interdisciplinary care, responding to evidence needs of providers, and advancing the methodology evidence-base for stakeholder engagement.  Dr. Leland’s research portfolio is recognized both internationally and nationally for championing stakeholder engagement throughout the research process to address meaningful clinical and policy-relevant questions intended to improve the lives of vulnerable older adults in post-acute and long-term care.

Elizabeth Pyatak, PhD, OTR/L, CDCES, FAOTA , University of Southern California


Elizabeth Pyatak, PhD, OTR/L, CDCES, FAOTA , University of Southern California

Elizabeth Pyatak’s original and impactful research program focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of innovative occupational therapy interventions that enhance the health, well-being, and quality of life of individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes, particularly among medically underserved and at-risk populations.  By grounding her pioneering lifestyle interventions on the findings of her qualitative inquiries on the day-to-day issues of underserved populations living with diabetes, Dr. Pyatak has transformed how the field of occupational therapy approaches the management of medically complex chronic conditions by addressing not only the therapeutic needs of clients, but also the broader social contexts that contribute to their conditions.  She currently serves as Principal Investigator on two NIH R01 awards totaling over $6.7 million, has published 39 peer-reviewed articles in high impact journals, and has provided over 70 invited and refereed presentations to international, national, and regional audiences.

Timothy J. Wolf, OTD, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, OTJR Editor-in-Chief, University of Missouri


Timothy J. Wolf, OTD, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, OTJR Editor-in-Chief, University of Missouri

Timothy Wolf is the Associate Dean for Research, Department Chair, and Professor at the University of Missouri.  The goal of Dr. Wolf’s research is to generate knowledge that will establish the effectiveness of interventions to improve participation in work and community activities after changes in the brain (i.e., neurological injury).  He conducts research with individuals who have functional cognitive deficits after a stroke or who have chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairments.

The two primary objectives of his research laboratory are to:  1) identify and manage cognitive changes (primarily functional cognitive changes) to improve participation after neurological injury; and 2) investigate the efficacy of self-management education and cognitive-strategy training interventions to improve health and participation outcomes after neurological injury.

When people get back to activities that interest and motivate them, their quality of life increases as well; their conditions do not define them as human beings.

Dr. Wolf has collaborated with investigators at University of Missouri, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Toronto, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Washington, St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital (Toronto), and University of Illinois-Chicago.

Members of the Academy of Research

View Full List of Academy of Research Members At-A-Glance. * indicates a deceased member.

Elizabeth June Yerxa, EdD, OTR, FAOTA


Elizabeth June Yerxa, EdD, OTR, FAOTA

Dr. Yerxa is Distinguished Emeritus Professor, Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. Dr. Yerxa is highly regarded for her contributions to the philosophical base and values of occupational therapy, for her research on life satisfaction of people living with severe disabilities and the nature and management of time, as well as for her work initiating and advocating occupational science research. In 1966, Dr. Yerxa was awarded occupational therapy's highest academic honor, the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Award, and delivered her Slagle Lecture entitled "Authentic Occupational Therapy". She . . . received the AOTA Award of Merit, the highest award from the Association, in 1987. Since 1988 she has been an Emerita Professor at USC. (Retrieved on October 14, 2015 from http://chan.usc.edu/faculty/directory/Elizabeth_Yerxa.)

Dr. Yerxa was named one of the 100 Influential People in Occupational Therapy by AOTA.


Yerxa, EJ. (2009).Infinite distance between the I and the it. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63, 490-497.

Yerxa, EJ. (2002). Habits in context: a synthesis, with implications for research in occupational science. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 22, (Supplement 1), 104S-110S.

Yerxa, E.J. (2000). Occupational science: A renaissance of service to humankind through knowledge. Occupational Therapy International, 7, (2), 87-98.

Yerxa, E.J. (1967). 1966 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture: Authentic occupational therapy. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 21, 1-9.

Yerxa, E. J. (1998). Health and the human spirit for occupation. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52(6), 412-418.

Jenny Ziviani, PhD, BAppSC(OT), MEd


Jenny Ziviani, PhD, BAppSC(OT), MEd

Jenny Ziviani is the inaugural professor of children's allied health research with Queensland Children's Health Service and The University of Queensland, Australia. Her 30-year background as a clinician, academic and researcher has focused on the well-being of children at risk of a range of physical, developmental and psychosocial conditions, their families and the communities in which they live. As an active researcher, she has successfully managed large national and international competitive grants to a cumulative value in excess of AUS$7million, published over 200 internationally peer viewed articles, 32 book chapters, four books and presented over 210 conference papers.

In supporting the next generation of occupational therapy researchers she has successfully brought to completion 39 doctoral students. She has been awarded the Open Award for Research Excellence, and the Sylvia Docker Award for contribution to the profession by Occupational Therapy Australia.


Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Questioning; Creative; Collaborative

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
Ensuring that you include those at the core of your research as informers and/or collaborators will mean that you are asking the 'right' questions and will result in findings that are meaningful. Irrespective of how well designed and rigorously executed research is it will never, however, make a difference unless the findings are communicated and applied within the real world. Don't just focus on research without considering a communication and implementation strategy. It is the latter that makes a real difference.

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
The most meaningful research ideas and questions arise from allowing time for reading, reflecting but more importantly discussing and collaborating with other researchers from diverse fields. Sometime the most meaningful research arises out of the most unexpected collaborations. See research as a creative undertaking that can capture your interest and sustain you for the longer term. Try to enjoy the process and not just focus on the outcome, albeit that the latter should always be celebrated.

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?
My research has always been with children and families but I am very aware that the world in which they live can offer climatic, sociodemographic, political and economic challenges for all of us. I think being aware of the context of our research endeavours means that we need to also offer our occupational perspective to global issues.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
I have been truly fortunate to be surrounded, by choice as much as accident, scholars who are highly competent, generous and caring. What I have learned and what I hope I pass on to others is the ability to be autonomy supportive. I have been supported to follow my ideas, not all of which have been successful but all of which have helped me grow.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Connecting with nature renews and energizes me. Be it the seaside, mountains or just a river walk in the local neighbourhood, absorbing the richness of environmental sounds and smells always refreshes me. Most of the solutions to my research and professional problems usually appear at these times.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
Without doubt the most rewarding aspect has the calibre of the people with whom I have been privileged to work in my academic life. Anyone who is an academic will know that there are many challenges, personal and organisational, which can be very disheartening. Colleagues who are generous in spirit are really the fuel that sustains a long academic life. Being able to share my academic life with a wonderful supportive husband has been a real bonus as has having a son who can bring me back to earth with a sharp, witty one-liner.



Ashburner, J., Ziviani, J. & Rodger, S. (2010) Surviving in the Mainstream: Capacity of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to perform academically and regulate their emotions and behavior at school, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 4, 18-27 . doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2009.07.002

Miller, L., Ziviani, J., Ware, R. & Boyd, R. (2014) Mastery motivation in children with congenital hemiplegia: individual and environmental associations. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 56, 267-274. DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.12356

Pont, K., Ziviani, J., Wadley, D. & Abbott, R. (2011). The Model of Children's Active Travel (M-CAT): a conceptual framework for examing factors influencing children's active travel. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 58, 138-144. (published on line, doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1630.2010.00865.x)

Sakzewski, L., Ziviani, J., Abbott, D., MacDonell, R., Jackson, G. & Boyd, R. (Accepted 20/10/2010). Randomized trial of constraint-induced movement therapy and bimanual training on activity outcomes for children with congenital hemiplegia. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 53(4), 313-320. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2010.03859.x