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Jenna ThackerThacker receives USI Early Career Faculty Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Jenna Thacker ’11, OT ’12, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy (OT), for receiving a $5,000 Early Career Faculty Grant from the University of Southern Indiana Provost’s Office. These grants are awarded each year to encourage early career faculty to pursue promising research, creative and engagement projects for one consecutive 10-week summer term.

Thacker intends to study functional dry needling (FDN), which she says is “growing like wildfire” in the field of physical therapy (PT). FDN is a technique for muscle stimulation using a needle, and it is used as a therapeutic procedure for patients with pain, decreased flexibility or decreased muscle function.

“While research has shown significant positive effects of the use of FDN, much of this research is PT-centered and has been performed by the PT profession,” she says. “This grant allows me to partner with OTs from ProRehab to perform OT-led research of FDN in individuals with arthritis in their hands. It feels great to be recognized and to feel that my research matters.”

Originally from Carmel, Indiana, Thacker moved to Evansville to attend USI after her high school graduation and never left. She earned two degrees from USI (bachelor’s and master’s) and taught as an adjunct instructor from 2018 to 2020. She has been a full-time faculty member since 2021 and recently assumed the role of the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for the program.

“Teaching in the OT Program at USI has been wonderful. It is like coming home for me as this is where I graduated,” she says. “I love the OT profession and being able to help shape future OTs is so much fun. It also would not be the same without the OT faculty. We are like a family and work together so well. It has been such a great fit for me, and I am extremely grateful to be where I am at.”

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