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PhD Alumni and Student Profiles

MGH Institute of Health Professions is proud to have one of the few truly interdisciplinary PhD in Rehabilitation Science programs in the country. Located at the intersection of health care and higher education in Boston, students in our program have access and the opportunity to work with some of the world’s top researchers.

Our students come from a variety of professional disciplines, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and other rehabilitation-related fields. Each brings to the IHP a unique perspective to how they want to advance the knowledge base in rehabilitation so that the lives of even more patients can be improved.

We invite you to read about their backgrounds, research interests, mentors, and labs in which they are pursuing their work. 

Alumni

 

Anna Allen

Anna A. Allen, PhD, MS, CCC-SLP

PhD '19

MentorHoward C. Shane, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director
Setting: Center for Communication Enhancementthe Autism Language Program, Boston Children’s Hospital

Dissertation
The Effect of Cue Type on Speed, Accuracy, and Independence of Direction-Following in Children with Moderate-Severe Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Research
My research focuses on the efficacy of visual augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) interventions in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Specifically, I am interested in the use of mobile technology platforms for improving language comprehension in children with moderate to severe ASD, and in training caregivers to implement these systems.

Read more on Anna Allen.


 

Crystle Alonzo

Crystle Alonzo, PhD, CCC-SLP

PhD '18

Crystle has accepted a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Montana in Missoula, MT. She will be the project director on one of the largest longitudinal studies funded by the NIH on children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and Dyslexia, under the mentorship of Julie Wolter, PhD, CCC-SLP, – a co-investigaor with Tiffany Hogan, PhD, CCC-SLP at the MGH Institute, Suzanne Adlof, PhD, at the University of South Carolina, and Jessie Ricketts, BSc, MSc, DPhil, at the Royal Holloway, University of London.

Dissertation: Prediction of Literacy Difficulties in Young Children with Developmental Language Disorders

Mentor during the programTiffany Hogan, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director
LabSpeech, Language and Literacy (SAiL) Lab, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Read more on Dr. Alonzo.


 

Lauren Baron

Lauren Baron, PhD, CCC-SLP

PhD '18

Lauren has accepted a position as postdoctoral research fellow at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. She will be working on two NIH-funded studies led by Suzanne Adlof, PhD, that will investigate word learning and reading abilities in children with developmental language disorders from kindergarten through fourth grade. Tiffany Hogan is a Co-PI with Suzanne Adlof on one of the NIH studies.

Dissertation: Factors that Influence Learning for Children with Language and Literacy Impairments

Mentor during the programTiffany Hogan, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director
LabSpeech, Language and Literacy (SAiL) Lab, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Read more on Dr. Baron.


 

Kim Erler, PhD, OTR/L

 

Kimberly Erler, PhD, OTR/L

PhD '17

Kimberly is  Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at MGH Institute of Health Professions, and works as a clinical ethicist in acute care at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dissertation: Examining Participation after Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Mentor during the program: Joseph T. Giacino, PhD, Director of Rehabilitation Neuropsychology, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Lab: Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Neurorehabilitation Laboratory

Read more about Dr. Erler.


 

Erin Futrell

Erin Futrell, PT, PhD, MPT, OCS

PhD '18

Erin has accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Springfield College, Springfield, MA, where she will teach and build on her research of lower extremity biomechanics.

Dissertation: A Prospective Study of Two Interventions Aimed at Reducing Impact Loads in Runners during the program

Mentor during the program: Irene Davis, PhD, PT, FAPTA, FACSM, FASB, SNRC Director
Lab: The Spaulding National Running Center (SNRC), Cambridge, MA
The SNRC is a combined research and clinical facility dedicated to understanding running-related and musculoskeletal injuries with a focus on prevention and providing the most effective evidence-based care.

Read more on Dr. Futrell.


 

Tamra Keeney

Tamra Keeney, PT, PhD, DPT, CCS

PhD '18

Dissertation: Late Life Function for Individuals with Cardiovascular Disease

Mentor:  Alan Jette, PT, PhD, MPH, FAPTA, Director, and Diane Jette, PT, DSc, FAPTA
Lab: Health and Disability Research Institute at Boston University

Research
My dissertation work uses a national data set and focuses on functional outcomes in late life for persons with cardiovascular disease.  I am using a variety of methods to investigate how function changes over time, the impact of function and frailty on hospital readmissions, and the role of social factors on function in late life.  

Read more on Tamra Keeney.


 

Hannah Mercier

Hannah Mercier, PhD, MS, OTR/L

PhD '16

Hannah is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. She is working in the Cardiovascular Research Lab at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Dissertation: Examining Hospitalization and Secondary Health Conditions in Spinal Cord Injury

Mentors during the program
Mentor
Alan Jette, PT, PhD, MPH, FAPTA , Director
LabNew England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center at the Health and Disability Research Institute

MentorJ. Andy Taylor, PhD 
LabSpaulding-Harvard Spinal Cord Injury Model System

Read more about Dr. Mercier.


 

Bridget Perry

Bridget Perry, PhD, MS, CCC-SLP

PhD '18

Dissertation: The Evaluation and Treatment of Neurologically-based Oral Motor Impairments Using Biomechanical Approaches

Bridget is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA

MentorJordan Green, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director 
LabSpeech and Feeding Disorders Lab (SFDL), MGH Institute of Health Professions

Read more on Bridget Perry.


 

Donna Moxley Scarborough

Donna Moxley Scarborough, PT, PhD

PhD '18

 

Mentor during the programEric M. Berkson, MD, Sports Medicine Orthopaedic Surgeon, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School.  
Lab: MGH Sports Medicine Center, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery 

Dissertation: The Kinematic Sequence: An Investigation of Baseball Pitchers' Movement Patterns and Clinical Implications

Read more on Dr. Scarborough.


 

Catherine Schmidt

Catherine Schmidt, PT, PhD, DPT

PhD '17

Catherine is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center on Health Services Training and Research (CoHSTAR) at Brown University.

Dissertation: Symptomatic Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: An Assessment of the Relationship between Neuromuscular Attributes and Mobility Among Older Primary Care Patients."

Mentor during the program
Mentor: Jonathan Bean, MD, MS, MPH,
Director
Lab: New England GRECC VA Boston Healthcare System

Read more on Dr. Schmidt.


 

Meg Simione

Meg Simione, PhD, CCC-SLP

PhD '17

Meg is a Research Fellow in the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children.

Dissertation: Oral Sensorimotor Integration: Task-dependent Effects of Mandibular Performance to Whole-Head Vibration and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation.

Mentor during the program
Mentor
Jordan R. Green, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director
LabSpeech & Feeding Disorders Lab, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Read more on Dr. Simione.


 

Jarrad Van Stan

Jarrad H. Van Stan, PhD, CCC-SLP

PhD '16

Jarrad is a Research Speech-Language Pathologist and Senior Clinical Research Coordinator in the Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation at Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the MGH Institute.

Dissertation: Performance and Retention of a Modified Vocal Behavior Using Ambulatory Voice Bio-feedback and Motor Learning Principles in Subjects with Normal Voices.

Mentor during the program
Mentor: Robert E Hillman, PhD, CCC-SLP, 
Co-Director/Research Director
LabCenter for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice RehabilitationMassachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery

Read more on Dr. Van Stan.


 

Catherine Adans Dester

Students

Catherine Adans-Dester, PhD(c), PT, MS

Doctoral Student

Mentors: Susan Fasoli, ScD, OTR/L, Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, the MGH Institute
Paolo Bonato, PhD, Director, Motion Analysis Laboratory. Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School.

Lab: Motion Analysis Laboratory. Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA

Research
Integration of technologies in the field of neurorehabilitation: Using sensing technologies (i/e/ body-worn sensors) to monitor patients during their recovery, either to predict clinical scores to plan interventions in a more efficient way or to gather information about use in everyday life; Using robotic technologies as assistive devices to improve ambulation in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and to deliver high-dosage rehabilitation interventions

Read more on Catherine Adans-Dester.


 

 

 

 

 

Emily Evans

Emily Evans, PT, PhD(c), DPT

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Ann-Christine Duhaime, MD, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, MassGeneral Hospital for Children

Research Interest
I am interested in exploring the impact of cognition, specifically attention on functional mobility and physical performance in people with brain injury. 

Read more on Emily Evans.


 

Christopher Joyce

Chris Joyce, PT, DPT

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Robert Saper, MD, Director of Integrative Medicine for the Boston Medical Center Department of Family Medicine

Research
Currently I’m working on a national multi-site comparative effectiveness trial evaluating the ability of psychologically informed physical therapy (PIPT) to prevent patients with acute low back pain from transitioning to chronic low back pain. Chronic low back pain is a complex clinical and financial burden on the healthcare system so identifying patients who are predisposed to becoming chronic and getting them specific physical therapy treatment may prevent further disability and cost. My role in the study has been recruiting physical therapists to provide the intervention and facilitating the training and implementation of PIPT.

Read more on Chis Joyce.


 

Danielle Kline

Danielle K. Kline, PT, DPT, NCS

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Teresa J. Kimberley, PhD, PTBrain Recovery Lab, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Research:
My current research focuses on investigating the effects of vagal nerve stimulation in combination with rehabilitation in patients recovering from ischemic strokes. I will also be working with Dr. Kimberley on investigating TMS in various patient populations.

Read more on Danielle Kline.


 

Catherine Leslie

Cathy Leslie, OTR/L, CEIS

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Diane Smith, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the MGH Institute. 

Research
My background as an OT is in early intervention (EI), which is a home care pediatric setting for newborn babies until they turn 3 years old. EI is based on a coaching model, which emphasizes educating and empowering families to care for their child with a disability. My research is focused on health literacy, which is a person’s ability to access health care, understand medical information, and successfully manage their care. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the impact of the health literacy levels of both EI practitioners and caregivers on the health outcomes of the children receiving rehabilitation services in EI. 

Read more on Cathy Leslie.


 

Katie Marks

Katherine Marks, MS, CCC-SLP

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Daryush D. Mehta, PhD, Director, and Robert E. Hillman, PhD, CCC-SLPCo-Director/Research Director
Lab: Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice RehabilitationMassachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery

Research
We are currently exploring the relationship between patient-perceived vocal effort/fatigue with accelerometer-based measures in ambulatory voicing.

Read more on Katherine Marks.


 

Danny Nunn

Danny Nunn, MS, CCC-SLP

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Felipe Fregni, MD, PhD, MPH, Director of the Laboratory of Neuromodulation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School
LabLaboratory of Neuromodulation and Center for Clinical Research Learning at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Research
Dysphagia or swallowing problems is a common and devastating deficit. Most of the swallowing techniques used to manage dysphagia are compensatory strategies and  there is little evidence to support its effectiveness in promoting recovery. My research is aimed to understand  the role of  strengthening swallow exercise and use of non-invasive brain stimulation to the recovery of swallow function . Brain stimulation allows to alter the brain activity and can help people re-learn skills lost after stroke. I am trying to identify how those techniques influence  brain plasticity and how they can assist  swallowing recovery. By understanding its impact and role we can implement evidence based  therapies to enhance  rehabilitation of  swallowing.

Read more on Danny Nunn.


 

Hannah Rowe

Hannah Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP

Doctoral Student

Research:
My current research focuses on investigating disordered speech in patients with ALS. I am looking specifically at comparing perceptual ratings from clinical tests to physiological measurements in order to develop more valid and reliable assessment tools for motor-impaired populations.

Read more on Hannah Rowe.


 

 

Megan Schliep

Megan Schliep, MA, CCC-SLP, MPH

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Sofia Vallila-Rohter, PhD, CCC-SLP, Co-Director
Lab: Cognitive Neuroscience Group, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Research
My research focuses on better understanding the impact of cognitive skills on health-related quality of life and patient activation in aphasia. I am interested in the standardized assessment of language and cognitive skills across the care continuum and the role of this information in predicting patient outcomes.  

Read more on Megan Schliep.


 

Julie Shulman

Julie Shulman, PhD(c), PT, DPT, PCS

Doctoral Student

Mentor: I work with several mentors and Harvard Faculty at the Mayo Family Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Center (PPRC) at Boston Children’s Hospital in Waltham. Navil Sethna, MBchB, Clinical Director of the PPRC, Boston Children's Hospital, is my primary research mentor. 

Research 
My current research focuses on pain management in children with chronic pain disorders. I am investigating a new test to determine if it can distinguish between children with and without chronic pain disorders.  This test may help determine if children with chronic pain disorders have a sensitized nervous system.  I am also researching physical and occupational performance outcomes in children with chronic headaches treated with intensive interdisciplinary rehabilitation. 

Read more on Julie Shulman.


 

Photo of Paul Simeone

Paul Simeone, MA, CCC-SLP

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Ralf W. Schlosser, PhD, Alice Schillingsburg, PhD
Research Setting: May Institute

Research:
Collaborative communication interventions in interdisciplinary settings for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Read more on Paul Simeone.


 

Kaila Stipancic

Kaila Stipancic, MA, CCC-SLP

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Jordan Green, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director
Lab: Speech and Feeding Disorders Lab, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Research:
My research interests are in motor control of speech and swallowing in adults with neurologic diseases. My doctoral work to date has examined the measurement of intelligibility deficits in persons with ALS and factors contributing to reduced speech intelligibility in this population. My upcoming work will focus neuroplastic changes in sensorimotor cortex as a result of oromotor functions.

Read more on Kaila Stipancic.


 

Paulo Teixiera

Paulo Teixeira, PT, MS

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Felipe Fregni, MD, PhD, MPH, Director of the Laboratory of Neuromodulation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School
LabLaboratory of Neuromodulation and Center for Clinical Research Learning at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Read more on Paulo Teixeira.

 

 


 

Victoria Bolowsky

Victoria Tilton-Bolowsky, MS, CCC-SLP

Doctoral Student

Mentor:
Sofia Vallila-Rohter, Cognitive Neuroscience Group, MGH Institute of Health Professions

Read more on Victoria Tilton-Bolowsky.


 

 

Laura Toles

Laura Toles, MS, CCC-SLP

Doctoral Student

Mentors: Robert E Hillman, PhD, CCC-SLPCo-Director/Research Director and Jarrad H. Van Stan, PhD, CCC-SLPSenior Clinical Research Coordinator
LabCenter for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice RehabilitationMassachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery

Research
I am currently working on ambulatory monitoring of vocal function in patients with hyperfunctional voice disorders.  My work particularly focuses on how stress and arousal levels directly impact vocal function in daily life.

Read more on Laura Toles.


 

Jasmine Urquhart

Jasmine Urquhart, MS, CCC-SLP

Doctoral Student

Mentor: Ruth Grossman, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Emerson College

Research
I’m interested in studying the efficacy and effectiveness of data collection in pediatric speech and language therapy.  I would like to refine how pediatric SLPs track client performance to improve treatment outcomes.  In my clinical practice, I’ve developed a web-based data collection and analysis platform for clinicians to input data and analyze trends in progress in real-time.   My research will explore its effectiveness in clinical practice. 

Read more on Jasmine Urquhart.


 

 

Julie Wolfman

Julie Wolfman, OTD

Doctoral Student

Research:
My capstone for my OTD focused on low vision, or vision impairment that cannot be corrected by standard glasses, medicine, or surgery, and improving access to low vision rehabilitation (LVR) services globally. Moving forward, I hope to expand on this focus, blending my interests in globalization and LVR. Specifically, my interests are in cross-cultural practice patterns in LVR and using participation in culturally relevant activities as a means of measuring health outcomes.

Read more on Julie Wolfman.