University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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About Us
About Us

Meet Our Trojan Family

Louise Farnworth, PhD ‘98

Louise Farnworth, PhD ‘98

PhD program

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia.

After working as an OT in a prison with forensic psychiatry patients, Dr. Farnworth became interested in issues related to marginalization and social justice. She was inspired to study Occupational Science at USC after hearing a presentation by Ann Wilcock.

Having been involved in research, teaching as well as curriculum development at La Trobe University since 1982, Dr. Farnworth moved to Monash University as the inaugural head of the Department of Occupational Therapy in 2005 to set up a new occupational therapy department and degree that is strongly influenced by occupational science.  Through Monash, she is now also involved in setting up a new Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at Princess Nora University in Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Farnworth was awarded the Sylvia Docker Lecture in 2003 in recognition by the professional association of her significant contribution to occupational therapy in Australia.

Susanne Elkrief, MAII ‘14

Susanne Elkrief, MAII ‘14

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Encino, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?

Witnessing the impact occupational therapy had on my grandfather when he was in the hospital, encouraged me to research OT as a potential career option. After shadowing a clinical school psychologist and a school based occupational therapist, the incomparable amount of progress pediatric OTs were able to facilitate and maintain in children helped me determine that OT would be the most personally rewarding field for me.

What area of practice are you interested in?

The areas of practice I am interested in are pediatric mental health and school-based occupational therapy. I feel both areas play such a vital factor in childhood development and I would love to play a role in facilitating health-promoting interventions to encourage healthy growth and development.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.

Before coming to OT, I was a psychology – pre-med student at University of California, San Diego.  I had a strong passion for psychology and found myself gravitating towards neuropsychology research and autism. I worked as a research assistant in three different labs throughout my undergraduate experience: a language and development lab, a memory lab, and a research on autism and development lab. After researching several career paths, I found OT would provide me with the most opportunity to interact with children on a personal basis and really cater my skills towards targeting their individual difficulties and goals.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

Starbucks double shot coffee cans and hummus!

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?

I would pick Dr. Jean Ayres, a true leader in the discovery and development of treatment methods for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and sensory integration dysfunction.

Nicté Sobrino, BS-MA ‘14

Nicté Sobrino, BS-MA ‘14

Bachelor's to Master's program

Hometown: Whittier, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I was originally a psychology major at USC. I took a Developmental Psych class my first semester, and OT ambassadors came into class and told us that if we liked what we were learning, that maybe we would be interested in something called occupational therapy. I took a flier and was interested, but didn’t act on it. The very next semester, I took an Abnormal Psych class and the very same people came in and did another presentation. By then, I figured it was fate and that I should look into what this field was that kept trying to pull me in. I took two Intro to OT courses (one with Kim Morris-Eggleston, the other with Kate Crowley), and I was hooked. I took the steps to apply to the program and signed up for every one of the prerequisite courses that I hadn’t already completed. I don’t remember wanting something so badly in my entire life than to get accepted to the program. And here I am today!

What area of practice are you interested in?

All of them. I’m having a really difficult time narrowing down exactly what I want to do because everything is so interesting and I could see myself in any of the fields. But that’s what I love about OT - I can move from field to field if I ever feel like it!

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

My two favorite occupations are making art and playing quidditch! I was the captain of our club quidditch team for two years, but I recently stepped down so I could focus more on my final year of grad school. I will try almost anything in art that I can get my hands on—painting, drawing, clay, wire, anything. My favorite is oil painting, though.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

Bacon. And leftovers. I really need to go to the grocery store.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

To fly. That’s something I’ve wanted since I was a kid. I’d choose flight over pretty much any other power. There’s just something so wonderful about not being confined to the ground.

Korey Brent, MAII ‘14

Korey Brent, MAII ‘14

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Simi Valley, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?

The mother of a baby I nannied in undergrad who was an autism specialist heard that I was looking into various health professions and she said that I HAD to be an OT.  All it took was a google search to realize that OT was for me!

What area of practice are you interested in?

Currently I am split between adult rehab and pediatrics

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far:

My favorite memory from the program so far was when we were at our Level II fieldwork for the summer and I met two of my classmates for dinner one weekend and we all shared our stories (both positive and negative). We just all realized that we know so much more than we thought we did, and that we couldn’t be more excited about choosing OT for a profession.  Also, hearing my Level II clinical instructor say that she believed I was going to make a great OT was definitely a high point.

What Hogwarts house would you be in and why?

Gryffindor, because I would definitely have been the fourth wheel to Harry, Ron, and Hermione (or at least I would’ve tried to be)!

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?

Kobe Bryant is the most dedicated person I can think of.  He is 110% dedicated to his field and being the best that he can be at it, and has an overwhelming amount of passion for what he does.  He is constantly working to be better and to refine his skills, works harder than most, and still maintains a sense of humor; these are all traits that I am working on!

Doris Pierce, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA

Doris Pierce, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA

PhD program

Hometown: Richmond, Kentucky

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I got into occupational therapy through two forces.  I was an older sister of a brother with disabilities, so I wanted to make a difference for those kids.  Also, I grew up in a creative family of artists and teachers, where doing was learning and all of it was fun.

Why did you decide to pursue your PhD in Occupational Science?

I pursued my Ph.D. because I wanted to serve my field.  Also, I love developing theory and the creativity of doing research.  They satisfy my curiosity.

What was the most rewarding part of being in the PhD program?

My experience of the Ph.D. in Occupational Science was one of rapid intellectual growth.  I was challenged and transformed.  I began publishing in my master’s program at USC and just continued from there.  Opportunities for collaboration and exciting research and grant projects were limited only by the time in the day.  I received a Dissertation Grant Award form AOTA/AOTF and the Elizabeth June Yerxa Award at graduation.

What are you are doing now?

Since 2000, I have been the Endowed Chair in Occupational Therapy at Eastern Kentucky University.  In this unique legislatively-created position, I work primarily with Ph.D. students in our Rehabilitation Sciences program, do research, and help younger scholars in my department to plan and develop their own work.

Jonathan Li, MAII ‘15

Jonathan Li, MAII ‘15

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Hong Kong

What brought you to occupational therapy?

Being a person who is big on balance and practicing what I preach, I believe occupational therapy was the field for me. I want to learn more about myself and the field of occupational therapy and be educated on how I can share my experience with others. Helping others come closer to achieving their potential while leading happy, healthy, balanced life.

What area of practice are you interested in?

Ergonomics, Wellness, Lifestyle Redesign, Home Modification, Pain Management

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

Exploring the city of Los Angeles and hopefully partaking in a road trip to the various states in the United States. Enjoying the various restaurants available in Los Angeles. Spending time with my family, especially my younger sister who is also studying in USC, and meeting up with my friends. I also enjoy sports and am willing to try new sports if given the opportunity. Some of the sports I currently do are hiking, running and practicing Traditional Chinese Martial Arts. I also enjoy playing a computer game called Leagues of Legends.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

The one superpower I would like to have is the power cosmic, which the Silver Surfer has. The power cosmic, in itself, consists of a lot of other powers, however, so it would not be fair. Instead, if I was given one super power, it will be telekinesis with the ability to manipulate molecules. I believe this power will provide me abilities to do much to help the world. If it is a cancerous tumor, I can manipulate the molecules to remove it; if a device is needed I can manipulate the molecules to create one. It provides an infinite potential only limited by one’s own mind.

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?

It would be Wong Fei Hung. Wong Fei Hung is a folk hero that is well known for his martial arts skills, Chinese medicine skills, helping his country and compassion. These are all skills I would love to have and wish I will be able to use it to benefit and improve society in the future.

If you got to choose to be a comic character, who would you want to be?

I would choose to be either Silver Surfer or Cable from the Marvel Comics. Although both of these characters tend to be more of an anti-hero, I want to be these characters since I enjoy the freedom they have, allowing them to either time travel or explore the universe. They also share similarities in wanting to better the world through actions. Despite the many positive deeds, they both have their own limitations such as facing their death due to old age or constantly fighting an illness similar to cancer while pursuing their goals.

Victoria Tracy Wong, MAII ‘15

Victoria Tracy Wong, MAII ‘15

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: San Francisco, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I previously worked with seniors who had mental disabilities prior to college. When my best friend told me she was thinking of switching from nursing into occupational therapy, I looked into it. Much of the description seemed to be what I had done that previous summer. As I looked into it further, I decided to shadow a registered occupational therapist and found one at Ronald Reagan Hospital’s Neurological Rehabilitation Unit and in the Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program. I loved being in both settings, and I learned so much from observing that I knew I wanted to pursue occupational therapy as a career.

What area of practice are you interested in?

I came into occupational therapy interested in pediatrics, but I am still open to the different immersion experiences I will have!

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.

I was a psychology major at UCLA and had a minor in applied developmental psychology. I loved working with children and figuring out how minds think. My friends and family members always thought I might go into teaching or into the health care field, so it was not too surprising when I decided on occupational therapy.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

I enjoy baking (especially if it I can change up the ingredients to make it healthier), hiking, and just hanging out with friends.

What Hogwarts house would you be in and why?

I took a fun personality test before to see which Hogwarts house I would be placed in, and I got placed in Hufflepuff! I would say it’s pretty accurate considering this house values patience, hard work, loyalty, and fair play, which I do as well.

What are two truths and a lie about yourself?

My favorite color is blue, I would choose a sunrise over a sunset, and I really love citrus-y fruit.

Tina Sehremelis, BS-MA ‘15

Tina Sehremelis, BS-MA ‘15

Bachelor's to Master's program

Hometown: Seal Beach, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I was always interested in going into the medical profession; however, it was a family friend who introduced me to occupational therapy.  After she described to me everything she did as an OT, I knew that this career matched up with my professional aspirations.

What area of practice are you interested in?

Pediatrics, specifically interested in working in the NICU.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

I enjoy playing tennis, hiking, going to the beach, and running.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

My fridge would be filled with Chobani yogurts because I am obsessed with that brand of Greek yogurts. My roommates laugh at me because my fridge is currently overflowing with Chobani yogurts.

What are two truths and a lie about yourself?

I am 100% Greek. I have never had braces. I am the oldest of six children.

Sook-Lei Liew, PhD ‘12, MAII ‘08

Sook-Lei Liew, PhD ‘12, MAII ‘08

PhD program

Hometown: Plano, Texas

What brought you to occupational therapy?

My junior year of college, I didn’t know what I would do with my English and Kinesiology double major. So I took a career test, which suggested I become a farmer or an occupational therapist. I started looking into occupational therapy. I loved that it was a creative, dynamic helping profession with a lot of different applications (pediatrics, adult rehabilitation, etc).

Why did you decide to pursue your PhD in Occupational Science?

The first course of my MA program at USC was Neuroscience, taught by Dr. Nancy Bagatell. It was my first real exposure to neuroscience, and I loved learning from Dr. Bagatell, because she taught both the intricacies of the brain and nervous system and how these things affect people’s everyday lives. I started volunteering as a research assistant in Dr. Lisa Aziz-Zadeh’s lab, doing brain imaging to understand social cognition, which was fascinating. I also completed my second Level II Fieldwork at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in the acute neuro/spinal cord floor and loved working with the patients. However, I realized there was so much left to understand in terms of recovery after brain injury. Thus, I started a PhD in OS to understand how the brain affects our ability to engage in daily occupations better, with a long-term goal of developing more effective strategies and therapies for neurorehabilitation.

What was the most rewarding part of being in the PhD program?

My PhD experience was a challenging but very rewarding 4 years. During this time, I learned to design, conduct and analyze neuroimaging data, and how to write and present results in publications and presentations. I was fortunate to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) and a USC Provost’s PhD fellowship, which helped tremendously in supporting my research efforts, in addition to the generous support of the USC OS/OT division. By the end of my 4 years, I had 9 publications (6 first-author), and had given over 20 conference presentations and invited talks for both science-based and general public audiences. I also had the opportunity to conduct a productive research collaboration with Peking University in China, under a research grant from the National Science Foundation, and the opportunity to attend several neuroimaging training programs, such as at the Riken Brain Science Institute (Tokyo, Japan) and with the Federation of European Neurosciences and International Brain Research Organization (Lausanne/Geneva, Switzerland).

What are you are doing now?

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). I am working with Dr. Leonardo Cohen in the Human Cortical Physiology and Neurorehabilitation Section on identifying biomarkers associated with recovery after stroke and on using novel brain-computer interface technology to help individuals learn to control their own brain activity after stroke.

Melissa Schram, BS-MA ‘14

Melissa Schram, BS-MA ‘14

Bachelor's to Master's program

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I fell in love with occupational therapy after learning about it at USC and then observing a few OTs during the summer before my sophomore year of college. I was lucky to find out about the progressive degree and I was able to get all the prerequisites done during college and begin the master’s program as a senior!  I’m so happy that everything worked out!

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

I love to watch Gilmore Girls and spend time with friends and family.  I enjoy doing yoga but wish I had more time to do it!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

In my fridge right now there are some carrots and ranch dressing, grapes, leftover pizza from my dinner last night, milk, and chocolate chip cookie dough. The essentials!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I would like to be able to make myself invisible because I love to people-watch.

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