Andrea Fairman-Laferrier


JWU Faculty Since 2021

Faculty Picture of Andrea Fairman

Contact Info


Andrea D. Fairman, Ph.D., MOT, OTR/L, ATP, began her career working in human services providing training for persons receiving public assistance benefits to help them get back to work while earning her bachelor’s degree at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

At Duquesne, she learned about occupational therapy and decided to apply to their weekend program designed for working adults. Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences, she worked as a case manager for persons with serious mental illness while earning her entry-level master’s degree (MOT) in occupational therapy. While working in community mental health, it became clear that occupational therapy was the perfect fit for her interests.

Every day at work provided a wealth of opportunities to apply what she was learning in the classroom. Fairman’s MOT thesis project focused on writing a grant proposal and implementing the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. The grant was awarded and upon completing her MOT degree in 2001, she started the program that still operates today. Fairman was one of the first 100 persons in the world to take the exam to become a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) since at the time OTs were not recognized as licensed mental health providers in Pennsylvania.

In 2003, she decided to return to school to eventually earn her Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Pittsburgh — ten years later! During this time, Fairman continued to work in clinical and administrative roles gaining new skills and experiences along the way with a variety of populations and settings including home health, school-based services, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and served as the Executive Director of the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania before entering academia full-time in 2010. Her doctoral dissertation included the development, usability testing, and a randomized controlled trial to look at the impact of the Interactive Mobile Health and Rehabilitation (iMHere) system to improve self-management in adults with spina bifida.

She has continued research in mobile health and assistive technology with several large grants from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the Centers for Disease Control, as well as some foundation grants.

Find more information about current research projects under “Extra-Curricular Roles.”


  • Ph.D., Rehabilitation Science, University of Pittsburgh
  • MOT, Occupational Therapy, Duquesne University
  • BS, Health Sciences, Duquesne University
  • Certificate, Rehabilitation Technology, University of Pittsburgh

I believe people learn best by doing. Whenever possible, I prefer to teach students how I work with clients through experiential learning opportunities.

Teaching Interests

Fairman has taught various courses in several occupational therapy programs. Some of her favorite topics to teach include Assistive Technology, Research Methods, Pediatrics, and Mental Health.

Scholarly Interests

Autonomy, Safety, and Social Integration via Smart Technologies.


  • OTD8270: Technology & Innovation in Occupational Therapy
  • OTD7190: Research I

Extra Curricular Roles

Editorial Board Member, International Journal of Telerehabilitation (IJTR)
Affiliate Faculty, Human Engineering Research Laboratories
Principle Investigator, Wireless RERC, D2: Mobile Device Assessment Tool (MoDAT),
Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh
Co-Investigator, Project ASSIST (Autonomy, Safety, and Social Integration via Smart Technologies),
Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh


Professional Affiliations

Member, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
Member, Rhode Island Occupational Therapy Association (RIOTA)
Member, Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (RESNA)
Member, Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED)