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.

Kathleen Doyle Lyons, ScD, OTR/L
Kristin Bukovsky

Kathleen Doyle Lyons, ScD, OTR/L


Kathleen Lyons, ScD, OTR/L, is a Professor at MGH Institute of Health Professions. 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.


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!


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