Friends of the Life Span Institute Investigator Awards

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The Friends of Life Span Institute Investigator Awards were established in 2012 to recognize outstanding new and mid-career LSI investigators. Each award winner receives a $7500 award to further their research. The awards are for Principal Investigators on externally-funded LSI research projects who are evaluated on the nature and quality of their research record and the potential impact, or realized impact, of their work in generating new knowledge or contributing to translational science in keeping with the mission of the Life Span Institute.

2017

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Dale Walker, a senior research faculty member at the Juniper Gardens Children's Project, was awarded one of two 2017 mid-career award by the Friends of the Life Span Institute. She is a national/international expert in early childhood development theory and research pertaining to learning language. This research has focused on identifying the effects of early experience on language development and school readiness, designing and validating interventions for promoting children’s early communication, and developing assessments and observations that can be used by practitioners for informing intervention with infants and young children.


 
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Holly Storkel, chair and faculty member of the Speech, Language, Hearing department, was chosen for one of two Friends of the Life Span institute mid-career awards in 2017. Her research focuses on understanding why some children learn the words of their native language so easily while others struggle and discovering what can be done to help the children who struggle. Her current research focuses on children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), who are slower to learn new words than their peers, placing them at risk for academic failure. Her long-term goal is to develop an effective word learning treatment for kindergarten children with SLI, thereby improving their academic and vocational outcomes.


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Navin Viswanathan, a faculty member in the Speech, Language, Hearing department, was awarded the Friends of the Life Span institute early career award in 2017. His research strives to answer a perennial question: how listeners understand language despite the variability of acoustics related to a speaker's dialect, rate of speech and background noise, especially in comparison to speech recognition systems. His work has broad clinical implications for tests of hidden hearing loss, children and adults with cochlear implants and childhood apraxia.

2016

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Kathy Thiemann-Bourque was awarded the 2016 mid-career award by the Friends of the Life Span Institute. Thiemann-Bourque, a research faculty member of the Juniper Gardens Children's Project at the Children's Campus of Kansas City, has made significant contributions in identifying, examining, and implementing effective practices that lead to positive changes in social communication for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Notably, the development and evaluation of peer-mediated interventions to impact characteristic deficits in communication and reciprocal interactions for children with ASD.
 


 
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Vicki Collie-Akers was named the early career award winner by the Friends of the Life Span Institute for 2016. As a research faculty member at the Work Group for Community Health and Development, she focuses on applying a community-based participatory research orientation in working with communities to understand how collaborative partnerships and coalitions can improve social determinants of health and equity and reduce disparities in health outcomes. She is also the director of the Academic Health Department at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.

2015

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Howard Wills was awarded the 2015 mid-career award by the Friends of the Life Span Institute. Wills, as a research faculty member of the Juniper Gardens Children's Project at the Children's Campus of Kansas City, has made exemplary contributions in the areas of behavioral disorders, at risk youth and technology-based interventions.

 


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Amy Gaumer Erickson was named the early career award winner by the Friends of the Life Span Institute for 2015. As a member of the Special Education faculty, she focuses on the implementation of instructional practices that enable students with and without disabilities to become college and career ready. She has collaborated with state departments of education on professional development and the development of evaluation instruments.

 

2014

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Michael Wehmeyer, a member of the Special Education faculty and Director of the Beach Center on Disability, was named a winner of the 2014 Friends of the Life Span Institute Investigator Awards. Wehmeyer's research has been concerned with the concept and application of promoting self-determination of students with disabilities, particularly those with intellectual disability, most recently in developing and validating measures of support needs for adults and children with disabilities.


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Jonathan Brumberg is a member of the Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences and Disorders faculty. He was selected as one of two winners of the 2014 Friends of the Life Span Institute Investigator Awards. He is interested in understanding the neural mechanisms underlying speech production, through electrophysiological and behavioral studies. He is also interested in studying the role of interactive computer programs and interfaces in speech research and rehabilitation, specifically those employing artificial speech synthesis for studying speech production in speakers with and without impairment.

2013

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Nancy Brady, who is a member of the Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences and Disorders faculty, was selected for the Friends of the Life Span Institute Investigator award for 2013. Brady's research deals with understanding the earliest phase of communication development and applying this understanding to benefit individuals with the most severe disabilities through developing assessment tools and interventions.

 


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Kathryn Bigelow, who is an affiliated investigator with the Juniper Gardens Children's Project also was recognized in 2013 as one of two Friends of the Life Span Institute Investigator awardees. Bigelow's research interests lie in the development, evaluation and translation of evidence-based interventions for parents and caregivers aimed at promoting positive interactions and improving child developmental outcomes.

 

2012

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Yo Jackson, who is a member of the Department of Clinical Child Psychology faculty was selected to receive the Friends of the Life Span Institute Investigator Awards for 2012. Her research interests include examining why some children are more resilient than others after experiencing maltreatment.

 


 

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Jay Buzhardt, who is an investigator affiliated with the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project was selected to receive the Friends of the Life Span Institute Investigator Awards for 2012. His research interests include deploying technology for interventions in autism and early literacy.