Associate Chair and Professor Chris Powers, PhD, has earned a Marian Williams Award for Research in Physical Therapy from the American Physical Therapy Association.

The award is meant to honor an individual who has sustained outstanding clinical and educational research pertaining to physical therapy and demonstrated an enduring professional commitment to physical therapy.

“It is an understatement to say that Dr. Powers has had an extremely productive research career,” said Guy Simoneau, editor-in-chief emeritus of the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, in his nomination letter. “Dr. Powers has established himself as one of our premier researchers in the field of physical therapy.”


Standing-room only presentations

Internationally recognized as one of the leading experts in knee pathology, Powers has managed to expand physical therapy’s evidence base considerably by publishing 179 articles in peer-reviewed, high-impact journals. He has also published 18 books, chapters and monographs. His H-index — a number used to measure research impact based on the number of citations by other researchers — is 70, according to Google Scholar.

This means 70 of Powers’ research publications have been cited at least 70 times.

Additionally, Powers has become a highly sought-after speaker, delivering 98 scientific presentations and 173 invited presentations and keynote addresses across 21 different countries and on every continent, except Antarctica.

“I have attended his talks … and one generally has to arrive early to find a seat,” mused Washington University Professor Michael Mueller in his nomination letter.

“Many presentations have been at prestigious meetings with biomechanists, engineers and physicians in attendance,” said Associate Dean James Gordon, EdD, PT, in his nomination letter. “By gaining the respect and capturing the interests of scientists in other fields … Dr. Powers has significantly raised the visibility of physical therapy science and practice.”

Powers has demonstrated his commitment to the profession in a number of ways, including serving on a number of professional organizations. He has held a number of leadership roles with the California Physical Therapy Association, including serving as the organizations’ president currently.

He also served as president of the APTA’s Section on Research from 2008 to 2012.


A mentor to many

It’s his activities in the classroom that are likely to make the most enduring impact on the profession.

“The mentorship by Dr. Powers has and continues to provide us with new generations of scholars to pursue physical therapy research in the future,” said Simoneau, noting the number of post-doctoral fellows, research fellows, doctoral students and master’s degree students who have studied under Powers’ tutelage.

Mueller said that Powers leaves a “legacy of strong PhD students that he has mentored in the area of musculoskeletal biomechanics. For example, Sam Ward, Susan Sigward, Shaw Farrohki and Rich Souza are already leaders in their respective areas of research.”


Highly decorated

Powers earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of California Santa Barbara before earning a master’s in physical therapy from Columbia University. In 1996, Powers completed his PhD at USC and continued postdoctoral training at University of California Irvine. He joined USC’s faculty in 1997.

This distinction is only the latest in a series for Powers that includes a Helen J. Hislop Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Professional Literature, the Lucy Blair Service Award and the John P. Maley Award for Outstanding Leadership in Research.

He is also a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and a Catherine Worthingham Fellow.

— John Hobbs