Kathy A. Starr




Department of Physical Therapy
Phone: 828.227.2289
Office Address:  HHSB 244
Email: kstarr@email.wcu.edu 


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


Dr. Starr received a Ph.D. in anatomy from Albany Medical College with an emphasis in neuroanatomy.  Her research focused on identifying neuronal pathways in the brainstem using both light and electron microscopic techniques. She completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the New York State Department of Health/Basic Sciences Division where she described the normal cytoarchitecture of the spinal cord in primates using electron microscopy as part of a project that explored learning and memory at the level of the spinal cord. In 1996 she joined the Department of Physical Therapy. Previous work experience included ten years as a medical technologist and three years teaching anatomy and physiology at a community college.

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

Dr. Starr teaches a two-semester human anatomy course (PT 821, PT 822) and a one-semester pathophysiology course (PT 831) for first-year physical therapy students.  She also teaches a one-semester neuroanatomy course (PT 921) for second-year physical therapy students.

Areas of Research Interest

Dr.Starr’s current research interest is in the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Recently she has been exploring student preparedness for successful completion of a graduate-level human anatomy course by using a background knowledge probe.  Additionally, she has researched the impact of group testing in a physical therapy curriculum. Dr. Starr has also completed research in the scholarship of the application by collaborating with several other anatomists to assess formaldehyde exposure in the anatomy lab.

Recent Publications

  • Cope JM, Holt S, Starr K, Tencer G, McGowan C, Ridenour C.  Comparison of two formaldehyde exposure assessment devices in a physical therapy education program anatomy laboratory.  J Phys Ther EducJ Phy Ther Educ. 2014;28(3):15-20.
  • Cope, JM, Sanders E, Holt S, Pappas K, Jackson-Thomas K, Kernick E, Starr K, Corriher L, Templeton D.  Comparison of personal formaldehyde levels in anatomy laboratories of five physical therapy education programs.  J Phy Ther Educ. 2011;25(3):21-29.

Recent National Presentations

  • Starr K. Using a Background Knowledge Probe to Assess Student Preparedness for a Physical Therapy Program Human Anatomy Course. Poster presented at 29th Annual International Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Conference, May 2015; San Antonio, TX.
  • Starr K.  Assessing student background knowledge for a physical therapy human anatomy course.  Poster presented at 27th Annual International Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Conference, May 2013; Las Vegas, NV.
  • Starr K.  The effect of collaboration on quiz scores and students’ perceptions of group testing.  Poster presented at 25thAnnual International Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Conference, May 2011; Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
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