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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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News and Events
News and Events

Abbey Marterella PhD ’10, 50
December 13, 2023

Remembering Occupational Science PhD alumna and former USC Chan faculty member.


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Photograph headshot of Abbey Marterella

Abbey Marterella PhD ’10, alumna and former USC Chan faculty member, passed away on Sept. 6.

Marterella earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in occupational therapy at Eastern Michigan University. She was an occupational therapist for nearly 25 years, with experience in various practice settings including community mental health, jail diversion, adult inpatient and acute physical rehabilitation, home healthcare, private practice and case management.

Marterella enrolled in USC Chan’s Occupational Science PhD program in 2005, and earned her PhD in 2010 with the dissertation titled “One Size Fits None: Theorizing Weight Management in the Everyday Lives of Adults with Serious Mental Illness.” At USC Chan’s 2010 Commencement, she received the Penelope Louise Richardson Award in recognition of the Occupational Science PhD candidate who demonstrates the highest potential to fulfill the role of a faculty member.

She joined USC Chan’s faculty as a research assistant professor before returning to her native Michigan to join Eastern Michigan University’s occupational therapy faculty. At EMU, she was promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure in 2016.

Marterella’s research interests included intervention studies, qualitative inquiry, usability studies and theoretical developments in occupational therapy and occupational science. She co-authored articles published in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy and the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, among others. She also received a Service Commendation from the American Occupational Therapy Association.

In 2017, Marterella became research and development director at the Center for Innovative OT Solutions, a Colorado-based company that owns and licenses several standardized assessments for clinical practice including the “Assessment of Motor and Process Skills.” She co-authored the textbook “Powerful Practice: A Model for Authentic Occupational Therapy” with CIOTS founder Anne Fisher. Marterella became president and CEO of CIOTS in 2019, a position she held until the time of her death.

In addition to her many professional accomplishments and impact on the occupational therapy profession, Marterella was known for her infectious laugh, radiant spirit, sarcastic wit and ability to make heartfelt connections and extend care to others, which were a joy to anybody fortunate enough to have been in her presence. Her ability to make even the most ordinary occasions memorable, and to make life better for those around her, will be remembered by all who had the privilege to know her.

The USC Chan Division will be hosting a gathering in remembrance of Marterella; please contact Associate Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy Samia Rafeedie at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.