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Meet our Faculty

Max Baumgartner, PT, PhD, OCS, FAAOMPT
Dean, School of Health Sciences
Director of Doctor of Physical Therapy Program
Associate Professor

Max Baumgartner is a graduate of The University of Toledo physical therapy program. He also holds a Master's degree in physical therapy from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Nova Southeastern University's School of Computer and Information Sciences.

He is an ABPTS-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS), a certified manual therapist (MTC), and a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT). During his 23 years as a licensed physical therapist, he has served in a variety of roles. At the Medical College of Ohio's CARF accredited Rehab hospital, he worked with patients with spinal cord injury, stroke and other neurologic disorders. As the senior physical therapist for the Spine Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, he collaborated with orthopedic and neurosurgical spine specialist to evaluate and treat a variety of patients with acute and chronic spine conditions. As an on-site consultant and clinician for Walgreens’ regional distribution center, his role was to evaluate, treat, and prevent work-related musculoskeletal injuries. As a physical therapist in both private and hospital-based outpatient clinics he has worked to reduce pain and improve the mobility of individuals in every age group.

Dr. Baumgartner has 16 years of academic experience including service as a faculty member and department chair. Max served as assistant professor at the University of Findlay from 1999-2004. He was Chair of the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Owens Community College before joining the faculty at the University of Toledo in 2007. He was appointed Dean of the School of Health Sciences and Director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Trine University in January 2013.

Kimberly Beran-Shepler, DPT, OCS
Director of Clinical Education
Assistant Professor

Kimberly Beran-Shepler attended Creighton University where she received a BS degree in Health Sciences and her doctorate degree in Physical Therapy in 2006. In 2007, she completed an APTA credentialed Orthopedic Physical Therapy Residency. She has been a certified Orthopedic Specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy since 2008.

During her career she has practiced in various outpatient orthopedic settings and was a clinic director for several years. She has pursued her passion for teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Clarkson College where she has developed and taught courses on topics such as pathophysiology, therapeutic exercise, and clinical documentation.

Dr. Beran-Shepler's research interests include the development of clinical expertise in physical therapy residency programs, the effectiveness of intramuscular needling as an intervention for migraines, and the relationship between scapula stability and shoulder injuries in young throwing athletes.

Ryan Dombkowski, PhD
Associate Professor

Ryan Dombkowski began his teaching career in 2001 at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University School of Medicine - South Bend while completing his graduate degree. His academic specialties are in anatomy and physiology and he looks forward to contributing to a number of the basic science courses students will take while in pursuit of graduate degrees in the health sciences at Trine University.

After graduation, Dr. Dombkowski spent nine years teaching in the department of biology at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Ind. During those nine years he taught anatomy and physiology to nursing students and others interested in pre-health professions. Prior to coming to Trine, he also served as the medical physiology course director at the South Bend campus of the Indiana University School of Medicine. In addition to his teaching duties, he has also supervised more than 40 undergraduate research projects ranging from elements of cardiovascular physiology to anomalous bone formation in patients following hip replacement. He is eager to work with other physical therapy faculty and students in a wide array of research projects at trine University..

Jenna Encheff, PT, PhD
Associate Professor

Jenna Encheff graduated in 1995 with a B.S. in Physical Therapy from the University of Toledo in consortium with the Medical College of Ohio (MCO). After graduation, she was employed by MCO and worked in many settings including acute care and out-patient rehabilitation; however the majority of her eight years’ employment at MCO was in the in-patient rehabilitation hospital where she specialized in working with persons with spinal cord injuries and wheelchair seating and prescription. 

In 2002, she completed her Master’s degree in Exercise Science/Biomechanics at the University of Toledo, and began teaching anatomy, neuroanatomy, and kinesiology part-time in a Physical Therapist Assistant program along with working in a skilled nursing facility. From 2004-2015, Dr. Encheff taught at the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio in the Physical Therapy program.  Teaching duties included subjects such as Biomechanics and Functional Anatomy, Neurotherapeutics, Motor Control, Musculoskeletal, and Research courses.  She also served as the Associate Chair of the Physical Therapy program from 2012-2015.

Dr. Encheff completed her PhD in Exercise Science/Applied Biomechanics with a minor in Research and Measurement at the University of Toledo in 2008.  Her research interests include hippotherapy effects on gait and function, muscle activity and patterns of equestrians, alternative treatment techniques, and sports performance.

Thomas Ruediger, DPT, DSc, OCS, ECS
Associate Professor

Thomas Ruediger is a graduate of The US Army-Baylor University physical therapy program. His Doctor of Sciences degree is from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

Dr. Ruediger is a dual ABPTS board certified clinical specialist: Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) and Electrophysiologic Clinical Specialist (ECS). He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. His practice consists of both orthopaedic clinical care as well as performance enhancement in recreational and competitive athletes. He spent his first 8 years as a Physical Therapist in the US Army before moving to Fort Wayne after retiring from the Army. For the last 6 years he has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan – Flint. He joined the DPT faculty full-time in Fall 2014.

Steven Sullivan, PT, DPT, MBA, OCS 
Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education
Assistant Professor

Steve Sullivan attended Creighton University where he majored in Exercise Science and then received his doctorate degree in Physical Therapy in 1997. He has been a certified Orthopedic Specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy since 2007. In 2014, he completed his Master’s degree in Business Administration from Bethel College.

Dr. Sullivan has served in a variety of both clinical and administrative roles in his career. Areas of clinical interest and expertise include burn and wound care, ankle/foot disorders, and orthopedics and sports medicine in both adult and pediatric populations. He developed his passion for teaching in his administrative roles as a manager of an outpatient sports medicine practice, and most recently, as Director of Orthopedics, Rehabilitation, and Sports Medicine at Indiana University Goshen Hospital.  

His research interests are in practice administration,  effectiveness and outcomes of clinical education models, and orthopedics and sports medicine.

Althea Watson, PT, MS, NCS
Assistant Professor

Althea Watson is a graduate of the University of Indianapolis (UIndy) physical therapy program, and is currently working on the completion of her Doctor of Health Science degree also at UIndy.

She is an ABPTS board certified specialist in neurologic physical therapy.  Ms. Watson has worked in the Fort Wayne, Indiana hospital community in adult rehabilitation in various clinical and managerial positions (director of inpatient therapy, manager of physical therapy (IP/OP), and therapy education manager). She had served as a clinical education instructor/center coordinator of clinical education for over 20 years for six PT/PTA university programs in the tri-state region and Missouri. She is also an APTA credentialed advanced clinical instructor. She remains active in patient care.

Ms. Watson’s research interests are in neurologic rehabilitation, with an emphasis in rehabilitation of individuals with multiple sclerosis.