Faculty / Staff Resources Student Resources
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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Joy Agner PhD, OTR/L (she/her)

Joy Agner PhD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

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Curriculum Vitae

Joy Agner is an assistant professor of occupational science and occupational therapy, an occupational therapist and dancer/choreographer. Dr. Agner received her master’s degree in occupational science and therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her PhD degree in community and cultural psychology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her passion for community-engaged scholarship has resulted in numerous awards. She is a Rehabilitation Research Career Development K12 Scholar, a Fulbright Scholar and a Ford Family Foundation Scholar. For her postdoctoral work, Dr. Agner project directed an evaluation of six initiatives within Hawaiʻi’s Medicaid system (MedQUEST) meant to improve services for individuals with complex, co-occurring systemic and individual health vulnerabilities. She continues this work as a faculty affiliate at the University of Hawaiʻi Social Science Research Institute. Dr. Agner has a strong publication record and has presented at more than 30 conferences nationally and internationally. She enjoys mentorship and collaboration, which have been key to her own academic success as a first-generation college student from a small logging and fishing community in Oregon.

Research Interests

Dr. Agner directs the Health Equity Action Lab (HEAL) within the Chan Division. Her research focuses on improving health systems and services for underserved populations, such as racial minorities, people in poverty and individuals with chronic disability or severe mental illness, using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach.

Current research projects include:

  • Examining the impact of care coordination and integrated care on health and quality of life for individuals with multiple, complex health needs.
  • Understanding how peer support networks, such as those fostered within mental health Clubhouses, impact health literacy, health outcomes and quality of life.
  • Advancing theory on cultural humility in occupational science and the use of culturally-informed models to promote health equity among racial minorities, such as Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
  • Advancing theory on empowerment and disempowerment in medical systems from both individual and structural perspectives.

Dr. Agner utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods, including innovative methods such as Photovoice and social network analysis. Based on the CBPR model, her research is shaped through ongoing collaboration with community partners from question development to dissemination, and she aims to provide a meaningful and empowering experience for lab members and community partners alike.


Selected Publications


In Chan News