Every year, the SSO:USA Annual Research Conference brings together leading researchers, scholars, therapists, and students to exchange ideas and share their work related to the study of participation in daily activities, or those activities that occupy our lives. We are excited to announce that the 2023 Annual Research Conference will take place October 19 - 21, 2023 at the Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. 

The pandemic is ongoing and public health guidance is evolving rapidly. SSO:USA will be monitoring events closely and will adjust our meeting plans as needed to ensure the safety of all attendees.


2023 Conference Program
2023 Conference Schedule
2023 Conference Proceedings

 Conference Theme: Envisioning the Future of Occupational Science

Saint Louis has a rich history along the Mississippi River, with hundreds of miles of trails and views. Learn about the native Mound Builders or stop by the historic courthouse where Dred Scott’s freedom was recognized before being overturned by the Supreme Court a decade later. Visit the St. Louis Art Museum, the showcase of the 1904 World's Fair (with free admission), or just hang out in the Arts District with its extravagant architecture, music, stage, and nightlife scene. Famous for over 50 museums, the Gateway Arch to the West, ballparks, and breweries, there will be plenty to do with your downtime in St. Louis. Check out these ideas and more at https://explorestlouis.com/discover/

Special Session: Teaching of Occupational Science: (No Virtual Access) October 19, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

In this special session, attendees will learn about the historical and contemporary perspectives of teaching occupational science, the teaching of occupational science compared with the teaching of occupation, and how occupational science has been applied across occupational therapy curricula. After a brief panel presentation, there will be a facilitated exploration and discussion of teaching occupational and occupational science across undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate curricula. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences learning and teaching occupational science. Participants will leave with strategies to infuse occupational science into the classroom as well as having access to resources that can be applied to courses that center on occupation and occupational science.

To read more about the panelists, please click here.

Pre-Conference Institute: (No Virtual Access) October 19th, 1:00 PM- 5:00 PM

  • "Decolonizing Epistemologies, Pedagogies, and Methods for Occupational Science". Dr. Aissetu Ibrahima

    This workshop will assess decolonization as a paradigm, a construct, and an approach that can be used to study and understand humans and their context. The workshop will highlight the importance of decolonizing epistemologies and pedagogies to have a deeper understanding of what we "see" in the world and why these situations/contexts are framed as such. It will also demonstrate how we can use decolonization as a tool for providing space for various tools, approaches, and methodologies that were once misinterpreted, forgotten, misplaced, deleted, or erased.

Aissetu Ibrahima, Ph.D, is an Associate Professor and Director of Master of Social Work Program at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU). Aissetu is also part of the NEIU team that leads the Center of Genocide and Human Rights Studies in Africa and the Diaspora. Her research focuses on Decolonization, Indigenous social work, community-based grassroots development, international health policies, and maternal health behavior and practices. She is involved in different Afrocentered programs that engage the African Diaspora, immigrants and refugees in the Chicago area. She is on the executive board of the African Diaspora Sixth Region Association of Illinois. She has published numerous articles and book chapters. She has also led various trainings and workshops on Decolonization, Indigenous methodologies, and Trauma Informed Care. Ibrahima earned her PhD at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), MSW at Addis Ababa University, and her BA in Sociology and Social Administration at Addis Ababa University. 

Ruth Zemke Lectureship in Occupational Science: In recognition of Dr. Ruth Zemke's mentorship, questing intellect, and ongoing efforts to foster an occupational science community of researchers, this Lectureship was named in her honor. The lectureship is designed as a forum to present visionary, theoretical, and critical analyses of occupational science.

  • 2023 Ruth Zemke Lectureship in Occupational Science: Dr. Elelwani Ramugondo
    "Occupational Consciousness: Theorising to Dismantle Systemic Racism and Dehumanization"

Professor Ramugondo is currently Deputy Vice Chancellor for Transformation, Student Affairs & Social Responsiveness at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She has over 20 years of academic experience in a research-intensive university environment, having previously worked as a clinician in rural South Africa and the United States of America. She established the first OT Department at Tshilidzini Special School, in Limpopo Province, South Africa.

She was appointed special advisor on transformation to the Vice-Chancellor at UCT in 2015, following calls for decolonisation by the student-led Rhodes Must Fall movement. She served in this role with remarkable integrity during a turbulent time and a historical moment of change in the higher education sector in South Africa.

Professor Ramugondo is a founding member of the UCT Black Academic Caucus. She has also served as chair of various bodies within and outside the university, including UCT’s Academic Freedom Committee and the Rhodes Scholarship Western Cape and Northern Cape Selection Committee. In her role as Deputy Dean for Postgraduate Students in UCT’s Faculty of Health Sciences, she served as a member of the executive for the South African College of Health Sciences Deans (SACOHSD). In this role, she played a strategic part in SACOHSD forging effective relationships with national professional bodies for health sciences disciplines/professions.

She has published numerous peer‐reviewed research articles and chapters in books, as well as book reviews. She is a long-standing member of the International Advisory Board for the Journal of Occupational Science. She co-edited a book titled Concepts in occupational therapy: Understanding Southern perspectives, as well as two special issue editions on decolonising the academy for Critical African Studies. She has supervised numerous student research projects to completion, including 13 master’s dissertations and seven PhD theses. She is frequently asked to present keynote addresses, both within and outside occupational therapy and occupational science.

Occupational Balance:  One of the unique features of SSO:USA conferences is the attention devoted to balance and the quality of participants’ experiences.  Researchers should leave an SSO:USA conference refreshed, stimulated, and energized to return to their work.  Shared meals, conference break blocks, and a range of balance activities encourage attendees to rejuvenate, network, and explore unique aspects of local culture.  

  1. Go to the City Museum
  2. Visit one of the many local wineries
  3. Eat amazing Italian food at "The Hill" in St. Louis
  4. Take a tour of Anheuser Busch and visit the Soulard Farmer's Market nearby
  5. Go to the Botanical Garden
  6. Go to a St. Louis Blues hockey game or the Cardinal's Hall of Fame
  7. See the Clydesdales at Grant's Farm
  8. Indulge at a St. Louis favorite, Ted Drewes
  9. Visit Forest Park
  10. Listen to Blues music

Annual BYOT "Bring Your Own Talent" Circle Tradition: Friday, October 20th, 9:30-10:30 PM


SSO:USA is committed to supporting and welcoming participants of all gender identities, races and ethnicities, abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and diverse cultures to our conference space. The Conference Committee is working to ensure that resources and supports are provided to facilitate inclusion and safety for all attendees. This includes addressing any issues of discrimination that could arise, as well as: 

  • Gender Inclusive Bathrooms near Pre-Conference Institute and Conference events will be available. 
  • Options for adding gendered pronouns to your name tag.
  • Physical Considerations for Access. The conference hotel is accessible for those using wheelchairs or who have other mobility needs and for those who are deaf or have hearing loss. For more specific information about accessibility, please go to St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, and click on the “Accessible Amenities” option. 
    • It should be noted that in recent months there have been some concerns around pedestrian traffic in the area due to an accident. SSO:USA is working to identify ways to support safe pedestrian traffic in the area. 
  • Ride-sharing between the hotel and the site of the Pre-Conference Institute will be encouraged and supported, with Lyft discount codes available for all attendees. 
  • Communication: All speakers will be asked to use microphones.

It is the expectation that attendees at this year's SSO:USA Annual Research Conference will treat others with respect, follow event rules, and alert SSO:USA and/or hotel staff if exclusionary or discriminatory behaviors occur. If you have questions or concerns about inclusivity or safety prior to the conference, please contact Linn Wakeford at [email protected]


Registrant Type

Early Registration


Regular Registration


Main Conference (On-Site)

Main registration includes the following:

  • Full access to all face-to-face events, as well as online items listed under Virtual Registration for up to three months post-conference
  • Face-to-face program of paper presentations, poster sessions, forums, and panel sessions
  • Ruth Zemke Lectureship in Occupational Science
  • Welcome Reception & In-Person Poster Sessions
  • Ruth Zemke Lectureship Reception, The Silent Auction, and Celebration Dinner







Student Member *


Retired Member




Guest - Social Rate


Pre-Conference Institute


Pre-Conference Day Only **


Virtual Conference (Online)

irtual registration includes online access to the following presentations during the week of conference and up to three months post-conference:

  • Live Zoom session and recording of the Ruth Zemke Lectureship in Occupational Science
  • Recordings of poster presentations and access to poster PDFs

Virtual registration DOES NOT include access to the Pre-Conference Events






*Attention students: SSO:USA is offering a special limited-time promotion! Every student who registers for the 2023 conference will receive one complimentary year of membership. If you are not yet a student member of SSO:USA, you can join at no cost during the conference registration process by inputting the following discount code on the payment screen: STDNT23. If you are already a current student member of SSO:USA, please contact Adam DePrimo ([email protected]) to receive instructions on renewing your next membership year at no cost!

Attention students: SSO:USA is offering a special limited-time Registration Scholarship! This Scholarship provides a $100 discount to Registration. Students who register under this option will be asked to help with or be assigned to day-of-conference activity responsibilities, including but not limited to: working registration table, room moderation, etc. Students ONLY: When completing your registration form, be sure to only select this option for conference registration.

**Pre-Conference Day Only: Select this option if you are planning to ONLY attend the Pre-Conference Institute Day of Events. This includes the OS Education Session, Pre-Conference Research Institute, Welcome Reception, Poster Session, and Silent Auction. If you are attending the full conference, please select the regular ($90) registration option to attend the PCI in addition to regular conference registration.


The conference will be held at: 

St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton
1820 Market Street
St. Louis, Missouri, 63103

To book your hotel accommodations, please use this link.
You may also contact Hilton directly and use group code "SSO" during your reservation.


The Society holds an annual silent auction at conference to facilitate student scholarship in occupational science. Donated items collected prior to the annual conference support this activity. Consistent with the mission of the Society, proceeds from the Silent Auction foster the development of researchers by funding student research projects and presentations on the study of occupation. The auction began with the efforts by Dr. Phyllis Meltzer to obtain donations of hand-crafted and artful objects for fund-raising in support of the work of SSO:USA. The auction has expanded to include a wide range of items and opportunities, whose auction proceeds support student research in the study of occupation. The society welcomes donations of artful handmade objects as well as other items such as gift certificates, books, jewelry, vouchers for trips or vacation stays, souvenirs of the conference location, etc.  


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For website/technical questions, please contact [email protected]. For event questions and sponsorship opportunities, please contact [email protected].