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


View Presentations from the 2022 Academy of Research Inductees and 2022 Early & Mid-Career Awardees

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

2023 Inductees to the Academy

Sook-Lei Liew, PhD, OTR/L


Sook-Lei Liew, PhD, OTR/L

Dr. Liew is a tenured associate professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy with joint appointments in the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, the USC Department of Neurology within the Keck School of Medicine, and the USC Department of Biomedical Engineering within the Viterbi School of Engineering. Dr. Liew is also the Director of the Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, member of the USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, and a founder and co-director of the USC SensoriMotor Assessment and Rehabilitation Training in Virtual Reality (SMART-VR) Center. She is a registered and licensed occupational therapist specializing in adult neurology and physical disabilities, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS), a Fellow of the American Heart Association Research Leaders Academy, and a Fellow of ReproNim/INCF Program jointly sponsored by the Center for Reproducible Neuroimaging Computation (ReproNim) and the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF).

Carolyn A. Unsworth PhD, BAppSci(OccTher), GCTE, OTR, , MRCOT, FOTARA


Carolyn A. Unsworth PhD, BAppSci(OccTher), GCTE, OTR, , MRCOT, FOTARA

Professor Unsworth is Discipline Lead of Occupational Therapy at Federation University, and holds adjunct professorial appointments at Monash, and James Cook University in Australia, and Jönköping University in Sweden. Her research is supported by competitive grants from both government agencies and philanthropic organisations and focusses on promoting community transport mobility for people with disabilities including driver assessment and rehabilitation and public transport access. Carolyn’s research informs government fitness-to-drive guidelines and bus access policy. She is also known for her contributions to the fields of health outcome measurement and clinical reasoning. Her assessment tools, the Australian Therapy Outcome Measures (AusTOMs-OT) and Occupational Therapy Driver Off Road Assessment (OT-DORA) are used internationally. Carolyn is a supervisor of higher research degree students (PhD and Masters). She has published widely in leading journals such as the Journal of Transport and Health, Ageing and Society, and the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Members of the Academy of Research

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

Hui-Ing Ma, ScD, OT
Joel Rollins

Hui-Ing Ma, ScD, OT


Since Dr. Hui-ing Ma completed her graduate education at Boston University in 2000, she has been teaching at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, rising to the level of full professor. In addition to teaching and college, governmental and professional service, Dr. Ma conducts well respected, well-funded research on the motor control problems and quality of life of, and the effects of stigma on, persons with Parkinson’s disease and the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions to improve those patients’ participation in their daily lives. She is one of the very few occupational therapists considered expert in the rehabilitation of persons with Parkinson’s disease. Additionally her research includes the verbal and cultural translation and establishment of the psychometrics for important English assessments for valid use with Chinese patients (pediatric participation; quality of life for patients with schizophrenia; PDQ-39, a questionnaire for persons with Parkinson’s disease).


Q and A

Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Diligent, Fair, Empathetic

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I hope I have and will continue to make a difference by providing practical research findings that provide meaningful solutions to enhance the function and quality of life for clients. I also hope to make a difference by educating the next generation of occupational therapists, encouraging them to be good practitioners, teachers and researchers.

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
I would like to remind them of the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. When working with scientists of different backgrounds, they will have to know their own professional knowledge well and be confident in this. At the same time they will have to be receptive to their collaborators’ ideas – this means enlightening the others with their work while at the same time learning from them. Each scientific discipline has their own unique perspective; sharing perspectives across disciplines can produce great unforeseen developments. 

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?
OT needs diverse research to enrich the profession. I believe “service design” is a potential direction to broaden OT pursuits, raising our work from the individual to a public and even policy level. We, as OTs, have been familiar with universal design and environmental modification, which are mainly focused on tools and the physical environment. Service design, on the other hand, addresses “intangible” aspects. I think it is important to see the non-physical aspects of constraints and limitations, and incorporate systematic approaches of service design to enhance the experiences of clients and related stakeholders.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey. 
My role models expressed and encouraged me to emulate the qualities of fairness, humility, critical thinking, and the pleasure of pursuing and acquiring knowledge. They have shaped not only the research I am doing, but also who I am today.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
I like cooking for families. I enjoy preparing nutritious and delicious meals, trying new recipes, and having the people I serve experience the joy of good food.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
It is rewarding to see my research ideas being applied in real situations that help clients better cope with their life challenges. Furthermore, I feel surprisingly honored to get to know someone who has read and is interested in my work. Likewise, I enjoy reading other researchers’ ideas in the literature, expanding my own knowledge and inspiring new research pursuits for me. All these gifts in my career have been a blessing.

Selected References

Ma, HI, Saint-Hilaire, M, Thomas, CA, Tickle-Degnen, L. (2016) Stigma as a key determinant of health-related quality of life in Parkinson’s disease. Quality of Life Research 25, 3037–3045. doi: 10.1007/s11136-016-1329-z.

Su, KJ, Hwang, WJ, Wud, CY, Fang, JJ. (2014) Increasing speed to improve arm movement and standing postural control in Parkinson’s disease patients when catching virtual moving
Balls. Gait & Posture 39, 65–69.

Ma, HI, Hwang, WJ, Want, CY, Fang, JJ, Leong, IF, Want, TY. Trunk–arm coordination in reaching for moving targets in people with Parkinson’s disease: Comparison between
virtual and physical reality. (2012) Human Movement Science 31, 1340–1352.

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