Postdoctoral Training Program in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research

Waisman Entrance


Research began in 1995 with funding from NICHD and the Waisman Center. The program provides multidisciplinary training in social, epidemiological, behavioral, and biobehavioral research on intellectual and developmental disabilities. The emphasis of the program is on understanding social, affective, communicative, and family processes as they relate to intellectual and developmental disabilities.


The program includes a set of experiences common to all fellows, but is individualized to meet the needs, interests, and professional goals of individual fellows. Each fellow completes a program of research training and a core curriculum.

Research training includes:

  • Planning and conducting independent research
  • Collaborating with program faculty on research
  • Participating in regular research meetings with mentors

The core curriculum includes:

  • Seminars on biobehavioral research, theory, and methods in developmental disabilities and human development
  • Seminars on research design and data analysis
  • Seminars on race, ethnicity, and culture
  • Seminars on research ethics
  • Seminars on professional development, including obtaining extramural research funding.


Post-Doctoral stipends, determined by NIH and provided for this program, are based on years of relevant experience beyond the doctoral degree:  Individuals are appointed at the appropriate stipend level that is in effect on the start date of their first year and will remain at that level for their entire first year.  They are appointed at the appropriate stipend level that is in effect on the start date of their second year and will remain at that level for their entire second year.  In addition to the stipend provided by the training grant, the Waisman Center currently provides a $3000 annual supplement for each trainee each year.  NIH also provides limited funds for travel, tuition, and research supplies, and the Waisman Center provides general supplies, equipment, and computing support.  Postdocs are also eligible for excellent fringe benefits.



We are seeking candidates who are committed to a research career in intellectual and developmental disabilities, have completed prior research and training in the field, have an outstanding academic record, and who have received (or will have received by our anticipated appointment start date) a Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign organization.  The UW will determine if a foreign degree is equivalent.

Since this is a program funded by the National Institutes of Health, we must adhere to their citizenship requirement for all individuals funded by this training grant.  NIH requires that trainees be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or permanent residents of the United States.  Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.  Trainees or scholars in these programs, who are permanent residents of the U.S., must submit a notary’s signed statement with the appointment form certifying that they have (1) a permanent resident card [USCIS Form I-551] or (2) other legal verification of such status.


Applicants should provide the following electronically in one PDF in the order listed below to

  1. Cover letter (addressed to Sigan Hartley, PhD)
  2. Application Form
    Click here to access the fillable postdoc application form
  3. Curriculum vitae
  4. A Personal Statement
    Click here for points to be covered in the personal statement
  5. Dissertation summary or abstract
  6. Publications / Papers (3)
  7. References (3 – 4)
    Please ask individuals submitting references to send their letters in pdf format directly to Sigan Hartley, PhD, at

    There is a 5MB limit on messages sent to If your application email exceeds that limit, please split your application and include text explaining the split.

Information About Disability Accommodation For Completing The Application

Consideration for this position requires completion of an application, as well as submitting all other materials in pdf format, as described above.  Phone contact may be necessary for finalists.  If you need a reasonable accommodation in order to complete the application materials or participate in a phone conversation, you may contact Eric Schafer at 608-263-2328.  Note that you are NOT required to indicate whether or not you need an accommodation to perform the traineeship.

An individual with a disability is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.  Please see the ADA website for questions and answers about job application accommodations at:

We are an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.


The training program is located at the Waisman Center and is fully integrated into its scientific activities. The Waisman Center is home to one of the original Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRC) funded by NICHD since 1973. The IDDRC supports the research efforts of more than 50 behavioral and biomedical scientists from 25 academic departments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


2021-22 trainees and their graduate programs: 

  • Robbie Dembo, PhD, Brandeis University
  • Marianne Elmquist, PhD, University of Minnesota
  • Helen Long, PhD, University of Memphis
  • Jenny Phan, PhD, Iowa State University

2020-21 trainees, affiliated trainees, and their graduate programs: 

  • Robbie Dembo, PhD, Brandeis University
  • Jessica Greenlee, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Nell Maltman, PhD, Northwestern University
  • Ellen Peng, PhD, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Jenny Phan, PhD, Iowa State University

2019-20 trainees and their graduate programs: 

  • Jessica Greenlee, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Elizabeth Hilvert, PhD, Loyola University Chicago
  • Nell Maltman, PhD, Northwestern University
  • Ellen Peng, PhD, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

2018-19 trainees and their graduate programs: 

  • Elizabeth Hilvert, PhD, Loyola University Chicago
  • Geovanna Rodriguez, PhD, University of California, Riverside
  • Eric Rubenstein, PhD, University of North Carolina
  • Lauren Usher, PhD, University of Miami

2017-18 trainees and their graduate programs: 

  • Andrea Barton-Hulsey, PhD, Georgia State University, Atlanta
  • Geovanna Rodriguez, PhD, University of California, Riverside
  • Eric Rubenstein, PhD, University of North Carolina
  • Lauren Usher, PhD, University of Miami

2016-17 trainees and their graduate programs:

  • Andrea Barton-Hulsey, PhD, Georgia State University, Atlanta
  • Lauren Bishop-Fitzpatrick, PhD, University of Pittsburgh
  • Philip Lai, PhD, San Diego State University and University of California San Diego
  • Lauren Usher, PhD, University of Miami

2015-16 trainees and their graduate programs:

  • Lauren Bishop-Fitzpatrick, PhD, University of Pittsburgh
  • Wai Chan, PhD, Purdue University
  • Douglas Dean, PhD, Brown University
  • Philip Lai, PhD, San Diego State University and University of California San Diego
  • Daniel Laxman, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Previous fellows have gone on to faculty positions at University of Arizona; Boston University; Brandeis University; California State University, Fullerton; University of California, Davis; University of California, San Francisco; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital; Harvard University; Ohio State University; Penn State University; Portland State University; University of Georgia; University of Minnesota; University of Missouri; University of Missouri-St. Louis; University of New Mexico; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Vanderbilt University; and Drexel University.


  • Sigan Hartley, PhD, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies (Program Director)
    Health and well-being in individuals with autism and Down syndrome and their families
  • Bradley Christian, PhD, Professor of Medical Physics and Psychiatry (Program Co-Director)
    PET Imaging of the Natural History of Amyloid Deposition in Adults with Down Syndrome
  • Maureen Durkin, PhD, DrPH, Professor, Population Health Sciences and Pediatrics (Program Co-Director)
    Epidemiology of developmental disabilities, surveillance of autism spectrum disorders and cerebral palsy
  • Andrew Alexander, PhD, Professor of Medical Physics and Psychiatry
    Technologies and applications for brain imaging in infants, children and intellectual and developmental disorders
  • Leann Smith DaWalt, PhD,  Senior Scientist, Waisman Center
    The role of the family in supporting lifespan development for individuals with developmental disabilities
  • Susan Ellis Weismer, PhD, Oros Family Chair and Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders
    Children with autism spectrum disorders; children with social (pragmatic) communication disorder; late-talking children; children with developmental language disorder/specific language impairment who have developmental delays in language in the absence of intellectual disability or autism
  • H. Hill Goldsmith, PhD, Antoine Bascom Professor and Leona Tyler Professor of Psychology
    Risk and resilience for developmental psychopathology and developmental disabilities; Genetics and biological approaches to affective development
  • Katherine Hustad, PhD, Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders
    Understanding and fostering the advancement of speech, language, and communication development in children with cerebral palsy
  • Janet Lainhart, MD, Professor, Psychiatry
    Longitudinal changes in brain structure/microstructure and clinical symptoms from childhood to adulthood in autism
  • Ruth Litovsky, PhD, Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology
    Auditory perception, development, hearing loss, restoration of hearing, cochlear implants
  • Marsha R. Mailick, PhD, Emeritus Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education
    Families of persons with developmental disabilities, including autism, fragile x syndrome, Down syndrome; life course development of individuals and families; epidemiology of neurodevelopmental disabilities
  • Seth D. Pollak, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Pediatrics
    The role that early experiences in children’s lives have on development of brain structure, function, and mental health
  • Jenny Saffran, PhD, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, Psychology
    Language acquisition and learning in typically- and atypically-developing infants and toddlers
  • Audra Sterling, PhD, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders
    Language and cognitive development of children with neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Brittany Travers, PhD, Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy Program in the Department of Kinesiology
    Motor and brain development in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders



This program is supported by NICHD grant T32 HD07489, with additional funding from the Waisman Center & The Friends of the Waisman Center.