People

Meet Our Team!

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Director

Stefanie Bodison, OTD, OTR/L

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Lab Director and Assistant Professor

Dr. Stefanie Bodison, is a four-time graduate of the University of Southern California (USC), having earned her BS, MA, and OTD in occupational therapy and an MS in translational science from the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Dr. Bodison is an internationally renowned expert in sensory integration theory, assessment, and intervention, and has clinical expertise in the neurodevelopmental treatment (NDT) approach and feeding. Her research program uses multimodal neuroimaging methods to investigate the neural correlates of sensory processing in neurotypically developing children and those with neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Bodison enjoys hanging out with her family, playing and watching sports, and walking on the beach.


Lab Staff

Breanna Howell, OTD, OTR/L

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Research

Breanna Howell, OTD, OTR/L received her BS in Health Science from Stetson University and her MAOT and her OTD from the University of Southern California. Dr. Howell has clinical experience in sensory processing, feeding, CIMT (constraint induced movement therapy), social skills and self regulation, AAC (augmentative and alternative communication), use of the Therasuit method, and aquatics. She has worked with children with autism spectrum disorder, genetic conditions, post-CVA, CP, Down syndrome, anxiety, sensory processing differences, spina bifida, learning disabilities and feeding difficulties. Dr. Howell provides the research interventions in Sensory Development Lab and supports the development of intervention studies. In her free time, Dr. Howell enjoys taking her puppy on adventures, sunsets at the beach, and spending time in her hammock.


Erin Lebesch

Lab Manager

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Erin is currently a first-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student here at the University of Florida. She graduated from UF with a BS in Health Science and a minor in Disabilities in Society. She has a passion for working with children, especially those with disabilities, and hopes to be able to work with this population in her future career. She is excited to work in the Sensory Development Lab and to learn more about sensory processing and the way it affects individuals’ behaviors, occupations, and participation. In her free time, Erin enjoys traveling, thrifting, yoga, and finding the best tacos in Gainesville. 


Post-Doctoral Researcher

Amy Hartman, Ph.D., OTR/L

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Amy Hartman, Ph.D., OTR/L received her MS in occupational therapy from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and practiced for 10+ years in pediatric inpatient and outpatient clinics until returning to graduate school to receive her Ph.D. in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh in 2022. She currently is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Science under the mentorship of Adriane Soehner, Ph.D., Stefanie Bodison, OTD, and Carla Mazefsky, Ph.D.. Amy’s research program focuses on the complex relationship between sleep health and sensory processing for neurodiverse children. In her free time, Amy enjoys going on epic adventures with her two daughters and husband, hiking, pretending to be artsy, and reading a good book.


Graduate Research Assistants

Jordan Major, MOT, OTR/L

Ph.D. Student

Jordan Major, MOT, OTR/L received her BA in Psychology from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and her MOT from Chicago State University. Jordan has clinical experience in adult neurorehabilitation working with clients diagnosed with spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, orthopedic injuries, amputation, and rare and medically complex conditions. Additionally, she has experience in school-based pediatrics addressing the educational needs of children with autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, genetic conditions, learning disabilities, and sensory processing disorders. Jordan is excited and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Sensory Development Lab and the talented team Dr. Bodison has intentionally curated. In her free time, Jordan enjoys watching true crime shows, traveling with her family, and singing (and awkwardly dancing) to Beyonce in her car as if nobody is watching.


Carolina Cuomo

OTD Student

Carolina is a first-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student here at the University of Florida. She graduated from UF with a BS in psychology with specialization in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. Prior to joining the Sensory Development Lab, Carolina worked as a Research Assistant in UF’s Neurocognitive and Behavioral Development Lab and for the School Psychology department. She is excited to work in the Sensory Development lab so she can expand her passion for and knowledge of neuroscience through an occupational lens. In the future, Carolina desires to work as an occupational therapist in pediatrics or in neurological rehabilitation. In her free time, Carolina enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going to the beach, traveling, and trying new foods.


Bridget Nelson

OTD Student

Bridget is a third-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student here at the University of Florida. She graduated from UF with a BS in Health Sciences, a BS in Psychology, and a minor in Disabilities in Society. She completed a Level 2 fieldwork rotation at UF’s Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment, where she gained clinical experience in sensory processing, feeding, social skills, and emotional regulation. Bridget has served as a teaching assistant in UF Occupational Therapy’s Neuroscience course and is completing her capstone at this site in Fall 2024. She is grateful to work alongside such knowledgeable professionals, and is excited to gain research experience. In her free time, Bridget enjoys the outdoors, being with friends and family, and working out.


Undergraduate Research Assistants

Melanie Van Peenen

Melanie is a third-year Bachelor of Health Science student at the University of Florida majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She plans to pursue audiology and is interested in promoting access to quality audiologic services as a future clinician. She is grateful to join the Sensory Development Lab and is eager to learn more about sensory integration and processing, especially in relation to the vestibular system. When she has free time, Melanie enjoys camping around Florida state parks, collecting too many plants, and reading.


Volunteers

Brooke Herrman

Brooke is a fourth-year Bachelor of Health Science student at the University of Florida majoring in Health Science on a pre-occupational therapy track. She is also pursuing a minor in Disabilities in Society and is excited to apply her passion of working with children with disabilities to research. She hopes to one day become a pediatric occupational therapy specializing in children with autism, as well as specializing in feeding therapy. In her free time, Brooke enjoys reading, traveling, and eating too much ice cream.


Cynthia Saldana

Cynthia is a third-year Health Education & Behavior major at the University of Florida. She is also minoring in Health Disparities in Society. Her career aspirations lie in rehabilitation and therapy which led her to the pre-OT track. Her other campus involvements include being a cabinet member of the Mexican-American Student Association, mentoring first-generation students, and volunteering as a research assistant. She is excited to begin working in the Sensory Development Lab to understand more about occupational therapy. Outside of her studies, she enjoys weightlifting, reading, skateboarding, and spending time with her cat Juniper.


Eliana Lazzari

Ellie is a UF graduate certificate student studying Public Health (Public Health Foundations) and is on the pre-occupational therapy track. She graduated from UF with a BS in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavior Analysis. She is also a member of the University of Florida gymnastics team. During her senior year, she was a research assistant at UF’s Center for Autism and Neurodevelopment, where she recorded play therapy sessions and coded videos for her mentor specializing in the feeding disorders program. Her spark of interest in the field of occupational therapy and working in pediatrics and/or neuro rehabilitation began during her time at UF CAN. She is excited to work in the Sensory Development lab so she can enhance her understanding of sensory processing and its influence on behavior, specifically in children with neurodeveopmental disorders. In her free time, she enjoys expanding her plant collection, scoping out vintage markets and antique stores in Gainesville, listening to indie/alternative music, and prioritizing self-care and recovery.


Rachel Pyros

Rachel is a first-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student here at the University of Florida. She graduated from UF with a BS in Health Science and a minor in Disabilities in Society. She loves playing with children of all ages and loves learning with and from them. She is especially intrigued by sensory integration theory and is grateful for the opportunity to observe the role of occupational therapy first-hand at the Sensory Development Lab. In her free time, Rachel loves running outside, laughing with friends, teaching group fitness classes, planning parties, eating ice cream, playing guitar, and building forts with kids.