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
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube
Research
Research

Current PhD Students

Yun-Ju (Claire) Chen

Faculty Mentor: Grace Baranek PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Research Lab: Baranek ASD and Neurodevelopment Lab

Year of Entry: 2017

Yun-Ju (Claire) Chen

Education

Master of Science (MS) in Medical Sciences (Neuropsychiatry)
Keio University, Japan

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Occupational Therapy
2009 | National Taiwan University

Research Interests

My current research projects are centered around the validation/refinement of a parent-report measure (First Years Inventory) designed to identify young infants at risk for a later diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I am interested in early identification of ASD — specifically behavioral and neurobiological markers and their applications to clinical practices.

Raymond Hernandez

Faculty Mentor: Beth Pyatak PhD, OTR/L, CDE

Research Lab: Chronic Conditions in Young Adulthood

Year of Entry: 2017

Raymond Hernandez

Education

Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy
2015 | California State University, Dominguez Hills

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Psychobiology
2012 | University of California, Los Angeles

Research Interests

My research interest lies in exploring the occupation of “rest,” or more specifically, the “relaxation response” as explained by Dr. Herbert Benson at Massachusetts General Hospital: “a wakeful hypometabolic physiological state” that is the opposite of the fight or flight response. Regular elicitation of the relaxation response is believed to help people reduce their responsivity to stressors and increase resiliency. There is a large body of research to support practices such as yoga and meditation as effective methods to elicit the relaxation response. One interesting question is whether the occupations people self-identify as relaxing can elicit the “relaxation response” in a manner comparable to yoga and meditation. Another interesting question is whether “rest” can be conceptualized as a skill.

How is this all important to OT? In all OT areas of practice, stress has some degree of influence. For example, studies using both animal and human models have suggested that increases in the amount of stress experienced can increase wound healing time. If this is the case, then as part of holistic care in physical rehabilitation settings, OTs can encourage clients to regularly elicit the relaxation response and problem solve obstacles to doing so. Theoretically, this would increase resiliency to stress and hence reduce healing time.

My goal in doing this research is to expand the evidence base around the occupation of “rest” to the point where findings can be utilized in OT practice to improve the health and quality of life of the individuals and populations we serve.

Christiana Butera

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Aziz-Zadeh PhD

Research Lab: A-Z Lab

Year of Entry: 2016

Christiana Butera

Education

Master of Education (MEd) in Mind, Brain, and Education
2015 | Harvard Graduate School of Education

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology
2012 | Wheaton College

Research Interests

I am a PhD student in the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. I work in the A-Z Lab under the guidance of Dr. Lisa Aziz-Zadeh at the Brain and Creativity Institute. The project I work on is an fMRI study exploring social and motor connections in the brain in children who are typically developing, or who have a diagnosis of Developmental Coordination Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder. I graduated from Wheaton College with a B.A. in Psychology and received my EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Mind, Brain and Education. I’m interested in the connections in motor and socio-emotional networks in the brain, embodied cognition, and the neural impact of movement and exercise in typically and atypically developing populations.

Dominique Como

Faculty Mentor: Sharon Cermak EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Research Lab: Sensory Adapted Dental Environments Lab

Year of Entry: 2016

Dominique Como

Education

Master of Arts (MA) in Occupational Therapy
2016 | University of Southern California

Master of Education (MEd) in Policy, Planning & Administration
2008 | Boston University

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology; Religious Studies (double major)
2003 | Arizona State University

Research Interests

I am currently a PhD student helping to administer this federally funded study which aims to reduce stress during dental visits for children with Autism through environmental adaptations. In my role as a graduate research assistant I work with children diagnosed with Autism and their families to carry out study related activities including consenting, diagnosis verification [Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2)] and set up and data collection during the intervention. In addition, I am also one of the members of the team that is responsible for coding our primary outcome measure.

I am also incredibly interested in aiding underserved populations and improving patient-provider interactions. As such, I have sought out opportunities to continue to strengthen the cultural responsiveness of Occupational Therapy practitioners by providing trainings to students and entry-level clinicians at national conferences and as a guest lecturer for entry level occupational therapy educational programs. I hope to continue this in some capacity in the future as my own research interests include serving individuals with autism, addressing health disparities and improving patient-provider relationships.

Cristin Holland

Faculty Mentor: Grace Baranek PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Research Lab: Baranek ASD and Neurodevelopment Lab

Year of Entry: 2016

Cristin Holland

Education

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)
2013 | Worcester State University

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology
2006 | University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Interests

I am a third year PhD student in Occupational Science. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. I have clinical experience working as a pediatric occupational therapist within clinic, therapeutic school and residential treatment settings, with a focus on sensory integration. My research interests lie at the intersection of sensory processing and social-emotional development in typically developing children and children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Kaori (Lily) Ito

Faculty Mentor: Sook-Lei Liew PhD, OTR/L

Research Lab: Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Lab

Year of Entry: 2016

Kaori (Lily) Ito

Education

Master of Arts (MA) in Occupational Therapy
2016 | University of Southern California

Bachelor of Arts (BS) in Cognitive Science
2013 | University of California, Los Angeles

Research Interests

Stroke is a neurological disorder that can leave an individual with lasting motor impairments. Among a wide range of factors that can influence stroke recovery, hemispheric dominance relative to the stroke — that is, whether a stroke is in a person’s dominant or non-dominant hemisphere — is likely to have a significant impact on function. For example, an individual whose stroke is in the dominant hemisphere may have difficulty performing daily activities that depend on the dominant hand, such as hand-writing and teeth-brushing.

At the Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Lab, I’m interested in understanding the effects of stroke laterality on neural plasticity and its implication on stroke recovery and rehabilitation. Through the use of functional MRI, I’m studying changes in brain activity and connectivity in motor-related networks following a stroke using various statistical modeling techniques, such as GLM-weighted correlation analyses and dynamic causal modeling.

Sandy C. Takata OTD, OTR/L

Faculty Mentor: Shawn C. Roll PhD, OTR/L, RMSKS, FAOTA

Research Lab: Musculoskeletal Sonography and Occupational Performance Lab

Year of Entry: 2016

Sandy Takata

Education

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
2016 | University of Southern California

Master of Arts (MA) in Occupational Therapy
2015 | University of Southern California

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology
2011 | University of California, Irvine

Research Interests

As a career scientist, I aspire to conduct translational research that informs interventions and strengthens the evidence-base for hand therapy practice. I am interested in exploring novel assessment and intervention methods that promote holistic treatment, as well as facilitate patient adherence and engagement in their own recovery to maximize occupational performance in daily life. My current work involves examining these concepts from both theoretical and applied perspectives. I am conducting a literature review on the concepts of adherence, as well as evaluating a set of qualitative data regarding the experience of patients who received mind-body interventions as part of their hand therapy. In addition to this work, I am actively involved in exploring the use of sonographic imaging as a technique for understanding musculoskeletal pathologies in the upper extremities. Specifically, I am supporting research in the lab that uses imaging to evaluate the impact of occupational performance on changes in the median nerve. As part of this study, we are also conducting a meta-analysis that will identify reference values for the typical size of the median nerve in healthy subjects using musculoskeletal sonography. As I move forward into my own independent work, I hope to apply these concepts (i.e., adherence/engagement, musculoskeletal sonography, occupational performance) in evaluating hand therapy assessment and rehabilitation techniques. My current focus is using these concepts to enhance patient recovery and return to meaningful occupations following tendon injury and repair.

David Turnbull

Faculty Mentor: Mary Lawlor ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Research Lab: Sensory Integration Engagement and Family Life (SIEFL)

Year of Entry: 2016

David Turnbull

Education

Master of Arts (MA) in Occupational Therapy
University of Southern California

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Journalism and Public Communication
University of Alaska Anchorage

Research Interests

My research interests are related to improving access to and quality of services for adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum. Specifically, I am interested in how autistic men and women use occupation to create, gain entry to, and maintain membership in communities. As a research assistant I have worked on continuing research projects seeking to understand the unique needs and challenges of families of young adults on the autism spectrum.

Mark Hardison

Faculty Mentor: Shawn C. Roll PhD, OTR/L, RMSKS, FAOTA

Research Lab: Musculoskeletal Sonography and Occupational Performance Lab

Year of Entry: 2014

Mark Hardison

Education

Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy
Tufts University

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology with Minor in Music
2009 | University of Rochester

Research Interests

I am a licensed and registered occupational therapist and PhD candidate in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Within the MSOP lab, I act as a research assistant on the currently funded R01 grant which is investigating carpal tunnel syndrome within the dental hygiene profession. Also, I have assisted in coordinating the recently completed mind-body hand therapy study which piloted mindfulness and biofeedback interventions in hand therapy. My research interests span the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, mind-body interventions for occupational therapy, and motivational psychology.

Carin Wong

Faculty Mentor: Natalie Leland PhD, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA

Research Lab: Rehabilitation Health Services Research Lab

Year of Entry: 2014

Carin Wong

Education

Master of Science (MS) in Gerontology
2014 | University of Southern California

Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Development and Aging
2013 | University of Southern California

Research Interests

My research is focused on nursing home activity engagement.  Many nursing home residents are found to be inactive and do not engage in meaningful activities. This lack of engagement can contribute to a loss of physical function, social isolation, depression, and a lower quality of life. Conversely, residents who are engaged have a higher quality of life, less depression, and greater overall well-being. However, there is limited research on appropriate activity-based interventions for residents and how activity sessions are designed and provided. Thus, my research is on understanding current practices for activity engagement in nursing homes with a focus on how activities are currently provided for nursing home residents and how residents are engaged in activities.

Page 1 of 2 |  1 2 >