SCHOLAR POST-GRADUATION PLANS
See below for what our Scholar graduates are now doing following completion of their doctoral studies:
Christy Austin (Cohort 2) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah in the Educational Psychology Reading and Literacy program. She is continuing her research which focuses on: (a) policy and legislation related to identification and instruction for students with word-level reading disabilities, or dyslexia, and (b) reading intervention explicitly integrating word reading and word meaning instruction as a method for improving students’ word reading accuracy and fluency.
Gina Braun (Cohort 1) is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Rockford University. This small liberal arts school is located about an hour outside of Chicago in a largely populated and diverse community. Mrs. Braun is the sole Special Education faculty member at RU with a primary focus on teaching. Over the next few years, she will be redeveloping their program for both undergraduate and graduate students to submit for accreditation. Mrs. Braun also plans to align her research with teacher preparation as she works towards involving the community in the development of the programs.
Christerralyn Brown (Cohort 2) is a Technical Assistance Consultant at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). She serves as a trainer for AIR’s MTSS Fee-for-Service Line. Dr. Brown provides technical assistance (TA) to states, educator preparation programs, and schools/districts that helps build their capacityto implement evidence-based practices (EBPs) within MTSS. Her current projects include the National Center on Intensive Intervention, Progress Center, and providing technical assistance to the state of Delaware. Dr. Brown’s professional interests are in the areas of intensive interventions for behavior, MTSS, evidence-based practices, professional development, and culturally adapting classroom behavior strategies. She has a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a master’s degree in special education from Governors State University and is a former elementary, middle, and high school special education teacher, an MTSS coordinator and a support services case-manger.
Lisa Anne Didion (Cohort 1) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa. Currently, her research is focused on self-determination to improve academic and behavior outcomes for elementary students with high-incidence disabilities. Other research areas of interest include teacher learning, professional development, and methodology.
Sam Gesel (Cohort 1) has a tenure-track faculty position at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. As Assistant Professor of Special Education, Sam’s research will target (a) reading interventions for students who have demonstrated persistent reading difficulties and (b) teacher training in data-based decision-making practices that link assessment data to reading intervention content. Sam teaches reading assessment courses each semester, which provides the opportunity to translate this research for UNC-Charlotte’s undergraduate pre-service teachers in both special and general education.
Skip Kumm (Cohort 1) is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Alabama’s College of Special Education and Multiple Abilities. In his position, Skip works with Dr. Kristine Jolivette to research educational, behavioral, and mental health interventions for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. The fellowship provides Skip with the opportunity to work with staff and youth from juvenile justice facilities around the country and to disseminate research on evidence-based interventions for court-involved youth.
Rachel Kunemund (Cohort 1) is a Research Coordinator at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. She coordinates work on Project S4, an OSEP grant that supports the development of technology and professional development to improve science instruction at the middle school level. She works on this project, which aims to improve student achievement in science, while also maintaining her own independent line of research on teacher-child interactions and relationships.
Katherine Ledbetter-Cho (Cohort 1) is a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University. Katherine teaches courses in the university’s autism/applied behavior analysis concentration and works in the Clinic for Autism Research, Evaluation, and Support (CARES). She is continuing her research which examines technology-based interventions for individuals with autism that are feasible for practitioners to implement.
Amanda Martinez-Lincoln (Cohort 1) has an Academic Pathways Postdoctoral Fellowship at Vanderbilt University. She works under the mentorship of Dr. Laurie Cutting to bridge her imaging research background with her academic training in the field of special education. Amanda’s research focuses on the examination of underlying neural mechanisms involved in reading comprehension in students with reading difficulties.
Caitlyn Majeika (Cohort 1) is currently a Researcher in the Research and Evaluation Service Area at American Institutes for Research (AIR). At AIR, Dr. Majeika supports a portfolio of research on special education and multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) and contributes technical expertise to AIR’s ongoing work to evaluate the technical adequacy of universal screening tools, progress monitoring tools, fidelity tools, and intervention programs for use within academic and behavioral MTSS frameworks. Previously, Dr. Majeika was an Assistant Professor of Special Education at the University of North Texas.
Brittany Pennington (Cohort 1) works as Research Coordinator for the Disability Services Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services in Saint Paul, MN. She develops and oversees research related to improving outcomes for people with disabilities in Minnesota, and she uses research results to recommend changes to legislation and funding.
Beth Pokorski (Cohort 1) is a post-doctoral researcher with the Supporting Transformative Autism Research (STAR) grant, an interdisciplinary autism research initiative at the University of Virginia (UVA). Beth is continuing her research on interventions for young children with autism, is supporting pre-service practitioners in acquiring the skills necessary to be effective service providers, and is providing diagnostic, intervention, and support services to children, families, and the surrounding community. She collaborates with UVA faculty, staff, and students to support children with autism and to continue moving the field of special education research toward positive change.
Samantha Walte (Cohort 1) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville. Her teaching and research focus is on students with moderate and severe disabilities.
Sarah Wilkinson (Cohort 1) is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Institute of Professional Educator Development at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. There, she teaches undergraduate courses in the teacher education program. Her research interests include preparing all teachers to work effectively with students with disabilities, developing classroom management practices that also support academic instruction, and enhancing strategies for students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders. Sarah also remains active in the Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS) on both a local and national level.
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