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Assistant Professor
Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Office: Bondurant 2061 CB: #7122
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Phone: 919-843-4467
Twitter: @ryan_lavalley
Instagram: @ryan_lavalley


  • PhD, Occupational Science, UNC-Chapel Hill 2019
  • M.O.T., Occupational Therapy, Xavier University, 2013 B.A., Concentration in Human Occupation, Minor in Peace Studies, Xavier University, 2011


  • Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award for Engaged Partnership Carolina Center for Public Service, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2021)

Professional Societies

  • Society for the Study of Occupation-Research Chair
  • Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity- Operations Chair
  • International Network for Social Transformation through Occupation- Coordinating Member
  • North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association American Occupational Therapy Association

Training and Education through SAFE at UNC

  • Safe Zone
  • Mandatory Title IX Awareness and Violence Prevention

Teaching Philosophy

In teaching, I value experiential learning, critical thinking and reflection, anti-oppression, inclusivity, justice, and dialogue. I hope to offer space that situates students and professor as co-learners. I encourage students to be open to class activities and exercises while asking questions, challenge assumptions, and critically examining the ideas we discuss. Self-reflection and saying “I don’t know” are tools I value. I expect to be wrong sometimes, and so should students. Recognizing these moments and learning from them allows us to grow together.

Courses Taught

OCCT 770: Occupational Science- This course provides an introduction to Occupational Science and its relevance to Occupational Therapy. Students learn habits of scholarly and critical inquiry to understand participation in occupation as a complex transaction of temporal, sociocultural, political, individual, and community factors. Students are introduced to theories of action, identity and balance, as well as how culture, gender, age, community, racism, objects, place, spirituality, and ideas about health influence and emergence through the performance of occupation.

OCCT 836: Community Level Occupational Therapy Practice- The purpose of this course is to introduce students to practice-oriented toward community change and to provide an experiential learning opportunity for students to contribute to and design a real-world transformative solution to a community or organizational program supported by an occupational lens. Situated through a lens of justice and critical perspectives, students conduct a capacity assessment with a local community using an occupational perspective to subsequently design an occupation-based intervention that targets an identified need.

Research Interests

Community Occupational Therapy Practice, Community Program Development and Implementation, Aging, Housing, Antiracism and Queer Liberation.

Recent Publications

Lavalley, R. (2021). New Frontiers: Occupational Therapy’s Role in Coordinated Community Coalitioning. OT Practice, 2021(January), 18–21.

Lavalley, R., & Johnson, K. R. (2020). Occupation, injustice, and anti-Black racism in the United States of America. Journal of Occupational Science, 0(0), 1–13.

Johnson, K. R., & Lavalley, R. (2020). From racialized think-pieces toward anti-racist praxis in our science, education, and practice. Journal of Occupational Science, 0(0), 1–6.

Lavalley, R., Womack, J. L., & Bailliard, A. (2020). A live community growing together: Communal occupation of a senior center welcoming Spanish-speaking elders. Journal of Occupational Science, 0(0), 1–13.

Lavalley, R., & Bailliard, A. (2020). A communal perspective of occupation: Community change in a senior center welcoming Spanish-speaking immigrants. Journal of Occupational Science.

Lavalley, R. (2017). Developing the transactional perspective of occupation for communities: “How well are we doing together?” Journal of Occupational Science, 24(4), 458–469.

Clifford, R. H., Roche, S., Fathima, S., Palmius, N., Hollingworth, K., Kennedy, J., Merida, J., Stephens, M., Lavalley, R., Rohloff, P., Garcia, P., Patrick, S., & Clifford, G. (2017). Sustainable Technology for Surgical Referrals: Pilot Implementation of an Electronic Referral System for Short-Term Surgical Missions. Journal of Health Informatics in Developing Countries, 11(2).

Nichols, B., Umana, K., Britton, T., Farias, L., Lavalley, R., & Hall-Clifford, R. (2017). Transnational information politics and the “child migration crisis”: Guatemalan ngos respond to youth migration. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 28(5), 1962–1987.

Ryan Lavalley