Strengthening Children's Lives Through Science and Community Engagement

Post Doctoral Program at Juniper Gardens

The Juniper Gardens postdoctoral program provides postdoctoral fellows with innovative experiences in designing, implementing and evaluating research carried out with community partners leading to new evidence-based practices. The goal of this program is to prepare early-career investigators to conduct, translate, and disseminate methodologically rigorous research with high relevance to early intervention practice and policy standards.

Current Post Doctoral Fellows

Xigrid Soto

Xigrid completed her Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Florida. Her dissertation evaluated the effects of a supplemental Spanish phonological awareness intervention on the dual emergent literacy skills of at-risk Latinx preschoolers who were Dual Language Learners (DLLs). As a doctoral student, she also collaborated in research evaluating the effects of a Tier 2 vocabulary intervention for preschoolers and on a professional development study focusing on implementing literacy-focused Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) in early childhood settings. Xigrid is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow, a Protégé from the 2019 American Speech-Language Hearing Association Pathways Program, and the recipient of the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Scholarship. Xigrid has eight years of experience as a bilingual pediatric speech-language pathologist in clinical, home-based, and educational settings. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., she worked with children (infants-school aged) with communication impairments, as well as children with other developmental disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Xigrid joined Juniper Gardens as an MTSS post-doctoral fellow to advance her grant writing and statistical analysis skills, as well as to deepen her knowledge of MTSS in early childhood settings. Her goal is to apply this training to further her research focusing on promoting the academic success of young at-risk Latino who are DLL by augmenting our understanding, and effective interventions, of their bilingual language and literacy. More specifically, her overarching goals are to a) augment our understanding of DLLs’ bilingual language and literacy development; b) develop and evaluate effective language and literacy interventions that apply an MTSS framework in early childhood settings; and c) conduct community-based research focusing on improving parents’ and teachers’ ability to promote children’s school readiness.


Jun Ai (AJ)

AJ earned her Ph.D. in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Kansas (KU). AJ’s scholarship centers on two topic areas of early intervention/early childhood special education (EI/ECSE). The first topic area is the application of early childhood positive behavior support (PBS; e.g., the Pyramid Model) to promote social, emotional, and behavioral learning in young children. The second topic area is the utilization of coaching to support EI/ECSE professionals’ applications of evidence-based practices to work with young children with special support needs. AJ was awarded the Child Care Research Scholars grant from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to support her dissertation research. Through the lens of implementation science, AJ’s dissertation evaluated the current status of PBS professional development, implementation and sustainability in the state of Kansas. As a post-doctoral fellow, AJ aims to keep expanding and strengthening her lines of inquiry on PBS and coaching through conducting community-based research.

Before her Ph.D. study, AJ worked as a preschool teacher at general education settings, and then she became a special education teacher working with young children with Autism. During her training to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), she provided direct service to preschoolers with disabilities and severe behavior difficulties at an early intensive intervention setting. AJ’s passion in coaching originated from her four-year experience as a university supervisor supporting student teachers’ practicum and pursuit of teaching licenses. AJ believes that her experiences with children, families, and practitioners on the ground has been and will continue fuel her growth as a researcher.


Past Post Doctoral Fellows

Alana Schnitz

2015 - 2017

Alana completed her PhD. in Early Childhood Special Education from Vanderbilt University and was a Head Start Research Scholar for 2 years. Her dissertation evaluated the efficacy of the Positive Solutions for Families Intervention. Alana was formerly the research coordinator for the IES Goal 2 Teaching Pyramid Research Project. She also participated in research around the Pyramid model, including coaching teachers to implement practices associated with the model. She worked with Head Start teachers and families providing teacher and parent trainings, technical assistance to teachers, and providing behavioral support to families. Alana had 14 years of experience working with children who exhibit challenging behaviors as a coach; behavior specialist; and residential, family, and crisis counselor. She is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Alana came to Juniper Gardens as an RTI post-doctoral fellow to further advance her grant writing and statistical analysis skills, as well as knowledge of RTI in Early Childhood. She planned to use these skills to continue her work with teachers to implement evidenced-based practices and families to promote social-emotional development and address challenging behaviors in young children. 


2015 - 2017

Shu-Fei Tsai completed her Ph.D. in Special Education at the University of Washington, with an emphasis in behavioral & emotional disabilities. Her research interests included multi-tiered systems of support and parenting. She had multiple research experiences related to secondary intervention and program evaluation. Shu-Fei had 10 years of experience as a classroom teacher in the general and special education classrooms. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and has provided behavioral analysis services in early childhood settings and home environments.

She came to Juniper Gardens as an RTI post-doctoral fellow in order to further advance research and grant writing skills as well as knowledge of RTI in Early Childhood. She planned to use these skills to develop high quality early interventions capable of altering young, at-risk children’s developmental trajectories. 



2012 - 2014

Ben joined Juniper Gardens in 2012 after graduating with his doctorate in school psychology from Texas A&M University. His training was funded by an OSEP project training school psychologists well-grounded in special and bilingual educational theory and practice. He came with close to twenty years experience in multiple, service-oriented roles that included six years as a research assistant and project coordinator for special and bilingual education projects, five years as a bilingual teacher serving early childhood to elementary grade English learners, and six years working with children and adolescents in a psychiatric hospital setting. His current research focuses on the role of measurement in service provision and progress monitoring along with investigation of school-based interventions for academic and behavioral difficulties.


2012 - 2014

Wendy Iwaszuk joined Juniper Gardens Children’s Project as a post-doctoral research fellow on the Special Education Research Training in Urban Communities: A Research to Practice Model Project. Before finishing her Ph.D. in Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD) and Special Education at University of Washington (UW), Wendy worked as a school psychologist, counselor and behavior interventionist. Funded at UW by a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Leadership Grant, she researched early interventions for the prevention of school failure and developed a passion for teaching adult learners and school practitioners. While completing her dissertation, Wendy directed a Special Education State-Needs Grant for Secondary Transition Services and was an adjunct professor in the areas of school psychology, counseling, functional behavior analysis and special education. Her research interests include school and class-wide supports for students with mild disabilities and focus on interventions for students with EBD. Wendy’s methodology background is in Group and Single Case Design, Multivariate Analysis, and Hierarchical Liner Modeling. At Juniper Gardens she will further develop skills in grant writing and implementing research to follow the Children’s Project mission of improving the social well-being and academic achievement of students by contributing to the investigation and implementation of evidence-based practice.


2012 - 2014

Dwight Irvin completed his Ph.D. in Early Childhood, Special Education and Literacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His specific research focus and area of interest is the development of young children’s social competence. During his doctoral studies, he primarily worked on an interdisciplinary project aimed at determining the effects of comprehensive treatment models on developmental outcomes, both social and academic, of young children with autism spectrum disorder. He has had multiple research experiences related to behavioral coding as well as collecting and analyzing adult and child vocalizations.

He came to Juniper Gardens as a RTI post-doctoral fellow in order to further develop his grant writing and methodological skills as well as knowledge of RTI. He planned to use these skills to design/refine interventions that early childhood practitioners can use during naturally occurring classroom activities and routines to improve the relationships children at-risk for or with disabilities have with their peers and teachers.


2012 - 2014

After working for five years at an inpatient children’s psychiatric facility and then ten years as a licensed specialist in school psychology (LSSP) prior to beginning her doctoral program, Rose had an extensive history providing direct and consultative services, including assessments, counseling, and behavioral therapy to children with a variety of emotional, behavioral, and developmental disabilities in both clinical and school settings. She has completed the coursework and supervision requirements and is eligible to take the examination to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Additionally, she has a strong background in single-case methodology including meta-analytic techniques.

Rose is passionate about identifying practical and functional interventions for schools, teachers, and parents that naturally lend themselves to implementation fidelity in an effort to enhance the life of children with disabilities. Her current research focus is the implementation of video modeling to address social-communicative deficits for secondary and post secondary individuals with ASD. Her research agenda includes filling gaps in the video modeling literature, including the use of video modeling with individuals with high incidence disabilities. 


2012 - 2014

Constance Beecher completed her doctoral studies in Special Education at Washington State University, with an emphasis in early literacy and neuroscience. She has a strong quantitative background combined with many years of experience as a classroom teacher and consultant in Special Education working with children with communication and/or learning difficulties. Her research interests are the connections between early language development and literacy for children with or at risk for disabilities. Constance also has been involved in using technology for intervention for children with special needs.

She comes to Juniper Gardens as an Early Intervention Post-doctoral Fellow funded by IES. The purpose of the fellowship is to prepare new researchers to do innovative, rigorous work in early intervention. Constance's goals are to develop her research skills and use her experience and passion for improving the outcomes of all of children to continue in the tradition of excellence at Juniper Gardens.

2010 - 2011

Education Postdoctoral Researcher, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas PhD, Western Michigan University M.S., Florida Institute of Technology B.A., Eckerd College

Marc is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) and has an extensive background in providing behavior analysis services to individuals with a variety of developmental disabilities in educational, clinical, and residential settings. Since 2001, he has assessed and treated a wide range of challenging behaviors including self-injury, stereotypy, aggression, property destruction, and tantrums. Marc is very familiar with behavioral approaches to language training and, since 2003, has taught verbal behavior to young children with autism, cognitive impairments, and other developmental disabilities in both home and clinical settings. He is a board member of ABA Tutors, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable, high-quality applied behavior analysis services to families in need. Marc’s research interests include school-based functional assessment and treatment of challenging behavior in both typical and protected populations, staff and parent training, and teaching verbal behavior to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Marc is currently an Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education and Literacy Studies, Western Michigan University.

Post Doc

2010 - 2012

Carla completed her doctoral studies in Behavior Disorders with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders at the University of Missouri in 2010. After completing her degree, she joined Juniper Gardens Children’s Project as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. Since joining Juniper Gardens, she has collaborated closely with her mentor Dr. Debra Kamps and her research team to conduct applied intervention research with children with disabilities from diverse ethnic and socio-economic groups. During her time at Juniper Gardens she has written and published four articles in scholarly journals, presented at professional conferences, and taken part in workshops and seminars. A key component of the post-doctoral experience was the conceptualization and independent completion of an IES Goal 2 grant application. This grant seeks to secure funding for the development of instructional and assistive technologies for delivering evidence-based interventions to individuals with ASD who might not otherwise have access due to being in rural or economically disadvantaged areas. Carla is currently completing her postdoctoral fellowship from a distance in Hawaii where she is adjunct faculty at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. After completion of her postdoc position, she hopes to secure a tenure track position at a research institution where she can further pursue her research goals.

Past Post Docs’ Perspectives:

Below are candid survey comments from past post docs about their experiences in the Post Doctoral Leadership Training Program in Intervention Research for Culturally/Linguistically Diverse Students with Disabilities at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project.

How would you describe your overall post doc experience?

2006 - 2008

I feel my post doc experience has been most helpful in beginning to establish my career. I’ve had the opportunity to coordinate a project that is the perfect extension to the research I have done thus far, and this provides me with a place from which to develop my own line of research in parenting interventions for families at risk for child maltreatment.

Having Judy as a mentor has been wonderful because our research interests are very similar and she is very generous with her knowledge and experience. She is very approachable and always makes the time to talk whenever I’ve asked for her time.


2007 - 2008

It’s been like a dream come true. I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from the top researchers in the early childhood field. My mentors have been very supportive of my research interests and have found ways to help me fulfill my goals. They’ve nurtured my abilities while challenging me to reach my potential. Judy, my primary mentor, has truly been a role model—her personal integrity, her passion for her research, her humility, and her genuine concern for the well-being of those around her inspire me to be the best person and researcher that I can be. My support mentor, Mary, has really pushed me to take on more of a leadership role. She knows my aspirations and thus provides me with the opportunities and responsibilities to help me reach my goals. Other Juniper staff have been there for me whenever I needed advice on research designs or career decisions. The people at Juniper have taught me about mutual respect, collaboration, and consideration—not just as colleagues, but as friends and family members. Even though I’m just a post-doc associate who has been here for less than a year, the PIs and directors at the center have treated me like one of their own—and that’s awesome.

2006 - 2007

The outstanding research competencies of Drs. Greenwood and Carta made it easier to translate previous research knowledge to evidence based practices research on a contemporary basis. The most significant aspect of the post doc experience has been the opportunities to share different perspectives on research designs and using application of statistical formulas in multiple baseline design involving careful measurements of multiple persons. I completed my research during my Post-Doc year titled: Hispanic or Latino Fathers Reading to Their Children’s (Dr. Jose Padin, 2008).



What's New
Job Opportunities
  • Assistant Researcher: We are seeking a part-time to full-time Assistant Researcher for a research project that focuses on developing and implementing a coaching model for an elementary classroom management intervention. Approximately 4 school districts and 20 elementary schools with students at risk for school failure will participate in the project and contribute to the development of the program. For more information and to apply, go hereKU is an EO/AAE.
  • Graduate Research Assistant: We are seeking 1-3 graduate research assistant(s) with studies or background in applied behavioral science, special education, psychology, school psychology or related field. The primary purpose of this project is to support high-needs elementary students with the CW-FIT Program (a classroom management intervention) while building for scale and sustainability by developing a district coaching model. For more information and to apply, go hereKU is an EO/AAE.
  • Postdoctoral Researcher: The Postdoctoral Program at the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project (JGCP) seeks a postdoctoral researcher. The purpose of the proposed project is to provide a Quantitative Postdoctoral Researcher with experience that will enable them to conduct high quality behavioral, educational, and special education research in childhood settings. The goal of the training program is to prepare quantitative researchers with the collaborative and methodological skills necessary to conduct next generation of research. For more information and to apply go hereKU is an EO/AAE.
  • Postdocotral Researcher: The Postdoctoral Research Program at the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project (JGCP) is recruiting two postdoctoral researchers interested in developing expertise in carrying out community-engaged research to develop and implement evidence-based practices focused on early intervention, early care, and early education settings. The postdoctoral position is a full-time (100% FTE), 2 years, research-dedicated fellowship.  For more information and to apply, go hereKU is an EO/AAE.
Training Opportunities
  • We will be offering a TPITOS certification training workshop in Kansas City, Kansas at the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project on January 30-31, 2020.​ The TPITOS™ is a tool for ensuring that infant–toddler teachers are implementing the Pyramid Model for Promoting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children with fidelity. Email for more information or register for the workshop by clicking the link.
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