University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube
Research

Research

Volunteer Opportunities for Students

Various opportunities are made available to current students interested in gaining direct experience conducting research, including contributing to the work of funded laboratories and scholarship of faculty members. If you are interested in volunteering to learn more about research or are considering a career in science, please contact faculty members directly to learn more.

Research area/project: Pressure Ulcer Prevention/ Technology
Faculty: Jesus Diaz
Nature of Work: We are currently developing an app that will provide patients with a tool to assist in their pressure ulcer prevention program. We will be testing the app with ten participants at Rancho Los Amigos and then conducting a focus group to learn about their user experience. We will need assistance with testing the app, recruitment, organizing the focus group, and providing suggestions for the app development. We may also need assistance with literature reviews and preparing presentations.
Time Commitment: 2-4 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: attention to detail, literature / Google search, writing skills, comfortable with Word/PowerPoint/Excel.
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Weight-control program (Obesity Intervention)
Faculty: Sarah-Jeanne Salvy
Nature of Work: We are currently developing the material to pilot-test the implementation of a hands-on, cooking class module adapted from an existing cooking program (Kitchen Karate, www.kitchenkarate.com), as part of the weight-control curriculum delivered through the USC Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice. Kitchen Karate (KK) involves active, participatory group cooking classes, which teach participants the practice of preparing a week’s worth of healthy meals in one 2-hour cooking session. This hands-on approach helps build cooking skills and strategies to simplify and advance meal preparation to circumvent the common time, cooking skill, and social barriers to healthy cooking. Duties will include contributing to the development of a grant proposal, working with our consultant (kitchen karate) to gather the material necessary for the grant proposal submission, formatting of study material, searching literature, and helping with the logistic of implementing the cooking classes.
Time Commitment: 4-5 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: attention to detail, literature / Google search, writing skills, comfortable with Word/PowerPoint/Excel.
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Childhood obesity prevention in the context of a home visitation program.
Faculty: Sarah-Jeanne Salvy
Nature of Work: Our team is currently implementing a study testing the effectiveness of delivering a nutrition and physical activity module that we call COPE (Childhood Obesity Prevention at homE) as an add-on to an established home visitation program. Home visitation programs provide in-home services to low-income mothers and their children. HVPs address multiple areas of mother and child health, but they have yet to be tested as an effective infrastructure for obesity prevention in early childhood. Duties may include preparation of study material (formatting training manual and questionnaires), development of activity-based intervention modules, searching literature, and helping with the implementation of the intervention.
Time Commitment: 4-5 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: Spanish-English bilingual (not required but ideal), attention to detail, writing skills, Word/PowerPoint/Excel experience.
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Goal Setting in an Occupational Therapy Weight Management Program
Faculty: Stacey Schepens Niemiec
Nature of Work:The purpose of this study is to analyze the type of goals set and patient progression towards achieving such goals over the course of participation in the Lifestyle Redesign Weight Management program. We will also explore the relationship between weight management goals set and patient outcomes achieved upon discharge. Duties may include IRB application development, medical chart reviews, data collection and entry, and goal analysis. You may also assist in literature reviews, creating reports or presentations, and grant writing.
Time Commitment: 4 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: CITI and HIPAA training offered through USC (will be required if you volunteer), attention to detail, literature searching skills, excellent writing skills, PowerPoint and Excel experience.
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Stepping Reaction Time of Adult Recreational Soccer Players.
Faculty: Stacey Schepens Niemiec
Nature of Work:This study is in the manuscript development stages. All data have been collected and a poster has already been presented at a professional conference. The next step is to refine a paper that is in draft form and prepare it for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. This process would involve a literature review, expansion of the current manuscript content, identification of potentially suitable journals, and completion of the online submission forms.
Time Commitment: 1-2 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: Attention to detail, literature searching skills, excellent writing skills, PowerPoint and Excel experience.
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Well Elderly 3 Intervention Manualization and Promotor Training Workshop Development
Faculty: Stacey Schepens Niemiec and Jenny Martinez
Nature of Work: Our interdisciplinary research team is currently completing two major tasks that are a part of the Well Elderly 3 implementation study: 1. developing a lifestyle-based intervention manual for late middle-aged Latino adults who are risk for chronic diseases, and 2. developing a training workshop for Latino Community Health Workers (Promotores) to deliver a lifestyle intervention. Duties may include analysis of focus group or interview data, health resource gathering, review of training manuals, development of activity-based intervention modules, searching literature, and creating reports or presentations. 
Time Commitment: 4 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: Spanish-English bilingual (not required but ideal), attention to detail, literature searching skills, excellent writing skills, PowerPoint and Excel experience.
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 

Research area/project: Using Mobile Phone-based Physical Activity Measurements in Clinical Weight Management
Faculty: Stacey Schepens Niemiec
Nature of Work:In collaboration with the School of Engineering, we are in the early stages of developing a mobile phone application to improve clinical outcomes in late middle-aged and older adults who take part in the Occupational Therapy Lifestyle Redesign Weight Management program offered through the Faculty Practice. Duties may include IRB application development, recruitment, data collection and entry, questionnaire development, and suggestions for app improvement. You may also assist in literature reviews, creating reports or presentations, and grant writing.
Time Commitment: 4 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: CITI and HIPAA training offered through USC (will be required if you volunteer), comfort with using a smartphone, attention to detail, literature searching skills, excellent writing skills, PowerPoint and Excel experience, Spanish-English bilingual (not required but ideal).
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 

Research area/project: Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation - Stroke, Hands, TBI, amputees
Faculty: Rachel Proffitt
Nature of Work: Work as part of an interdisciplinary team developing and testing customized VR tools for rehabilitation. Duties will include setting up equipment for data collection sessions, helping with assessments, analyzing data, literature searching and helping to create reports and presentations.
Time Commitment: 4 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: Attention to detail, comfortable working with computers and video game technology, enjoys using Excel and Word, transportation to site in Playa Vista and data collection sites.
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Occupations and Social Justice
Faculty: Gelya Frank
Nature of Work: Watch documentaries, summarize occupational approaches in situations of conflict; develop PowerPoint presentations using selected video content; conduct searches of published sources and summarize literature; schedule interviews with activists and artists; attend and record audio/video interviews; set up internet content
Time Commitment: 4 hours/week
Preferred Skills and Resources: Experience using digital media and equipment; interest in social sciences/media/humanities;  production of video content
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Health Services Research, Aging, Fall Prevention
Faculty: Natalie Leland
Nature of Work: Be part of a research team assisting with the execution and evaluation of the research project, including literature reviews, data integration and analysis. Other duties will include assisting with the preparation of print documents and visual materials for research reports and presentations.
Time Commitment: 4 hours a week
Preferred Skills and Resources: Attention to detail, solid literature search and writing skills, enjoys working with excel and power point
Preferred method of communication: Email
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Sensory Adapted Dental Environment to Enhance Oral Care in Children
Faculty: Sharon Cermak
Description of Study: This is as NIH-funded grant designed to examine the effectiveness of an intervention to adapt the sensory characteristics of the dental environment in order to decrease anxiety and negative behavioral responses of children with ASD, thus enhancing their oral care.
Nature of work: Data entry
Time Commitment: Minimum of 4 hours weekly between 10 am and 5 pm
Number of students needed: 1
Preferred Skills and Resources: Attention to detail
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/ project: Activity Preferences and Engagement in Pediatric Cancer Patients
Faculty: Sharon Cermak
Description of Study: To examine physical activity and activity preference in individuals with childhood cancer using a new measure, the Activity Preferences and Participation Scale-Cancer
Nature of work: Literature review; assist in the preparation of an article for publication
Time Commitment: Minimum of 4 hours weekly, one hour of time which overlaps with Sharon Cermak’s time; the rest at your convenience.
Number of students needed: 1
Preferred Skills and Resources: Excellent library search skills and writing skills.
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Activity Preferences and Engagement in Pediatric Cancer Patients
Faculty: Sharon Cermak
Description of Study: To examine physical activity and activity preference in individuals with childhood cancer  
Time Commitment: Minimum of 8 hours weekly, during the week starting date between June 2013 and August 2013 and continuing through the year (can be an OTD residency but funding is not available)
Responsibilities:  Participate as a member of an interdisciplinary research team in an ongoing research collaborative at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Specific activities will depend on time commitment and your skills and interests.
Preferred Skills and Resources: Depends on specific project chosen
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/ project:  Sensory defensiveness in young adults
Faculty: Sharon Cermak
Nature of work: Assist with recruitment;  Literature review
Time Commitment: Minimum of 4 hours per week
Preferred Skills and Resources: Outgoing and go-getter (for recruitment); Excellent library search skills and writing skills.
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/project: Test-retest reliability of the Little Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire (Little DCDQ)
Faculty: Sharon Cermak
Description of study: The DCDQ is an established test being used in multiple countries to screen children for coordination disorders.  A downward extension (younger ages) of the test is being developed. This study involves having 20 parents complete the questionnaire two times in order to examine test-retest reliability.
Time Commitment: Minimum of 4 hours per week
Preferred Skills and Resources: You must have access to a minimum of 25 parents of children, ages 3 and 4 (e.g. your sister or parent is a preschool teacher; you have a child that age who attends a preschool)
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Research area/ project: Collaborative sites for the Sensory Adapted Dental Environment
Faculty: Sharon Cermak
Description of Study: This is as NIH-funded grant designed to examine the effectiveness of an intervention to adapt the sensory characteristics of the dental environment in order to decrease anxiety and negative behavioral responses of children with ASD, thus enhancing their oral care.  In the fall of 2013,  I want to submit a grant for a large scale RCT. 
Nature of work: The task I need help with is identifying sites who are potential collaborators.  I want to start with University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, a group of approximately 60 centers, to see which have dental programs serving children with ASD. The need is to have help in this process. It will involve both internet research and phone calls.
Time Commitment:  Minimum of 4 hours weekly
Preferred Skills and Resources: comfort with making phone calls and contacting people
Contact: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)