KidTalk Research Affiliates



Jennifer Cunningham, Ph.D. – Post-doc/Project Coordinator, University of Washington, College of Education

Jennifer obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland in 2011, and her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Vanderbilt University in 2013. After completing her Master’s degree, Jennifer worked as a lead teacher in an inclusive preschool classroom at the University of Maryland laboratory school. She returned to Vanderbilt in 2015, and recently completed her doctorate in Early Childhood Special Education.



Jennifer R. Frey, PhD, BCBA-D – Associate Professor of Special Education & Disability Studies, The George Washington University
Jennifer has been a member of the KidTalk Family since 2004 and is a three-time alumna of Vanderbilt University. She currently is on faculty at The George Washington University where she directs the early childhood special education and autism graduate programs.
Jennifer Frey
Lizzy Fuller, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Fellow, MIND Institute, University of California-Davis

Lizzy obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011. She worked for five years in the Kasari Lab as a research analyst, interventionist, assessor, and parent trainer for children with autism. She recently completed her Doctorate degree in Early Childhood Special Education at Vanderbilt University.



Lauren Hampton, Ph.D., BCBA – Research Associate & Interventionist, University of Texas at Austin

Lauren recently received a PhD in Early Childhood Special Education from Vanderbilt University. Lauren has worked with Kidtalk since 2008 and she currently coordinates the Kidtalk projects serving preschoolers with autism and children with autism in South Africa.


Jodi K. Heidlage, Ph.D., BCBA – Research Associate, Vanderbilt University

Jodi received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Lipscomb University, and her Master’s in early childhood special education from Vanderbilt University. She has worked for the past seven years as a therapist, consultant, and parent trainer for pre-school and school-aged children with autism. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree, and works on the KidTalk ACE project serving minimally verbal children with autism. She recently completed her Doctorate degree in Early Childhood Special Education at Vanderbilt University.



Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez, Ed.D., M.Ed. – Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Education; Associate Professor, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University

Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez’s program of research is focused on advancing students’ language and reading comprehension outcomes, including those of students from Spanish-speaking, low-income homes. She is a 2013 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow, a 2013 Hellman Fellow, a 2017 English Language Learners Policy Fellow and, most recently, was awarded the American Educational Research Association 2019 Early Career Award. She is Associate Editor for AERA Open and Journal of Educational Psychology. Jeannette is an appointed member of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading Standing Committee.



Emily Dayle Quinn, Ph.D., CCC-SLP –  Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics/Institute on Development and Disability, Oregon Health and Science University

Emily received her Bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from Penn State University and her Master’s degree at the University of Nebraska specializing in traumatic brain injury and augmentative and alternative communication.  Prior to moving to Tennessee she worked as a speech- language pathologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Portland, Oregon and as a research associate at Oregon Health & Science University. Emily enjoys working with children with multiple disabilities. She recently completed the doctoral program at Vanderbilt University in Early Childhood Special Education.