Kathy A. Starr

Department of Physical Therapy
Associate Professor of Physical Therapy

Phone: 828-227-2289
Email: kstarr@email.wcu.edu
Office Address: HHSB 244


  • Ph.D., Albany Medical College, 1991
  • M.S., Albany Medical College, 1990
  • M.S., Western Carolina University, 1986
  • B.A., Florida State University, 1973

Publications & Presentations:

  • Starr, K. A. Service-Learning in a Clinical Curriculum: A Case Study. Mountain Rise, Vol  2(2), Spring/Summer, 2005.
  • Starr, K.A. Impact of Memorializing Body Donors at the End of an Anatomy  Course. 21st Annual International Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Conference, May 2007, San Diego, California.
  • Watson, T., McPherson, S., and K. Starr. The Association of Nutritional Status and Gender with Cross-Sectional Area of the Multifidus Muscle in Establishing Normative Data.  Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy 16(4): e93-e98, 2008.
  • Starr, K.A.  Reactions to Cadaver Dissection in a Physical Therapy Anatomy Course. 23rd Annual International Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Conference, May 2009, Baltimore Maryland.
  • Zuber, E., Starr, K., and K. Lunnen.  Facilitating PT Students’ Knowledge of the Role of the PTA.  Accepted for APTA 2010 Conference, Boston, MA, June 2010.
  • Starr, K.A.  The Effect of Collaboration on Quiz Scores and Students’ Perceptions of Group Testing. 25rd Annual International Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Conference, May 28-June 11, 2011, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Cope, J.M., Sanders, E., Holt, S., Pappas, K., Jackson-Thomas, K., Kernick, E., Starr, K., Corriher, L., and D. Templeton. Comparison of personal formaldehyde levels in anatomy laboratories of five physical therapy education programs.  Journal of Physical Therapy  Education.  Accepted September 2011.

Personal Statement:

After graduating from Florida State University I worked for ten years as a medical technologist, predominantly in microbiology. I grew up in Florida and always loved the ocean. However, I visited Western Carolina University in the summer of 1984 and fell in love with the campus and the surrounding mountains. Consequently, I decided to return to graduate school at WCU to obtain a master's degree in biology.  I wanted to pursue teaching.

In my graduate studies I focused on botany and did a thesis project on genome sizes and growth rates in two species of ascomycete fungi. During that time I worked as a teaching assistant for the biology department. Though I taught in a variety of different labs, I most enjoyed anatomy. I was particularly interested in studying neuroanatomy.

Immediately upon graduating from WCU I chose to enter a doctoral program in anatomy, cell biology, and neurobiology at Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. As a doctoral candidate I was involved in research on identifying neuronal pathways in the brainstem using both light and electron microscopic techniques.

I continued to do research as a postdoctoral fellow at the New York State Department of Health/Basic Sciences Division in a lab that was investigating learning and memory at the level of the spinal cord. It was my job to describe the normal cytoarchitecture of the spinal cord in primates using electron microscopy.

Although I enjoyed research I wanted to return to teaching, and I also wanted to return to the mountains of North Carolina. In 1993 I accepted a position in the general education department at Southwestern Community College in Sylva, NC.  After teaching a variety of undergraduate science courses for three years I accepted a tenure-tract position in the newly formed Department of Physical Therapy at WCU.

My teaching responsibilities now include anatomy, neuroanatomy, and physiology. I am actively engaged in educational research in which I am looking at problem-solving strategies used by physical therapy students in the anatomy lab.


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