Faculty & Staff

RMHC Faculty

Lisa Ottomanelli, PhD

Lisa Ottomanelli, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr. Lisa Ottomanelli has over 25 years of clinical and research experience in the area of disability and rehabilitation with an emphasis on vocational rehabilitation (VR) for persons with complex chronic medical disabilities such as spinal cord injury (SCI).  She received her PhD in clinical psychology from Texas Tech University and completed her internship at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center.  Before she joined the University of South Florida (USF) in 2011, she held academic positions in the Departments Psychiatry and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at the University Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas. At USF, she holds an appointment in the Department of Child and Family Studies within the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Program.

To date, Dr. Ottomanelli has had over $17 million in continuous funding, including conducting the first randomized trial on VR conducted within the field of SCI. Her work has impacted policy and practice in the area of SCI and related fields.  Currently, she is Principal Investigator on a 4-year, multi-site grant funded by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA):  The Achieving Competitive, Customized Employment for Specialized Services – Veterans (ACCESS-Vets).  A randomized clinical trial, ACCESS-Vets will compare customized employment with individual placement and support supported employment for adults with SCI.  This work is being conducted in close collaboration with her fellow department faculty members who serve as co-investigators (Smith & Dillahunt-Aspillaga), hence, her team will be leveraging previous successful vocational research funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to further improve the vocational care of Veterans with SCI.

As a recognized content expert, Dr Ottomanelli serves in advisory and leadership roles for committees and professional organizations to advance the science and practice of rehabilitation including:

  • An appointment by the Secretary of the VA to the Veterans’ Advisory Committee on Rehabilitation (VACOR), to provide guidance to the VA on how to best meet the rehabilitation needs of Veterans.
  • Governance Board Member of the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals (ASCIP), which is the decision-making organization for interdisciplinary spinal cord rehabilitation professionals.
  • Vice-President of the Psychologist, Social Workers, and Counselors Section of ASCIP, which sets standards of practice for the discipline.
  • International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) Vocational Rehabilitation Data Set Committee member that is developing a core research data set on employment .

Dr. Ottomanelli’s work has been recognized with several awards including:

  • 2020 Essie Morgan Excellence Award of the Psychologists, Social Workers, & Counselors Section, Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals
  • 2016 Clinical Excellence Award, Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • 2013 Elizabeth and Sidney Licht Award, American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine