Meryl Alappattu

  • Tell us a little about your experience in the PhD program.

meryl UF PTAfter completing my DPT in 2008 from UF, I completed a year-long residency in cancer rehabilitation and pelvic health, which led me to develop some questions that required additional research training. Specifically, I was interested in learning about how physical therapy interventions can be used to relieve chronic pelvic pain in women. I joined the RSD program in 2009 under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Bishop. The RSD program was the ideal place for me to receive my PhD training given the strong pain research agenda at UF and the access and exposure to internationally renowned experts in pain. I was funded through a Teaching Assistantship the first two years of the program, which was a fantastic experience. What better way to impart knowledge and skills related to clinical physical therapist practice than through teaching entry-level PT students? After those two years, I was funded through the Interdisciplinary training Program in Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Plasticity. My time on this program really allowed me to focus on developing the skills needed for my dissertation project and also increased my exposure to animal models of neuromusculoskeletal injury, which I was able to relate to my own work in chronic pelvic pain.

  • What types of jobs or activities have you engaged in since graduation? And how does the training in the PhD program contribute to those activities?

After graduation, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence and the Center for Pain Research and Behavioral Health with Dr. Mike Robinson. I was recently appointed as a Research Assistant Professor in the UF Department of Physical Therapy and a Scholar in the K12 Rehabilitation Research Career Development Program. My job responsibilities are primarily centered on research-related activities, including grant and manuscript writing, in addition to some teaching. The RSD program definitely prepared me to write papers and grants, but more importantly, the program instilled in me the value and importance of interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary collaboration not only for research purposes but also ultimately for the effective patient management in healthcare. This collaborative disposition has been essential for other professional roles in which I serve, including Vice President of the Florida Physical Therapy Association and Director of Research for the American Physical Therapy Association’s Section on Women’s Health.