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Mary M. Rodgers Recipient of the 2016 John H.P. Maley Award

Mary M. Rodgers, PT, PhD, FAPTA, FASB, FISB is the recipient of the Section on Research’s John H.P. Maley Award for Outstanding Contributions to Leadership in Research. This is the highest honor given by the Section on Research and recognizes outstanding leadership in research over a sustained period of time.  

Dr. Rodgers is the George R. Hepburn Dynasplint Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Maryland School of Medicine where she is also Vice Chair of the Department. She also holds the position of Senior Advisor for Bioengineering within the National Institute  for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) of the National Institutes of Health. This .5 FTE appointment with NIBIB was offered to Dr. Rodgers after she completed the Science and Technology Policy Fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Through this fellowship and her advisor position, Dr. Rodgers is fulfilling the goal of the AAAS to foster “scientifically  informed, evidence-based policy and practice by involving scientists and engineers from a broad range of disciplines, backgrounds and career stages, and to build leadership for a strong science and technology enterprise that benefits all people.” Thus, Dr. Rodgers is in a unique position as physical therapist and researcher to have a national and global impact on biomedical/bioengineering research. This is a path that she has taken for most of her research career.
Dr. Rodgers’ career as a physical therapist has spanned nearly 40 years and her research contributions extend back to the early 1980s. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy (1976) and a master’s degree  in Medical Allied Health (1981) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1985, Dr. Rodgers earned her PhD in Biomechanics from The Pennsylvania State University. She has had multiple academic  and research appointments at universities including Duke University, West Virginia University, Wright State University, and Ohio State University. She is the immediate past Chair of the Department of Physical  Therapy at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
There are many examples of how Dr. Rodgers has made outstanding contributions to leadership in research over a sustained period of time. She has been a member of the Section on Research since 1980. She chaired the “Gordon Style” research retreat on Multisegmental Motor Control sponsored by the Section in 1995, and was the Chair of the Nominating Committee from 1998-2000. Dr. Rodgers CV lists a number of other important leadership roles that she has assume that directly reflect her passion for the advancement of research within the profession of physical therapy. Most notably, she chaired the Advisory Panel on Research to the APTA Board of Directors and was a member of the Steering Committee on Physical Therapy and Society (PASS) Summit in 2009. Her outstanding accomplishments in research and education were acknowledged by the APTA when she was named as a Catherine Worthingham Fellow in 2009.
Dr. Rodgers’ leadership in the advancement of research goes well beyond that of the physical therapy profession and has been acknowledged by others in the field of biomechanics. Her international reputation was earned not only through her research and scholarship, but by her service in a number of important capacities to the American Society of Biomechanics (ASB) and the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB). She was President of ISB and achieved the status of Fellow in both the ASB and ISB. To be a Fellow in three societies is an extraordinary accomplishment and speaks to her exemplary leadership and intellectual abilities. She has helped many physical therapists and women in science feel welcomed and succeed in these societies, as described by Irene Davis, PT, PhD in her letter of support.
Dr. Rodgers' research interests include rehabilitation biomechanics, wheelchair propulsion biomechanics, mobility technologies and gait analysis. She is one of the foremost experts in the biomechanics of wheelchair propulsion, as noted by Mark Rogers, PT, PhD. She has 54 peer reviewed publications in a range of peer-
reviewed journals. She is a coauthor of the classic textbook by Florence Kendall “Muscle Testing and Function with Posture and Pain, 5th ed. (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005). She has published 4 book chapters and has 137 scientific abstracts and conference papers. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health have consistently funded her research. She has been the Principal Investigator on training grants (T32) to advance the training of researchers in rehabilitation research. Currently, she is the Director of the Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core of the Pepper Center at the University of Maryland whose mission is to provide provides start-up support for research proposals exploring mechanisms underlying the disability phenotype in older persons and the functional and clinical responses to exercise. She has mentored and directed more than 25 doctoral and postdoctoral research trainees.
The dedication of Mary M. Rodgers, PT, PhD, FAPTA, FASB, FISB to advancing the profession of physical therapy is well established. Her accomplishments clearly demonstrate that she has made numerous outstanding contributions to leadership in physical therapy research and these have been sustained over an extended period. Her influence and results are clearly documented and supported by others in the field.
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