PhD Mentors

In addition to meeting basic admissions requirements, there must be a fit between a candidate’s research interests and one or more RAPS PhD faculty members who are willing to guide the student’s program.

An available and interested mentor will be determined prior to admitting a student. The mentor will assist the student in forming a Research Advisory Committee (RAC). The mentor and RAC will play a primary role in the selection of courses, mentoring of research, independent study and preparation of the dissertation.

Applicants will be asked to identify one or more potential mentors from the following list in their application packet.

We are admitting a Fall 2021 class and welcome interested applicants to apply. 

Program in Occupational Therapy Faculty Mentors

The following mentors have a primary faculty appointment in the Program in Occupational Therapy.

Lisa Tabor Connor, PhD, MSOT, OTR/L

Associate Dean and Director of Occupational Therapy
Elias Michael Professor of Occupational Therapy and Professor of Neurology
RAPS PhD Chair

Dr. Connor focuses on research to quantitatively model recovery and community reintegration in stroke survivors. This work aims to understand the barriers and facilitators to participation in everyday life activities after stroke to guide and optimize the delivery of rehabilitation interventions. The overarching goal of this work is to create evidence-based, targeted interventions to enable people post-stroke to participate more fully in community life

Community Reintegration After Stroke Laboratory

M. Carolyn Baum, PhD, OTR, FAOTA

Professor of Occupational Therapy, Neurology and Social Work

Dr. Baum's research focuses on understanding the factors that must be included to support the daily occupations of adults and older adults as they seek to live as independently as possible with chronic neurological conditions, particularly executive function.

Community Engagement Laboratory

Chih-Hung Chang, PhD

Professor of Occupational Therapy and Medicine

Dr. Chang’s research focuses on the integration of methodology and technology to advance patient outcomes assessment and management across the continuum of care. He is contributing to a new discipline called “Clinical Infometrics” that is a synthesis of measurement sciences, predictive analytics, evidenced-based medicine, and informatics to guide clinical decision making in real time and to improve symptom and disease management over time.

Psychometrics+Informatics Laboratory

Erin Foster, PhD, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, Neurology and Psychiatry

Dr. Foster's research focuses on cognition and its relevance to daily function and well-being among people with chronic neurological conditions. Her studies employ rigorous translational approaches to understand functional cognition, occupational performance and participation in these conditions and to develop and test complex behavioral interventions to support them. This work generates knowledge to guide the development of more comprehensive and effective rehabilitation programs for people with neurological disorders and cognitive dysfunction.

Cognitive and Occupational Performance Laboratory

Kelly Harris, PhD, CCC-SLP

Instructor in Occupational Therapy and Surgery (Public Health Sciences)

Dr. Harris’ research examines the interdependence of chronic disease, child development, and educational outcomes for youth in urban and suburban contexts, and the use of dissemination and implementation science to improve health and educational equity. Using mixed methods, geospatial analysis, and implementation science, her work incorporates neighborhood and environmental factors to examine health disparities, inequity, and educational outcomes among youth, specifically among populations with sickle cell disease and asthma.

Chronic Disease, Development and Educational Outcomes Research Laboratory

Allison King, MD, PhD

Professor of Occupational Therapy, Medicine, Pediatrics, General Surgery and Education

For the past 10 years, Dr. King has investigated factors that influence cognitive and educational outcomes of children with sickle cell disease. Her lab is one of the first in pediatric hematology to focus on parenting and the family’s social environment. Dr. King and her associates have reported that the family environment has an equal, if not greater, impact on cognition and educational attainment of this vulnerable population. She also collaborates with a multidisciplinary team to study cognitive and educational outcomes of students with sickle cell disease and has contributed to assessments and interventions to improve educational outcomes of this vulnerable population.

Child Health and Education Laboratory

Kerri Morgan, PhD, OTR/L, ATP

Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Neurology

The focus of Dr. Morgan’s research is to generate empirical knowledge helpful for guiding community-based and person-based interventions that improve the participation of people with mobility impairments. Her work ranges from community-based participation studies to basic mechanistic studies of biomechanics of the upper extremity for manual wheelchair users during propulsion. Earlier in her career, Dr. Morgan assisted with the development testing of standardized measures that assess a person’s with a disability quality of participation in major life activities and the environmental facilitators and barriers impacting participation.

Enabling Mobility in the Community Laboratory

Benjamin Philip, PhD

Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, Neurology and Surgery (Plastic and Reconstructive)

Dr. Philip’s research program is aimed toward developing effective rehabilitation strategies for patients with impairments to their dominant hands. Studies will identify movement characteristics that affect hand usage and participation, identify underlying neurophysiological mechanisms, and use those mechanisms to develop interventions to facilitate learning of rehabilitation-relevant behaviors and skill.

Neuroscience and Rehabilitation Laboratory


Jaclyn Schwartz, PhD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Neurology

Dr. Schwartz’s research addresses the public health crisis of poor medication adherence, which affects half of all medication consumers. The goals of her research program are to 1) understand the mechanisms of medication adherence in people with disabilities and 2) to design and test interventions to help people with disabilities better take their medication as prescribed. Dr. Schwartz uses a mixed methods approach to her exploratory and clinical trials work to advance the field of medication adherence.

Susy Stark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy, Neurology and Social Work

Dr. Stark’s work in the community focuses on the development and implementation of evidence-based behavioral interventions to prevent falls and improve community participation. Her federally and privately funded studies explore how functional decline and environmental barriers interact to influence the performance of frail older adults with chronic conditions. The interventions she develops from these studies allow older adults to age in place independently and safely at home.

Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory

Elias Michael Director

Ranked as the Number Three OT Program in the Nation

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We welcome inquiries from prospective students, potential collaborators, community partners, alumni and others who want to connect with us. Please complete the form below to begin the conversation.

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Schedule a Virtual Visit

Current, future and accepted applicants are encouraged to virtual visit. We also welcome people who are exploring career options and considering occupational therapy. Dr. Kathy Kniepmann, one of our faculty members, opens our virtual visit sessions with an informal presentation and discussion,  followed by a chat with a current student.

Upcoming VIRTUAL visit sessions*:

*At least two to three visit sessions are scheduled every month. All times are Central Standard Time (CST). Click here for more info.

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Call Dr. Kniepmann at (314) 286-1610
or Robin Hattori at (314) 286-1653