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MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows (2015-2017)

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Hyun-Ju Kang, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin-Madison



              Research is an important way to translate the knowledge. I believe that research-based knowledge and theories must be translated to inform disability policy and provide evidence-based practice. I am currently a postdoctoral research associate in MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellow Program at Michigan State University. My research interests include adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities, transition, post-school outcomes (i.e., employment, postsecondary education, independent living, and community involvement), assistive technology, evidence-based intervention, functional skills, school, family, and community partnerships, and multicultural education.

             I have nearly 4 years of work experience in the area of disability and transition as a play therapist and teacher. I also have nearly 5 years of research experience in transition and post-school outcomes as a research assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

             I am so excited to work with international and interdisciplinary research teams in this program. I hope to improve my research knowledge and skills as well as have grant writing, publication, teaching, and mentorship experiences in the program. I believe that this program is promising in preparing for my future career with my fellows, mentors, and international and interdisciplinary research teams.



Nicole Neil, Ph.D.

City University of New York




            I received my PhD in psychology from the Graduate Center (CUNY), hold my M.A. in Applied Disability studies from Brock University, and have over nine years of professional experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities. As a Hegarty Fellow, I am jointly appointed at in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education, and the National University of Ireland, Galway in the School of Psychology. I also teach graduate courses in applied behavior analysis at Brock University and the University of Western Ontario

          My program of research focuses on maximizing outcomes in behavioral interventions for learners with developmental disabilities. My primary research interest is in identifying ways of enhancing the effectiveness of interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities by tailoring the intensity at which intervention is provided. In a special issue in the Journal of Behavioral Education on treatment intensity, I published the results from a series of preliminary studies highlighting how the diagnosis of Down syndrome interacts with treatment intensity. I am also involved in projects investigating group cognitive behavioral therapy for children with autism and obsessive compulsive behavior and improving long-term relationships between children with autism and their typically developing siblings.


Rebecca Irvine, Ph.D.

Queen’s University, Belfast




            As a Hegarty Fellow, I will be co-located at Michigan State University, Queen’s University Belfast, and the National University of Ireland - Galway.  My primary research objective during the Fellowship will be to identify ways to make the policy environment more accessible for people with intellectual disabilities and their advocates. I intend to work with self-advocates/advocates, policy-makers, and organizations in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Michigan, in order to gain a better insight into the limited inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in influencing and measuring policy outcomes.

           My educational background includes a B.A. in International Relations from Michigan State University, an M.A. in Comparative Ethnic Conflict from Queen’s University Belfast, and a Ph.D. in Social Policy, also from Queen’s University Belfast. My doctoral thesis, ‘The Other Minority: Disability Policy in the Post-Civil Conflict Environment’, was an international comparative project that considered the involvement of people with disabilities in post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building, in addition to the social, economic, and political factors that affect policy development and implementation during conflict transformation.  Other projects and publications have included: ‘Shortfalls in Public Policy and Programme Delivery in Northern Ireland Relative to the UNCRPD’ (with Dr Bronagh Byrne & Dr Colin Harper); ‘Inquiry into Post Special Education Need Provision in Education, Employment & Training for People with Intellectual Disabilities’ (on behalf of the Committee for Employment and Learning in the Northern Ireland Assembly); ‘Getting Disability on the Post-Conflict Agenda: the Role of a Disability Movement’ published in D Mitchell and V Karr (2014) Conflict, Disaster and Disability: Ensuring Equality; and ‘Prioritizing the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Post-Conflict Education Reform’ in Child Care in Practice special edition on children with disabilities (January 2015).

          Prior to undertaking my Ph.D., I also worked for Mencap in Northern Ireland, coordinating numerous campaigns and establishing the All-Party Group on Intellectual Disability in the Northern Ireland Assembly.


MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows (2013-2015)



June L. Chen, Ph.D

June Chen

Ph.D. East China Normal University


              During my two year fellowship as a Hegarty Fellow, I am co-located between Michigan State University- Daughters of Charity Technology Research Into Disability (MSU-DOCTRID) Institute and National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) College of Psychology every six months. The most precious part of my experience is that it provides me extraordinary opportunities to be fully engaged in different international and interdisciplinary research projects, which greatly improved my research skills, especially in research related networking, grant writing and project management.

Within the DOCTRID partnership, I got exciting chances to meet not only leading scholars in disability studies and related technology fields, but also amazing frontline clients and services users. The needs driven researches help us to put our feet on the ground, and accelerate the process of applying research results into practical field. Together with other two Hegarty Fellows, we are conducting an investigation among DoC staffs about their current use and future needs of technology, in terms of improving the quality of life for everyone in the DoC community.

             Under the DOCTRID frame work, I am able to be involved in several grants writing, including college level in-house grant, university level seed grant, federal national department level grant, as well as international European Union level collaborative grant. These hands-on experiences in grant writing well prepared me for future funding application at different grant levels. Meantime, one of the submitted proposals, in which I am the Co-PI, got funded for two years (2014-2016) with $100,000 (RAIND Grant). This on-going project is quite promising in preparing job readiness skills for individuals with autism through a technology assisted approach. In the near future, the research team hopes to collaborate with Daughter of Charity Training, Enterprise and Employment Service Center (TEES) to adapt the training for Irish population.

             I am also the coordinator for several other projects, including: (1) Job-related Social Skills Training Group for Improving Employment Outcome of Youth with Autism; (2) Adult Outcomes and Quality of Life of Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome/High Functioning Autism; (3) Examining Differences in Predictors of Social Participation among Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An International, Cross-Cultural Study, (4) Investigation of Evidence Based Practices among School Professionals who Serve Transition-Aged Students with Autism; and (5) Michigan State University Campus Wide Survey about Students Attitude towards Disability Related Services.






Carolyn Shivers, Ph.D

Ph.D. Vanderbilt University


             As a Hegarty Fellow, I’ve spent the past 14 months conducting my own line of research as well as contributing to research projects for and learning from some of the leading experts in disability work. At Michigan State University, I completed a systematic literature review of sibling involvement in interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2014), and am currently conducting a pilot study of a sibling-mediated play skills intervention for children with ASD.

              During my six months in Ireland, my work with DOCTRID centered around introducing technology to the Daughters of Charity services. Individually, I conducted a study involving life story work for women with intellectual disability and dementia living in the WillowView dementia unit at St. Joseph’s Centre, Clonsilla, in which we populated an iPad with pictures, video clips, and music specific to each resident’s life and interests. Early results suggest that both staff and residents enjoy using the new technology, and the residents show more engagement with the iPad than with traditional life story (i.e. non-digital) material. Additionally, I worked with Stacy Clifford and June Chen, the Galway Hegarty Fellows, to develop a staff survey asking about current and potential future use of technology within the DoC.

              Beyond my own research, I’ve collaborated with Dr. Joshua Pavnick on his study of video-based group intervention to teach social skills to high school students with ASD, and with Dr. Mary McCarron on her ongoing longitudinal study of aging among individuals with intellectual disability in Ireland. Additionally, I had the opportunity to help teach Michigan State’s Disability in a Diverse Society study abroad course in Dublin and am currently co-teaching Theoretical Foundations of Counseling to graduate students in the MSU Rehabilitation Counseling program.






Stacy Clifford Simplican, Ph.D.

Ph.D. Vanderbilt University


             As a Hegarty Fellow, I have spearheaded a multidisciplinary research project “Mapping the Social Inclusion of People with Intellectual Disabilities.”  The research team includes Dr. Geraldine Leader (NUIG Psychology) and Dr. John Kosciulek (MSU Rehabilitation Counseling), and we are partnered with the Daughters of Charity Service (DoC) in Dublin.  In the first stage of the research project, I will lead focus groups and conduct interviews with service users to understand the quality of their social inclusion.  The next stage of the research will target family and staff members to map the social inclusion of DoC service users across Ireland.

              The Hegarty fellowship promotes collaboration with colleagues at MSU, TCD, and NUIG.  At NUIG, I completed two articles on social inclusion: (1) a literature review that proposes a new definition and model of social inclusion, and (2) a theoretical article that rethinks social inclusion through radical democratic theory (both under review).  In June 2014, I attended the 6th International Disability Law Summer School at NUIG. I also worked with colleagues at TCD to design an online survey to measure staff members’ attitudes toward technology.  At MSU, I co-authored the article “Doctoral Students with Disabilities” with PhD candidate Michelle McKnight-Lizotte (under review).   When I return to MSU in January 2015, I will co-teach the course Disability in a Diverse Society.

              I am the author of The Capacity Contract: Intellectual Disability and the Question of Citizenship (University of Minnesota Press, 2015).  Additional articles that I have published as a Hegarty Fellow appear in Politics, Groups, and Identities and Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy.



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