Physical Therapy Faculty

Physical Therapy Schools California
Benjamin Boyd
Associate Professor

I have been a physical therapist since 2002 and an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist since 2008. I continue clinical practice in the bay area seeing clients with a wide range of injuries. My research focuses on the impact of diseases and injuries on peripheral nerve health including the effects of diabetes, breast cancer treatments and neuropathy on the sensitivity of the nervous system.

Nicole Christensen
Department Chair and Professor

I am a Professor and Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.  I have taught physical therapy at Samuel Merritt University since 2006. My area of expertise and scholarship is the facilitation of clinical reasoning development in learners at all professional levels.

Heidi Garske
Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor

I graduated from Chapman University with a Master of Physical Therapy degree in 1989 and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree in 2017.  I have practiced in the early intervention, outpatient pediatric, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), NICU follow up clinic, musculoskeletal, private practice and workplace wellness settings. 

Sharon Gorman

I've been a physical therapist for more than 20 years with expertise in acute care physical therapy. My research interests are varied, currently I have projects investigating interprofessional education and acute care preparation. I'm a board-certified Geriatric Clinical Specialist and still work clinically in acute care as a Senior Physical Therapist at Kaiser Walnut Creek. 

Stephanie Greenspan
Assistant Professor

I have enjoyed working as a clinician in a variety of settings where I have focused on management of clients with musculoskeletal and neurologic disorders.  I have a special interest in performing artists, especially dancers and circus artists.  My post-graduate training has included residencies in orthopaedic and neurologic physical therapy, and a fellowship in orthopaedic manual therapy.

Susan Grieve
Assistant Professor

My association with Samuel Merritt University began as a physical therapy student in 1996. After graduating from the MPT program I began my clinical career in the acute care setting moving to the out-patient orthopedic and out-patient neurological settings. I returned to SMU in 2005 teaching part time and was hired as a full time clinicl faculty member in 2010 and core faculty in 2012.

Jason Hardage
Associate Professor

A physical therapist for 20 years, I hold board certifications in geriatric and neurologic physical therapy through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.

Bret Kennedy

I am a part-time annual instructor at SMU in the department of Physical Therapy.  My primary teaching roles are in the Neurologic curriculum although I teach in other areas as well.  I assist in running a pro-bono community lab for those with neurologic impairments.

Preeti Nair
Associate Professor

As a faculty member in the Department of Physical Therapy and being a clinician, an educator, and a researcher, my goal in the DPT program is to prepare students  to be active critical thinkers and change agents in the community.

Angela Rusher
Assistant Director of Clinical Education and Assis

I am a Samuel Merritt University alumni and have been practicing as a physical therapist in the acute care, acute rehabilitation, and outpatient neuro settings with a focus on patients with neurological and vestibular disorders.

Tracey Wagner
Assistant Professor

I have recently left clinical practice at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California after 17 years and relocated to the Bay Area to join the core faculty at Samuel Merritt University.

Gail Widener

Physical therapy has been a wonderful career for me. I have practiced in several areas including sports medicine, acute care, neurorehabilitation and geriatrics and in many different settings. My research focuses on ways to improve mobility and balance in people with neurodegenerative diseases, particularly mutliple sclerosis and cerebellar ataxia.

Terry Nordstrom
Vice President, Enrollment and Student Services

I am the Vice-President of Enrollment and Student Services at the University. The Division is responsible for Admission, Registrar, Financial Aid, Student Academic Support, Student Services, Veteran's Services, Student Health and Counseling, and Disability Services. I am also a Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and I teach in the areas of professionalism and ethics.


For the entire PT faculty directory, click here to view the Directory.

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