Dr. Jennifer Piatt is an Associate Professor of Recreational Therapy and the Director of the Community-Based Rehabilitation Research Team. We asked Dr. Piatt to share about her path to where she is now, her research, and what she enjoys the most about her career.
How did you get to where you are today? What has your career path been like?
My community-based rehabilitation research team is a continuous effort since my doctoral studies where I was awarded a research fellowship in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Medicine at the University of Utah. Working with the SCI treatment team, I examined how outpatient recreational therapy services impact participation in life activities after hospital discharge. Since arriving at Indiana University, this has evolved to focus on sexual health for women living with disabling conditions. I have continued to develop the foundation for a research agenda embedded in the World Health’s Organization model, the International Classification of Functioning and Disability (ICF) recognized globally as the foundation for research in rehabilitation medicine.
What did you study when you were an undergraduate student? How did that shape your subsequent graduate study or your professional career?
I have all three of my degrees in recreational therapy. Prior to working at the university I ran a variety of recreation and wellness program for individuals with disabilities. This shaped my current research in sexual health and women with disabilities because I saw the lack of resources and research in this area. I feel like through my research I am able to have an “unheard voice” be heard.
What current research project(s) are you involved in or particularly excited about?
I am really excited about a few of my current projects. First of all, we are currently conducting a research project that eventually will lead to how to facilitate sexual health for women living with paralysis through telehealth. The second project is a collaboration with the Kentucky Inclusive Health Collaboration to examine barriers to breast and cervical cancer screenings for women with disabilities.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I truly enjoy mentoring undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students in the research process to become future scientists.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in a career in sexual and/or reproductive health research?
Don’t be afraid to get involved! Reach out to faculty members who you would like to collaborate with and set up a meeting. Go after what makes your “socks go up and down”.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work (e.g., hobbies or interests)?
As a single mom of a 12 year old daughter, we are always on the go! I am an avid runner and am typically training for the next marathon (that has turned into more half marathons these days!). I also love to travel to new destinations. With how the world is now, I have not given this up; it’s just more local outdoor sites that I did not even know existed.