Research and Scholarship

The Scholarship of Practice model asserts that education, scholarship and practice are equally valuable, interdependent, and mutually enhancing.  Our scholarship has long been recognized for addressing issues important to individuals and communities, resulting in interventions that enhance health, well-being and participation. See below for descriptions of faculty scholarship that illustrate the broad range of current efforts and impact, including those that are part of a Scholarship of Practice Collaborative (SOPC):

1) Community Engagement, Independent Living, and Societal Participation

2) Children, Youth, and Families

3) Health Equity and Social Justice

4) Theory and Evidence-Based Practice Related to Human Occupation

Content Section

Dalmina Arias

Enhancing health equity through culturally responsive occupational therapy practice

Dalmina Arias‘ scholarship focuses on achieving health equity through the provision of evidence-based and culturally responsive occupational therapy practice. Dr. Arias specializes in chronic disease self-management and has extensive knowledge and experience developing sustainable interventions that promote participation and healthy living among minoritized individuals. Dr. Arias is a member of our Health Equity and Social Justice SOPC.

You can contact me at:

Heidi Fischer

Developing Occupation-Based Self-Management Interventions

Heidi Fischer works to enhance participation, inclusion and advocacy with people who have disabilities or chronic health conditions. Dr. Fischer and her team contributed to the development and implementation of occupation- based, self-management interventions in the rehabilitation setting. She also participated in the creation of novel collaborative and interdisciplinary self-management services for the department’s faculty practice. Heidi is a member of our Health Equity and Social Justice SOPC.

Learn more about Heidi's scholarship

Joy Hammel

Strategizing Equitable Participation & Social Justice

Joy Hammel’s research focuses on four major areas: participatory action research with disability communities to identify key environmental barriers and supports to community living and societal participation; designing and testing innovative community living, participation and environmental programming; evaluating the impact of policy and systems changes on civil rights; and building community capacity and empowerment. Joy is a member of our Community Engagement, Independent Living and Societal Participation SOPC.

Learn more about Joy's scholarship

Mary Khetani

Developing Technology for Pediatric Care

Mary Khetani directs the Children’s Participation in Environment Research Lab (CPERL). The CPERL team cares about advancing client-centered care and outcomes in pediatric rehabilitation. Dr. Khetani and CPERL members harness technology to build innovative tools that can accelerate family-engaged and participation-focused care planning and outcomes monitoring with individuals, organizations, and systems. Mary is a member of our Children, Youth and Families SOPC.

Learn more about Mary's scholarship

Jenica Lee

Promoting Healthy Productive Aging

Jenica Lee’s scholarship seeks to understand supports and barriers to everyday technology use and participation in meaningful activities at home, work and in the community as people age. Dr. Lee aims to develop and implement best practice assessments and resources to promote healthy productive aging and caregiver support. Jenica is a member of our Theory and Evidence-Based Practice Related to Human Occupation SOPC.

Learn more about Jenica's schholarship

Susan Magasi

Improving Healthcare Justice for People with Disabilities

Susan Magasi directs the Healthcare Justice for People with Disabilities Research Lab. Dr. Magasi and the Healthcare Justice for People with Disabilities team work closely with disability and cancer survivorship communities and inter-disciplinary colleagues to create innovative peer support and technology-enabled interventions aimed at breaking down barriers to health and social participation for people with disabilities.  Susan is a member of our Health Equity and Social Justice SOPC.

Learn more about Susan's scholarship

Mansha Mirza

Developing Health Services Innovations for Social Justice

Mansha Mirza works to enhance health and social services for low- income, underserved communities, with a special focus on immigrant and refugee newcomers. Dr. Mirza’s current research focuses on policy and programmatic innovations such as organizational capacity-building, language access trainings, and collaboration with community health workers and peer mentors. Mansha is a member of our Health Equity and Social Justice SOPC.

Learn more about Mansha's scholarship

Elizabeth Peterson

Addressing Falls and Fear of Falling

Elizabeth Peterson‘s research focuses on falls and fear of falling: epidemiology, measurement and interventions for community-dwelling older adults and people living with multiple sclerosis. Dr. Peterson‘s research also examines fall prevention practices among health care providers, fall prevention behaviors among service recipients, and strategies to evaluate interprofessional education efforts. Dr. Peterson is a member of our Community Engagement, Independent Living and Societal Participation SOPC.

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Kathy Preissner

Contributing to Neurorehabilitation and Fieldwork Education

Kathy Preissner advances best practices for people with multiple sclerosis. Dr. Preissner has developed and tested group-based interventions for fatigue and caregiving, creating resources to translate knowledge to
practice. Her contributions to fieldwork education include a study to validate new items of the AOTA Fieldwork Performance Evaluations for occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant students. Kathy is a member of our Community Engagement, Independent Living and Societal Participation SOPC.

Learn more about Kathy's scholarship

Caitlin Smith

Promoting Occupational Therapy Role with Cancer Survivors and Incorporating Mental Wellness Strategies in Outpatient Settings with both adults and pediatric clients

Caitlin Smith has worked to increase awareness of both providers and survivors on the benefits of occupational therapy for addressing the long-term side effects of cancer treatment and promoting a transition to full, healthy lifestyles. She is also interested in increasing the tools and strategies for OTs to address mental health needs in outpatient therapy population with both pediatric and adult clients.  Caitlin is a member of our Theory and Evidence-Based Practice Related to Human Occupation SOPC.

You can contact me at:

Ashley Stoffel

Promoting Family Engagement in Early Childhood

Ashley Stoffel’s scholarship includes promoting family-centered services to young children and families in diverse early intervention and community settings. Dr. Stoffel is the Director of the UIC OT Faculty Practice: Children, Youth & Families. She is the UIC OT discipline and training coordinator for UIC’s LEND program (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities). Ashley is a member of our Children, Youth and Families SOPC.

Learn more about Ashley's scholarship

Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar

Addressing Health Disparities

Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar’s research focuses on understanding health disparities experienced by people from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds who have disabilities or chronic health conditions, as well as their families.  Dr. Suarez-Balcazar and her community partners are developing and validating culturally relevant community-level interventions. They are addressing organizational, environmental, and systemic factors that promote health equity and well-being. Yolanda is a member of our Health Equity and Social Justice SOPC.

Learn more about Yolanda's scholarship

Renee Taylor

Applying Conceptual Practice Models

Renée Taylor is director of the UIC Model of Human Occupation Clearinghouse. Dr. Taylor’s research includes the biopsychosocial predictors and correlates of post-infectious fatigue syndrome; patient-provider communication (i.e., Intentional Relationship Model); and how disabled individuals reconfigure their occupational lives (i.e., Kielhofner’s Model of Human Occupation).

Learn more about Renee's scholarship

Ryan Thomure

Promoting Occupational Therapy’s Role in Mental Health and Supporting Fieldwork Students

Ryan Thomure focuses on the role of occupational therapy in community mental health settings. Specifically, Dr. Thomure is interested in the role that occupational therapy can play in serving people affected by issues of homelessness and addiction as well as potential roles for occupational therapy in non-traditional settings such as social service agencies and federally qualified health centers. Dr. Thomure also has a strong interest in fieldwork education and the role that stress and anxiety can have on fieldwork performance. Ryan is a member of our Community Engagement, Independent Living and Societal Participation SOPC.

Learn more about Ryan's scholarship

Supporting Self-Management of Falls and Fatigue for people with Multiple Sclerosis

Toni Van Denend’s research focuses on the self-management of falls and fatigue for people living with multiple sclerosis. Dr. Van Denend is also interested in process evaluation efforts related to complex interventions, considering the implementation, mechanisms of change and contextual factors that support intervention delivery. Dr. Van Denend is a member of our Community Engagement, Independent Living and Societal Participation SOPC.

Learn more about Toni's scholarship