Robin Underwood, PhD, OT/L, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy, received her B.S. in Occupational Therapy from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1977; her M.S. in Healthcare Policy and Administration from Mercer University in 1996; and her PhD in Occupational Studies from the University of Georgia in 2009. She has been with the Brenau University School of Occupational Therapy since its inception in 1996. She served as the first Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and developed multiple national and international fieldwork sites. In 2009, after completing her PhD, she began full-time teaching and served as the Department Chair for the Gainesville Day Program until the fall of 2013.
Dr. Underwood’s teaching load is focused on working with adolescents and adults with mental health, developmental, and/or cognitive challenges that cause individuals with these conditions difficulties with performing what they want and need to do. A specialized interest of Dr. Underwood’s is providing occupational therapy services to women, teens, and children who have survived domestic violence. Consequently, in addition to her full-time teaching responsibilities, she provides part-time occupational therapy services at a nearby domestic violence center. Multiple graduates of the Brenau University School of OT also work at this center part-time. Her experiences have led to her primary research agenda being about domestic violence survivors’ occupational performance and the role of occupational therapy with domestic violence survivors. She has worked with multiple student thesis groups on research related to this agenda. She is also the co-author of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Statement Paper about Occupational Therapy and Domestic Violence.
Dr. Underwood has spent her entire career educating people about and advocating for the provision of occupational therapy services within community agencies. She has developed occupational therapy positions within public health, vocational, senior, and disability advocacy agencies. She has initiated multiple new programs within medical and community programs, including an outpatient program for adults with developmental disabilities. She is also the developer and first Director of the Brenau University Center for Productive Living, a program that provides occupational therapy services to individuals who are unable to afford or access services. Dr. Underwood has earned multiple awards for her efforts, including the Outstanding Occupational Therapist of Georgia Award, and the Touch the Future Service Provider of the Year Award.
Dr. Underwood strongly believes in experiential teaching and learning. Consequently, during her classes she attempts to provide students with “real life” experiences that facilitate application and synthesis of concepts. She loves to do clinical teaching and has had student labs within community agencies and has served as a fieldwork educator for many students in both the Gainesville Day and Norcross Weekend programs. She also enjoys student advisement and assisting students with getting started with their careers in a profession that she’s loved ever since she became an OT many years ago.