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.

Susan L. Murphy, ScD, OTR/L
Helene Ross

Susan L. Murphy, ScD, OTR/L


Dr. Murphy is an Assistant Professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan's Institute of Gerontology, and a Research Health Science Specialist at the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, GRECC. Her primary research interest is to create and test interventions to manage chronic pain symptoms and promote physical activity in adults . . .  Her use of mobile technology over the last several years has served to examine how symptoms are associated with physical activity levels in samples with osteoarthritis and low back pain and how mobile technology can be used as a tool in interventions."  (Retrieved on July 14, 2015 from https://community.isr.umich.edu/public/Portals/11/Docs/Bios/murphysl.pdf.)


Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Dedicated, generous, thoughtful.

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I hope to contribute to improvements in the quality of non-pharmacological chronic disease management in clinical care settings. For example, there is a large body of research supporting physical activity as a successful strategy to lessen the impact and prevent chronic disease, however physical activity programs are often disconnected from the health care system. Rehabilitation can play a big role in these types of programs since patients with chronic diseases often have multiple health issues that make sustaining a health behavior difficult.     

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Make sure you are passionate about research and the potential career path. The passion and drive to find out an answer or reach a goal is a key to success in this career.

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?
A few years ago I would have said effectiveness research, but now I think one fundamental element that would advance our field is theory development. I am struck by limitations in theories I draw from in my own work and think we have much to contribute for our own research as well as to other disciplines.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.  
Mentors provide support and it is ideal to have different mentors for different needs. Early on, it was important to have strong research mentors who could advise me on research design or teach me skills. I also had mentors who were great at providing guidance on career development and ones that were great at providing encouragement. I still have mentors, but these aren't always senior people, these are colleagues and even students. Anyone that teaches me something or makes me see something in a way I hadn't before is a mentor. The most important role all mentors have played is being invested in me and caring about my career path.  

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
I love to exercise, particularly I am addicted to Zumba.

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
The people I get to meet and work with in the US and around the world has been a wonderful aspect of this job. There are many smart, talented people out there who want to improve the lives of others. It has been great to meet so many different people and to be connected by this bigger cause.


Murphy, SL & Kratz, AL.  (2014). Activity pacing in daily life: A within-day analysis.  Pain. 155, 2630-2637.

Murphy, SL, Alexander, NB, Levoska, M & Smith, DM.  (2013). Relationship between fatigue and subsequent physical activity among older adults with symptomatic osteoarthritis. Arthritis Care and Research (Hoboken), 65, 1617-1624.

Murphy, SL, Kratz, AL, Williams, DA & Geisse, ME.  (2012 Sep 3). The association between symptoms, pain coping strategies, and physical activity among people with symptomatic knee and hip osteoarthritis. Frontiers in Psychology, 3:326. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00326. eCollection 2012


Previous Article Mary Jane Mulcahey, PhD, OTR/L
Next Article Bernadette Nedelec, PhD, BScOT(C),