Congratulations to Our PhD Program Graduates

(July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013)


Dr. Boyi Dai
Dr. Boyi Dai
Dissertation title: The Relationships Between Performance and ACL Loading During Athletic Tasks.
Advisor: Dr. Bing Yu, PhD
Research description:  Focuses on injury biomechanics, sports biomechanics, and ergonomics.  Utilizes motion, force, EMG measurements, and musculoskeletal modeling to understand injury mechanisms and develop injury prevention strategies.  Dr. Dai is particularly interested in exercise, sports, and work-related lower extremity and spinal injuries. 
Recognition:  Travel Award, College of Health Science, University of Wyoming, 2013; Travel Award, Graduate and Professional Student Federation, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2011; Graduate Student Writing Award, American Kinesiology Association, 2011; Outstanding Master Student, Department of Kinesiology, Iowa State University,  2009.  Notable publications: Boyi Dai, Robert J. Butler, William E. Garrett, and Robin M Queen (In press). Using ground reaction force to predict knee asymmetry following ACL reconstruction. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. Boyi Dai, Steve Leigh, Hanjun Li, Vicki S. Mercer, and Bing Yu (2013). The relationships between technique variability and performance in discus throwing. Journal of Sports Sciences, 31: 219-228. Boyi Dai, Robert J. Butler, William E. Garrett, and Robin M Queen (2012). ACL reconstruction in adolescent patients: limb asymmetry and functional knee bracing. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 40: 12, 2756-2763. Boyi Dai, William B. Ware, and Carol A. Giuliani (2012). A structural equation model relating physical function, pain, and impaired mobility (IM), and falls in older adults. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 55: 3, 645-652.
Post-graduation: Assistant Professor in Biomechanics, Division of Kinesiology and Health, University of Wyoming. 

Dr. Elizabeth Evans
Dr. Elizabeth Evans
Dissertation title:  The Impact of Acute Aerobic Exercise on Natural Killer Cell, Catecholamine, and Cortisol Responses in Breast Cancer Survivors. 
Advisor: Dr. Claudio Battaglini, PhD
Research description: Examining the effect of aerobic exercise on the immune system and endocrine system in cancer patients and survivors. 
Recognition:  Multiple presentations at the Annual Meetings of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), as well as the Annual Meetings of the Southeast Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (SEACSM); finalist for the 2013 SEACSM Doctoral Student Research Award; 2013 Karen E. Hornbostel Award presented by the ACSM Cancer Interest Group. 
Post-graduation: Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Elon University.

Dr. Benjamin Goerger, Photo by Will Owens, Courtesy of the UNC Graduate School
Dr. Benjamin Goerger
Dissertation title: The Effect of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury and Reconstruction on Lower Extremity Biomechanics, Coordination, and Variability. 
Advisor: Dr. Darin A. Padua, PhD, ATC
Research description:  Focuses on understanding why those who suffer anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are at high risk for repeat injury, as well as uncertain long-term outcomes. Research illuminates that ACL injury causes alterations that lead to high-risk movement patterns that cause many patients to have repeat knee injuries.  Findings will help improve rehabilitation methods to prevent repeat injury. 
Recognition:  UNC Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Award. 
Post-graduation: Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University.

Dr. Donald Goss
Dr. Donald Goss
Dissertation title: A Comparison of Lower Extremity Joint Work and Initial Loading Rates among Four Different Running Styles. 
Advisor: Dr. Michael Gross, PT, PhD, FAPTA
Research description: Compared the biomechanics of four different groups of runners: traditional shoe wearing rearfoot strikers, minimalist shoe wearing anterior foot strikers, minimalist shoe wearing rearfoot strikers, and Chi runners (87 runners in all). 
Recognition:  Presented results at the American Society for Biomechanics meeting in Gainesville, FL in 2012 and the American Physical Therapy Association's Combined Sections Meeting in San Diego, CA in 2013.  Paper recently accepted to the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT). 
Post-graduation: Assistant Professor at the US Army Baylor University DPT Program. 

Dr. Sakiko Oyama
Dr. Sakiko Oyama
Dissertation title: Effects of Trunk Movement on Pitching Biomechanics and Performance in High School Baseball Pitchers. 
Advisor: Dr. Joseph Myers, PhD, ATC 
Research description: Examined the relationship between the observable trunk movement characteristics and the stress placed on the shoulder and elbow joint during baseball pitching.  Recognition:  2011 Louis and Eleanor Duquette Human Movement Science Annual Scholarship. Publication: Oyama S, Yu B, Padua DA, Blackburn JT, Myers JB. Effects of excessive lateral trunk tilt on pitching biomechanics and performance in high school baseball   pitchers. American Journal of Sports Medicine (In press).  Oyama S, Bing Y, Blackburn JT, Padua DA, Li L, Myers JB. Relationships between trunk kinematics at the critical time points in baseball pitching. 2013 American Society of Biomechanics Annual Meeting, Omaha, NE (Accepted). Soujoudi M, Oyama S, Myers JB. Ground reaction forces and impulse during landing is not correlated with ball speed in high school baseball pitchers. 2013 American Society of Biomechanics Annual Meeting, Omaha, NE (Accepted). Oyama S, Bing Y, Blackburn JT, Padua DA, Li L, Myers JB. Improper Trunk Rotation Sequence is Associated with Increased Maximal Shoulder External Rotation Angle and Shoulder Joint Force during Baseball Pitching. 2013 National Athletic.
Post-graduation: Assistant Professor at University of Texas, San Antonio.

Dr. Julianne Toler Schmidt
Dr. Julianne Toler Schmidt
Dissertation title: The Influence of the Cervical Musculature, Visual Performance, and Anticipation, on Head Impact Severity in High School and Collegiate Football. 
Advisor: Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz, PhD, ATC 
Research description:  Focuses on the biomechanics of sport-related concussion and non-concussive head impacts, improving post-concussion evaluation techniques, and on-field emergency management of the cervical spine. 
Recognition:  2012 Louis and Eleanor Duquette Human Movement Science Annual Scholarship.
Post-graduation: Assistant Professor, University of Georgia.


Dr. Mackenzi Pergolotti
Dr. Mackenzi Pergolotti
Dissertation title:  Older Adults with Cancer: Participation in Activity and the Utilization of Occupational Therapy. 
Advisor: Dr. Malcolm Cutchin, PhD
Research description:  Examined the differences in relative rates of OT use across the state and identified areas of variation or disparity among Medicare beneficiaries with incident cancer.  Project was completed in concert with the development and validation of a new instrument, the “Perceived Occupational Possibilities Scale.”  Dr. Pergolotti used this scale, among others, in an analysis of the activity participation of older patients with cancer in order to provide the beginnings of an evidence base from which OT interventions will be designed with knowledge of service utilization, and with a deeper understanding of the social-occupational and situational nature of cancer for older adults. 
Recognition:  NC TraCS $2K Grant; poster presentation at the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting, Baltimore, MD, June 2013;  paper presentation at the American Occupational Therapy Association National Conference, San Diego, CA, April 2013; paper presentation at SSO:USA Annual Research Conference, Portland, OR, October 2012; poster presentation at the 18th Annual National Research Services Award Trainees Research Conference and the AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting, June 2012. 
Post-graduation: Two-year post-doctoral fellowship with the Cancer Care Quality Training Program in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.  

Dr. Kendra Heatwole Shank
Dr. Kendra Heatwole Shank
Dissertation title: Community Livability for Older Adult: The Person-Place Relationship and Process. 
Advisor: Dr. Malcolm Cutchin, PhD
Research description:  Used multiple methods to study dimensions of community livability for older adults who are aging in place.  GPS data mapping, interviews, and participant observations suggested core processes of community livability for older adults that included spatial and temporal patterns.  Findings also included strategies for coordinating the challenges and changes of everyday life, which have implications for therapeutic practice and community design.  Dr. Heatwole Shank plans to continue studying participation in community occupations, how patterns of participation are related to older adults' well-being, and related policy issues. 
Recognition:  Presented part of dissertation findings at Southern Gerontological Society conference in April 2013; invited keynote speaker for Towson University's Occupational Therapy and Science Annual Scholarship Day in May 2013. 
Post-graduation: Welcoming a second child in August; teaching a research seminar in the OS/OT department Fall 2013 and Spring 2014; pursuing a faculty position with a strong research component beginning Fall 2014.


Dr. Jessica Dykstra
Dr. Jessica Dykstra
Dissertation title: Student Engagement in Self-Contained Classrooms Serving Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. 
Advisor: Dr. Linda R. Watson, EdD
Research description:  Examined the relationships of student, teacher, and classroom characteristics to students’ social engagement in the classroom.  Engagement is known to be a critical feature of effective interventions for students with autism spectrum disorders, and this study provided a picture of classroom engagement for students with more significant needs. 
Recognition:  Presented dissertation results at the 2012 American Speech Language and Hearing Convention; selected for ASHA Pathways Program 2012. 
Post-graduation: Investigator at Frank Porter Graham Institute working with the Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSESA).

Dr. Jessica Klusek
Dr. Jessica Klusek
Dissertation title: Pragmatic Language in Autism and Fragile X Syndrome: Links with Physiological Arousal and Anxiety. 
Advisor: Dr. Molly Losh, PhD
Research description: Investigated how children with autism and fragile X syndrome use language in social situations, such as conversations.  Compared pragmatic language skills across children with autism, fragile X syndrome, Down Syndrome, and typical development in order to identify patterns of strengths and weaknesses that may guide clinicians towards particular skill sets to target during intervention. Also examined the relationship between pragmatic language skills, anxiety, and the ability to modulate physiological arousal, in order to identify mechanisms that may underlie pragmatic language impairment in these populations.  Work may also help understanding of core behavioral and physiological phenotypes that may overlap or diverge in autism and fragile X syndrome, and that may inform the development of targeted interventions. 
Recognition: Selected Mentee, First Annual Pathways Research-Mentoring Network Program, 2013, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); Selected Mentee, Research-Mentoring Pair Travel Program and Symposium, 2012, ASHA; James J. Gallagher Dissertation Award, 2011, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute; Student Research Travel Award, 2010, ASHA; 35th Carnegie Symposium on Cognition Travel Fellowship, 2008, Carnegie Mellon University;  Student Principal Investigator, National Fragile X Foundation Research Fellowship, 2009, UNC-CH, Faculty PI: Molly Losh. 
Postdoctoral fellow with the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Project at the University of South Carolina. 

Dr. Lucía Mendez
Dr. Lucía Mendez
Dissertation title: Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Vocabulary Approach for Young Latino Dual Language Learners (DLLs).  
Advisors: Dr. Elizabeth Crais, PhD, and Dina Castro, PhD 
Research description:  Examined the role of the language of instruction in supporting receptive English vocabulary acquisition by Latino preschoolers by comparing the effectiveness of two shared reading vocabulary approaches: a culturally and linguistically responsive or an English-culturally responsive approach.  Results will contribute to the development of evidence-based instructional strategies to improve the quality of services for young DLLs and inform policy for multicultural services to diverse children. 
Recognition: Head Start Research Scholars Dissertation Grant, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families; Graduate School Doctoral Fellowship, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Selected Participant, Lessons for Success Research Training Program, American Speech Language and Hearing Association; Selected Participant, Minority Leadership Student Program, American Speech Language and Hearing Association.  
Post-graduation: Completing a NIH post-doctoral research fellowship in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Temple University in Philadelphia. Afterwards, Dr. Mendez will join the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at East Carolina University as an Assistant Professor.


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