External Collaborators

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Dr. Connie Sung

Michigan State University, United States

Dr. Connie Sung is an Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Counselling at Michigan State University. She founded the STEP (Supporting Transition and Employment Preparation) Lab and is also a co-director of a school-to-work transition program (namely Spartan Project SEARCH) and MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows Postdoctoral Program. Her research focuses on developing and validating community-based interventions in improving psychosocial and vocational outcomes and quality of life of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). She has published 74 refereed journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Sung has also developed and validated two manualized group-based interventions to improve soft skills and employment readiness of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, namely ASSET (Assistive Soft Skills and Employment Training) and EPASS (Employment Preparation And Skills Support) programs. Dr. Sung’s research has received over USD$ 8 million from the U.S. Department of Defence, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, Institute of Education Sciences.Dr. Connie Sung is an Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Counselling at Michigan State University. She founded the STEP (Supporting Transition and Employment Preparation) Lab and is also a co-director of a school-to-work transition program (namely Spartan Project SEARCH) and MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows Postdoctoral Program. Her research focuses on developing and validating community-based interventions in improving psychosocial and vocational outcomes and quality of life of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). She has published 74 refereed journal articles and book chapters. Dr. Sung has also developed and validated two manualized group-based interventions to improve soft skills and employment readiness of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, namely ASSET (Assistive Soft Skills and Employment Training) and EPASS (Employment Preparation And Skills Support) programs. Dr. Sung’s research has received over USD$ 8 million from the U.S. Department of Defence, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, Institute of Education Sciences.

Dr. Nigel Newbutt

University of the West of England, UK

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Dr. Newbutt is a researcher in the Department of Education at UWE, Bristol. His work has involved the design, development and application of digital technologies for, and with, autistic groups. His recent research has involved the evaluation of virtual reality head-mounted displays in educational settings for young people with autism. This has involved the inclusion of autistic children and their teachers in both the research and evaluation of tools. Coupled with usability evaluations and developing ethical and safety protocols, his work has helped to provide unique insights to the views of autistic people and their use of HMD-based VR.  Nigel is Vice Chair of COST Action a-STEP (advancing Social inclusion through Technology and Empowerment) that seeks to better understand, and meet the challenge of AT uptake in autistic and ID groups.  

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Dr June Chen

Dr. June L. Chen is an Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the department in the Department of Special Education in East China Normal University.  Prior to this, June was a Hegarty Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at ICAN.  During her time as a Hegarty Fellow, June worked on understanding barriers to social inclusion for adults with autism spectrum disorder and on developing a training programme and online tool to increase job readiness for adults with ASD/ID.

Further information click here. Researchgate link click here.

Dr Shawn P. Gilroy

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Dr. Gilroy is an Assistant Professor in Louisiana State University.  Prior to this, Shawn was a Marie Curie ASSISTID post-doctoral research fellow at ICAN.  He received his Ph.D. in School Psychology from Temple University.  Certified as both an educational psychology and behaviour analyst, Shawn completed his pre-doctoral training in Behavioural Pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute and his postdoctoral training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Kennedy Krieger Institute.  His research interests include (1) the socialization and communication impairments demonstrated by individuals with disabilities (e.g., autism, intellectual disabilities), (2) the evaluation of Behavior Analytic intervention packages using randomized-controlled designs, and (3) exploring how models of decision-making and operant demand relate to caregiver decision-making (i.e., which treatments to implement and to what degree).  Aside from clinical research and service delivery, he developed and maintains numerous apps (i.e., speech-generating devices) used in clinical interventions and statistical packages (i.e., operant demand, delay discounting) used in clinical research.  His current projects include developing free and open source tools for use in communication interventions and in modeling caregiver decision-making. Per communication interventions, this project is dedicated to developing affordable and sustainable applications that can be used effectively by families and educators across environments. His projects related to caregiver decision-making are primarily statistical in nature, focusing on modeling how caregivers select interventions for their children and allocate their time and effort.

Further information click here. Researchgate link click here.

Dr. Ivan Traina

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Dr. Ivan Traina was a Marie Curie Research Fellow in ICAN.  He worked on a project entitled Empowerment of youth with Intellectual Disabilities through Educational and training curricula for Acquiring employment Skills (E-IDEAS).  Ivan completed his PhD in Special Pedagogy at University of Bologna (2011-2014) with a specific focus on persons with disabilities and inclusive education. His PhD dissertation focused on social inclusion of vulnerable groups through participatory and emancipatory approaches, implementing active citizenship and socially innovative actions in the framework of civil & human rights model of disability.  He was involved in many international projects concerning educational and training processes, elaboration of learning and participatory methodologies and Information and Communications Technology-Assistive Technology (ICT-AT). He has a wide experience in EU projects as Research Advisor at the Department of Education Studies at the University of Bologna. Also, he was appointed as External Evaluator for the Erasmus Plus National Agency in Italy, for the EACEA in Brussels and for the EU funded projects TIDE (Towards Inclusive Development Education) and ENTELIS (The European Network for Technology Enhanced Learning in an Inclusive Society).  Prior to completing the PhD in 2014, he obtained a certification as Life Coach focusing his activity on interventions with persons with disabilities. He also carried out for many years a project focused on swimming activities for vulnerable groups, mainly persons with intellectual disability.  Ivan’s main research interests include empowerment of youths with intellectual disability, educational and employment strategies, ICT-AT, participatory and emancipatory approaches and Human Rights model of disability.

Further information click here. Researchgate link click here.

Dr. Stacy Clifford Simplican

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Dr. Stacy Clifford Simplican is a Senior Lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies in Vanderbuit University. In her role as a Hegarty post-doctoral research fellow at ICAN, Stacy increased our understanding of the meaning and impact of social inclusion. She published a paper in the journal ‘Research in Developmental Disabilities’ entitled ‘Defining social inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities: An ecological model of social networks and community participation’ which highlights the importance of both interpersonal relationships and community participation in achieving real social inclusion for people with ID.  She received her PhD in Political Science from Vanderbilt University in 2011. Her book, The Capacity Contract: Intellectual Disability and the Question of Citizenship (2015), analyzes the role of intellectual and developmental disabilities in social contract theory and the disability rights movement. Some of Stacy’s articles appear in Contemporary Political Theory, Hypatia, Disability & Society, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching feminist theory to her three young children.

Further information click here.

Dr. Julia Louw

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Dr Julia Louw works with the Trinity Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation (TCPHI) since October 2018 as a Healthcare Practice Research Fellow. She holds a PhD in Rehabilitation Counselor Education from Michigan State University (United States) and an MA in Research Psychology from the University of the Western Cape (South Africa). Prior to her current role, Julia held a Marie Curie post-doctoral research fellowship at ICAN.  Her previous research work includes HIV surveillance studies, Implementation Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Project Management. Her special research interests are in sexuality education, social inclusion, and disability studies. Julia is responsible for the development of collaborative research partnerships between TCD academic staff and nursing staff from three partners namely; Stewarts Care, Peamount Healthcare and Muiriosa Foundation. The long-term objective of this position is to promote high-quality nurse-led research that will advance practice and the care of service users.

Further information click here. Researchgate link click here.

Dr. Bernie Kirkpatrick

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Dr. Kirkpatrick was a Marie Curie ASSISTID post-doctoral research fellow at ICAN.  Prior to the ASSISTID fellowship, Bernie conducted extensive research into the identification of effective behavioural strategies to promote evidence based interventions. Bernie received her PhD in Behaviour Analytic Techniques and her MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Ulster University.  Her PhD research comprised of a series of experimental and applied studies that compared the efficaciousness of a number of behavioural interventions aimed at delivering behaviour change to encourage emotional wellbeing.  Her MSc in Applied Behaviour Analysis and her professional practice focused on supporting those with ASD/ID to bring about lasting and meaningful behaviour change.  Bernie’s 16 years of applied practice with the Education Authority targeted the identification and implementation of effective components of applied behaviour analytical interventions to promote social inclusion and inclusive education for individuals with ASC/ID. Her research and applied practice had a clear focus on the development of independent behavioural repertoires that enhanced daily functioning and the quality of a client’s life, and that of their family.

Further information click here. Researchgate link click here.