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Lisa A. Mische Lawson, Ph.D., CTRS, FDRT

Lisa Mische Lawson
Program Director, Ph.D. in Therapeutic Science, Occupational Therapy Education

Professor, Occupational Therapy Education

Director, Sensory Enhanced Aquatics, SHP-Kansas City

Professional Background

Lisa Mische Lawson, PhD, CTRS, joined the department in 2006. She is the program director for the therapeutic science doctoral degree program and has taught and mentored students in the graduate-level occupational therapy degree programs in addition to therapeutic science.

As a certified therapeutic recreation specialist, she focuses on the benefits of recreation participation for individuals with disability or chronic illness. In 2012, she received the School of Health Professions Stata Norton Award for teaching excellence and in 2016 received the University of Kansas Medical Center's Early Career Achievement in Health Professions Alumna Award.

Mische Lawson was added to the Fulbright Specialist Roster for expertise in inclusive and adaptive recreation in 2018. In 2019 she completed a Fulbright Specialist project promoting research at Ala-Too International University in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

In 2019, the American Therapeutic Recreation Association recognized Mische Lawson’s contributions with its Scholarly Achievement Award, the highest award for scholarly work to the profession.

Academic Background
Mische Lawson earned a bachelor's degree in parks and recreation with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., in 1993. During her undergraduate program, she studied international tourism and recreation program development at Christlijke Hogeschool Noord-Nederland-Netherlands.

She completed a master's degree in education in therapeutic recreation at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa., in 1996. Later, Mische Lawson earned her doctorate in therapeutic science from the University of Kansas.

Education and Training
  • BS, Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Univ. of Missouri
  • MS, Temple Univ.
  • PhD, Doctor of Therapeutic Science, Univ. of Kansas-Medical Ctr.



Mische Lawson's research interests include physical activity interventions for individuals with disabilities, benefits of recreation participation for individuals with disability or chronic disease, and health promotion for children with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

Research Laboratory
The major goal of ongoing research in the Accessible Leisure Lab (ALL) is to promote health of individuals with disability and chronic illness through leisure and physical activity. Researchers in this lab investigate factors impeding or facilitating leisure participation and effects of physical activity on health behaviors and body composition.

Mische Lawson serves as director of KU Sensory Enhanced Aquatics, a swimming and water safety program for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her research specifically focuses on the effects of water-based physical activity on health outcomes of children with ASD.

Graduate students training with Mische Lawson obtain clinical and research experiences with physical activity measurement, program development and evaluation, one-on-one client services, quantitative and qualitative research methods. They will also acquire significant presentation and writing experience for professional and general audiences.

Current Research and Grants
  • Effectiveness of Pressure Garments for Improving Participation of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Decreasing Stress of Caregivers, Knit Rite, PI, PI