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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Research
Research

Current PhD Students

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.

Kristine Carandang

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

Research Lab: Chronic Conditions in Young Adulthood

Year of Entry: 2013

Kristine Carandang

Education

Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy
2011 | Washington University in St. Louis

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology
2009 | University of Virginia

Research Interests

I am extending upon lessons I learned from conducting diabetes research with Dr. Pyatak to conducting an exploratory analysis of young adults’ activity engagement while living with a rheumatic disease. My work privileges young adulthood as a unique developmental stage that is often overlooked in chronic illness research. My dissertation involves a three-phase mixed methods design, starting with quantitative surveys that ask participants about daily functioning, semi-structured interviews that explore participants’ occupational decisions outside of standardized variables, and ending with narrative interviews that allow for a richer understanding of participants’ experiences and views. With this data, I hope to develop occupational science theory around lifestyle tradeoffs, which involves the decisions that individuals make around activities that promote or deter from various health outcomes. Outside of my dissertation, I am actively concerned with promoting patients’ involvement within healthcare research planning and design. As such, I am involved with multiple patient-directed projects in my role as a researcher, healthcare professional, and patient.

Lucía Floríndez

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

Research Lab: Sensory Adapted Dental Environment Lab (SADE-2)

Year of Entry: 2013

Lucía Floríndez

Education

Master of Arts (MA) in Communication
2011 | University of Southern California

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in International Relations; Spanish (double major)
2008 | University of Southern California

Research Interests

I am the Bilingual project coordinator for the SADE Study, looking at the impact of a sensory adapted dental environment on enhancing the oral care experience of children with autism during dental cleanings.

I am a PhD candidate and USC Center for Health Equity in the Americas Fellow whose work merges the worlds of occupation, culture, and public health. My dissertation, Exploring the role of culture related to in-home oral care routines in Latino families, uses a mixed-methods approach to first identify health disparities in oral care for children in Latino families with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and then create a culturally appropriate tool (survey) to give to Latino parents. In phase one, by employing qualitative research methods like narrative interviewing and photovoice to interview 16 families (8 with typically developing children and 8 with children with ASD), I will critically examine the interplay between person and context, and identify how unique aspects of Latino culture and/or ASD diagnosis may influence oral health related occupations. In phase two, I will take the results from the qualitative data to tailor an oral health knowledge, attitudes, and behavior survey to be more culturally relevant to administer to Latino parents.

A Los Angeleno, I identify as a member of the local Latino community, and am passionate about research that explores the role of Latino culture in influencing health behaviors, as well as communicating culturally pertinent health information. Researching the in-home oral health activities of Latino children will expand the understanding of daily occupations in this at-risk population, and help to develop future targeted prevention and intervention programs, ultimately contributing to closing gaps in care and achieving health equity in the field of oral health.

Emily Kilroy

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Aziz-Zadeh PhD, Sharon Cermak EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Research Lab: A-Z Lab

Year of Entry: 2013

Emily Kilroy

Education

Master of Science (MS) in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology
2010 | University College London

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Behavioral Neuroscience (Concentration in Psychology)
2008 | Purdue University

Research Interests

My research focuses on the relationship between social and motor deficits in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I use behavioral and neuroimaging techniques such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to better understand how sensorimotor brain systems contribute to both social and motor deficits in ASD compared to typically developing children.

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