The Department of Occupational Therapy is proud of our recent Ph.D. graduates and is looking forward to working with our new students in their academic endeavors.
After receiving his master’s degree in 2014 and working as an occupational therapist, Adam Kinney chose to attend Colorado State University and pursue a Ph.D. degree in the Department of Occupational Therapy’s Occupation and Rehabilitation Science program. Because of the research interests of Aaron Eakman, his dissertation adviser and director of research for CSU’s New Start for Student Veterans program, it provided the perfect opportunity for Kinney to follow his interest in working with student veterans.
After obtaining his Ph.D. degree in August, Kinney started a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, which is housed in the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. Kinney said, “I am conducting research that aims to understand supports and barriers to providing evidence-based care to veterans with a history of mild traumatic brain injury within VA facilities.”
Ph.D. Dissertation: The Process by which Combat-Exposed Student Veterans Achieve a Meaningful and Purposeful Life
Adviser: Aaron Eakman
Before Tara Klinedinst realized she wanted to pursue occupational therapy, she tried out majors from hotel and restaurant management to leisure studies. After moving to Fort Collins, Klinedinst took time off from school and began working with adults with developmental disabilities and learned about occupational therapy. As soon as she learned more, she was hooked.
“I wanted to take on new opportunities where I could continue to work one-on-one with people,” shared Klinedinst.
This began her pursuit of furthering her education and obtaining multiple degrees from CSU. During her master’s degree, she worked with Matt Malcolm, her thesis adviser and became interested in occupational therapy and primary care. “We talked about the possibility of me pursuing a Ph.D. in this topic to help get a research program off the ground,” shared Klinedinst. And this conversation sparked an interest in her earning a third degree at CSU – a Ph.D. degree in Occupation and Rehabilitation Science.
After obtaining her Ph.D. degree in August, Klinedinst moved to Pennsylvania to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburg working with Juleen Rodakowski. This program is designed to increase safety and independence for individuals with dementia.
Ph.D. Dissertation: Understanding the Experience of Type 2 Diabetes Using Multiple Methods and Perspectives
Adviser: Matt Malcolm
In 2011 after 10 years of working as an occupational therapist, Bill Roberts moved to Sri Lanka to help implement a community rehabilitation program. It didn’t take long, however, for Roberts to realize that the expertise he had developed in the United States didn’t always translate to this unique culture with its own set of rules, expectations and resources.
This experience led Roberts to seek mentorship from Barb Hooper, an expert in occupational therapy education and curriculum design and his path was forged to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Occupation and Rehabilitation Science at Colorado State University.
During his Ph.D. education, he spent ten months in Trinidad and Tobago where he was collecting data for his dissertation. Roberts’ research, funded by a prestigious Fulbright student grant, sought to understand how an occupational therapy program in a country with few resources could be optimally designed with its unique culture and population in mind. As part of his time at the University of the Southern Caribbean, Roberts collaborated with the director of the program, Lesley Garcia, to design and teach a community-based occupational therapy class to USC master’s students. This required Roberts to take what he knew about occupational therapy and make it relevant to Trinidad and Tobago’s unique cultural context, a challenging task in a country in which he was a visitor.
In August, Roberts graduated with his Ph.D. degree in Occupation and Rehabilitation Science and started a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Texas – El Paso. “This will give me an opportunity to not only teach but apply my research to a border community that is positioned at the intersection of multiple cultures and contexts,” he said.
Ph.D. Dissertation: Situating an Occupational Therapy Curriculum in the Local Culture and Context of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean: An Ethnographic Case Study
Adviser: Barb Hooper
Beginning the Ph.D. program in 2016, Laura Swink knew that she was interested in conducting research with people with neurological conditions because of her grandmother who experienced having Parkinson’s disease. Swink said, “I remember her quiet voice. It was important to hear her share about her needs and help her have the best quality of life possible.”
This personal experience expanded Swink’s research interests to not only people with Parkinson’s disease but also people with multiple sclerosis or with those who had experienced a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. “I wanted to work on research in promoting healthy lifestyles, helping prevent falls and to provide the skills for people before they were admitted to the hospital,” shared Swink.
As part of her time has a Ph.D. student, Swink adapted a program originally designed by her faculty mentor Arlene Schmid to meet the needs of people with Parkinson’s disease and created the Merging Yoga and Occupational Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease (MY-OT for PD) program. In addition to assisting with yoga sessions, Swink provided self-management tools for participants to help avoid potential falls.
Upon graduation in August, Swink began a two-year postdoctoral program in Denver funded through the Eastern Colorado Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center. She is working with Cory Christiansen at the University of Colorado Denver on a behavior change program for individuals after total knee replacements.
Ph.D. Dissertation: Merging Yoga and Occupational Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease: A Fall Risk Factor Management Program
Adviser: Arlene Schmid
Meet our new Ph.D. students
Rana Alarawi is interested in investigating whether elementary-school-age children who are allowed to participate in risky play are better able than peers sheltered from all risk to make decisions in genuinely risky situations. She is also interested in investigating the influence of culture on parents’ thoughts about the practices of children’s risky play.
Adviser: Anita Bundy
Hannah Burke is interested in the overarching goal of contributing to research for pediatric occupational therapists working with children that have regulation and sensory integration-based challenges. Specifically, a focus on the role of nature-based therapy and of play and playfulness in development, as well as on the impact of an intensive camp-based therapy model for this population.
Adviser: Shelly Lane
Cristina Parsons’ current research focus is customized employment support for adolescents in transition to employment. Also, her research will focus on building knowledge around outcomes assessment in occupational therapy. In addition, she is interested in contributing to research to improve implementation of evidence-based practice within school settings.
Adviser: Andy Persch
Irene Sarmiento’s research interests include occupational justice; occupation-based interventions for substance use disorders; complementary health approaches, specifically yoga; and community-based rehabilitation.
Adviser: Arlene Schmid