The Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory includes faculty, staff and students.
Faculty & Staff
- Principal Investigator of the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory
- Professor of Occupational Therapy, Neurology and Social Work
Susan Stark is a Professor of Occupational Therapy, Neurology and Social Work and co-director of the TL1 predoctoral training program at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Stark’s research focus is on how the environment influences the occupational performance and participation of community-dwelling older adults with chronic conditions. The goals of her work are to support aging in place and to prevent falls. She conducts clinical trials and implementation studies among community-dwelling older adults, including medically underserved older adults. Dr. Stark’s collaborators are from the community, including the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, and from the University, including the Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center, the Department of Emergency Medicine and the Department of Computer Science.
Brianna Barkocy, MSOT
PRN Professional Rater II
Brianna Barkocy is a PRN rater in the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and religious studies from Regis University and her MSOT from Washington University in St. Louis. Brianna is interested in both research and clinical intervention in the areas of geriatrics, environmental modifications and community accessibility. She conducts home visits as needed for COMPASS II, falls & AD, and other studies.
Gabrielle Blenden, MSOT, OTR/L
Gabrielle Blenden is a registered and licensed occupational therapist in the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in movement science and earned her MSOT in 2017 from Washington University in St. Louis. Gabby has prior research experience examining fear of falling in older adults. She is an education interventionist for the COMPASS II study. Gabby also works in the Washington University Program in Occupational Therapy Driving and Community Mobility Lab, assisting with research and comprehensive driving evaluations.
Rebecca Bollinger, OTD, OTR/L
Rebecca Bollinger is a registered and licensed occupational therapist in the Participation, Environment and Participation Laboratory. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Emory University and her OTD from Washington University in St. Louis. Rebecca has prior research experience with home modifications and assistive technology for adults and older adults, as well as in family-based behavioral treatments for children and their families. Rebecca serves as the study coordinator and occupational therapist for the falls and Alzheimer disease study. She also coordinated the retention of participants in longitudinal studies of Alzheimer disease project, co-coordinates the Missouri Aging and Disability Research Network for the DRRP study, and assists with home visits as needed for the COMPASS II and DRRP studies.
Chelsia Bradley, MSOT
PRN Professional Rater II
Chelsia Bradley is a PRN rater in the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. She earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of Louisville and her MSOT from Washington University in St. Louis. Chelsia is interested in universal design and aging in place, and she works with an organization called Empowered Homes. She conducts home visits as needed for COMPASS, falls & AD, and other studies.
Szu-Wei Chen, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Szu-Wei Chen is a postdoctoral research associate in the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. She earned her bachelor’s degree and research master’s degrees in occupational therapy from National Taiwan University and her PhD in occupational therapy from New York University. She has prior clinical experience in home health, home modification, job accommodation and assistive technology services in Taiwan. Her research focuses on leisure participation and health promotion in older adults and people with disabilities. Szu-Wei is responsible for supervising graduate assistants on lab research work and providing research support on various lab projects. She is also developing her own research agenda as a research trainee in the lab.
Jane Conte, MEd
Jane Conte is a professional rater in the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. Jane has a master’s degree in education and retired from being a full-time coordinator in the Lab. Jane conducts follow-up interviews with participants for numerous studies.
Sherdonna Denholm manages the office of the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory, where she is also the personal assistant to Dr. Stark. Sherdonna supports the administrative needs of ongoing studies as well as oversees student training and work in the lab. She is also one of the coordinators for the Missouri Aging and Disability Research Network for the DRRP. Sherdonna graduated from Clayton State University and writes and records her own music.
Megen Devine is a medical editor and technical writer with the Program in Occupational Therapy. She earned a master’s degree from the University of Missouri–St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree from Saint Louis University. For the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory, she manages manuscripts both pre- and post-publication, edits grant applications, and manages knowledge translation activities including developing newsletters, social media content, infographics and lay-friendly summaries of projects and publications.
Meghan Haxton, COTA/L
Certified OT Assistant
Meghan Haxton is a licensed occupational therapy assistant in the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. She earned associate of arts and associate of applied science degrees from the occupational therapy assistant program at St. Louis Community College–Meramec. She has over 20 years of experience managing teams in retail settings. She currently completes follow-up interviews and home visits for the COMPASS II and falls & AD studies.
Holly Hollingsworth, PhD
Holly Hollingsworth is a research statistician for the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. He also supports the research activities of other laboratories. Holly earned his doctoral degree in applied statistics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He recently retired as an Associate Research Professor in the Washington University in St. Louis Program in Occupational Therapy, where he contributed to the development of instruments and analyses of measures of activity participation in the community for people with disabilities. He has reviewed nearly 300 papers for Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has reviewed grant applications for the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research for over 20 years.
Abigail Kehrer-Dunlap, MSOT
PRN Professional Rater II
Abby is a PRN rater in the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from University of Missouri–Columbia and her MSOT from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include fall prevention, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on older adults, and the role of the gut microbiome in Alzheimer disease progression. She conducts home visits as needed for COMPASS II, falls & AD, and other studies.
Emily Somerville, OTD, OTR/L
Instructor in Occupational Therapy
Emily Somerville is a registered and licensed occupational therapist in the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory. She earned her bachelor’s degree in pre-physical therapy from Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and completed her master’s and doctoral studies in occupational therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Her interests include promoting the participation of older adults with functional limitations through the provision of intensive, tailored home modification interventions designed to enhance the performance of daily activities in the home. She has a specific interest in helping older adults manage medications independently in the home.
Clinical Research Supervisor
Dana Sutter currently works as the lab manager for the Participation Environment and Performance Lab. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, and her MSOT from Washington University in St. Louis. She has clinical occupational therapy experience in inpatient rehabilitation, acute care and skilled nursing. Her previous research experience with Dr. Stark and the late Dr. David Gray looking at home modifications and community accessibility for persons with disabilities laid the foundation for much of the current research being done in the PEPLab. Dana also brings management experience from previously owning and running an orthotics and prosthetics company.
Professional Rater II
Nakira Wash is a professional rater. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Harris-Stowe State University. In 2018, Nakira completed the Summer Research Experience in Aging and Neurological Diseases at the Institute for Public Health, where she conducted research on differences in participation and depression in community-dwelling adults with disabilities. She currently works on the HUD-funded fall prevention study, where she attends residential engagement events, provides education, and completes fall follow-up interviews with participants. She also assists with the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences Aging Clinical Research Consortium.
Selena Washington, PhD, OTR/L
Assistant Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at Saint Louis University
Selena Washington is an assistant professor of occupational science and occupational therapy at Saint Louis University. She earned a PhD in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, a master’s degree in public health from Meharry Medical College, and a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Tennessee State University. Selena’s areas of interest include rehabilitation, community health, aging and older adults, occupational therapy policy and administration, and ethics, culture and social justice in occupational therapy.
Stacy West-Bruce, OTD, MSW, OTR/L
Instructor in Occupational Therapy and Medicine
Stacy West-Bruce is an instructor in occupational therapy and medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. She holds an OTD from Saint Louis University, a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Saint Louis University. Stacy is interested in research and interventions aimed at supporting healthy and supportive aging-in-place strategies for older adults. She is also interested in occupational access based on factors such as race, socioeconomic status and location. She aims to continue research involving justice-involved individuals and advocating to transform the current justice system. Finally, she is interested in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, particularly as they relate to occupational therapy education and practice spaces. With the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory, Stacy focuses on research in medically underserved populations.
Yan Yan, PhD
Yan Yan is a Professor of Clinical Epidemiology in the Division of Public Health Sciences and a Professor of Biostatistics in the Division of Biostatistics at Washington University. Yan was a physician in China and earned a master’s degree in applied demography from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in biostatistics and a doctorate in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He routinely uses updated epidemiological/biostatistical methods to support clinical and population health research in the medical community.