Our Team

Mary Khetani

Mary Khetani, Director, CPERL

1919 West Taylor St.,
Rooms 716, 744, and 745 AHSB
Chicago, Illinois 60612

312-413-2850

mkhetani@uic.edu

Mary's profile
Marlene Headshot

Marlene Angulo Research Assistant
BS student, Kinesiology major, University of Illinois at Chicago

What drew you to CPERL? How does CPERL align with your professional vision?
I am an honors undergraduate completing my junior year and majoring in kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Through the UIC’s Honors College, I have been exposed to incredible opportunities, including the opportunity to join the CPERL team to complete my honors capstone project. Being an aspiring pediatric occupational therapist, Dr. Khetani’s background and research focus in pediatric and client-centered care aligns with my career goals, and the examples of CPERL team members excites me as to what I could accomplish as part of this team.

What do you work on in CPERL?
As I begin my first semester with CPERL in Fall 2021, I will be mentored in getting acquainted with the lab’s scope of work and processes. I will also be earning acknowledgement on formal publications, for aiding in data collection that will be leveraged to guide the co-design of my honors capstone project.

What are your favorite ways to occupy yourself, and what does it mean for you to participate in these activities?
Weightlifting, healthy eating habits, prioritizing mental health, constantly learning, and spending quality time with my loved ones allows me to be the best version of myself. Through these passions and activities I am able to grow and expand on my future goals.

headshot of Vera Kaelin

Vera Kaelin – Research Assistant
PhD Candidate, Rehabilitation Science, University of Illinois at Chicago

What drew you to CPERL? How does CPERL align with your professional vision?
I am a PhD student working with Dr. Mary Khetani and the CPERL team at UIC. My professional vision is to contribute as a researcher towards inclusion and social participation of all children in school and other parts of their daily life. This vision is shaped by my previous work as a school-based occupational therapist and my masters thesis focusing on cross-cultural validation of the School AMPS, and subsequent experience in a university setting.

What do you work on in CPERL?
I am engaged in three areas of mentored research, inclusive of my dissertation research and ongoing lab projects:
1) secondary analyses of large data to examine unmet participation need among children and youth with and without craniofacial microsomia (CFM);
2) research on the use of artificial intelligence in pediatric re/habilitation to support participation of children and youth in home, school and community activities; and
3) research on the development, testing and implementation of the Participation and Environment Measure (PEM) approach to advance patient-centered and participation-focused services in early intervention.

What are your favorite ways to occupy yourself, and what does it mean for you to participate in these activities?
I am a passionate snowboarder, I love to read and write, and to have rich discussions with people. Participating in these activities forms who I am. With this in mind, supporting people in participating in their meaningful activities, participating in society, and being part of our society is of highest importance to me.

ResearchGate Profile
CV

Sabrin Rizk Headshot

Sabrin Rizk Bridge-to-the-Faculty Postdoctoral Scholar
University of Illinois at Chicago

What drew you to CPERL? How does CPERL align with your professional vision?
I was introduced to Dr. Mary Khetani and CPERL during my Bridge to the Faculty interview process in Summer 2021. As a previous school-based occupational therapist and current pediatric health services research, I envision improving early childhood service systems and integrated systems of care for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. CPERL is home to family-centered and participation-based scientific innovation and discovery that aims to
advance outcomes and care quality for children with disabilities and their families.

What do you work on in CPERL?
As a Bridge to the Faculty Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Occupational Therapy, I have opportunities to engage in contexts and collaborations to build requisite knowledge and skills for pursuing a successful career scientist trajectory in academia, through which I anticipate having opportunities to model and nurture future, underrepresented scholars in pursuing research careers. To successfully launch a career scientist trajectory, I am being mentored in how to conceptualize and build momentum for a research program centered on service systems’ quality that disproportionately reinforces inequitable access to educational services, with multiple active lines of inquiry that allow me to build population-based evidence about social disparities in health and educational service access to inform the design of more equitable programs and policies.

What are your favorite ways to occupy yourself, and what does it mean for you to participate in these activities?
I enjoy spending time with my nephews. They are a significant part of my life outside of launching my research program and building my scholarly identity. Earlier in 2021, we attended “snow school” to learn how to snowboard to increase activities we can enjoy together, as they get older, interested in athletics, and eager to learn new skills outdoors. It was a very meaningful experience for me to watch them build their confidence, become fearless snowboarders, and progress from “bunny hills” to steeper slopes.

headshot of Zurisadai

Zurisadai Salgado – Research Assistant
MS student, Occupational Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago

What drew you to CPERL? How does CPERL align with your professional vision?
As a UIC honors undergraduate completing a statistics course, I was introduced to Vera, CPERL’s PhD student and my TA for the course. I became fascinated hearing about the research in the CPERL lab. Being a part of CPERL has exposed me to research on technology that facilitates family engagement in pediatric rehabilitation, a topic that is relevant to occupational therapy. Now, as an occupational therapy student, my involvement in this lab will help to advance my professional vision of contributing to this profession. CPERL’s work on the electronic Participation and Environment Measure (PEM) tools to advance pediatric care planning aligns most with my interests.

What do you work on in CPERL?
I am currently in my first year of the MS program at UIC, and I have applied to be an MS/OTD co-enrolled student. My work in CPERL focuses on upgrading and culturally adapting the PEM tools to become more accessible for families in pediatric rehabilitation. This in turn, will generate ideas for my future OTD capstone project.

What are your favorite ways to occupy yourself, and what does it mean for you to participate in these activities?
I love to exercise, draw, and spend time with family and friends. Exercising helps me focus on becoming mentally/physically stronger and teaches me to live healthier. Drawing allows me to express my creativity and helps relax my mind. Spending time with family and friends allows me to maintain a strong, motivational bond with the people I love.

ResearchGate Profile

Julia Sim headshot

Julia Gabrielle Sim – Research Assistant
BS student, Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

What drew you to CPERL? How does CPERL align with your professional vision?
I am completing my junior year as a psychology major at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where I am also part of the Honors College program. I first heard about CPERL when I was looking through the UIC OT directory and I came across Dr. Khetani. Her background in pediatric research and clinical practice aligned perfectly with my professional goals which made me reach out to her to join this lab. CPERL’s focus on client-centered care and outcomes in pediatric rehabilitation drew me in, as this is something I would love to focus on during my journey to becoming an occupational therapist.

What do you work on in CPERL?
It will be my first semester in Spring 2021, so I will be getting oriented, earning acknowledgement for a book chapter, and assisting with ongoing research that will lay a foundation for my honors capstone that I will design this summer!

What are your favorite ways to occupy yourself, and what does it mean for you to participate in these activities?
Some things I love doing are spending time with my family and friends, dancing, traveling, napping, and having a night in with people close to me. I love being around people and having a good time, but I also like to set some time aside for myself.

headshot of Vivian

Vivian Villegas – Research Specialist
Occupational Therapist, Easterseals Serving Chicagoland and Greater Rockford

What drew you to CPERL? How does CPERL align with your professional vision?
I was introduced to CPERL and Dr. Khetani during my time in the MSOT program at UIC. I immediately admired Dr. Khetani’s tenacity and leadership within the classroom. Once meeting with the CPERL team, I observed an environment that I knew would foster growth and mentorship as I completed the OTD program. Now as a pediatric occupational therapist, it is imperative to me to have a career that also includes meaningful research engagement. I am honored to continue my work at CPERL in my new role as research specialist to continue building the skills I learned as a graduate research assistant to accelerate family-engaged and participation-focused care.

What do you work on in CPERL?
I am coordinating research on the implementation of the PEM+ intervention in early childhood service contexts and engaging in ongoing anti-racist work to upgrade the functionality and use of electronic participation-focused tools for service providers and minoritized families of young children with developmental needs.

What are your favorite ways to occupy yourself, and what does it mean for you to participate in these activities?
I love to jog, play the card game, Euchre, with my friends, and search for the best sushi in Chicago. When I am running, I value the opportunity I have to explore my environment. When playing card games and dining with friends, I enjoy the opportunities I have to build rich connections with those around me.