Class of 2016 Spotlight: Nick Housley
A major bicycling wreck changed the course of Nick Housley’s career. A 2012 U.S. Olympic cycling team hopeful, Housley suffered a traumatic brain injury and severe facial injuries. In rehabilitation, he was exposed to behavioral interventions, causing him to trade his plans for medical school for a doctor of physical therapy degree.
Now, Housley is pursuing another type of doctorate, a Ph.D. at nearby Georgia Tech, becoming the PT department’s second student in the past 20 years to enroll directly into a Ph.D. program.
Housley earned a prestigious Georgia Tech President’s Fellowship to make this transition possible. He enrolls in the applied physiology program this fall. His decision was sealed when selected as one of a couple of doctoral students supported by the department’s NIH grant for orthotics and prosthetics research.
“I have a three-pronged career goal,” Housley says. “To become a practicing clinician, develop novel research and inform the next generation of clinicians.” The future Ph.D. will have the tools to reach these goals as a faculty researcher in a physical therapy program. “It was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.”
His Olympic training injury and rehab experience developed into his research interest in neuroscience and physiology. He has authored or co-authored six publications on a variety of research including an anatomical study of longitudinal split tendons occurring where a muscle in the lower leg attaches to the foot. He represented the PT department at the annual conference of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists with his research, the only PT student among a majority of physicians and medical students.
“He exemplifies the model student-clinician-scholar,” says Jane Gore, PT faculty who has collaborated with Housley on research studies. “Nick approaches every task with a goal of excellence. Whether it’s coursework, teaching, research, or clinical work, Nick critically examines the topic and masters it.”
He has also worked with Dr. Andrew Butler, associate dean of research in the Lewis School, on rehabilitation options for remapping the brains of stroke patients using the antibiotic DCS.
Housley says he chose the Georgia State DPT program due the value of the program, the quality of the licensure pass rates and especially the people, such as Dr. Deon Thompson.
Thompson asked Housley to work with her in the cadaver lab with a three-year study and invited him to share his work with first-year DPT students each year.
“Beyond [Nick’s]academic excellence, there was an inner spark that seemed to drive his pursuit of not only knowledge but its application to human anatomical and physiological principles and healing,” says Thompson. “Perseverance led to his role as first author for an article accepted by an established and respected peer-reviewed medical journal.”
Housley recently received the Department of Physical Therapy Research Award. In April, his team tied for second at the Lewis School Graduate Research Conference.