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Forging Researcher-Clinician Alliances to Advance Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Research

Mary Khetani, Sc.D., OTR, Simone Gill, PhD, OTR/L, Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon, ScD, OTR/L

March 6, 2017



How do I become engaged in interdisciplinary research?


This is something that we are asked frequently. I had a student who was working as a clinician, looking at doctoral programs, and was taking a couple of courses in a movement science program. I knew a little bit that program and had collaborated with folks in that department. She was very interested in thinking about what avenues to pursue and was worried about possibly missing out on particular opportunities if she did not take the right path. I think the first thing that I impressed upon her was that there is not necessarily a right path. There are lots of opportunities that come about serendipitously when you are part of an interdisciplinary team. That is one of the exciting parts of being part of an interdisciplinary team is that you do not know what kinds of opportunities may occur while you are on that team. I told her that she should continue to explore opportunities while in this doctoral program. Some of those opportunities might include partnering with other individuals who maybe are looking for an expert in her area of clinical expertise. I think that that is one way to get started.

Another way to get started is to think about researchers that you may be interested in collaborating with. Perhaps you can reach out to them and ask whether you could take part in their team meetings to see whether there are some areas of overlapping interests that you might have with them. I think not being shy is definitely one of the aspects of interdisciplinary science that can be very helpful.

mary khetani

Mary Khetani, Sc.D., OTR

Mary Khetani, ScD, OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist and rehabilitation scientist who conducts childhood disability research. Dr. Khetani joined the UIC Department of Occupational Therapy in September 2015. In this role, she enjoys co-teaching a synthesis course in the entry-level program that employs problem-based learning, and she is developing a pediatric graduate elective. Dr. Khetani also directs the Children's Participation in Environment Research Lab (CPERL) that conducts interdisciplinary and multi-site research that is relevant to pediatric occupational therapy practice. She holds affiliate research appointments at the Adult and Child Center for Outcomes Research and Delivery Science (ACCORDS) in Colorado and the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research in Canada.

simone gill

Simone Gill, PhD, OTR/L

Dr. Simone Gill is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Boston University. She directs the Motor Development Lab, which examines how people's bodies and environmental demands influence walking and motor functioning across the lifespan. Current research in her lab focuses on fall risk and how adults modify their walking patterns to cope with changes in their bodies before and after bariatric surgery. 

leanne yinusa nyahkoon

Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon, ScD, OTR/L

Leanne Yinusa-Nyahkoon, ScD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 15 years of experience working with children with disabilities and chronic health conditions, the majority of whom are from urban communities of color.  Leanne is a Lecturer in the Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, Boston University, and a qualitative research associate in the Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine. Leanne’s research focuses on examining health disparities that disproportionately affect underserved populations by understanding the community factors and family routines that impact health behavior and illness management. 

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