PhD Research Opportunities


Teaching opportunities

All doctoral students are required to develop skills necessary for teaching and dissemination of knowledge about occupation, the association of occupation with health or well being, and issues that will support peoples’ social participation. Specific experiences can include guest lectures, teaching courses in the Occupational Therapy program, conducting workshops for continuing education, and presentation of scientific papers at professional meetings

Current Research and Service Projects


Environmental Risk, Coping, and Mexican American Health: Malcolm Cutchin, Ph.D.

The major goals of this subproject are to examine the various effects of socio-geographical stressors, psychological processes, and physiological responses on the health outcomes of Mexican Americans.   Funded by NIH/NCI.                                                            


Feasibility and Effects of Preventive Home Visits: Sue Coppola, M.S., OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA; Malcolm Cutchin, Ph.D.

The aims of this project are the demonstration of feasibility and the evaluation of an occupational therapy-based intervention for at-risk older adults living in the community. Funded by NIH/ NIA.                                                               


Disparities in Post-Acute Rehabilitation Care: Malcolm Cutchin, Ph.D

The primary objective of the study is to gain a more thorough and current understanding of disparities in the use of post-acute rehabilitation care following hip fracture, joint replacement, and stroke.  Funded by NIH.
Hubbard Grant: Sue Coppola, M.S., OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA

Home based interdisciplinary assessments for older adults & families with complex needs. Funded by the Hubbard Foundation.                                                                                                     

North Carolina Falls Action Coalition: Sue Coppola, M.S., OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA

An interdisciplinary and inter-agency group working to implement falls prevention efforts throughout the state.                                                                                                                                

UNC-Chapel Hill/ North Carolina Dept. of Public Instruction OT/PT Project: Lauren Holahan, M.S., OTR/L

The project provides North Carolina school systems consultation and technical assistance in the areas of OT, PT, and Medicaid programs, addressing a variety of needs focused on improving outcomes for NC school children.                                                                 


The Life Interests and Values (LIV) Cards: Interdisciplinary Use by Rehabilitation Specialists working with People with Aphasia and Life Interests and Values Cards: A Nonverbal Way to Identify and Evaluate Interdisciplinary Treatment Goals for People with Aphasia: Jenny Womack, M.S., OTR/L

The aims of these two projects are to explore the interdisciplinary clinical utility of the Life Interests and Values Cards, a pictorially-based tool designed to elicit information about valued occupations from adults with aphasia, and use of that information in planning client-centered interventions.

Out and About: Options for Senior Community Mobility: Jenny Womack, M.S., OTR/L

The aim of this project is to promote varied forms of community mobility for older adults, and is carried out in local senior centers in partnership with the Orange County (NC) Department on Aging.


Ethnography of Contemporary Quilt Making in North Carolina: Virginia Dickie, Ph.D., FAOTA

The aim of this research is to build understanding of the basic elements of occupation and how it is carried out. This study is very broad, looking at economics, commerce, individual agency, groups, and political and cultural influences. 


Preschoolers in Circle Time: A Community of Learners: Ruth Humphry, Ph.D., FAOTA

This project explores how young children engage in and interpret the meanings of activities done in a large group format. Each of 8 classrooms of 4 year olds and their teachers form a single case study. 


Putting Occupation as Transactional Experience into Practice: Ruth Humphry, PhD., FAOTA; Linn Wakeford, M.S., OTR/L

The aims of this project are 1) to articulate how a view of occupation-context as a functional system guides occupational therapy practice, and 2) to demonstrate the outcome of services that focuses on development of occupation rather than child development. 


Sensory Experiences Project: Grace Baranek, Ph.D., FAOTA

Focuses on the nature of sensory features in children with autism, with developmental disabilities and typically developing, ages 2 to 12 years, using mixed methods to explore (a) early predictors, (b) contextual influences, (c) developmental changes, and (d) effects on later functional and adaptive outcomes. Funded by NIH.

Early Development Project: Grace Baranek, Ph.D., FAOTA; Linn Wakeford, M.S., OTR/L

Focus is on identification of infants at 12 months of age that may be at risk for an eventual diagnosis of autism or a related developmental disorder, based on the First Year Inventory, a parent-report questionnaire, and a comprehensive developmental evaluation. Those at risk are invited to participate in a 6-month Adapted Responsive Teaching (ART) intervention program. The project will evaluate to what extent early identification and treatment provides beneficial effects on children's functioning levels and diagnostic status at 30 months of age. Funded by Autism Speaks.