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Gavin Jenkins, Ph.D., has been named chair of the UAB Department of Occupational Therapy. Jenkins, whose research interests include assistive technology, pedagogical affect, learning performance, and the influence of green spaces and built environment on occupational participation, has worked and researched in the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Jenkins, who joined the School of Health Professions as an occupational therapy faculty member in 2008, was named program director of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in 2015. The program is currently ranked in the top 25 programs nationally by the U.S. News & World Report.

“UAB has a long history of occupational therapy education, celebrating 50 years of graduating students this year,” Jenkins said. “As we look to the future, our primary goal will always be to ensure that our graduates are uniquely prepared to address the significant and emerging challenges that are impacting people’s health and well-being in our society today and into the future. However, our priority will also be to grow our research capacity by improving our infrastructure to enable our faculty to secure substantial research funding and through that make significant contributions to the evidence base of our profession and to society.”

The new UAB Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program, the only program of its kind in Alabama, aims to prepare experienced occupational therapists for important leadership roles in health care, academia, and advocacy for professional and community organizations.

The new UAB OTD offering is already the top-ranked program in “Best Online Colleges for Value” in the OTD category. Jenkins says this reflects the fact that UAB will continue to be at the forefront of occupational therapy developments.

“A key area of growth in our School’s strategic plan has been in the area of rehabilitation and disability, and I am confident Gavin is the best leader to capitalize on that progress and continue our upward trajectory in research and advancement in that field,” said School of Health Professions Dean Harold P. Jones, Ph.D. “As a clinician who practiced around the world and as a researcher who knows how to translate evidence-based findings to individual practice, Gavin is without doubt the perfect person to continue the department’s ascent to the top.”

Jenkins earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Built Environment and Technology from the University of the West of England (Bristol, UK) and his Master of Arts in Design Research for Disability from London Guildhall University.

His clinical occupational therapy career included working in the National Health Service (UK) within orthopedics, elderly rehabilitation, neurology and the management of severe physical disability. Following that appointment, he served as a Senior Occupational Therapist (pediatrics) at the Dubai Centre for Special Needs, in the United Arab Emirates. Jenkins then worked at a National Centre (UK) as a Clinical Specialist in Assistive Technology focused on the use of technology to support people with disabilities.

In 1998, he was hired by Mississippi State University as a Rehabilitation Engineer at the T.K. Martin Center for Disability and Technology. During his time at MSU, Jenkins was awarded the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDEA) Gold Award for Research for his ‘Anthropometric Measurement and Modeling Project’ work.