Faculty Spotlight

  • Lori Michener  

     Lori Michener Profile2          

     AthleticTrainer to Professor   

    It was after Lori Michener returned to her alma mater to teach and train athletes that she realized she wanted to devote her career to becoming an educator. 


    Lori Michener wasn't always surrounded by Southern California's hipster and surfer crowd.

    Growing up on the East Coast, the Pennsylvania native lived among quite a different type of crowd.

    “I grew up in a rural area in Columbia, Pa., which has a large Amish and Mennonite population,” Michener says.

    While she herself is not Amish or Mennonite, her upbringing did center around a tight-knit family life.

    “I grew up visiting both my grandparents every Sunday, and spending a lot time with my extended family,” Michener says. “Being surrounded by family taught me the value of a support system. They always believed in me and whatever I wanted to accomplish.”

    Michener learned the value of hard work while spending her summers helping her father, a home builder, install rooftops, hang drywall and build cabinetry.

    “My father encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do and pursue a career I felt passionate about,” she says.

    Michener was the first in her family to graduate from college. Most of her other family members stayed in town and worked nearby. 

    “I always did well in academic pursuits, so it was no surprise to my members of my family that I was college bound,” she says.

    In high school, Michener had a knack for problem solving and helping people so she thought a health science career would suit her well.

    “There was no health science major at the time,” says Michener, who began a general studies program at Lock Haven University. “So I designed one for myself, which ended up being identical to the health science major that was later created at Lock Haven.”

    Michener received her national licensure as an athletic trainer in 1985 and, after completing her second bachelor's degree in physical therapy in 1988 from the State University of New York-Buffalo, she returned to Lock Haven to teach athletic training and work with the school’s sports teams.

    “I loved teaching the athletic training students and treating the athletes,” she says. “That is when I decided I wanted to teach and pursue a research career.”

    She went on to Hahnemann University (now Drexel University)for her PhD.

    Michener joined USC's physical therapy family in 2014. Her lectures focus on outcome measures and shoulder disorders in the orthopaedic and sports residency program.

    In 2015, she was awarded a grant to launch research on torn rotator cuffs and loss of shoulder function. Michener is the director of the division's Clinical Biomechanics and Orthopedic Outcomes Research laboratory where she conducts her research.

    “What surprises me most about my time in physical therapy school to now is the dramatic use of evidence used to guide clinical decision-making,” she says. “Also, tying in patient factors such as fear,avoidance or kinesiophobia that influence outcomes and need to be addressed with when treating patients.” 

    As Michener moves forward with her career, she hopes to one day take on a program director role to further her career as an educator,mentor and researcher.

    And while her family may be thousands of miles away, their impact on her is palpable every day.

    “My father always said ‘Whatever you do, make sure that when you get up in the morning, you are excited to go to your job.’  I am very lucky he encouraged me because I do love what I do!”

    Posted 08.08.2016