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 2024 Annual Research Conference will take place October 17 - 19, 2024, at the Durham Convention Center in Durham, North Carolina. 

Have you heard about Durham, North Carolina? Its rich civil rights history and vibrant arts scene set the stage for the SSO:USA conference, "Art and Occupation: Creativity, Critical Theory, and Social Transformation."   Durham's diverse cultural landscape and history in civil rights set the stage for our discussions. Wander through streets with poignant murals telling tales of resilience and activism. Visit our museums and theaters showcasing the city's diverse heritage and artistic expression. Enjoy the “foodie” scene in our restaurants. Situated in historic downtown Durham, the conference offers an ideal setting for dialogue about occupational science as we work to build and strengthen our community of scholars. Join us in October, immerse yourself in dialogue, and use your occupational balance time to explore the city's dynamic energy, deeply rooted in its ongoing fight for civil rights and flourishing arts scene.

Discover Durham

Information about the conference and link to conference rates and registration are below. 

Conference Theme The Art of Occupation: Creativity, Critical Theory, and Social Transformation

The theme of art in occupational science is expansive, ranging from the notions of art as experience and artistry in everyday occupations to the potential of art for well-being, to heal, and to fuel social change. In alignment with the ethos of Occupational Science, art expresses human experience and can illuminate societal issues, provoke critical dialogues, and advocate for justice, particularly within and for marginalized communities. We invite a broad range of topics such as arts and humanities-based methodologies, artistry of doing, art forms (visual, dramatic, literary, musical, performance, etc.), interpretations, creativity, critical theory, art and culture, creativity and Artificial Intelligence, beauty, sensory experiences, aesthetics, social transformation, and identity.

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.

2024 Ruth Zemke Lectureship in Occupational Science: Dr. Lilian Magalhães, PhD

Dr. Magalhães has a background in occupational therapy and occupational science, originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a journey that has taken her in and out of Brazil over the years. For four decades, she has been deeply engaged in academia, currently serving as an adjunct professor at the Federal University of Sao Carlos in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Previously, she was an associate professor at Western University in Ontario, Canada, where she now holds the title of professor emerita.

Within the Anglo-American scientific community, Dr. Magalhães has played a pivotal role in challenging the "English-only" publication policy. For the past five years, she has served as an Editorial Board member at the Journal of Occupational Science, acting as the Editor for dual-language papers (Portuguese/Spanish/English).

Currently, Dr. Magalhães is involved with the A Coruña team in Spain, collaborating with the European Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, a consortium of five European universities offering a research-oriented postgraduate program.

Methodological innovation has been central to Dr. Magalhães' work, particularly in employing qualitative critical approaches such as decolonial theoretical lenses. She has championed body-map storytelling, disseminating it through research and activism across various projects. Through her efforts, she has established a legacy of art-based research projects and community-led actions aimed at social transformation.

Dr. Lilian Magalhães identifies as a woman of African descent, cisgender, and heterosexual orientation. She is the first in her extended family to attain post-graduate education and is a proud mother to two lovely sons. Surrounded by a wonderful family and a supportive circle of friends, she considers herself fortunate to collaborate with inspiring advocates for social change, whose values shape her worldview and guide her actions within her community.

Pre-Conference Education Workshop: Art, Poetry, Occupation: Pedagogy and Creative Expression

Thursday, October 17, 2024
10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Jane Thrailkill, PhD, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, teaches American literature and health humanities at UNC's Department of English and Comparative Literature. Her new book is Philosophical Siblings: Varieties of Playful Experience in Alice, William, and Henry James (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). She is the Co-Director of the UNC’s Health Humanities Interactive Venue for Exploration (HHIVE).


Carolyn Allmendinger, PhD, is the Director of Education and Interpretation at the Ackland Art Museum at UNC. She manages the arts-based learning experiences for students of all ages and from numerous disciplines across the university.




 Dr. Thrailkill and Dr. Allmendinger will offer the Occupational Science community insights into distinct ways that arts and humanities-based pedagogy affords important entry points into learning about occupation.  Thrailkill and Allmendinger, as respected educators and scholars in the fields of Arts and Humanities, specialize in interdisciplinary learning and collaboration, focusing on selected works of art and poetry.  They will lead participants through a hands-on experience of the visual arts and expressive language as opening portals to occupational concepts and methods. Participants will engage in reflection, discussion, and creative activity with applications to occupational meanings.   

Pre-Conference Research Institute: Crafting Social Change: The Transformative Potential of Critical, Creative, and Arts-Based Qualitative Methods

Thursday, October 17, 2024
1:30 – 5:00 pm

Dr. Shanon PhelanAssociate Professor, Dalhousie University School of Occupational Therapy Director, SHIFT Collective: Shifting How we think about Inclusion For Tomorrow

In the realm of (critical) qualitative research, creative and arts-based methods are increasingly acknowledged as powerful tools for illuminating nuanced human experiences,deepening understanding, challenging research conventions, and improving access and inclusion for research participants and co-researchers across the lifespan. Institute participants will gain insights into adapting these approaches to various research contexts, navigating research ethics, and emphasizing the importance of critical reflexivity. Designed especially for occupational science researchers and students.

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.  


This year the SSO conference Traditions of Talent Share and Sing-along will be our "Art Share". All attendees are invited to contribute and enjoy this informal community gathering with many art forms-- singing, poetry, stand-up, and more.  

CJ Suitt is a performance poet, arts educator, and community organizer from Chapel Hill, NC, whose work is rooted in storytelling and social justice. He has performed at many gatherings and music festivals as well as many performance art and theater pieces. He has been recently appointed as the inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Chapel Hill, NC. He is committed to speaking truth to power and aims to be a bridge for communities who can't always see themselves in each other. 



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. 

Attendees of the SSO:USA Annual Research Conference are expected to treat each other with kindness and respect, follow the event's guidelines, and promptly inform SSO:USA or event staff if they witness any exclusionary or discriminatory behavior. If you have questions or concerns about inclusivity or safety prior to the conference, please contact [email protected].



With Conference Registration

Without Conference Registration     

Students (With or Without Conference)

Pre-Conference Research Institute ONLY $90 $165 $35
Pre-Conference Education Workshop ONLY $35 $65 $15
Pre-Conference Research Institute & Education Workshop
$115 $220 $40



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
  • The Silent Auction and Celebration Dinner







Student Member *


Retired Member



Guest - Social Rate

Guest Registration includes Welcome Reception, Awards Dinner, and Ruth Zemke Lecture in Occupational Science


Virtual Conference (Online)

Virtual 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
  • Video recordings of over 50 poster presentations and access to poster PDFs
  • Networking through conference app

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 2024 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: STDNT24. If you are already a current student member of SSO:USA, please contact Jenn Soros ([email protected]) to receive instructions on renewing your next membership year at no cost!

Student Volunteer Registration and Discount: SSO:USA is offering a special limited-time registration discount! This option is available to students who wish to receive a $100 discount on registration for the Main Conference in exchange for 4 hours of volunteering during the conference. Volunteering includes but is not limited to activities such as working at the registration table, room moderation, etc. Student volunteer schedules will be arranged to avoid conflict with the times when they are presenting. Information regarding scheduling for volunteer time will be sent at a later date. Please note that this is an optional opportunity for students and not a requirement for student registration. Limited scholarships are available and will be awarded on a first-come basis. Please use the discount code VOLUNTEER for the $100 discount on Main Conference registration. 

Registration is NOW OPEN!

Register for Conference

201 Foster St
Durham, NC 27701
A limited number of rooms will be available at a discounted group rate. Book your hotel early! 
Book Your Hotel Room 

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.  

If you would like to donate to the silent auction, please use the button below to provide the details of your item(s). Donors are encouraged to provide their item descriptions by October 4, 2024, but we will continue to accept items until the opening of the silent auction.

Silent Auction Donation


Donate to SSO:USA

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

Student Volunteer Registration and Discount