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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

2021 Inductees to the Academy

Kathleen Doyle Lyons, ScD, OTR/L

2021

Kathleen Doyle Lyons, ScD, OTR/L

Kathleen Lyons, ScD, OTR/L, is a Senior Scientist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. Her research is focused on building the evidence base for occupational therapists working in oncology. She is trained in experimental design, mixed methods and implementation science. Her research program is designed to answer the following question: How can we support people living with cancer to fully participate in meaningful activities, life roles, and society through theory-driven and evidence-based rehabilitation? She designs and tests pragmatic interventions that blend occupational therapy with behavioral therapies. Her research is primarily community-based as she has developed both telehealth and home-based interventions.

Q&A

Identify three words that others have used to describe you: careful, practical, and resilient

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research? I have the heart of a practitioner, so my goal is to build our evidence base so that we can make good choices with our clients and provide the most potent therapy. The question that guides my applied research program is “How can we support people living with cancer to fully participate in meaningful activities and roles through theory-driven and evidence-based rehabilitation?”

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?  Be brave and be humble. It takes courage to do research that matters, to formulate a hypothesis and rigorously test it. And it takes humility to let the data and the participants teach and lead you. 

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?  I’m really interested in what makes an occupation therapeutic for a given person and what makes one occupation more therapeutic than another in any given moment. I think we need to understand how people naturally use occupation to foster recovery and healing outside of or in the absence of therapy.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey. I learned a lot from my mentors, but the best gift they gave me was showing me the joy they got from their work. I went on to doctoral work because I enjoyed every minute of my qualitative research thesis with Betty Crepeau. In my doctoral training, Linda Tickle-Degnen showed me her limitless passion for words, numbers, ideas and elegant research designs. And it was from Marty Bruce that I (finally) learned how pleasurable it can be to write a tight and compelling grant application. I feel lucky to have had mentors that showed me how much they love science.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work: My top three favorites are traveling, watching live theater, and hiking.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research? Being part of team science is incredibly rewarding. I love writing and I could do that all day, but being in a room with people from all different disciplines and playing with ideas to solve clinical problems is highly rewarding. When I was just starting out, I don’t think I realized that science is a very social activity and that has been a happy surprise.

How have you been involved with AOTF to date? I received two grants from AOTF, one as a doctoral student and one more recently. But the biggest blessing was being asked to chair the Planning Grant Collective focused on cancer rehabilitation. It was an absolutely amazing experience to bring together scientists from different disciplines and parts of the country to brainstorm ways to advance research to reduce participation restrictions experienced by cancer survivors. It was a really energizing and productive event and I’m so grateful to AOTF for investing in the Planning Grant Collectives!

 

Shawn C. Roll, PhD, OTR/L, RMSKS, FAOTA, FAIUM

2021

Shawn C. Roll, PhD, OTR/L, RMSKS, FAOTA, FAIUM

Dr. Shawn C. Roll is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California’s Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, where he also directs the PhD in Occupational Science program. Dr. Roll is a licensed occupational therapist, registered sonographer, and occupational scientist who studies the relationships between musculoskeletal conditions of the arms and hands, people’s ability to perform activities and their health outcomes within the workplace. His specialties include using ultrasound to study carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects an estimated 10 million Americans with annual health care costs of $2 billion, funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). He also studies holistic approaches for improving the experience and results of hand therapy. His largest current project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is designing the next generation of intelligent “smart desks” that can automatically learn from, adapt to, and respond to users’ habits and preferences to improve worker health and well-being.

Q&A

Identify three words that others have used to describe you: Attentive, Strategic, Tenacious

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research? I hope that my research will support long-term, positive changes in workplace environments, work design, and workers’ engagement in their daily activities resulting in workers who are healthier, happier, and able to flourish in their lives. I strive to support this vision by conducting research that illuminates how physical health and mental well-being are shaped by the intersections among the physical, social, and organizational environments with the individual characteristics of workers’ as they engage in daily occupations in the workplace.

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research? Build, maintain, and foster relationships. You should identify what you are most passionate about, be persistent, and be resilient, but a scientist cannot conduct robust research in isolation. Instead, building relationships with other scientists and developing interdisciplinary collaborations will both open more opportunities and broaden the impact of the research.

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? Measuring, understanding, and supporting meaningful engagement. While there has been much exploration of engagement and theories developed regarding the importance of how we engage in daily occupations there is limited direct, quantitative examination of engagement relative to the success of preventive, rehabilitative, and habilitative interventions.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey: Seeing my potential and creating opportunities to ensure I was able to thrive as a scholar. I wouldn’t be where I am today with the early vision and support of my career from Dr. Jane Case-Smith and the ongoing opportunities created by Dr. Kevin Evans. Each of my mentors were able to vision all of the potential paths that were ahead of me well before I saw them myself, and they engaged me in activities, introduced me to opportunities, and planted seeds of ideas that allowed me to become a successful scientist.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work: Spending quality time with friends and loved ones over a glass of wine, with good food, watching television or movies, at the theater, on a hike, or just sitting in shared silence with each other.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research? Without a doubt the most rewarding aspect of my career is witnessing the “lightbulb moments” of my students and mentees. I aim to emulate my own mentors, by visioning the opportunities and paths ahead of my individual mentees, and then proving the necessary scaffolding and support to help them travel forward on their own best path. It gives me great joy to see the moments along the way when mentees reach new levels of thought and clarity regarding their ideas and own work that propels them forward on their path.

How have you been involved with AOTF to date? I have been a strong supporter of AOTF’s mission to advance knowledge that supports the work of our profession to ensure people’s successful participation in life. This support began as a student when I joined Pi Theta Epsilon as a lifetime member, and has continued throughout my career by providing financial support to AOTF, attending AOTF events, and submitting/reviewing manuscripts in OTJR, and serving as a mentor for the Summer Institute for Future Scientists.

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

1993

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.


REFERENCES

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

2016

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.


Q AND A

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.

 

REFERENCES

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
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