If you are a UVM faculty or student engaged in research pertaining to children, youth, or adults with developmental disabilities, please contact us to be added to this directory.

About the Developmental Disabilities Researcher Network

CDCI is home to the Developmental Disabilities Researchers Network, a network connecting faculty and students from across the University of Vermont who are conducting research in the area of development disabilities.

The goal of this interdisciplinary network is to promote collaboration and explore new opportunities across departments and colleges. Together, we work to advance our understanding of how best to support children, youth, and families with developmental disabilities.

Claudia Abbiati

  • Department: Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Position: Graduate student
  • Email: Claudia.Abbiati@med.uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Interprofessional research; neurodevelopment disabilities; speech, sound, and motor speech disorders.
  • Methodological Approaches: Acoustic; Kinematic

Robert R. Althoff, PhD, MD

  • Department: Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Psychology
  • Email: ralthoff@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~neurogp/?Page=althoffindex.html | http://www.uvm.edu/medicine/vccyf/
  • Research Focus: My research focus is on children with multiple psychiatric conditions. I study children with problems in social communication and problems with self-regulation using genetically-informed designs.
  • Methodological Approaches: Twin and Family studies, genetics, epigenetics, eye movement monitoring, psychophysiology

Maria "Mercedes" Avila, PhD

  • Department: Pediatrics - Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (VT LEND) & Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP)
  • Email: maria.avila@med.uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/medicine/vt-ilehp/?Page=bio_avila.html
  • Research Focus: My research interests include cultural and linguistic competence for social justice, social determinants of health, health and behavioral health disparities, youth suicide prevention, youth behavioral health, interdisciplinary leadership education, neurodevelopmental and related disabilities, family and person centered care, former refugee and immigrant populations.
  • Methodological Approaches: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research studies. Experience in program evaluation and survey development.

Ashley Brien, MS, CCC-SLP

  • Department: Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Position: Graduate student
  • Email: ashley.brien@uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Visual attention to faces under varying conversational conditions: autism spectrum disorder compared to typically developing peers. I am also interested in exploring explicit vs applied Theory of Mind in individuals with ASD, including developing evidence based interventions to improve applied ToM.
  • Methodological Approaches: Mixed-methods designs, eye tracking technology.

Michael S. Cannizzaro PhD, CCC-SLP

  • Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Email: michael.cannizzaro@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~cnhs/?Page=faculty/cannizzaro.html
  • Research Focus: My research explores the complex relationships between cognition and communication in typical adults, as well as in persons who experience traumatic brain injury. This work focuses on the use of brain imaging technologies (fNIRS & fMRI) to monitor neural function during cognitive and communicative process. In particular, the frontal lobes are monitored in relation to executive function abilities and during naturalistic communication such as narrative discourse comprehension/production, text reading, and conversation.
  • Methodological Approaches: Comparisons of language and cognitive skills in persons with and without brain injuries functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) of the prefrontal cortex to measure blood flow; linguistic and narrative analysis for language comprehension and production measures cognitive and neuropsychological measures of cognition and executive functions

Emily Coderre, PhD

  • Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Email: Emily.Coderre@uvm.edu
  • Website: www.emilycoderre.com
  • Research Focus: My research focuses on understanding language deficits in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), specifically deficits in semantics, or the meaning of language. I use a variety of behavioral, electrophysiological, and neuroimaging methodologies to explore language functions, as well as the brain activity and connectivity underlying these functions, in individuals with ASD.
  • Methodological Approaches: EEG, neuroimaging, behavioral

Michael Coleman, PhD

  • Department: Engineering
  • Email: mcoleman@cems.uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.cem.uvm.edu/~mcoleman/
  • Research Focus: Enhanced freehand, automated, tactile graphics technology for people who are blind and sight-impaired

Bryan Dague, EdD

  • Department: Center on Disability & Community Inclusion
  • Email: Bryan.Dague@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~cess/?Page=facbio.php&username=edague
  • Research Focus: Inclusion of people with disabilities into the workplace (NIDRR grant with UNH); Post-school transition centered on college experiences for young adults with intellectual disabilities (e.g., academic, social, independent living, self-advocacy, integrated work experiences and career skills) -- continued collaboration with the Think-College initiative at the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass-Boston and Johnson State College.
  • Methodological Approaches: Qualitative research case study design with semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and archival review

Justine Dee, PT, M.S., OCS

  • Department: Rehabilitation and Movement Science
  • Email: Justine.Dee@med.uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Physical Therapy treatment of chronic pain

Reuben Escorpizo, PT, DPT, MSc

  • Department: Rehabilitation and Movement Science
  • Email: Reuben.Escorpizo@uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Work rehabilitation and return-to-work strategies, International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, patient reported outcomes, instrument / scale development
  • Methodological Approaches: Quantitative and qualitative methods; psychometric studies; looking into enhancing skills in the area of item response theory, computer adaptive testing, crowdsourcing / big data analysis.

Elizabeth Forbes, MD

  • Department: Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics
  • Email: Elizabeth.Forbes@uvmhealth.org
  • Research Focus: Access to resources and treatment in children with a new diagnosis of autism.

Bernice R. Garnett, ScD

  • Department: Education
  • Email: bernice.garnett@uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Integration of youth obesity and eating disorders prevention, bullying, discrimination and harassment, intersectionality, youth health disparities and public health program design and evaluation.
  • Methodological Approaches: Mixed-methods studies, qualitative inquiry (interviews, focus groups, parent-child dyad observations), quantitative data analysis (latent variable modeling, multi-level modeling), scale development and validation, program evaluation and community based participatory research
  • Data Analysis Tools: STATA, M+, and Nvivo

Nancy Gauvin, Ed. D., CCC-SLP

  • Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Email: Nancy.gauvin@med.uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: My research is presently focused in two directions. My first is regarding how the supervisory process can be impacted by not having any formal training with regard to cultural diversity or cultural differences. I have already conducted research from the supervisors perspective regarding supervisory training as it relates to culturally diverse supervisees. My next step will be to focus on culturally diverse supervisee’s perspective on the supervisory process. My second research focus is studying the possible vocal pathology effects that can take place for fitness instructors in comparison to yoga instructors.
  • Methodological Approaches: My methodological approach to research is to study the areas that are not readily addressed in the field of speech-language pathology.

Michael F. Giangreco, PhD

  • Department: Education (Special Education)
  • Email: Michael.Giangreco@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~mgiangre
  • Research Focus: Various aspects of inclusive education for students with disabilities, special education service delivery, alternatives to overreliance on paraprofessionals, related services decision-making
  • Methodological Approaches: Primarily descriptive research, both quantitative (e.g., survey, direct observation), qualitative (e.g., interview, participant observation, document analysis), and mixed-methods studies; background in single-subject experimental design (e.g., multiple baseline/probe, return-to-baseline)
  • Data Analysis Tools: SAS, SuperHyperQual

Shana J. Haines, PhD

  • Department: Education (Special Education)
  • Email: Shana.Haines@uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Most of my research focuses on family-professional partnership for families whose children have disabilities and/or are refugees. I also study community partnerships, refugee students’ experiences with the school system, special and general education teacher preparation, and inclusive education.
  • Methodological Approaches: Mostly qualitative research, including deep case studies, interviews, and focus groups; I love participatory action research.

Betsy Hoza, PhD

  • Department: Psychology
  • Email: bhoza@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~psych/?Page=faculty/Hoza.php
  • Research Focus: My research is geared toward better understanding the social, academic, and self-system functioning of children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) from a developmental psychopathology perspective. Of note, most of my research is designed with the end goal of applying what is learned toward developing better evidence-based treatments for children with ADHD.
  • Methodological Approaches: Both correlational and experimental designs; quantitative data analysis using both concurrent and longitudinal approaches

James J. Hudziak, MD

  • Department: Psychiatry and Medicine, & Pediatrics
  • Email: james.hudziak@uvm.edu  (cc: jeri.ogle@med.uvm.edu)
  • Website: http://www.med.uvm.edu/VCCYF
  • Research Focus: I specialize in psychiatric genetics of child psychiatric disorders, application of family study, twin study, and molecular genetic techniques to the study of attention deficit disorder, anxiety and affective disorders, autism, and children in foster care.
  • Methodological Approaches: Twin and Family studies, genetics, epigenetics, neuroimaging, EEG

Jennifer Hurley, PhD

  • Department: Education (Early Childhood Special Education)
  • Email: Jennifer.Hurley@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~cess/?Page=facbio.php&username=jjhurley
  • Research Focus: Research emphasis is on classroom based social competence interventions for young children in inclusive environments with specific focus on the social validity of social competence interventions from the perspective of professionals in the field. Additional focus is on family and professional priorities for inclusive early childhood settings. More recently research attention on young children who are refugees who may qualify for special education services with specific focus on barriers and facilitators for service provision and classroom based interventions for communication and social competence.
  • Methodological Approaches: Q-methodology, single subject, and qualitative

Tiffany L. Hutchins, PhD

  • Department: Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Email: tiffany.hutchins@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/cnhs/?Page=faculty/hutchins.html
  • Research Focus: My focus of research involves examining the efficacy of social pragmatic approaches for remediating the deficits (social, communicative, behavioral) in autism spectrum disorders. In a related vein, my research has focused on the measurement of theory of mind in typically developing children and individuals with ASD (from across the spectrum). I am also investigating the visual attention of individuals with ASD when presented with face stimuli.
  • Methodological Approaches: Single-case and group designs to examine social validity of ASD intervention. Large scale studies to evaluate the psychometric properties of Theory of Mind measures. Eye tracking methodology to examine visual scanning patterns.

Jennifer Jewiss, EdD

  • Department: Leadership and Developmental Sciences
  • Email: Jennifer.Jewiss@uvm.edu
  • Website: https://www.uvm.edu/cess/profiles/jennifer-jewiss
  • Research Focus: Qualitative research and evaluation

Lutz Kaelber, PhD

  • Department: Sociology
  • Email: lkaelber@uvm.edu
  • Web sites:  http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/children/ | http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/
  • Research Focus: Commemoration of crimes against people with disabilities in Nazi Germany, and in the U.S. in the context of state eugenic sterilizations
  • Methodological Approaches: Qualitative analysis of current and historical data sources such as trial records, patient records, and accounts of victims and survivors.

Susan Kasser, PhD

  • Department: Rehabilitation and Movement Science
  • Email: Susan.Kasser@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~cnhs/?Page=faculty/kasser.html
  • Research Focus: Postural control and fall risk as well as physical activity and health outcomes associated with exercise in adults with multiple sclerosis
  • Methodological Approaches: Quantitative approaches including correlational and experimental designs, laboratory and clinical measures; background in multivariate, replicated, single-subject repeated measures (MRSRM) designs

Danra Kazenski, PhD, CCC-SLP

  • Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Email: dkazensk@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~cnhs/?Page=faculty/kazenski.html
  • Research Focus: Our research explores how the brains of adults who stutter differ from typical speakers, how temperament and language skills are associated with treatment outcomes in younger children who stutter and what barriers exist for implementation of the Lidcombe Program treatment for stuttering in a preschool setting.
  • Methodological Approaches: We have used functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) brain imaging technology to monitor neural function in the prefrontal lobe during fluent and stuttered speech as well as acoustic startle eyeblink response and galvanic skin response (GSR) to measure emotional reactivity during low and high “stress” speaking situations. We also train and coach local Vermont speech language pathologists to implement an operationalized treatment with preschoolers who stutter with long-term data on child/family outcomes and factors which impact the effectiveness of treatment delivery outside the clinic setting.

Colby Kervick, EdD

  • Department: Education (Special Education)
  • Email: ckervick@uvm.edu
  • Web site: http://www.uvm.edu/~cess/?Page=facbio.php&username=ckervick
  • Research Focus: Fostering positive collaborative teaming experiences with families of children with disabilities, dual-endorsement undergraduate teacher training as a model to prepare highly competent teachers
  • Methodological Approaches: Qualitative research using primarily interview techniques, focus groups and cross-case analysis

Tammy Kolbe, EdD

  • Department:  Leadership & Developmental Sciences (Educational Leadership & Policy Studies)
  • Email: tkolbe@uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Allocation of educational resources in states, districts and schools, and the economic evaluation of educational policies and programs, with a focus on programs for students with special learning needs (e.g., students with disabilities, students at-risk for academic failure); special education funding and finance; application of quantitative research methods and use of large-scale education datasets to study policies, practices and resources for students with disabilities.
  • Methodological Approaches: Quantitative research methods; statistical analysis of large-scale data sets; program evaluation (e.g., implementation, outcome/impact; and action-oriented research); economic evaluation of education and social service programs, including cost analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis

Felicia Kornbluh

  • Department: History (Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies)
  • Email: fkornblu@uvm.edu
  • Website: https://www.uvm.edu/~wmst/?Page=Kornbluh.php
  • Research Focus: Post-1945 U.S. history, legal history, the history of women and gender, social welfare, disability history, and African American history. She is also in the middle of a long-term project on disability, gender and social welfare, which focuses on the activist and constitutional law scholar Jacobus tenBroek.

Mika Moore

  • Department: Leadership and Developmental Sciences (Educational Leadership and Policy Studies)
  • Email: mika.moore@uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: My research interests are focused on the implementation and use of restorative practices in K-12 settings, and on developing collaborative relationships between families of children receiving special education services and their service providers.
  • Methodological Approaches: qualitative (interviews and focus groups) and mixed-methods research.

Patricia A. Prelock PhD

  • Department: Communication Sciences & Disorders
  • Email: patricia.prelock@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~pprelock/
  • Research Focus: Nature and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders  (joint attention training, parent training, emotion regulation, theory of mind, social stories & comic strip conversations, peer play)
  • Methodological Approaches: Single-subject, multiple baseline designs; descriptive research, including analysis of direct observation as well as interview/questionnaire data
  • Data Analysis Tools: SPSS, SALT, SIGMA PLOT

Michael J. Rosen, PhD

  • Department: Engineering
  • Email: mrosen@cems.uvm.edu
  • Web site: http://www.uvm.edu/~cems/?Page=employee/profile.php&SM=employee/_employeemenu.html&EmID=305
  • Research Focus: Development of a kit of adaptable alternative controls for children and others who cannot use joysticks for control of power wheelchairs (funded via an NIH R21 with University of Florida); Development of raised-line drawing technologies for collaborative graphical communication by blind students and professionals (NIH proposal pending, current supported through the senior design course by the National Federation of the Blind).
  • Methodological Approaches: As a biomedical engineer, applied research investigator on sensory and motor disabilities, and design engineer focusing on assistive technologies and assessment tools, I have employed a variety of methods. In studying the effectiveness of experimental devices, I've used standard statistical methods based on correlation and regression to measure size and significance of changes resulting from these devices. In preliminary studies, single-subject methods have often made sense. As a designer, I've made use of Pugh Concept Selection Matrices and elements of the House of Quality (a so-called Total Quality Management, or TQM, method). And, of course, my work has employed a range of engineering analytical tools and mathematical methods to model the anticipated performance of a new device -- typically in combination with a user's biomechanical and neurological characteristics.
  • Data Analysis Tools: Pugh Concept Selection Matrix (for comparing design ideas relative to an existing solution)
; Working Model (for viewing the behavior of a mechanical system, e.g. a power wheelchair with driver)

Rod C. Scott, MD, PhD

  • Department: Neurological Sciences
  • Email: Rodney.Scott@med.uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Cognitive impairment associated with childhood epilepsy
  • Methodological Approaches: neuropsychology, neuroimaging, electrophysiology, animal behavior

Judith Shaw, EdD, MPH, RN

  • Department: Pediatrics/Vermont Child Health Improvement Program
  • Email: Judith.Shaw@uvm.edu
  • Web site: http://www.uvm.edu/medicine/pediatrics/?Page=profile.php&bioID=23012
  • Research Focus: Children and family focused; quality improvement in healthcare delivery and healthcare systems; state relations and public policy; public health practice and outcomes
  • Methodological Approaches: Quantitative analysis of QI interventions; program evaluation; qualitative evaluation of public health interventions

Katharine Shepherd, EdD

  • Department: Education (Special Education)
  • Email: Katharine.Shepherd@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~cess/?Page=facbio.php&username=kgshephe
  • Research Focus: : Strategies for supporting families of students with developmental disabilities in developing their skills in leadership and collaboration; family-centered approaches to IEP and transition plan development; leadership for inclusive schools; and models for implementing school-wide Response to Intervention/Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.
  • Methodological Approaches: Primarily descriptive research, both quantitative (e.g., survey, direct observation), qualitative (e.g., interview, participant observation, document analysis), and mixed-methods studies.

Michael Shor, MSW, Graduate Student

  • Department: College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Email: michael.shor@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://thementalandsocialhealthcenter.com/our-therapists/
  • Research Focus: My research focus is on autism spectrum disorder, and related conditions.  My research interests include theoretical and applied research toward creating an integrated biopsychosocial theory of how ASD functions in individuals, and as part of social systems.  Particular research interests include theory of mind and pragmatics, communication, and how brain function leads to symptom development.  Also, I have a focus on policy, social inclusion, and disability rights, and research that supports the implementation of societal acceptance and social integration of people with disabilities.  Past research has included analyzing the effectiveness of using applied behavioral analysis through parent-implemented telemedical approaches at West Virginia University.
  • Methodological Approaches: Clinical practice with people on the autism spectrum. Integrating the personal experience of having ASD as a perspective for understanding existing research and informing the development of research projects.  Informal social involvement with others with neurodevelopmental disorders.  EEG-based event-related-potential research on communication issues with children on the autism spectrum.

Lance Smith, PhD

  • Department:  Leadership and Developmental Sciences
  • Email: Lance.Smith@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~cess/?Page=facbio.php&username=lcsmith
  • Research focus: The development of a critical consciousness scale intended to measure one's critical consciousness regarding disability and social justice issues in society. We are defining critical consciousness as the capacity for critical reflection and critical action regarding social discourses that serve to perpetuate existing structures of inequality.
  • Methodological Approaches: Qualitative (e.g., psycho-discursive methodology and consensual qualitative research), and quantitative (e.g., non-experimental descriptive and correlational designs, survey construction and validation)

Timothy R. Stickle, PhD

  • Department: Psychology
  • Email: tstickle@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~psych/?Page=faculty/Stickle.php&SM=facultysubmenu.html
  • Research Focus: Developmental psychopathology of aggression and antisocial behavior with a primary focus on adolescents in the juvenile justice system. Research emphasizes understanding vulnerabilities to developing psychopathic traits and antisocial behavior incurred by deficits in emotional recognition, emotional responsiveness, executive functioning, and maltreatment
  • Methodological Approaches: Quantitative approaches including experimental and correlational designs, laboratory and field data collection, program evaluation, and contemporary data analytic approaches (e.g., structural equation modeling, multilevel models, model-based cluster analysis, mediation, and moderation)

Jessica Strolin-Goltzman, PhD

  • Department: Education
  • Email: jstrolin@uvm.edu
  • Web site:  http://www.uvm.edu/~cess/?Page=facbio.php&username=jstrolin
  • Research Focus: Cross system collaboration to provide effective integrated services to children in child welfare facing multiple challenges including learning and emotional/behavioral disabilities
  • Methodological Approaches: Primarily quantitative analysis (e.g., secondary data analysis with large datasets, survey research, intervention research)

Jesse C. Suter, PhD

  • Department: Center on Disability & Community Inclusion
  • Email: jesse.suter@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~jsuter
  • Research Focus: Interests include the development, research, and evaluation of school and community-based interventions for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. He is pursuing a line of research in wraparound, a team-based planning process for meeting the needs of students with serious emotional and behavioral disabilities and maintaining them in their homes, schools, and communities. In a related area, he collaborates on research examining ways to improve special education service delivery for students with disabilities.
  • Methodological Approaches: Primarily quantitative analyses of cross-sectional and longitudinal data. Designs include single-group longitudinal and quasi-experimental. Experience in program evaluation, survey development, meta-analysis, and multi-level modeling.

Shelley L. Velleman, PhD

  • Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Email: Shelley.Velleman@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/cnhs/?Page=faculty/velleman.html
  • Research Focus: I specialize in the speech development and deficits (and, to a much lesser extent, the literacy development and deficits) of children with various syndromes, including Williams syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down syndrome, and 7q11.23 syndrome, most of which include developmental disability as a significant feature.
  • Methodological Approaches: Phonological transcription and analysis; standardized assessments; quantitative descriptive research

Valerie F. Wood, PhD

  • Department: Education; Center on Disability and Community Inclusion
  • Email: Valerie.Wood@uvm.edu
  • Research Focus: Organizational change and system level improvement, positive youth development, community psychology, and conflict resolution.
  • Methodological Approaches: Quantitative and qualitative approaches

Haley Woodside-Jiron, PhD

  • Department: Education
  • Email: Haley.Woodside-Jiron@uvm.edu
  • Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~cess/?Page=facbio.php&username=hjiron
  • Research Focus: The focus of my research concentrates on educational policy and school change efforts in high poverty schools. My areas of expertise include reading and literacy education. Currently I am invested in multidisciplinary partnerships focused on translating basic science findings in the field of neuroscience to the field of education. My recent presentations and publications focus on how stress and anxiety affect the learning process and how that, in turn, impacts curriculum development, pedagogical needs, and student outcomes.
  • Methodological Approaches: Qualitative: Critical policy analysis and classroom discourse studies using critical discourse analysis methodology; Analysis of survey and interview data. Quantitative: Longitudinal comparisons of intervention and matched control groups for cross-sectional comparisons (program evaluation; value added model).