our students

Michelle Eliason

Rehab Science PhD Student Michelle Eliason.

Why did you choose rehabilitation science as a discipline?

I am an occupational therapist by trade. Over the past eight years, while working in various clinical sectors, I have experienced a palpable lack of research-supported interventions across rehabilitation professions to address the needs of those living with neurodegenerative conditions. I knew I wanted to be part of the solution, so earning my PhD in Rehabilitation Science seemed like a natural fit. 

Why UB?

I received my BA in English (2010) and my B.S./M.S. in Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy (2015) from the University of Buffalo. Not only did I have a positive experience at both the North and South campuses while pursuing degrees across disciplines, but I also had a positive experience as a clinician post-graduation, collaborating with the clinical departments for fieldwork students and other opportunities. When I was considering a PhD program, I knew that UB was my first choice because of the rigorous standards, helpful and genuine faculty, and the level of cooperation and collaboration between departments and the community.

How has your work and/or experience of your discipline evolved at UB?

In my B.S./M.S. Occupational Therapy program, I gained a deep understanding of the profession's scope. One of the courses, 'OT in Management,' sparked my interest in leadership and entrepreneurship within OT. The professor was very influential and inspiring. With a strong foundation laid, my path took me through various leadership roles in clinical practice, entrepreneurship, and owning a private practice. Now, as I pursue my PhD at UB, I'm excited to bring together all that I've learned - from academic studies to real-world experiences - to develop innovative solutions for the future of rehabilitation for neurodegenerative conditions.

What is your favorite part of your program?

My favorite aspect of UB’s Rehabilitation Science PhD program is the space to learn, and the strategic structure that has been built to help me, as a clinician, grow into a scientist. The course work, while challenging, has helped shift my perspective and shape the lens through which I see research so that I am equipped to add new ideas to a growing body of knowledge.