Chair's Message

I am delighted to bring you the Spring/Summer 2019 edition of the UFOT Progress Notes: a publication to inform you of the incredible developments occurring in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Florida. I hope you will enjoy reading this newsletter, learn about the growth, expansion and progress in the Department and consider supporting the department in its progress towards preeminence.

We continue to expand our faculty complement, and have two tenure track faculty members who will join us late Summer or early Fall 2019: Dr. Jessica Kramer and Dr. C.J. Liu—both appointed as associate professors. Additionally, we are also welcoming Dr. John Kramer and Dr. Heidi Horwitz as clinical assistant professors. We are also recruiting for post-docs and
PhD students. Interested parties can contact me directly.
The UFOT Department boasts 10 active
PhD students currently enrolled (or admitted) to the Rehabilitation Science Doctoral program. And—we have four post-doctoral fellows who are working under the mentorship of Dr. Sergio Romero and myself. This action portrays our commitment to cultivating the next generation of scientists. Other exciting developments include faculty receiving new grants, and faculty members, i.e., Dr. Zheng Wang and Dr. Amber Angell, sponsoring BHS students to receive competitive scholarships. We are also launching the BHS-OTD accelerated program—with our first group of seven students entering the program soon. Excitingly, we are mid-way through the curriculum of the UF's Post Professional Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy program (DRT). We are now inviting applications for the DRT program, with classes starting February 2020.  

Recently, we received notice from NBCOT that our MOT students who have taken the Board examination have once again accomplished a 100% pass rate! Congratulations to our outstanding faculty and excellent students on this accomplishment.

The OT Department has had widespread participation in the recent annual AOTA Conference in New Orleans. Activities included faculty and students delivering a pre-conference institute, two short courses, five presentations, and 12 posters. The Department was a proud sponsor of AOTF’s Breakfast with a Scholar and showcased a beautiful booth in the Expo Hall, where we made contact with hundreds of our alumni and colleagues. Additionally, as Editor-in-Chief of OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, the OTJR editorial board members and I conducted a successful annual board meeting.  
As an update--The SmartDriver Rehabilitation Program is providing driving evaluation and rehabilitation services for medically-at-risk drivers in North-Central Florida and South Georgia. We have added a new Toyota Camry 2019, outfitted with automated in-vehicle technologies, to serve the driving needs of our clients. The Department is excited to present our clients with this state-of-the-art technology that may enhance their driving performance.    

We are very proud of the Department’s two outstanding alums for the 2018-2019 academic year. They are Dr. Consuelo Kreider, a faculty member in the Department of Occupational Therapy as our senior Alum and Dr. Becky Piazza, fieldwork coordinator at the University of St. Augustine, as our junior Alum. These two individuals are exemplars of the excellent contributions that so many of our alumni are making to the UFOT Department—actions that we continue to encourage among our alumni!
As the UFOT Department Chair, I could not be more proud—as we are on a positive trajectory to meeting our 2025 vision and mission. As always, please keep in touch, send us news about your professional progress, and forward this link to others who are alumni or friends of UFOT!


Sherrilene Classen, MPH, OTR/L, FAOTA, FGSA
Professor and Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy  

Faculty Updates

Two UFOT faculty members, Dr. Christine Myers and Dr. Carolyn Hanson, were recently honored for excellent contributions in editorial functions and/or teaching.  

Dr. Christine Myers was selected as one of the 2019 Wall of Fame Editors by the SIS Quarterly Practice Connections of AOTA. The Wall of Fame acknowledges excellence in performance among the Special Interest Section Quarterly editors. These editors submitted all materials on schedule for each issue (August through May) of AOTA's fiscal year, with each article receiving reviewer scores of 3 or 4 (on a scale of 1 - 4). 

Dr. Carolyn Hanson has been an active participant in the Passport to Great Teaching badge and certificate program. She has completed the requirements to earn the Great Teaching Certificate. Also, she has completed Foundations of Great Teaching Workshop, Team-Based Learning Workshop, and the Creative Video Workshop.

She will put her learning into practice as a recipient of an Internationalizing the Curriculum Grant. Dr. Hanson has been awarded a Rising Star Award for 2019.

Additionally, Dr. Hanson has also been recognized by OTJR, as the top reviewer for the 2018-2019 period. She has surpassed all other reviewers in terms of her quality and timeliness of reviews. She was recognized at the OTJR Board meeting during the recent annual AOTA Conference for this distinction.

Dr. Sherrilene Classen is a Graduating Fellow of SECU-ALDP

Dr. Sherrilene Classen, who is one of the two Provost-selected Fellows for the Southeastern Conference of Universities (SECU) Academic Leadership Development Program (SEC-ALDP), recently completed this one-year intensive leadership training.  

Dr. Classen states that she was exposed to some of the most dynamic leaders and leadership practices in the SECU and UF administration. She says: “I have learned so much about leadership practices in a research-intensive university, and have a renewed appreciation for the incredible role that administrative leaders are demonstrating—every day!  Indeed, leadership is about crafting a dynamic and inspiring vision, instilling trust, aligning resources with people, and unleashing talent” – four competencies that she aspires to, always!

On the picture, Dr. Sherrilene Classen is featured, as a 2019 Graduating Fellow of the SECU-ALDP Program with Dr. Chris Hass—UF Associate Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs.

OT and UF Transportation Institute Host Dr. Carissa Slotterback as a Dean's Visiting Scholar

On December 6, 2018, Occupational Therapy, as well as colleagues from Public Health, Biostatistics, Environmental and Global Health, diverse disciplines in Engineering, and representatives from the City of Gainesville and the Florida Department of Transportation, were well-represented during the Dean’s Visiting Scholar’s keynote address. Carissa Slotterback, PhD, presented “Advancing Collaboratively Engaged Research: Implication for Transportation Research Now and in the Future.” She emphasized the value of fostering relationships with stakeholders and discussed how to promote networking and strengthening relationships among transportation activists. The importance of collaboration was reinforced through case studies, which addressed the challenges, adversities, and lessons learned. Five prominent leaders in transportation presented their perspective on the current and future state of transportation, culminating in an understanding that collaboration is necessary to develop transportation equity. Attendees participated in a conversation circle that expanded on the themes of equity, mobility as a right, human factors, and predicting the future of transportation.

(pictured from left: Sherrilene Classen, PhD, MPH, OTR/L, FAOTA, FGSA, Professor and Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy; Lily Elefteriadou, PhD, Barbara Goldsby Professor of Civil Engineering; Malisa McCreedy, AICP, Director of Mobility, City of Gainesville; Carissa Slotterback, PhD, FAICP, Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Urban and Regional Planning, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; Ruth Steiner, PhD, MBA, Professor, College of Design, Construction and Planning; Tom Byron, Assistant Secretary, Strategic Development, Florida Department of Transportation)

OT Receives Funding to Study Perceptions of Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury/Disease on Autonomous Vehicles


Principal Investigator, Dr. Sherrilene Classen and Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Justin Mason, of the OT Department, with Co-Investigators, Dr. Emily Fox of the UF Department of Physical Therapy and Brooks Rehabilitation, and Dr. Babette Brumback of the Biostatistics Department, received funding from the Paralyzed Veterans of America to elucidate the perceptions of adults living with a spinal cord injury and/or disease (SCI/D) as it relates to autonomous (i.e., self-driving) vehicles. Autonomous vehicles may provide an equitable transportation opportunity for individuals with SCI/D, if they adopt this mode of transportation. Participants in this study will provide their perceptions of autonomous vehicles before and after riding in an autonomous shuttle. The information gained from this research will inform clinicians, rehabilitation scientists, community partners, manufacturers, and care partners of opportunities and barriers to improve individuals’ with SCI/D interaction with autonomous vehicles. Their perceptions and feedback may lead to important steps toward transportation equity for such individuals.

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Babette Brumback, Dr. Justin Mason, Mr. Stephen Hardy, Dr. Emily Fox, and Dr. Sherrilene Classen

Occupational Therapy Accelerated Program (BHS-OTD) 
The Occupational Therapy Accelerated Program is for University of Florida pre-occupational therapy students who are pursuing their Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) degree. The program is a combined degree program that allows students to take first-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program courses during their junior and senior years in the BHS Program. All first-year OTD courses count toward both the OTD and the BHS degrees. Students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy Accelerated Program will complete two semesters of year one OTD coursework while earning credit towards their BHS. After graduating with their BHS, they will have eight semesters of OTD coursework remaining, thus decreasing time to graduation and overall cost of tuition.
Apply Now!
UFOT's Post-Graduate Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy
UF's Professional Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy is the first of its kind offered by a U.S. university. Graduates of this program are qualified to be entry-level driver rehabilitation therapists working with medically-at-risk drivers through the lifespan. Go to our website for more information or watch our most recent online webinar
Graduating Class of 2019
It is an end of an era for UFOT as we say goodbye to the last MOT class as they head off to their Level 2 fieldwork.  This amazing group of students are going forth with knowledge, enthusiasm and a great Gator spirit!  Go Gators!!
In and Moreira Receive University Scholars Program Awards

This summer, Emily In will start her research journey studying postural control deficits in school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Zheng Wang. In is a second-year pre-medical undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology. “I am very excited to receive this award. Acquiring research experience at the College of Public Health and Health Professions will help me transition my knowledge set from the dish to human subjects,” In said. In will be working on a project to examine the effect of visual and proprioceptive information on the control of postural ability in children with ASD. In is also interested in addressing the relationships amongst postural instability, diagnostic severity and cognitive ability in children with ASD. This award will lay a solid career foundation for her to pursue future clinical practice opportunities in the health professions.

(pictured from left: Emily In and Dr. Zheng Wang)

Daniela Moreira, a Bachelor of Health Science Honors program student, was awarded a 2019-2020 University Scholars Program scholarship to carry out a mentored research project in Dr. Amber Angell’s lab in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Moreira will conduct Spanish language interviews with Latino families of girls with autism. This project, which will serve as Moreira’s honors thesis, is part of a larger project in Angell’s lab that aims to address gender, racial, and ethnic disparities in autism diagnosis. Girls are under-identified with autism compared to boys, yet little autism research has focused on females, and even less is known about Latina girls with autism. Understanding how Latina girls are distinctly affected by autism is a critical first step in addressing disparities. In addition to her Spanish fluency, Moreira brings to the project a complex understanding of culture and disability, and a passion for addressing health disparities for underserved populations.

(pictured from left: Daniela Moreira and Dr. Amber Angell)

OT Introduces Post-Doctoral Associates and Fellows

Drs. Zack Ahonle, Gail Castañeda, MJ Lee, and Justin Mason are postdoctoral associates in the Department of Occupational Therapy working with Drs. Sherrilene Classen and Sergio Romero. Ahonle earned his PhD in Special Education and Rehabilitation Counselor Education from the University of Texas. His research interests include community reintegration and diversity in outcomes of vulnerable populations. Castañeda earned her PhD in Public Health (social and behavioral sciences concentration) from UF. Her research interests involve psychometric testing and development of health-related constructs, particularly co-occurring substance abuse and disordered eating behaviors. Lee earned her PhD in Rehabilitation Science from UF. She is currently working on developing and testing an Annie protocol to deliver NIH-PROMIS Measures. Her research interests include measurement outcomes, remote health services and technologies, and home modifications. Mason earned his PhD in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Florida State University. His current project is assessing aging adults and those with spinal cord injury/disease's perceptions of automated vehicle technologies.

(pictured from left: Dr. Zack Ahonle, Dr. Gail Castañeda, Dr. Mi Jung Lee, and Dr. Justin Mason)

Profiling OT and RSD PhD Students

PhD students from the Department of Occupational Therapy enrolled in the Rehabilitation Science Doctoral program are actively involved in research. The following students recently published alongside their mentors: Mary Jeghers (Mentor: Dr. Winter and Dr. Classen), Sharon Medina (Mentor: Dr. Kreider), and Shabnam Medhizadah (Mentor: Dr. Classen).

Students presenting at the 2019 American Occupational Therapy Association in April include: Carlyn Ellison (Mentors: Drs. Classen and Struckmeyer), Mary Jeghers, Jaewon Kang (Mentor: Dr. Romero), Sharon Medina, Shabnam Medhizadah, and Marcia Schneider (Mentor: Dr. Shechtman). Additionally, Schneider, Wang, and Melissa Knott (Mentor: Dr. Classen) were selected to present in the Young Scientist Theater of this conference. Shabnam Medhizadah and James Wersal (Mentor: Dr. Classen) have presentations accepted at the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED) conference in August 2019. The department congratulates all of the PhD students and their mentors.

 (pictured from left: Shabnam Medhizadah, Marcia Schneider, James Wersal, Sharon Medina, Mary Jeghers, Carlyn Ellison, and Jaewon Wang)

OTD Student Accepted into the FOTA Leadership Development Program

OTD student, Jianne Apostol, was accepted into the Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) Leadership Development program.  Jianne is a first year OTD student and serves as treasurer of the UF Student OT Association. As a participant she will engage in a day of continuing education and dynamic discussions on the topic of leadership and service in the context of the state professional association for occupational therapy. A variety of speakers, presentations, and discussions will be provided on leadership practices and principles as well as the diversity of roles in leadership that exist in FOTA. The event will culminate into volunteering for FOTA and beginning to grow into leadership roles in those areas. Participants will be connected to a current FOTA leader who can act as a mentor and facilitate increased service to FOTA while guiding leadership development.

UFOT Students Give Back to the Community

OTD students from UFOT helped to pack meals for people in need in north central Florida.  Working through "Meals of Hope," OTD students helped to pack 84,000 meals.  These meals are specifically packed with foods that have the vitamins, minerals and proteins to supplement an unbalanced diet.

Thank you to the students that participated and a specials thanks to Dr. Linda Struckmeyer for linking the Gator Good
to the needs in our community!

UFOT Takes AOTA by Storm!
The Department of Occupational Therapy had a strong presence at the annual American Occupational Therapy Association Conference held in New Orleans. This conference promotes scholarship and professional development among occupational therapy practitioners, scientists and students across the nation, and from abroad. Twenty-one faculty members and students took advantage of this opportunity to present their scientific work and delivered a total of 20 presentations, including a pre-conference institute, short courses, research posters, and a scientific research panel. Representing the department, 10 faculty members and PhD students attended the annual Breakfast with a Scholar. This event’s speaker, Alan Hobson, a Mt. Everest summiteer and cancer survivor, shared how setbacks can be overcome with courage, faith, and rehabilitation services such as occupational therapy.

The Department of Occupational Therapy was recognized for their contributions and support of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Lastly, the department concluded the conference with a well-attended Alumni Reception, sponsored by the UF Development Office, to reconnect alumni and friends.

UF OT students attended a poster session to support their classmate, Samantha DeMaria, as she presented, “The Development of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Competencies in OT: A Modified Delphi Study.”
Below are a few photos from this year's conference. Logon to our Facebook page to see more of the UFOT AOTA experience!
Ellison Presents at HIMSS Global Conference

PhD student Carlyn Ellison, from the Department of Occupational Therapy and the Rehabilitation Science Doctoral Program, presented at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Global Conference & Exhibition 2019. The HIMSS conference is the largest health information and technology conference in the world, attracting more than 45,000 attendees from more than 90 countries. Other UF collaborators included Dr. Rick Kates and Samantha Larson from the Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy. The collaborative study highlighted how data can be presented in a more impactful way through the utilization of an infographic assignment among graduate level students entitled, “Infographics: Maximize Critical Thinking and Engagement.” Under the mentorship of Dr. Sherrilene Classen and supervision of Dr. Linda Struckmeyer, Ellison is studying the implementation of home modifications for aging-in-place among persons with disabilities.

(pictured from left: Dr. Rick Kates and Carlyn Ellison)

UFOT Alumnus Receives Ann Sirmyer Ballard Award
Recent UFOT graduate, Emily Minteer, received the Ann Sirmyer Ballard Memorial Award for the Outstanding Graduate with high academic achievement, excellence in clinical performance and outstanding leadership from the University of Florida’s Occupational Therapy program. While pursuing her degree, Minteer was co-director of the OT Equal Access Clinic, offering those without means access to rehabilitation services. She is currently working at UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital in Gainesville.

(pictured from left: Dr. Christine Meyer, Emily Minteer and Dr. Sherrilene Classen)
Excellence in Continuing Education
As an occupational therapist, you know there are a lot of options to meet continuing education requirements. But, are you finding quality programs that help you increase competencies and give you the cutting edge education that you are looking for?

UFOT has solved this problem with its 
online CEU programThese courses are designed and taught by UFOT faculty and offer excellence in the provision of occupation and evidence-based continuing education. Courses include:  

  More courses will be added soon, so keep checking our CEU website for more quality programs. 
Calling All UFOT Alumni!!
All UFOT Alumni! Please let us know what you are up to.  We'd love to hear from you and learn about your adventures in Occupational Therapy! Also, let us know when you change email addresses so we can keep you up to date on UFOT.

Our mailing address is:
University of Florida
Department of Occupational Therapy
Box 100164
Gainesville, FL  32610-0164

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