Friends of the Life Span Institute


For more than 60 years at the Life Span Institute, our science has toppled conventional thinking about the potential of people facing a wide range of challenges and disabilities. Our scientists have made pioneering and seminal discoveries in understanding how we develop, learn, think and age. All of these contributions have brought the Life Span Institute international recognition and unprecedented growth.

Through the support of its Friends, the Life Span Institute looks to maintain its continued growth and evolution, and continue its influence in discovery, innovation and impact that allows it to influence social policy, disciplinary practice and the quality of individual lives across the life span and in communities throughout the world.


Friends of the Life Span Institute

  • Ron and Pam Borchardt
  • Scott and Julie Borchardt
  • Bill and Nancy Brady
  • John Colombo and Dale Walker
  • Steve Fawcett and Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett
  • Charles Greenwood and Judy Carta
  • Vance Hall
  • Frances Degen Horowitz
  • Amy McCart
  • Lee McLean
  • Virginia Merrill
  • Mabel Rice
  • Dick and Muriel Saunders
  • Richard Schiefelbusch
  • Carolyn Schroeder
  • Karrie Shogren
  • Dale Slusser and Sherry Fowler
  • Joe and Rita Spradlin
  • John and Linda Stewart
  • Rud and Ann Turnbull
  • John and Patty Turner
  • April Waldron
  • Frances Waldron
  • Gary Waldron and Sunny Foster
  • Steve Warren and Eva Horn
  • Mike and Kathryn Wehmeyer
  • Bruce and Melinda Wetherby
  • Glen and Nancy White
  • David and Dee Yoder
  • Mary Ann Zamarripa

The Friends of the Life Span Institute was founded in 2004 to further our collective impact on problems of human and community development, disabilities and aging. Friends receive research news and learn about upcoming events at the Institute. Friends are also invited to our annual spring celebration to meet students, faculty and staff involved in our research. 

Friends contribute to the continuing innovation and discovery happening at the Life Span Institute. You help our scientists find research-based solutions for the challenges of human and community development, disabilities and education for the benefit of future generations of Kansans, of our nation, and of people all over the world.

We hope that, as a Friend of the Life Span Institute, you will share information on the important work of the Institute with your friends and colleagues. We are confident that increasing our circle of friends will provide opportunities for greater fund raising success in the future.

For further information: please contact Jen Humphrey, Associate Director for External Affairs, or 785.864.6621.
For information on estate planning and gifts with a broad impact, please contact Dale Slusser at KU Endowment Association: 785-832-7458,

Friends of the Life Span Institute Awards

Friends of the Life Span Institute Graduate Research Awards

In 2005, the Friends of the Life Span Institute launched a new endeavor to assist the research and professional development of outstanding graduate research assistants affiliated with an LSI project. The Friends of Life Span Institute GRA Awards, established with the KU Endowment Association, recognize two doctoral students each year: one at the dissertation stage ($3000) and another in the early stages of graduate study ($2500).

Current Year Awardees


Katey Burke_resized.jpg

The Friends of the Life Span Institute awarded Katey Burke the 2018 advanced stage graduate student award. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Special Education and is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Kansas University Center of Developmental Disabilities and the Beach Center on Disabilities. Katey with Senior Scientist and Professor Karrie Shogren on a Department of Education Leadership Grant. Her focus is on researching and advocating for self-determination, quality of life, and participation in the community for people living with disabilities.


Corinne Walker was selected to receive the 2018 early stage graduate student award. She is a doctoral student in Speech Language Pathology in the Intercampus Program in Communicative Disorders, working with Professor and Scientist Nancy Brady and Assistant Professor Brenda Salley, who directs the Child Development Lab. Corinne’s research centers on augmentative and alternative communication intervention programs for individuals with speech and language impairments.

Friends of the LSI Paul Diedrich Award Staff Award

The award was created when Friends of LSI member and former associate director for finance at Life Span Institute, Kristi Billinger contacted the director John Colombo to ask that her contribution to the friends of the LSI be used to create a new award. Also she asked that it be named in honor of former associate director of project development Paul Diedrich, who was for 36 years in charge of pre-award at the Life Span Institute.


Jessica Black-Magnussen was selected to receive the first Friends of the LSI Staff Award. Diedrich worked for many years with Black-Magnussen, who assumed the position of associate director of project development upon his retirement. When presenting the award to Black-Magnussen, Diedrich stated, “I learned more about departmental administration from Ed Zamarripa, but the person who I learned most whenever interacting with the University was from Kristi about research administration, and the person who was most helpful to me was Jess.”

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 $7500. 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.

Current Year Awardees


Karrie Shogren

Karrie Shogren is a Senior Scientist in the Life Span Institute, Professor in the Department of Special Education, and Director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Shogren's research focuses on self-determination and systems of support for students with disabilities and she has a specific interest in the contextual factors that impact student outcomes. Dr. Shogren has published over 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals, is the author or co-author of 10 books, and is the lead author of the Self-Determination Inventory System ( Dr. Shogren has received grant funding from several sources, including the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Dr. Shogren is co-Editor of Inclusion and Remedial and Special Education.

Mark Landau

Mark Landau is an Associate Professor at the University of Kansas. He received his doctorate from the University of Arizona in 2007. Dr. Landau has published many articles and chapters on metaphor's influence on social cognition and behavior as well as the role of existential motives in diverse aspects of social behavior. He has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.