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Houston professor receives top national occupational therapy research award


Patricia Bowyer 


Photo credit: Dwight Andrews

Patricia Bowyer is the only recipient of the A. Jean Ayres Research Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association

HOUSTON — Patricia Bowyer, a professor at the Texas Woman’s University Institute of Health Sciences-Houston Center, is the only occupational therapy faculty member in the nation to receive the 2015 A. Jean Ayres Research Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association. The award is considered the preeminent recognition for research from the occupational therapy field.

She joins a select group of past recipients from such prominent universities including Boston University, the University of Southern California, Colorado State University and the University of North Carolina.

“It is both humbling and gratifying to be among these colleagues who have received this award,” Bowyer said. “It is particularly meaningful to me, because the recognition is based on the type of research I have been undertaking with partners, like the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and others, in pediatric settings.”

Bowyer, who also serves as the associate director of the TWU School of Occupational Therapy in Houston, performs research that concentrates on children and teens undergoing treatment for cancer or experiencing sensory processing issues, including those associated with autism. Her work involves the application of the Model of Human Occupation — defined as how meaningful daily activities are motivated, organized into everyday life patterns, and performed in the context of the environment — and how the model applies to children and teens.

Her research has been published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, OT Practice, the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics and several other worldwide and national industry trade journals.

Bowyer joined the TWU’s Institute of Health Sciences-Houston Center in 2007 after completing post-doctoral fellowships at both Johns Hopkins University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to her career in academia, Bowyer worked as an occupational therapist for 13 years, specializing in pediatric therapy.

She is an American Occupational Therapy Association Therapy Fellow and member of Phi Kappa Phi – the oldest, largest and most selective honorary of all disciplines, Kappa Delta Pi – an international honor society in education, Pi Theta Epsilon – an honor society for occupational therapy students and alumni, and Gamma Beta Phi.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Milligan College in Tennessee, her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Eastern Kentucky University and her doctorate in educational leadership from East Tennessee State University.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, the Ayres research award recognizes those who are committed to the research-related development or testing of theory in occupational therapy, with priority given to work in the area of sensory processing. The award honors A. Jean Ayres, who contributed to the profession of occupational therapy through her concentration on developing theory in support of practice. For more information, visit

TWU’s graduate program in occupational therapy is ranked the 15th best in the nation out of 150 universities listed in U.S. News & World Report magazine’s 2016 Best Graduate Schools issue. For more information on the program, visit

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page updated 5/9/2016 4:57 PM