SHRS names Rodakowski as occupational therapy chair

The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences has appointed Associate Professor Juleen Rodakowski as chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy, effective June 1.

After a yearlong national search, the committee selected Rodakowski for her “bold vision and demonstration of exceptional abilities to lead the department in its ongoing pursuit of excellence in academics, research, equity and inclusion, and service through partnerships regionally, nationally and internationally,” according to a news release.

“Juleen is an extremely bright and committed faculty member whose scholarly productivity is impressive and whose dedication to the OT profession is unquestioned,” Dean Anthony Delitto said.

Rodakowski’s research focuses on evidence, methods and applications to support the “aging in place” of vulnerable older adults by addressing their needs and the needs of their caregivers. Her federally funded research, totaling more than $4 million, seeks to slow the progression of disability attributed to early changes in cognition.

Her research also seeks to optimize the health and wellness of caregivers to minimize the need for the institutionalization of older adults with cognitive disorders.

Rodakowski has repeatedly been recognized for her work. During this year’s American Occupational Therapy Association annual conference, she received the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Mid-Career Research Excellence Award for her contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the field. In 2020, Rodakowski was inducted into the association’s Roster of Fellows for Advancing Occupational Therapy for Aging in Place and earned the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association Research Award.

Receiving her undergraduate degree in kinesiology from the University of Minnesota, Rodakowski went on to earn her master of science and doctor of occupational therapy degrees through the University of Illinois at Chicago. She completed her certificate and master of science in clinical research with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where she also conducted her post-doctoral training. Rodakowski first joined the Department of Occupational Therapy faculty in 2014.

Rodakowski is just the fourth department chair in Pitt Occupational Therapy’s 40-year history.

Read more about Rodakowski on the SHRS website.