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.

David L. Nelson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Helene Ross

David L. Nelson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA


Dr. Nelson is Professor Emeritus (retired), Occupational Therapy Program, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio.  Retrieved on August 7, 2015 from https://www.utoledo.edu/healthsciences/depts/rehab_sciences/ot/davidpage.html.


Dr. Nelson devoted much of his career to theoretical work involving definitions of key concepts in occupational therapy.  He is a leader in experimental research demonstrating how different occupational forms affect various populations. His current research addresses the problems that older persons often experience when living at home while at risk for disabilities. Retrieved on August 7, 2015 from http://www.utoledo.edu/healthsciences/saved_files/rehabsci/ot/faclty.html.


In 1995, Dr, Nelson was the recipient of the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship.



Nelson, DL. Why the profession of occupational therapy will flourish in the 21st century.  The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 51, 11-24. 


Bauerschmidt, B & Nelson, DL. (2011). The terms occupation and activity over the history of Official occupational therapy publications. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, (3), 338-345.


Korp, KE, Taylor, J.M, & Nelson, DL. (2012). Bathing area safety and lower extremity function in community-dwelling older adults. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 32, (2), 22-29.


Misko, AN, Nelson, DL & Duggan, JM.  (2015). Three case studies of community occupational therapy for individuals with human immunodeficiency virus. Occupational Therapy in Health Care. 29(1):11-26.   

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