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Two recent PhD alumna, Alex Harper and Amy Hartman, are boldly moving forward in their new postdoctoral associate roles.

In July, Harper defended her dissertation, “Identifying Vulnerable Subpopulations During Rehabilitation Following Spinal Cord Injury” which focused on her rehabilitation science, health services research and implementation science studies under the guidance of Natalie Leland and Elizabeth Skidmore. Through this work, Alex identified opportunities for improving the ways in which data are conceptualized and collected to inform knowledge about risk factors of poor clinical outcomes in the first year following a traumatic spinal cord injury. This is a critical step toward enabling rehabilitation providers to deliver the right care to the right patient at the right time and improving the quality of traumatic spinal cord injury rehabilitation. Building on her strong foundation from Pitt, Harper will start a postdoctoral fellowship in October in the Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Program in Community Living and Participation in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan. She will be mentored by Susan Murphy and Anna Kratz as she pursues advanced training in stakeholder engagement, clinical trials, and implementation science. Harper seeks to use her clinical background and research training to enhance the design and conduct of pragmatic clinical trials to facilitate the implementation of evidence-based practices in rehabilitation and improve the quality of health care.

In May, Hartman defended her dissertation, “An Exploration of Pediatric Sleep Health in a Special Population” in which she examined sleep health of children with sensory sensitivities compared to children without sensory sensitivities under the guidance of Roxanna Bendixen. She also interviewed occupational therapists about their experiences addressing sleep concerns within their practice to identify supports and barriers in place impacting sleep intervention. This fall, Hartman will transition to a T32 postdoctoral program within the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sleep and Circadian Science where she will dive further into sleep measurement in pediatrics. Hartman’s long-term goal is to use her research to advocate for sleep intervention in special populations.


Publish date: July 25, 2022