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.


Keysha Martinez-Torres, Ph.D., CCC-SLP – Interventionist 

Keysha completed her BA in Elementary Education from the University of Puerto Rico Bayamon Campus and MS and Speech and Language Pathology from Carlos Albizu University in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is currently a Bilingual Speech Pathologist at the Bill Wilkerson Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a PhD student at Vanderbilt University. Her clinical work focuses on early intervention services, providing support to families of the Latinx community who have children with developmental disabilities (i.e. ASD, Language and Speech Disorders, Down Syndrome). Her research work focuses on understanding the prevalence of disabilities in early childhood, availability of resources, and aims to expand the literature on best practices for the Spanish speaking communities in the US and its territories (i.e. Puerto Rico).

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.


Natalie Pak, Ph.D., CCC-SLP – Assistant Professor of Communication Disorders, University of South Florida

Natalie received her B.A. in Spanish and Speech-Language-Hearing in 2013, as well as her M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology in 2015, from the University of Kansas. She then worked as a speech-language pathologist in a public school district in Colorado for three years at the preschool and elementary levels. Natalie came to the KidTalk lab in 2018 to pursue a PhD and contribute to research on communication interventions for children and families.


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.