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School of Health Professions News

Date Updated: 27-OCT-2022

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2021 Faculty & Staff Accomplishments

Nov 18, 2021, 13:06 PM by UTMB School of Health Professions

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unable to slow down faculty and staff members of the School of Health Professions as they have been very active in 2021.

While the following is a small list of acknowledgement of their accomplishments within the past year, the School of Health Professions would like to thank each and every person who has been instrumental in the continuation of student success, innovative education, high impact research and quality clinical experiences that provide healthcare professionals the ability to advance the future of healthcare.

Congratulations to...

Dr. Crystal Douglas (Nutrition, Metabolism and Rehabilitation Sciences) and Elizabeth Lorenzo (School of Nursing) whose project “Healthy Hearts: Leveraging the DPP to decrease health disparities in women of reproductive age” was selected to receive the SHP-SON Pilot Grant for FY2022 in the amount of $35,000.

Dana Wild, PT, PhD is has been named as one of two UTMB’s newly selected members of the UT System Kenneth I. Shine, MD, Academy of Health Science Education!

Dr. Wild is the Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs in the School of Health Professions. The mission of the Shine Academy is to serve UT System through the support and promotion of excellence in all aspects of health science education, educational scholarship and leadership. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Wild!

Dr. Rachel Deer (Nutrition, Metabolism & Rehabilitation Sciences) whose proposal “Symptom-Based Phenotyping of PASC Patients: Translation to Patient Triage and Treatment” was selected for funding in the amount of $25,000 by the UTMB Institute for Human Infections & Immunity.

Dr. Steve Fisher (Physical Therapy) – One of his photographs from a series on the statuary within the Old Galveston Cemetery was published in Black and White Photography Magazine highlighting winners of their annual photography competition.

Dr. Loree Pryor (Occupational Therapy) – Interdisciplinary Team Award AND Clinical Educator of the Year Award

The Occupational Therapy department who was very active at the Texas Occupational Therapy Conference November 4-6, 2021


  • Diane Collins, PhD, OT - Trauma, Stress, and Resilience: Implications for OT
  • Karthik Mani, OTD, OTR - A Journey Towards Globally Connected Profession: Occupational Therapy in India
  • April Cowan, OTD, OTR, Karen Ratcliff, PhD, OTR & Cynthia Li, PhD, OTR - Using Constructivist Theory and a Flipped Classroom to Teach Evidence-Based Practice


  • Amy Boyd, OTD, OTR - Exploring the Perceived Value of Role-Emerging Level I Fieldwork
  • Riqiea Kitchens (Iromini), PhD, OTR - Diversity in OT: Recruitment and Admissions Trends in an Occupational Therapy Program
  • Molly Finneran, OTS, Lisa Hanson, OTR, PAC, Amber Armstead, Dr.PH, OTR, BCPR - The Long-Term Effects of Equine-Assisted Therapy for an Adult Living with Cerebral Palsy: A Case Study.
  • Kimberlyn Belveal, OTS, Stephanie Gunkel, OTS, Amanda Hajare, OTS, Alex Lambropoulous, OTS, Shelby Rogers, OTS, Claudia Hilton, PhD, MBA, OTR, FAOTA & Amber Armstead, DrPH, OTR, BCPR - Effectiveness of Nontraditional or Home-Based Programming on ADL Performance of Individuals Living with Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review
  • Amber Armstead, DrPH, OTR, BCP, Karthik Mani, OTD, OTR, Loree Pryor, OTD, OTR, Diane Collins, PhD, OT, & Patricia Fingerhut, PhD, OTR. Student Connectedness during the Pandemic and Its Impact on Academic Performance
  • Grace Chang, OTS, Lucy Banh, OTS, Sally Yeung, OTS, Abbas Quamar, PhD, CRC & Diane Collins, PhD, OT - Internet-Connected Assistive Devices, Occupations, an Neurological Disorders: A Systematic Review.

Two presentations were made October 9, 2021, at the American Society of Hand Therapists 2021 Annual Conference in ST. Louis MO.

  • Cowan, A. C., Ivy, C., King, J., MacDermid, J., McGee, C., Roll, S., Stegink-Jansen, C. & Valdes, K. Research "speed dating”
  • Cowan, A. C., & King, J. Research design: Problem-oriented methodological design

Dr. Jose Rojas (Respiratory Care) who was selected as a Fellow of the American Association for Respiratory Care.

Dr. Michael Furtado (Physical Therapy) who has been appointed to the PTCAS board work group. He was selected to fill the program director seat and will be appointed for the next 3 years, serving in a capacity designed to facilitate PTCAS admission activities throughout the country.

Dr. Loree Pryor (Occupational Therapy) and Dr. John Davis who received a President’s Cabinet Award for the CHFC3 Project: Development of a Comprehensive Care Clinic for Heart Failure.

On Thursday, August 19, our School of Health Professions PT Department officially opened the school's first cash pay clinic! We were honored to have Dean Brown as the inaugural client for our running analysis clinic.

Thank you to Dean Brown, Drs. Mansoo Ko, Tony Chao, Carolyn Utsey, and Janna McGaugh, and Robyn Williams, Rachelle Mainard, Susan King, and Leti Ford for your contributions in bringing this clinic to reality.

Dr. Jeanne Smith and Department of Rehab Services' exercise physiologist, C. Tyler Morrison, look forward to providing this service to runners and walkers of all levels and ages. Multiple package options are available. If you are ready to take the next step in your running journey, email Jeanne Smith or C. Tyler Morrison.

Our faculty who received promotions which were effective on September 1, 2021.

  • Dr. Patricia Fingerhut and Dr. Steve Fisher were promoted to Professor
  • Dr. Brian Downer, Dr. Chin-Ying Li, Dr. Karen Ratcliff were promoted to Associate Professors
  • Dr. Laurie Farroni was promoted to Associate Professor of Instruction.
  • Dr. Diane Collins was awarded tenure.

Dr. Mi Jung Lee (Nutrition, Metabolism, and Rehabilitation Sciences) was awarded $149,600 from the Department of Veterans Affairs (Veterans Rural Health Resource Center, Gainesville, FL).

Title: “Improving Home Safety and Functioning for Rural Veterans.”

Purpose: Enable rural Veterans’ aging in place by improving function and safety in the home environment. The objectives of the study include: 1) describe rural/non-rural VA home safety evaluation/prescription clinical practice, 2) identify clinical barriers and facilitators to conducting home evaluations and implement prescribed recommendations in rural residents, and 3) create an inventory of technology and successful strategies for conducting remote home safety evaluation.

Drs. Blair Brown, Christopher Messenger, and Crystal Douglas (Department of Nutrition & Metabolism) were selected to receive a 2021 President’s Cabinet Award for their St. Vincent’s H.O.P.E Garden project.

The funds for this 2-year project will be used to purchase resources to build, improve, and maintain the yields of the dedicated garden space and improve food pantry processes and infrastructure. Combined with creative and practical culinary advice of N&M students, the H.O.P.E garden’s harvested produce will enhance the food experience of persons seeking support and care at St. Vincent’s.

Muzna Khan (Respiratory Care) and Dr. Karen Ratcliff, (Occupational Therapy) who were inducted into the Academy of Master Clinicians last week.

Dr. Carole Tucker who has also been appointed as the new Associate Dean for Research. She recently joined the Division of Rehabilitation Sciences as a new faculty member.

Dr. Blair Brown (Nutrition & Metabolism) who was chosen as one of the 40 under 40 by the Galveston Daily News. She will be featured in a publication by the Daily News on July 14th. 40 Under 40 celebrates Galveston County’s Young Professionals

Dr. Tony Chao (Physical Therapy) for being recognized as the June 2021 Educator of the Month by the Academy of Master Teachers.

The Clinical Laboratory Sciences SBB Program for receiving Continuing Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs until 2026, with no citations or recommendations.

LeeAnn Walker (Clinical Laboratory Sciences) who has been selected to present the Karen Williams Memorial Lecture at the 2021 South Central Association of Blood Banks Annual Meeting, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida on June 11-12, 2021.

Dr. Monique Pappadis (Rehabilitation Sciences) who was selected as the recipient of the 2021 ACRM “Outstanding Mentor Award”. This award was established in 2016 to honor those who have significantly contributed through mentoring, to development of the early career rehabilitation professionals, The Early Career Development Course and the Career Development Networking Group Mentoring Task Force.

Dr. Brian Downer (Rehabilitation Sciences) who received a notice of award for an R01 applications.

Title: The influence of social and cultural context on life course pathways for Alzheimer’s disease, related dementia, and care resources for older Mexican adults.

Goal: Identify life course pathways that influence dementia risk, the availability of care resources, and how care resources are used among older adults in a country with low institutional support, high inequality, and the likely care burden of dementia for families and institutions.

Funding period: 6/1/2021 – 5/31/2024

Dr. Elizabeth Lyons (Nutrition and Metabolism) who has been invited by the NIH Federal Advisory Committee to join the Health Promotion in Communities (HPC) study section. The term of her appointment will be from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2025.

Dr. Loree Pryor (Occupational Therapy) who received the President’s faculty community service award from UTMB President ad interim, Dr. Ben Raimer.

Dr. Adrianna Ellis (Physical Therapy) who was selected to be an APTA Geriatrics CSM Programming Committee Member.

Dr. Shayne Washington (Academic & Student Affairs) who was recognized by the Employee Advisory Council during Women’s History Month. The EAC was asked to recognize women at UTMB who have been inspirational and who have made a contribution that inspire others.

Dr. Dana Wild (Academic & Student Affairs) who was appointment as Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.

Dr. Blake Rasmussen (Nutrition & Metabolism) who received the 2021 TACSM Honor Award at the Texas Chapter, American College of Sports Medicine meeting in February 2021.

Dr. Adrianna Ellis (Physical Therapy) and her team who received the President’s Award at CSM 2021. Their task force was called “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the Academy of Geriatrics”. They were congratulated for the most comprehensive work completed.

The following Physical Therapy faculty also presented posters or platforms of their work at the virtual CSM meeting.

  • Dr. Laura Oppermann et al: Knee Arthroplasty Outcome Differences in Patients with and Without Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
  • Dr. Gregory Brusola: Effects of Gait-Specific Dual-Task Training for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis and Reliability & Validity of the Modified Walking and Remembering Test in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Dr. Michael Furtado: Utility of a Virtual Synchronous Classroom on the Outcome of a Neuroscience Distance Education Course.
  • Dr. Janna McGaugh et al: Impactive IPE Clinical Education Experience on the Students Perceived Benefit of IPE in Health Care Outcomes.

Dr. Dana Wild who has been nominated for recognition as a “2020 Health Science Education Innovator”. This is a recognition of colleagues and their educational efforts that have surmounted the challenges posed by our current environment. She will be making a presentation at the 2021 Innovations in Health Science Education Annual Conference in mid February.

Chih-ying (Cynthia) Li (Occupational Therapy) who just received the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Early Career Research Excellence Award. This award recognizes and supports investigators who are contributing and have promise to advance knowledge in the field of occupational therapy.

The Respiratory Care program who has received approval from the THECB to create a Master of Science degree program in Respiratory Care.

The Physical Therapy Department who was informed late in December that their Innovations in Education Award application to the University of Texas Kenneth I. Shine Academy of Health Sciences Education, Bridge PTA to DPT Program at UTMB/SHP/Department of Physical Therapy has earned “Finalist” status following reviews and ratings by teams of Shine Academy Committee members. Presentations of the 4 top proposals will be made during the 2021 Innovations Conference in mid-February and the winners will be announced at that time.

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