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Maria J. Torres-Palsa, PT, DPT, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy


As a practicing physical therapist, I bring clinical experience into the classroom, in combination with evidence-based practice. Students are constantly influencing my teaching philosophy. Their constant input and feedback, shape my approach for each classroom encounter. In the Human Anatomy lab, I encourage students to use the cadaver prosections and models to learn the structures, and use teach-back methods with their classmates. The best way to learn is to teach.

-Maria J. Torres-Palsa

Campisi Center for Physical Therapy - 223


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I was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador. I moved to the U.S.A during my sophomore year of college and earned my B.S. in Biology from Belmont Abbey College in NC. I then moved to Toledo, Ohio. I earned my DPT in 2011 from the University of Toledo, where I was also involved with the Wellness Center. I continued my graduate training at the University of Toledo and earned my PhD in Exercise Biology degree in 2016, while working as a PT in a local hospital and teaching classes in the Kinesiology and DPT departments. I continued my PT practice in Ohio in both acute and outpatient settings until Fall of 2018.

I enjoy running and strength training, as well as teaching Zumba classes. I have ran 3 marathons, including the New York City and Chicago marathons. I am looking forward to running around Lake Hollingsworth and the beautiful neighborhoods of Lakeland.


  • Ph.D. - University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, Exercise Science, 2016
  • DPT - University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, Physical Therapy, 2011
  • B.S. - Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, North Carolina, Biology, 2007


  • Title or nature: "Social Responsibility" ribbon for the poster titled "Utilizing a Community-Based Integrated Course Series to Educate Students about Social Determinants of Health". Awarding agency: Health Policy and Administration Section, American Physical Therapy Association. Date: March 23, 2021
  • Outstanding Poster Presentation Award, 6th Annual College of Health Science Student Research Forum, University of Toledo, April 10, 2015
  • Graduate Student Tuition Scholarship, University of Toledo, 2009-2010
  • Diamante Latino Scholarship, University of Toledo, 2008
  • Outstanding Biology Student, Belmont Abbey College, 2007
  • Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges, Belmont Abbey College, 2007
  • Benedictine Scholarship, Belmont Abbey College, 2005-2007
  • Madeline H. Nichols Scholarship, Belmont Abbey College, 2005-2007


Peer Reviewed Scientific and Professional Presentations: 

Presenter (s): Maria Jose Torres-Palsa
Title: Implementation of Plastinated Cadaveric Prosections in the Human Anatomy for Physical Therapy Curriculum Occasion.
Occasion:  APTA Combined Section Meeting, Academy of Education Poster Presentation
Date: February 23, 2023
Presenter (s): Prisca Collins and Maria Jose Torres-Palsa
Title: Utilizing a Community-based Integrated Course Series to Teach Students about Social Determinants of Health. 
Occasion: APTA Combined Section Meeting, Poster Virtual Presentation
Date: February-March 2021
Presenter (s): Maria Jose Torres-Palsa and Ariel Birchfield (Student of Physical Therapy)
Title: The Use of Plastinated Cadavers in the Human Anatomy for Physical Therapy Curriculum.
Occasion: Florida Physical Therapy Association Student Conclave, virtual presentation
Date: January 16, 2021
Presenter: Lucinda E. Bouillon, Maria J. Torres-Palsa, and Nancy A. Nuzzo.
Title: Paired Mentors with Mentee Model to Attract and Retain Novice Faculty Workforce
Occasion: Educational Leadership Conference, Bellevue, Washington, Poster Presentation
Date: October 18-20, 2019

Peer Reviewed Publications:

Maria J. Torres-Palsa, Matthew V. Koziol, Qingnian Goh, Peter A. Cicinelli, Jennifer Peterson, Francis X. Pizza. (2015) Expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 by myofibers in mdx mice. Muscle and Nerve 52, 795–802.
Christopher L. Dearth, Qingnian Goh, Joseph S. Marino, Peter A. Cicinelli, Maria J. Torres-Palsa, Randall Worth, Francis X. Pizza. (2013) Skeletal muscle cells express ICAM-1 after muscle overload and ICAM-1 contributes to the ensuing hypertrophic response. PLoS ONE 8, e58486.


Funded/In Review Grant Activity: Authorship/participation: 2019 Catherine E Patla Community Awareness Grant, Dr. Prisca Collins, Dr. Nancy Nuzzo, Dr. Maria Torres-Palsa
Amount of funding awarded: $13,640
Nature of project: Community Awareness
Grant Date and source: Granted by the Florida Physical Therapy Association, August 26, 2019