Faculty and Staff

Nicole Dawson, PT, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Division of Physical Therapy of the College of Health Professions and Sciences at the University of Central Florida and Director of the ALIVE™ (Aging & Longevity Initiatives for Vitality & Enrichment) Lab at UCF. Dr. Dawson is a Board Certified Geriatric Physical Therapist Emeritus with over 20 years of clinical experience along with a PhD in Adult Development & Aging Psychology from Cleveland State University. She has been recognized for excellence in her field by the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy through receipt of the Distinguished Educator Award, the American Physical Therapy Association being awarded the Margaret L. Moore Outstanding New Academic Faculty Award, and the University of Central Florida with the Teaching Incentive Program Award. Her current area of research includes developing non-pharmacological interventions to improve functional and psychosocial outcomes in older adults with chronic disease including those with dementia, gaining a better understanding of the disability experience as well as training and development of the eldercare workforce. Dr. Dawson has been published in peer-reviewed journals including The Gerontologist, Dementia, and the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy. Her consulting company, Golden Age Consultants, aims to facilitate the successful aging of older adults. She trains allied health professionals through continuing education and has presented at numerous international and national conferences about aging and geriatric rehabilitation.


  • BS, Bachelor of Science, Sports Medicine, Baldwin-Wallace College
  • MA, Master of Arts, Adult Development & Aging Psychology, Cleveland State University
  • MPT, Master of Physical Therapy, Ohio University
  • PT, Licensed Physical Therapist
  • Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy, Adult Development & Aging Psychology, Cleveland State University
  • GCS-Emeritus, Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Geriatric Physical Therapy
  • Development, implementation, and evaluation of non-pharmacological interventions for older adults (specializing in individuals with dementia)
  • Gaining a better understanding of the illness experience for older adults with chronic illness, specifically those with dementia, through a biopsychosocial approach
  • Training and development of the growing eldercare workforce
  • Identifying risk factors for falls in older adults with and without cognitive impairment
  • Studying predictors of successful and optimal aging
Areas of Specialty
  • Non-pharmacological interventions for older adults
  • Predictors of successful and optimal aging
  • Risk factors for falls in older adults with cognitive impairment
  • Understanding the illness experience for individuals with dementia
Research Lab Affiliations

Research Grants

KinesiologySocial Work

Investigators from Novices, a Transdisciplinary Research Education Program to Increase Diversity (INTREPID) in Aging Research

  • PI: Nicole Dawson
  • PI: Susanny Beltran
  • PI:
  • PI: Jeffrey Stout
  • Amount: $1,855,813 | Timeframe: 05/01/2023 - 01/01/2028
    Funding Type: Extramural Research
    Funding Agency: National Institute on Aging, NIA
  • PHT7521C: Management of PT Services II

  • PHT7789C: Advanced Geriatric PT

  • PHT6521: Management of PT Services

  • PHT6374C: Geriatric PT

  • PHT5003: Foundations of PT

  • PHT5125L: Clinical Kinesiology Lab

  • Communication Disorders Clinic and Physical Therapy Program Team Up to Offer Enhanced Services

    Written By: Heather Lovett | June 1, 2023
    The College of Health Professions and Sciences’ Rehabilitation and Wellness Services is integrating clinical care services and will now offer outpatient physical therapy at the Communication Disorders Clinic. The expansion...
  • UCF Division of Physical Therapy Announces William Hanney as Chair

    Written By: David Janosik | September 14, 2022
    The UCF College of Health Professions and Sciences confirmed William Hanney as chair for the Division of Physical Therapy. Hanney previously served as interim chair. Hanney joined the Physical Therapy...
  • Recipients of the 2022 Seed Funding Program Announced

    Written By: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala | March 10, 2022
    The program awarded a total of $1 million to 32 teams. This is the third year the program has been available to UCF faculty and researchers. UCF announced the recipients...
  • DPT Faculty, Students, and Alumni to Present at APTA Combined Sections Meeting

    Written By: Drexler B. James'13 | January 20, 2022
    Students, alumni, and faculty members will represent the Division of Physical Therapy at the annual American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting, which will be held February 2 – 5...
  • Physical Therapy Students Help Patient Make Great Strides in Physical and Cognitive Abilities

    Written By: Drexler B. James'13 | September 23, 2021
    Two recent physical therapy alumni played a key role in increasing the mobility of a dementia patient during a 12-week physical therapy session where by the end, the patient no longer needed his cane to walk. They used their experience as a research opportunity to examine the impact...
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