Distinguished Scientist: Yvonne Golightly, PhD

Yvonne Golightly, PhD

Yvonne Golightly, PhD

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony on Nov. 9 for UNMC’s Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist, New Investigator and Community Service to Research Award recipients.

Distinguished Scientist

The Distinguished Scientist Award — which is sponsored by the chancellor — recognizes researchers who have been among the most productive scientists at UNMC during the past five years.

  • Name: Yvonne Golightly, PhD
  • Title: Assistant dean for research in the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions; professor of physical therapy, courtesy professor of epidemiology
  • Joined UNMC: April 2022
  • Hometown: Morrisville, North Carolina

Please describe your research focus in three words or less: Maximizing musculoskeletal health

Why is research important in the world today? As a public health researcher with years of clinical experience as a physical therapist, I see how research improves clinical care and informs policies that impact human health. Findings from research can advance wellness at a societal level.

My research will make a difference because: It will inform new ways to prevent and manage musculoskeletal problems and will optimize care pathways for patients with osteoarthritis.

The best advice I’ve ever received is: To collaborate. We succeed when we work together. My career has benefited from my collaborations with researchers, clinicians and stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds who have taught me so much and enhanced our research studies. Best of all, some have become my closest friends, enriching my life outside of work.

Three things you may not know about me are:

  • I have been playing piano since I was child.
  • I was a figure skater as a teenager.
  • I have raised butterflies and mealworms.


  1. Laura Bilek says:

    Congratulations on the honor! Your work is transformative in improving outcomes for persons with musculoskeletal disease.

  2. Anne Lawlor says:

    Congratulations on this recognition, Dr. Golightly! We are so fortunate to have you in the CAHP!

  3. Rodrigo Fajardo says:


  4. Grace Danuck says:

    So excited for you Yvonne!!!
    Maybe U will you at 2024 spring fundraiser walk for arthritis foundation.
    Ps ..I didn’t know u were a PT!

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