BY JOHN HOBBS MA ’14
KARI KRETCH HAS ONLY BEEN A FACULTY MEMBER at USC for a few months, but her face is not new at the Center for Health Professions building. In 2019, she earned her doctor of physical therapy degree from USC before completing a postdoctoral fellowship in 2021. Today, she is an assistant professor of research, focused on perceptual-motor skills and processes of developmental change in infants with typical and atypical motor development. Here are five more things to know about her:
Kretch earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Vassar College and her PhD in psychology from New York University.
“My PhD research in psychology examined locomotion, exploration and learning in typically developing infants. The goal of the work was to understand processes of development: What are the sequences of events or experiences that build new skills or behaviors? During graduate school, I became interested in applying these theories of change to populations of children with atypical development,” she says. “I discovered the field of pediatric physical therapy through the research community — there was a lot of overlap in our work! — and was excited by the potential of physical therapy to promote exploration and learning in infants and young children with disabilities.”
“Sitting is a major motor milestone and enables lots of important new experiences for infants — for example, an expanded view of the surroundings, an improved ability to manipulate objects and new ways of interacting with caregivers.” Kretch explains. “The goal of my research is to determine how delays in independent sitting affect development and, most importantly, to determine how we can intervene to supplement learning opportunities in something approaching a typical developmental time frame.”
“In New York, I didn’t have a car and could access the entire city through public transportation and walking,” says Kretch, who moved to SoCal in 2014 with her husband when he took a faculty position at UC Riverside. “I am not a big fan of driving, and I miss the pedestrian culture.”
Kretch loves to sing. In college, she was a member of an a cappella musical group that covered ’90s pop hits.