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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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Florence Clark PhD, FAOTA

Florence Clark PhD, FAOTA

Professor Emeritus of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Florence Clark is a widely published and cited scholar renowned for co-founding the scholarly discipline of occupational science and for leading, first as Acting Chair in 1988 and then as Chair from 1989 to 2017, the USC Department (now a Division) of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. She earned her BA degree in English from the State University of New York at Albany, her MS degree in Occupational Therapy from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and her PhD degree in Education from the University of Southern California, focusing in the areas of psychometrics and special education. She has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Indianapolis and from The State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn.

Dr. Clark joined USC’s faculty in 1976 as an assistant professor. Since 1985 she has attracted more than $10 million in extramural funding from the NIH National Institute on Aging, the NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and other federal agencies for research and training in the areas of healthy aging and the secondary conditions that impede the flourishing of people with disabilities in their real life circumstances. Dr. Clark’s research programs in healthy aging and in the prevention of pressure ulcers in persons with spinal cord injury have followed a blueprint for translational research which she first developed with colleagues in connection with the USC Well Elderly Study.

Initiated in 1993, the Well Elderly Study was a randomized controlled trial which demonstrated that preventive occupational therapy forestalls the declines associated with typical aging and improves the health of independently living elders. The study results were published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association. In 2004, Dr. Clark received a second large research award to conceptually replicate the original Well Elderly results and document the mediating mechanisms responsible for the intervention’s positive effects.

In 2003, in collaboration with colleagues from Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, Dr. Clark received a NIDRR field-initiated research grant to identify the contextual factors that led to recurrent pressure ulcers in people with spinal cord injury. This study completed the first step in the application of the blueprint to a specific life-threatening problem for people with spinal cord injury. In 2008, Dr. Clark received a $3 million NIH-funded grant to conduct a randomized clinical trial of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the intervention and products that were developed through NIDRR funding.

Appointed as a charter member of the Academy of Research of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF), she has served as special consultant to the United States Army Surgeon General, been on the board of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, and was the 1993 recipient of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award, the occupational therapy profession’s highest academic honor. In 1999, AOTA honored Dr. Clark with the Award of Merit and in 2001 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Occupational Therapy Association of California. In 2004, she received the USC Presidential Medallion from USC President Steven Sample, the ultimate honor for those who have brought honor and distinction upon USC.

She was elected to national office as AOTA Vice President from 2007 to 2010, and as AOTA President from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, she was installed as the inaugural holder of the Mrs. T.H. Chan Professorship in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. In 2015, she was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, USC’s prestigious all-university, membership-only honor society. In 2017, after more than 27 years as Chair, she stepped down from her administrative duties, and she officially retired in 2018. In 2021, she received the USC Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes retired faculty members’ eminent careers and notable contributions to the university, the profession and the community.

Education

Selected Publications

In Chan News