Summer Institute for Future Scientists in OT

The American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTA/AOTF) are pleased to announce the third annual Summer Institute of Future Scientists in Occupational Therapy, a 1-day program that will match potential student scientists with doctoral and post-doctorate mentors. Program participants will meet with leading occupational therapy scientists to address topics such as possibilities within OT science, considerations when evaluating potential doctoral programs, and career opportunities as a scientist. Participants will also attend the sixth annual 2-day Occupational Therapy Summit of Scholars at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

AOTA/AOTF is no longer accepting applications for the 2018 Summer Institute of Future Scientists in OT. Applications for 2019 will open in fall of 2018.

Purpose of the Institute

The purpose of the Institute is threefold: (1) to identify potential scientists in entry-level education programs; (2) to connect potential entry-level scientists with mentors in the occupational therapy scientific community; and (3) to develop a peer network.

Who is Invited?

A cohort of entry-level students will be selected to participate in the 1-day Institute on June 7, 2018, and the 2-day Occupational Therapy Summit of Scholars on June 8–9, 2018. The facilitators and mentors of the Institute will be composed of faculty and doctoral/post-doctoral students from established research programs around the nation. Selected students will earn a scholarship that will cover economy flights, ground transportation, and hotel (shared with another student). Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Selected participants are expected to arrive on Wednesday, June 6, 2018, to be ready for the Institute the following morning.


  • To apply, you must be a current student in occupational therapy program with an interest in science and research in the field of occupational therapy.
  • The intent of the program is to train and mentor future occupational therapy scientific researchers who may have limited exposure to research opportunities at their current institution, therefore, students attending research intensive institutions and/or institutions with a heavy research mission are not eligible (e.g., DRU-VH Carnegie Classification). If you are unsure of your eligibility, email  Final decision as to eligibility rests with the OT Summit of Scholars Selection Committee.

Program Requirements

Students who participate in the Institute are expected to continue in the field of scientific research in occupational therapy. As such, participants will be asked to complete an annual survey to report on the progress they have made in their scientific pursuits.

Application Checklist

  • The online application includes the following:
    • A personal letter of interest (double-spaced, 12-point font; minimum of 400 and maximum of 1,000 words) that describes why you see yourself as a future OT scientist and addresses the following:
      • Explain what you hope to accomplish in your career and professional life, listing any scientific and research-oriented personal and professional goals. 
      • Identify and describe an area of science that you would like to explore through occupational therapy research.
      • Describe how your participation in the Institute will support growth in your current role, assist in achieving your goals, and promote your career development. Specifically describe how participation in this program will enable you to develop a trajectory toward becoming a scientist in the field of occupational therapy.
      • Explain how you will benefit from a mentoring relationship in research.
    • A reference letter from a faculty member who has first-hand knowledge of your scholarship. 
      • Please provide your reference source with the reference form.
      • The reference letter should not be from the person who completed the Program Director form.
      • The reference letter should provide a strong recommendation, as it counts for a significant portion of the total score in the selection process.
      • The reference letter should specifically address why you are an appropriate candidate for the Institute, including aspects of your personal character, scholarly leadership potential, and your ability to successfully participate in the Institute. 
    • A current curriculum vitae or résumé.
      • Include academic history and any volunteer or work experience that demonstrates your potential for scholarship and a scientific career.
    • A signed copy of the Program Director form that verifies eligibility for the program. Note: You Program Director does not need to write a reference letter.

All questions regarding the program or application submissions should be directed to Melissa Stutzbach at

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of leading scientists in the field of occupational therapy. Selected scholars will be notified in February.