Morse Scholars

Current Morse Scholars

Marissa DiPiero

Curriculum Vitae

My research aims to advance knowledge about how the infant brain develops to support healthy child development. I am particularly interested in early environmental and neurobehavioral factors that shape this development, especially those occurring within the first two years of life. Outlining details about the neurodevelopmental patterns subserving healthy child development is not only critical for understanding processes of normative development, but is also necessary for elucidating deviant patterns of neurodevelopment foundational to the emergence of intellectual, behavioral, and psychiatric disorders. My work utilizes a multi-modal panel of neural, behavioral, and biospecimen markers to gain a holistic view of human brain development.

Home department: Neuroscience Training Program

Major professor: Doug Dean III, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Neuroscience, Psychology, Medical Physics, Immunology, Neonatology, and Computer Science

Articles that influenced my research:  

Dean, D. C., 3rd, O’Muircheartaigh, J., Dirks, H., Travers, B. G., Adluru, N., Alexander, A. L., & Deoni, S. (2016). Mapping an index of the myelin g-ratio in infants using magnetic resonance imaging. NeuroImage132, 225–237.

Ouyang, M., Dubois, J., Yu, Q., Mukherjee, P., & Huang, H. (2019). Delineation of early brain development from fetuses to infants with diffusion MRI and beyond. NeuroImage185, 836–850.

Nazeri, A., Mulsant, B. H., Rajji, T. K., Levesque, M. L., Pipitone, J., Stefanik, L., Shahab, S., Roostaei, T., Wheeler, A. L., Chavez, S., & Voineskos, A. N. (2017). Gray Matter Neuritic Microstructure Deficits in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Biological psychiatry82(10), 726–736.

Van den Bergh, B., van den Heuvel, M. I., Lahti, M., Braeken, M., de Rooij, S. R., Entringer, S., Hoyer, D., Roseboom, T., Räikkönen, K., King, S., & Schwab, M. (2020). Prenatal developmental origins of behavior and mental health: The influence of maternal stress in pregnancy. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews117, 26–64.

Estes, M. L., & McAllister, A. K. (2016). Maternal immune activation: Implications for neuropsychiatric disorders. Science (New York, N.Y.)353(6301), 772–777.

Allan, J. L., McMinn, D., & Daly, M. (2016). A Bidirectional Relationship between Executive Function and Health Behavior: Evidence, Implications, and Future Directions. Frontiers in neuroscience10, 386.

Melissa Jenkins, PhD

Curriculum Vitae

My program of research focuses on risk factors for violence and exploitation among individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), as well as the role of adverse childhood experiences in physical and behavioral health outcomes among individuals with IDD. My research approach is guided by the following beliefs: (a) research is impactful when the population(s) of interest perceive it as as both important and relevant; and (b) a crucial component of effective research is the active participation of community members. My goal is to develop comprehensive interpersonal violence prevention programming that balances safety and empowerment through consistent community engagement and partnership.

Training mentor: Sigan Hartley, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Social Work, Public Health, Sociology, and Education

Articles that influenced my research:

Reid, J. A. (2018). Sex trafficking of girls with intellectual disabilities: An exploratory mixed methods study. Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment, 30(2), 107–131.

Rizo, C.F., Klein, L.B., Chesworth, B.R., O’Brien, J.E., Macy, R.J., Martin, S.L., Crews, M.E., & Love, B.L. (2019). Educating youth about commercial sexual exploitation of children: A systematic review. Global Social Welfare, 6, 29–39.

Rothman, E. F., Heller, S., & Graham Holmes, L. (2023). Sexual, physical, and emotional aggression, experienced by autistic vs. non-autistic U.S. college students. Journal of American College Health, 71(9), 2786–2794.

Rothman, E. F., & Graham Holmes, L. (2022). Using formative research to develop HEARTS: A curriculum-based healthy relationships promoting intervention for individuals on the autism spectrum. Autism, 26(1), 160–168.

Libby Hladik, OTR/L

Curriculum Vitae

My research promotes child and family health and well-being through engagement in meaningful occupations with children with autism and sensory processing disorders, adolescents and young adults with intellectual disabilities, and infants as risk of developmental disorders.  I work from my foundation in Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science with a particular interest in community engagement and family-centered interventions. My research uses a stakeholder engaged approach and often includes components of community based participatory research (CBPR). My current projects include:

  • Research engagement on health research priorities for people with intellectual disability
  • Evaluation of accessibility for cultural institutions for families with children with autism
  • Qualitative investigation of mother’s experiences of parent-mediated feeding therapy for children with autism and feeding challenges
  • A program evaluation for alternative education for pregnant and parenting teens in high school

In addition to research, I have a strong interest in interdisciplinary clinician training with a focus on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

Home department: Kinesiology: Occupational Science

Major professor: Karla Ausderau, PhD, OTR/L

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Occupational Science, Occupational Therapy, Human Development and Family Studies, Developmental Psychology, Public Health, Education and Sociology

Articles that influenced my research:  

Durocher, E., Gibson, B. E., & Rappolt, S. (2014). Occupational Justice: A Conceptual Review. Journal of Occupational Science, 21(4), 418–430.

Hasselkus, B. (2006). The World of Everyday Occupation: Real People, Real Lives. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy : Official Publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association, 60, 627–640.

Krahn, G. L., & Fox, M. H. (2014). Health Disparities of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: What Do We Know? What Do We Do? Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 27(5), 431–446.

Sheridan, S., Schrandt, S., Forsythe, L., Hilliard, T. S., & Paez, K. A. (2017). The PCORI Engagement Rubric: Promising Practices for Partnering in Research. Annals of Family Medicine, 15(2), 165–170.

Emma Libersky

Curriculum Vitae

I study language acquisition in bilingual children born preterm. I am interested in the role of parent input in successful language outcomes, as well as the role of domain general cognitive processes in word learning. In another line of work, I investigate the impact of speech disfluencies on word learning across the lifespan, in populations born full term. I’m interested in how bilinguals and monolinguals are impacted by disfluencies produced in native and non-native accents, and how disfluencies pattern with other features of spontaneous speech, like codeswitches.

Home department: Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major professor: Margarita Kaushanskaya, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Communication Sciences and Disorders, Psychology, Linguistics

Articles that influenced my research:  

Buac, M., Tauzin-Larché, A., Weisberg, E., & Kaushanskaya, M. (2019). Effect of speaker certainty on novel word learning in monolingual and bilingual children. Bilingualism, 22(4), 883–895.

Adams, K. A., Marchman, V. A., Loi, E. C., Ashland, M. D., Fernald, A., & Feldman, H. M. (2018). Caregiver Talk and Medical Risk as Predictors of Language Outcomes in Full Term and Preterm Toddlers. Child Development, 89(5), 1674–1690.

Hirsh-Pasek, K., Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Owen, M. T., Golinkoff, R. M., Pace, A., Yust, P. K. S., & Suma, K. (2015). The Contribution of Early Communication Quality to Low-Income Children’s Language Success. Psychological Science, 26(7), 1071–1083.

Weisleder, A., & Fernald, A. (2013). Talking to Children Matters: Early Language Experience Strengthens Processing and Builds Vocabulary. Psychological Science, 24(11), 2143–2152.

Bosker, H. R., Quené, H., Sanders, T., & de Jong, N. H. (2014). Native ’um’s elicit prediction of low-frequency referents, but non-native ’um’s do not. Journal of Memory and Language, 75, 104–116.

Helen Long, PhD, CCC-SLP

Curriculum Vitae

My programmatic line of research seeks to identify early predictors of speech impairment severity in cerebral palsy (CP) through the study of infant vocal behaviors. This work is informed by an infrastructural framework of vocal development which presumes that earlier developmental stages of vocal production are foundational to more advanced stages and eventual speech production. My research is richly grounded in my experience as a school-based speech-language pathologist where I primarily served children with CP and other neurodevelopmental disorders with severe communication impairments. My long-term goal is to facilitate earlier diagnosis and clinical treatment planning to improve outcomes in children with complex communication needs as young as infancy.

Training mentor: Katie Hustad, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Developmental Psychology, Linguistics, Special Education, Pediatrics, Rehabilitation Sciences, Evolutionary-Developmental Biology

Articles that influenced my research:

Hustad, K. C., Allison, K., McFadd, E., & Riehle, K. (2014). Speech and language development in 2-year-old children with cerebral palsy. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 17(3), 167–175.

Oller, D. K., Eilers, R. E., Neal, A. R., & Cobo-Lewis, A. B. (1998). Late onset canonical babbling: A possible early marker of abnormal development. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 103(3), 249.

Levin, K. (1999). Babbling in infants with cerebral palsy. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 13(4), 249–267.

Olivia Pokoski, MPH

Curriculum Vitae

My research interests include the intersection of developmental disabilities, health disparities, and maternal and child health. Currently, under the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED), I am working to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the adaptive behavior among preschool aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Understanding the mechanisms through which the pandemic may have influenced specific areas of development in children with ASD will allow us to better deliver services during unprecedented times in the future. Additionally, I am working on estimating the statewide prevalence of children with ASD in Wisconsin using Medicaid claims and educational data. Future work involves the inclusion of biomedical informatics to create an ASD registry for the state of Wisconsin to gain a better understanding of the epidemiology of ASD.

Home department: Population Health Sciences

Major professor: Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Epidemiology, Public Health, Sociology

Articles that influenced my research:

Lyall, K, Croen, L, Daniels, J, Fallin, MD, Ladd-Acosta, C, Lee, BK, Park, BY, Snyder, NW, Schendel, D, Volk, H, Windham, GC, & Newschaffer, C (2017). The changing epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders. Annual review of public health, 38, 81-102.

Mandell, DS, Ittenbach, RF, Levy, SE & Pinto-Martin, JA (2007). Disparities in diagnoses received prior to a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 37(9), 1795-1892.

Houtrow, A, Harris, D, Molinero, A, Levin-Decanini, T, & Robichaud, C (2020). Children with disabilities in the United States and the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of pediatric rehabilitation medicine, 13(3), 415-424.

Emily Schworer, PhD
Emily Schworer, PhD

Curriculum Vitae

My research centers on cognitive and adaptive functioning development in individuals with Down syndrome throughout the lifespan. One goal of this work is to determine how biological and environmental factors alter development and explain heterogeneity in these skills across individuals with Down syndrome; this information is important for directing interventions and individualized treatment plans. Another important aspect of studying cognition in individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities is measurement. My work is aimed at establishing feasible, reliable, and valid cognitive outcome measures for research studies and future clinical trials involving individuals with Down syndrome. This includes identifying cognitive measures that correlate with biomarkers of brain pathology in the unfolding of Alzheimer’s disease in Down syndrome. I am also interested in developing remote procedures for cognitive measurement to reduce participant burden and improve access to research in rural communities.

Training mentor: Sigan Hartley, PhD

Disciplines that I pull from in my research: Human Development and Family Studies, Psychology, Neuroscience, Aging, Education

Articles that influenced my research:

Hartley, S. L., Handen, B. L., Devenny, D., Tudorascu, D., Piro-Gambetti, B., Zammit, M. D., Laymon, C. M., Klunk, W. E., Zaman, S., Cohen, A., & Christian, B. T. (2020). Cognitive indicators of transition to preclinical and prodromal stages of Alzheimer’s disease in Down syndrome. Alzheimer’s & Dementia (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 12(1), e12096.

Thurm, A., Kelleher, B., & Wheeler, A. (2020). Outcome Measures for Core Symptoms of Intellectual Disability: State of the Field. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 125(6), 418–433.

Esbensen, A. J., Hooper, S. R., Fidler, D., Hartley, S. L., Edgin, J., d’Ardhuy, X. L., Capone, G., Conners, F. A., Mervis, C. B., Abbeduto, L., Rafii, M. S., Krinsky-McHale, S. J., Urv, T., & Outcome Measures Working Group (2017). Outcome Measures for Clinical Trials in Down Syndrome. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 122(3), 247–281.

Karmiloff-Smith, A., Al-Janabi, T., D’Souza, H., Groet, J., Massand, E., Mok, K., Startin, C., Fisher, E., Hardy, J., Nizetic, D., Tybulewicz, V., & Strydom, A. (2016). The importance of understanding individual differences in Down syndrome. F1000Research, 5, F1000 Faculty Rev-389.

Kelleher, B. L., Halligan, T., Witthuhn, N., Neo, W. S., Hamrick, L., & Abbeduto, L. (2020). Bringing the Laboratory Home: PANDABox Telehealth-Based Assessment of Neurodevelopmental Risk in Children. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 1634.

Daunhauer, L. A., Fidler, D. J., Hahn, L., Will, E., Lee, N. R., & Hepburn, S. (2014). Profiles of everyday executive functioning in young children with down syndrome. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 119(4), 303–318.

Morse Scholars Reunion 2018

Morse Scholars Reunion 2018

Morse Scholars Reunion - 2018