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STRIDE Mentored Research Scholarship (SMRS)

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF), standing for Research Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (STRIDE) committee is offering research funds to occupational therapy (OT) graduates and clinicians from an under-represented background, with disabilities, and/or from under-resourced backgrounds to address the urgent need of broadening their representation in OT research. This research fund will support their participation in a mentored research experience at an institution other than their own (previously called the STRIDE OT Research Fund or SRF).

Eligibility Criteria

The applicant must be:

  • A post-professional Master’s (OT) graduate, an entry-level or post-professional OTD graduate, who has completed their program requirements AND/OR an OT clinician.

  • From an under-represented background, with disabilities, and/or from under-resourced backgrounds. Please refer to the NIH link regarding information on underrepresented groups.

The STRIDE Mentored Research Scholarship program will pair promising graduates/clinicians (mentees) with researchers (mentors) nationwide. The mentor may be identified by the applicant or by AOTF’s STRIDE sub-committee and will be at an institution other than the graduate or clinician’s own.

SMRS Mentee Profile:

A practicing occupational therapist or a Master’s (OT) or OTD graduate, from an under-represented background, with disabilities, and/or from under-resourced backgrounds.

Awardees are expected to work approximately 160 hours during the award period. Stipends can be used to offset lost wages and other expenses (e.g., transportation, internet hotspot, food, and housing). Receipts will be required for all expenditures.

Selected applicants will be paired with mentors identified either by the AOTF’s STRIDE sub-committee or by the applicant (and approved by the STRIDE sub-committee).

SMRS Mentor Role:

The mentor will guide the mentee through a research experience during the award period. Before the start of the research experience, the mentor will create an individualized development plan with the applicant.

During the research experience, the mentor will provide instruction, direction, challenge, and support to the mentee through weekly/biweekly mentorship meetings, weekly lab meetings, review of the mentee’s work and feedback, suggesting coursework or seminars related to the mentee’s goals, and/or training to carry out expected research experience. The mentor will monitor the mentee’s research activities and provide feedback, offer informal guidance and direction regarding prospects for research engagement for the applicant, networking possibilities, and regional & national conference opportunities. Additionally, the mentor will guide the applicant to prepare and present their final poster at an AOTF event during the AOTA INSPIRE 2025 conference to showcase their work.

Funding:

The awardees will receive financial support (up to US $10,000) to enable them to meet with their mentors, participate in lab meetings,  and build critical knowledge and skills through training in research methods and processes.

Expected Outcome:

Upon completion of the experience, graduates and clinicians will prepare and present their final poster at an AOTF event during the 2025 AOTA INSPIRE Conference.

Award Requirements:

The awardee will:

  • Create an individualized development plan with their mentor during the award period.

  • Participate in person or virtually in weekly/biweekly individual meetings, weekly lab meetings, and/or training to carry out expected research experience.

  • At the end of the award period, work with a mentor to prepare a poster on their mentored research experience for STRIDE feedback.

  • Present their final poster at the 2025 AOTA INSPIRE conference to showcase their learning as a STRIDE awardee. 

  • At the end of the award period, send their research fund expense report along with the receipts (of all non-stipend expenditures) at the end of the award period with a check for unused funds to:

            Attn: Jeanne Cooper 

            AOTF, 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 520

            Rockville, MD 20582

  • Complete a post-program evaluation so that we may assess the applicant’s and the program’s strengths and areas for growth.

2024 SMRS research experience may be virtual with the option of supplementing a virtual experience with visits to the mentor’s lab.

The mentor will:

  • Guide the mentee towards specific research-related skills such as combinations of the following: formulating a research question, research design and methods used to study relevant research questions, development of study protocols, qualitative/quantitative data processing methods related to the research area of the mentee, literature appraisal, review, and synthesis, team science skills: collaboration, roles, communication, and negotiation.
  • Provide instruction, direction, challenge, and support to the mentee during the research process by actively engaging with the applicant throughout the research experience (e.g., weekly individual meetings, weekly lab meetings, and training to carry out expected research experience).

  • Monitor the mentee’s research activities and provide feedback (specific weekly/biweekly mentorship plan).

  • Discuss the actual mentorship process relationship and expectations for both mentor/mentee for future career development.

  • Offer informal guidance and direction regarding:

    • Prospects for research engagement for the applicant.

    • Networking possibilities.

    • Regional & national conference opportunities within your discipline.

  • Mentor the applicant to prepare and present their final poster during the 2025 AOTA INSPIRE conference to showcase their work.
  • If possible, attend the 2025 AOTA INSPIRE conference.
  • Complete a post-program evaluation so that we may assess the applicant's and the program's strengths and areas for growth.

Application Checklist

Open: June 14, 2024

Deadline: July 19, 2024

Questions? Contact research@aotf.org.

Award Timeline

Award announcement June 3, 2024
Applications open June 14, 2024
Application due date July 19, 2024
Results & Mentor match announced August 16-22, 2024 
Submit an individualized development plan developed with your Mentor, along with your completed W9 form to AOTF. August 23-22, 2024 
Release of funds (assuming all required paperwork is received by AOTF)  Week of Sept. 9  
Award period starts Sept. 1, 2024 
Award period ends  January 31, 2025
1) Submit poster outline to AOTF at research@AOTF.org.
2) Submit your research fund expense report and the receipts (of all non-stipend expenditures).
Please mail a check for unused funds to Attn: Jeanne Cooper AOTF, 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 520 Rockville, MD 20852 
February 7, 2025 
Awardees receive feedback on posters from the STRIDE subcommittee and submit their poster abstract to AOTA February 24, 2025  
Send an e-version of the final poster to AOTF  March 2, 2025 
Present final poster at the AOTA INSPIRE 2025 conference  April 3–5, 2025 


2023 Recipients

Vanessa Fry, OTD, Thomas Jefferson University, Exploration of Interception as an Approach for Supporting Children with Autism in Navigating Puberty (Mentor: Kristie Patten, PhD, OT/L, FAOTA).
Grace Muppidi, OTD, Boston University, The Caregiver Resilience Education (Ca.R.E.) Program (Mentor: Ricardo Carrásco, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA).
Rachel Ohene, MOT, Liberate Healing and Consulting The Occupation of Participating in Healthcare for Pregnant and Postpartum People of Color (Mentor: Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon, ScD, OTR/L).
Adrienne Smiley, OTD, University of Pittsburgh, Pharmacoepidemiology, Carcinogenesis, and Oncology Rehabilitation: Imperatives for Occupational Therapy (Mentor: Kathleen Lyons, OT, ScD, OTR).
Christopher Gaskins, MS, OTR/L, Howard University, An Examination of the Production and Employment Trends of Black Occupational Therapists Who Attended an HBCU or non-HBCU (Mentor: Moses Ikiugu, PhD, OTR/L).

2022 Recipients

Joanne Oates-Toussaint, ppOTD Student, Temple University, Completion of a Culturally Responsive International Fieldwork II Curriculum to Increase Cultural Humility Among OT Students (Mentor: Lilian Magalhaes, PhD).
Lena Gipson Showalter, OTD, Through the Looking Glass, Modified PARCs Assessment Tool to Demonstrate Preliminary Evidence of Construct and Content Validity and Inter-Rater Reliability (Mentor: Jana Iverson, PhD).

Shanteria Carr, OTD, OTR/L, Howard University, Promoting Culturally Responsive Mentoring Among Occupational Therapy Students from Historically Marginalized Groups (Mentor: Linda DeAngelo, PhD).