By Katie Frey
MSU College of Social Science selected Dr. Sarah Douglas, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, for the inaugural Faculty Outreach and Engagement Award. The award recognizes significant positive impact on the larger community, innovation, or creativity in how the outreach generated, transmitted and/or applied knowledge and evidence of sustainability and lasting impact.
The committee chose Dr. Douglas because they all agreed that her efforts with respect to children, their families and their communities embody the essence of this award and will have lasting and wide impact.
“I am so appreciative of all the educational and community partners who collaborate to make this work possible. I also want to acknowledge the individuals in my lab who have helped me establish and maintain these partnerships. This award recognizes you as well.”
She joined the faculty at MSU in 2014 and started the Research in Autism and Developmental Disabilities Lab where she conducts research to support children with disabilities, their families, and educational teams. Her research focuses on three distinct areas: paraeducator supports for students with disabilities, communication partner training to support children who use augmentative and alternative communication, and sensor technologies to measure social interactions of children with disabilities. She has current funding through the U.S. Department of Education to create, test, and revise an online training program for paraeducators and supervising teachers who support children with complex communication needs.
“Dr. Douglas’ outreach/engagement work is critically needed to support children with disabilities within homes, schools and centers serving these children,” Dr. Yijie Wang said, MSU HDFS assistant professor and nominator. “Her work is of lasting and wide impact – she has built extensive partnerships with over 130 early childhood centers, districts, schools disability organizations and children’s hospitals in Michigan to reach educators, children with disabilities and their families.”
Dr. Douglas will use the award to fund pilot research to secure ongoing large-scale funding that will allow her to continue to support children with disabilities, their families, and their educational teams.