Susy Stark conducting a home assessment

Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory

General Laboratory Description

The clinical translational research of the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory (PEPL) focuses on the unique contribution that the environment can make toward improving the performance, participation and quality of life for persons living with functional limitations. Dr. Stark and her team study how the environment accounts for the differences between what individuals are capable of doing and their actual participation in society. An exploration of the physical environment as influencing behavior is the basis of research questions designed to explore the impact of the person/environment interface.

Members of the lab collaborate with colleagues from a variety of disciplines including engineering, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy and medicine. The lab has a strong network of community partners and many colleagues in the U.S. and internationally that collaborate on projects.

General Description of Student Activities

Students are important members of the PEPL research team. All laboratory members assist with all aspects of implementing our studies including delivering occupational therapy interventions, data collection, data analysis and dissemination of our work. Students also initiate and participate in innovative pilot studies.

Students should consider this laboratory if they are interested in how the environment can impact occupational performance and community participation, and if they are interested in clinical translational research, evidence-based practice and translating evidence into practice. We welcome volunteers who would like to explore our lab.

Examples of Projects

  • Falls among people with preclinical Alzheimer disease
  • Falls and gait among people aging with Down syndrome
  • Effectiveness study of home hazard removal to reduce falls
  • Feasibility study of a transitional program for older adults leaving inpatient rehabilitation after stroke
  • Barriers to participation for people with long-term physical disabilities
  • Barriers to retention in longitudinal studies
  • Identifying home modification barriers in the homes of medically underserved elderly individuals
  • Validation of a measure of caregiver self-efficacy and medication adherence

Ranked as the Number One OT Program in the Nation

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Get Started

We welcome inquiries from prospective students, potential collaborators, community partners, alumni and others who want to connect with us. Please complete the form below to begin the conversation.

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Schedule a Visit

Current, future and accepted applicants are encouraged to visit. We also welcome people who are exploring career options and considering occupational therapy. Dr. Kathy Kniepmann, one of our faculty members, opens our visit sessions with an informal presentation and discussion, followed by a tour that’s led by one of our current occupational therapy students.

Upcoming visit sessions*:

*At least two to three visit sessions are scheduled every month. All times are Central Standard Time (CST). Click here for more info.

Schedule a Visit Directions


Call Dr. Kniepmann at (314) 286-1610
or Robin Hattori at (314) 286-1653