Deborah Wilkerson Award

Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award

Supported by CARF International


Emily Nalder

Emily Nalder


In 2017, ACRM honors Emily Nalder, PhD, BOccThy (Hons) for the significant contributions she has made during her early career work. Dr. Nalder will present the Deborah Wilkerson Award Lecture on 28 October during the ACRM 94th Annual Conference in Atlanta, where she will receive her award.

Proposing a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Resiliency Model to Guide Rehabilitation Research and Practice

AUTHORS: Emily Nalder, Laura Hartman, Anne Hunt, & Gillian King

Existing literature on resilience following TBI looks at individual traits or protective factors in the environment and does not adopt a process-oriented perspective. Key components of the TBI Resiliency Model, include the adversity (i.e., the TBI or other life experiences such as financial strain), personal and environmental protective factors, self-regulatory processes, and resiliency-related outcomes. The protective factors and processes contributing to resiliency may operate differently to other contexts (e.g., resiliency in the workplace), because of the unique aspects of TBI-related adversity, in particular, neurocognitive impairment. Investigating resiliency processes can move the TBI field beyond examining individual traits, and protective factors, to transactional processes that influence adaptation, and participation experiences and opportunities over time.

Learn more about the ACRM Conference >>

Deborah Wilkerson

Deborah L. Wilkerson


This award is given in memory of Deborah L. Wilkerson, former ACRM president and fellow. Deborah was devoted to improving the quality of rehabilitation and independent living services. She demonstrated commitment to person-centered services and served as a powerful advocate for individuals with disabilities.

Past Award Recipients



Yelena Goldin, PhD



Tatyana Mollayeva, MD, PhD



Brad Kurowski, MD, MS



Dawn Neumann, PhD



Elizabeth Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L



Deborah Backus, PT, PhD



Ronald Seel, PhD



Anne F. Deutsch, PhD



Cynthia Harrison Felix, PhD



Angelle Sanders, PhD



Stephen J. Page, PhD



  • Candidate must be within five years of completion of training.
  • Candidates have made significant contributions to rehabilitation research during their early career work.
  • Candidate does not need to be employed within a Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, but must be conducting rehabilitation research.
  • Candidate must be a current member of ACRM.
  • Candidate must attend the current year's ACRM annual conference.
  • The candidate does not need to be the senior author on all papers submitted as part of the application process, but must be the senior author on at least one of the papers submitted.
  • Members may self-nominate.


  • Nomination letter must include nominee contact information  (name, email address, phone number)
  • A statement of approximately 500 words in length outlining the nominee's research accomplishments in rehabilitation.
  • Three letters of support written by ACRM members. Letters should be emailed to Terri Compos, Community Relations Manager.
  • 3 to 5 peer-reviewed publications. Manuscripts accepted, but not yet published, are acceptable as well as those already in print.
  • A CV for the nominee.

Demonstration of service to ACRM, although not a required criteria, will be considered in review of the application. As such, it is advantageous to discuss any such service in one's application statement.



Nomination instructions and deadlines >>

Submit nominations to the Awards Committee by emailing Terri Compos, Community Relations Manager.



This award is made possible through the generous support of CARF International and Deborah's friends, family and colleagues through the Deborah L. Wilkerson Memorial Fund. Make a donation and support this important Early Career award.