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.

Bernadette Nedelec, PhD, BScOT(C),
Helene Ross

Bernadette Nedelec, PhD, BScOT(C),


Dr. Nedelec is an Associate Professor and the former Director of the Occupational Therapy Program, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy at McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada. Her research interests focus on the rehabilitation of people who have sustained a major burn injury with a particular interest in the evaluation and treatment of hypertrophic scar. The formation of hypertrophic scar is considered one of the most important long-term consequences of a major burn injury leading to impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. Research projects have evaluated the clinical instruments used to quantify hypertrophic scar and its associated symptoms, the efficacy of treatment interventions employed to minimize hypertrophic scar and its associated sequelae, practice issues related to evidence-informed practice, ensuring burn therapist competency, and the delivery of best practice rehabilitation, as well as the comprehensive evaluation of the short- and long-term outcomes associated with burn injuries.


Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Perseverant, hard-working, erudite

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
Burn survivor rehabilitation specific research is scarce. Recent medical and surgical research advances make it possible for virtually all patients, even those with massive burn injuries, to survive. We need to provide evidence for rehabilitation interventions that will optimize function so burn survivors can participate in meaningful occupations and enjoy good quality of life.

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Surround yourself with a like-minded, but diverse team who have expertise in areas that will complement your research program. Working with people who will support you, and at the same time challenge and stimulate your thinking, is essential to optimizing your research program.

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?
Expert occupational therapist working in physical medicine seamlessly incorporate the evaluation and treatment of psychosocial issues into their practice. This often times goes undocumented and is undervalued. Making this treatment explicit, researching it value and improving current practice needs to be a research priority. There are also long-term health benefits associated with enabling people’s ability to engage in meaningful occupations. Occupational therapy researchers need to quantify these benefits, particularly from an economic perspective, so that the value of what we do is unquestionable.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
Mentors have played an enormous role in my academic career. They have come in many forms including colleagues, family, friends, patients, and students. They taught me the value and the sustaining power of the love of learning, to strive for excellence in all we do, to never compromise my integrity, and to always prioritize the overall goal of improving the outcome of the patients that we serve. They also modeled our responsibility to give back to the systems that support us, including supporting the development of students and junior researchers.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Spending time with family, my children in particular, rejuvenates me and helps me to put things into perspective. Staying connected with nature is a nurturing force in my life.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
The thing that has been most surprising for me is the never-ending excitement of learning, and the thrill of working with, and learning from, the amazingly talented, crazy smart people I have had the privilege to work with.


Nedelec, B., Correa, J.A., Rachelska, G., & Armour, A. (2008). Quantitative Measurement of Hypertrophic Scar: Intrarater Reliability, Sensitivity, and Specificity, Journal of Burn Care & Research, 29, 489-500. doe: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3181710869

Nedelec, B., Correa, J.A., Rachelska, G., Armour, A., & LaSalle, L. (2008) Measurement of Hypertrophic Scar: Interrater Reliability and Concurrent Validity. Journal of Burn Care & Research, 29, 501-511. doe: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e3181710881

Nedelec, B., Correa, J.A., de Oliveira, A., LaSalle, L., Perrault, I. (2014) Longitudinal burn scar quantification. Burns, 40,1504-1512. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2014.03.002

Nedelec, B., Calva, V., Chouinard, A., Couture, M., Godbout, E., de Oliveira, A., & LaSalle, L. (2016) Somatosensory Rehabilitation for Neuropathic Pain in Burn Survivors: A Case Series. Journal of Burn Care & Research, 37, e37–e46. doi:10.1097/BCR.0000000000000321

Nguyen, N.T., Lorrain, M., Pognon-Hanna, J.N., Elfassy, C., Calva, V., de Oliveira, A., & Nedelec, B. (2016) Barriers and facilitators to work reintegration and burn survivors’ perspectives on educating work colleagues. Burns, 42, 1477–1486 doi:10.1016/j.burns.2016.05.014

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