Headshot of Ariel Schwartz, a young woman with brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, wearing a gray button-up shirt.

The Institute on Disability (IOD) is pleased to announce that Ariel Schwartz, PhD, has joined the IOD as an Assistant Research Professor, and will also serve as the Director of UNH-4U. Prior to coming to the IOD, Schwartz was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. She brings knowledge and interests in mental health, employment, participation, and participatory research for transition-age youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities to this position at the IOD. In addition to her role as Director of UNH-4U, Schwartz will also be conducting research on participation and wellness for transition-age youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She began working at the IOD on January 23, 2023. 

“Dr. Schwartz brings diverse research, service, and teaching experiences to the Institute on Disability,” says IOD Director Kelly Nye-Lengerman. “Her commitment to the meaningful inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in research is exciting for the IOD and represents our growing commitment to focusing on new forms of research and engagement. As the Director of UNH-4U, our inclusive higher education program, she will provide leadership and direction to maximize the academic, campus, and community experiences of students with intellectual disabilities.” 

Schwartz received her PhD in rehabilitation sciences and MS in occupational therapy from Boston University (BU). She continued her relationship with Boston University as a postdoctoral fellow at the BU Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and as a lecturer in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Before this, Schwartz completed a fellowship in Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities at the Institute for Community Inclusion/Children’s Hospital Boston. In 2019, she received the CORE Trainee Research Award from the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) and the Student Award from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD). 

“I am thrilled to work at the IOD and be surrounded by colleagues committed to advancing the rights, participation, and inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” says Schwartz. “My research and clinical practice as an occupational therapist has long been focused on transition-age young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As the incoming Director of UNH-4U, I look forward to supporting young adults to have meaningful college experiences that will assist them in taking the next steps in their adult lives and to advance research about this important life stage.”