itiSummer 2019 Newsletter from CERD


Research Dean’s Corner

by Dr. Susan Bloomfield

Hello, colleagues near and far:

Summer is upon us and the weather gods have been relatively merciful thus far this June, for which I am grateful. The hectic pace of regular semester schedules is behind us, but I know many of you are now immersed in summer camps, a flurry of hiring before new projects start in the fall, or simply catching up on that backlog of manuscripts. The CERD office staff has been hard at work on assuring set-up of summer payroll, actively networking  and recruiting with Texas schools at the West Texas Excellence in Education Conference in lovely Odessa and Transform ED Conference in Waco, and meeting relentless proposal deadlines.

Changes in the CERD Office: We are so pleased to have Dr. Thess Bernard join our pre-award team as Research Development Officer as of May 6; she has a remarkable depth of experience as a former PI, project director of complex projects, and research administrator. Another new face is Ms. Modesta Molina, Business Coordinator to our Post-Award group in Harrington Tower. Mr. Jesús Palomo was promoted to Senior Research Development Officer as of April 1, assuming many of Windy Hollis Turner’s former duties along with a small portfolio of proposal submissions. I want to acknowledge the excellent work of Ms. Amy Jurica Hinnant, our CERD Outreach Coordinator, in creating these newsletters which would be far less creative and timely without her input.

Other important thank-you’s: 1) Dr. Oi-Man Kwok, for several years of service representing us on the University Council of PI’s (CPI) and for accepting the VPR’s invitation to serve on an important task force advising central IT Governance on long term data storage and management; 2) Dr. Timothy Elliott, for serving as our College CPI Chair this year and, this next year, on the University CPI subsequent to being elected by CEHD PI’s to that post; and 3) Dr. Mack Burke, for stepping up to take on our College CPI Chairmanship this coming year. Please thank these gentlemen when you see them for their time and dedicated effort in representing your interests at the College and University levels. I was impressed that we had six CEHD research faculty accepting nominations for CEHD representative to University CPI, a healthy sign of engagement in support of our collective research interests.

This year’s Grant Skills Builder Workshop series ended with an awesome Department of Education/IES Mock Review Panel on May 14 in Rudder Tower. Attendees were rapt as our review panel discussed two proposals that has actually been submitted in the past to the IES and then (after stepping out of character) fielded many audience queries about the process. Thanks to the CEHD Communication Office, this session was professionally videotaped; that video is now posted on our CEHD Research & Development TAMU YouTube Channel. This is a must-see for anyone planning to submit a proposal to the US Department of Education. I deeply appreciate the hard work of Dr. Kimber Vannest, this year’s Research Leadership Development Fellow, in organizing this mock review session as well as the earlier grant writing panels. Kudos also go to our faculty who spent time reviewing those two proposals in advance and served on the panel: Drs. Jamilia Blake, J. Ganz, Jeff Liew, and Kay Wijekumar. Two UT-Austin faculty joined us on this effort: Drs. Elizabeth Gershoff and Esther Calzada.

Our Program Officer visit program: If you attended (or viewed videos of) 3 out of our 4 Grant Skills Builder workshops, you are eligible for consideration for a funded visit (up to $1500) to a federal program officer to pitch a proposal idea. Please contact me ( if you are eligible and interested in pursuing this great opportunity, since Dr. Vannest (who was coordinating this) has departed for an excellent opportunity at University of Vermont.

Heads up on an evolving issue: I believe our College CPI group will address this fall the issue of communications/IT support on faculty research projects. Currently, the focus of these two College-level offices is on providing quality support for our everyday office and teaching needs and communications needs of the College. It is clear that research projects requiring extensive server space, high volume IT management of program delivery, frequent videography, and the like need to have budgetary support for that built into their proposal budget. Our pre-award staff (Jesús, Gabe and Thess) can advise you on mechanisms for doing that. On the other hand, many of us might have incidental needs for communications/IT support related to our research programs that are difficult to justify as a separate budget item. Our College CPI group is working on a survey of those incidental needs to be circulated early in the fall; I strongly urge you to fill out this needs assessment survey when it arrives to your Inbox. Those data might provide the justification down the road for central support for such needs.

Kudos to all who have received new project awards since our last newsletter (see elsewhere in this newsletter). Hot off the press news from last week: Dr. Jamilia Blake (EPSY) and her team of 12 won one of 4 “large” X-grants awarded by the President’s Excellence Fund for her work on school discipline approaches with girls of color, funded at >$1.4m. What tremendous news as we roll into summer!

Thanks for all of your brilliant work, everyone; I wish for you all some quality R&R time before we hit September.



New Awards

February 26, 2019-June 17, 2019

Name Agency Title Funding
Arlen Strader  (PI) Baylor College of Medicine – NASA TRI Data Support 13,759
Beverly Irby and Bin Mai (Co-PI) [Dilma Da Silva, TEES – (PI)] Department of Defense-National Security Agency Student GenCyber Camps: Summer Camps for Educational Service Regions 4 and 6 of the State of Texas 14,930
Julie Thompson (PI), Melissa Fogarty (Co-PI) Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Supporting Spanish-speaking families to increase emergent literacy and language of their children with autism through story-based instruction. 191,161
Timothy Elliott (PI) Central Texas Veterans Health Care System The impact of modifiable psychosocial factors on Veterans’ long-term trajectories of functioning and quality of life: Promoting recovery by targeting mindfulness and psychological flexibility, aka Pro 11,635
Oi-Man Kwok (PI) Central Texas Veterans Health Care System The impact of modifiable psychosocial factors on Veterans’ long-term trajectories of functioning and quality of life: Promoting recovery by targeting mindfulness and psychological flexibility, aka Pro 18,258
Dalun Zhang (PI) Texas Workforce Commission Person-Centered Employment Planning Training (PCEP) 169,620
Steven Reichman (PI) National Science Foundation Adaptable Speed-Endurance Training Algorithm to Manage Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity Development 50,000
Whitney Garney  (PI) American Heart Association-Texas – DHHS-Centers for Disease Control Subaward on American Heart Association’s CDC REACH Proposal 170,038
Yorghos Apostolopoulos (PI) University of Central Florida-NIH Delineating Hispanic Immigrants’ Allostatic Load Dynamics through Systems Modeling 120,903
Steve Martin (PI), Stephen Crouse (Co-PI) City of College Station The City of College Station Police Department Cardiovascular Health Profiles 2019-2024 138,139
Steve Martin (PI), Stephen Crouse (Co-PI) City of College Station City of College Station Fire Department Cardiovascular Health Profiles (FitLife Services) 2019-2024 492,832
Marlene Dixon (PI) Leadership Foundations Highway of Hope Basketball Program – Pilot Project 22,679
Marlene Dixon (PI) AMOS Sport Business School Reverse Study Abroad 51,150
James Fluckey (PI) American College of Sports Medicine Exercise is Chemotherapy: Examining the Effects of Myokine Release from Contracting Skeletal Muscle on Cultured Glioblastoma Cancer Cells 2,000
Sue Bloomfield (PI) Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Inflamm-Aging and Bone Loss in a Rodent Model of Spinal Cord Injury 8,808
Sue Bloomfield (Co-PI) Baylor College of Medicine – NASA Retired Astronaut Medical Data Repository: a Feasibility Project 53,756
John Lawler, (PI)  James Fluckey, (Co-PI) NASA-Washington Upstream Regulation of Nox2 and Skeletal Muscle Atrophy During Microgravity and Countermeasure Development 750,000
Jacqueline Stillisano (PI) Collegiate Edu-Nation Foundation Research Study: Roscoe Collegiate High School 12,500
Bugrahan Yalvac (PI) Prairie View A&M University – USDE Enhancing Evidence-Based Pedagogies with Maker Culture in STEM Education 120,000
Yeping Li (PI), Larry Kelly and Roger Howe (Co-I) National Science Foundation Strengthening Mathematics Teaching for Elementary and Middle School High Need Schools 1,191,842


Pre-Award Updates

New PreAward  Research Development Officer Thess Bernard joins CERD

Thessalenuere (Thess) Bernard, Ph.D. joins Texas A&M as a Research Development Officer in CERD. Dr. Bernard holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in Sociology from NC Central University and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Iowa State University.

Dr. Bernard brings a wealth of experiences across academic and corporate environments including having served as the Director of an EPSCoR grant and Caribbean Green Technology Center at the University of the Virgin Islands; Associate Director of a CDC funded grant at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Assistant Director for a NSF ADVANCE-IT grant at Rutgers University; and Associate Research Director/Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

She began her academic career as a Research Assistant Professor at NC A&T State University and has also been an adjunct instructor at the University of Arkansas and the University of Houston and an Extension Specialist at the University of Kentucky.

As a corporate professional, Dr. Bernard spent time at Walmart’s Corporate Home Office leading the Measurement and Evaluation efforts for Talent Development and as a Senior Manager on the Global People Analytics’ Team. She loves to dance and travel as well as attend sporting events and cultural festivals with her husband.

Images and Video from the Mock Review Panel

Here is a link to all three video segments available on YouTube.  

Post Award Updates

Thank You to Principal Investigators:

The Post-Award Research Services team would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to all of the College of Education and Human Development faculty and staff who work with research projects. We know you are very busy teaching, mentoring, researching, studying, and charting new paths forward to help make the world better for everyone.  We appreciate that you have taken the time to respond to all of the questions from our office regarding summer payroll over the past two months. With your help we have been able to improve the process of setting up summer payroll costing allocations on research accounts and look forward to seeing the benefits of these improvements as faculty and staff continue to conduct research throughout the summer months.

Reporting Initiative:

Over the past few months the CEHD Post-Award Research Services team has taken on a reporting initiative to provide principal investigators with monthly account balances. We encourage PIs to be on the lookout for additional pages over the summer months that will included information on expenditures, personnel, and payroll encumbrances.

For more information on this initiative or if you have questions about the reports you are currently receiving, please contact us at

*Please note that the Post-Award team utilizes shared email boxes for reporting, purchasing, and payroll in order to provide PIs and research staff with a quicker response to your questions and concerns.

How to better streamline submissions in Laserfiche

  • Research account is used to purchase/pay- include the correct account number on the request
  • Attach the invoice/link/vendor and quantity of how many items are needing ordered
  • If specific address is where items will need to be shipped please include that information on “justification” section
  • Attach PI approval prior to submitting the request, either by email or PI signature on invoice with the account number
  • The “Payee” section of the request is where you document what vendor is being paid.

*** Please note that the CERD office cannot edit or add any documents to an already submitted purchase request. If documentation/approval/account number are not attached to submitted request it will be rejected back with information of what is needed and a new purchase request will need to be entered.

New Post Award Business Coordinator Modesta Molina joins CERD

Modesta Molina was born and raised in the Bryan College Station area. Prior to joining the College of Education and Human Development as a Business Coordinator, she worked at Texas A&M University with the College of Veterinary Medicine. She has also worked in healthcare and grocery retail. She enjoys spending her free time at her children’s sports events and activities, or reading. She also enjoys traveling, eating junk food, and participating in outdoor activities. Modesta’s office is located on the 4th floor of Harrington Tower in the CERD Post Award suite.



First Aggie Autism Forum Held in May

This past May a first-time ever event inviting key stakeholders in the special education field of autism from across the state took place at Texas A&M; the Aggie Autism Forum.  This one-day event was the brain-child of Dr. J. Ganz and her hard working team, including Ching-Yi Liao, Sani Wattanawongwan, April Haas and Andrew Patterson.  The day was spent in conversation with teacher practitioners,  special education directors, parents and faculty members all working in the area of autism.  A highlight of the program was a lively and interactive discussion panel including Dr. Ganz, Dr. Julie Thompson, Dr. Nicolaas Deutz, Dr. Carly Gilson and Josua Comeger, an undergraduate student with ASD.  After lunch, Dr. Gilson led the group in “A Community Conversation” where smaller table groups were created and conversations about on-going challenges and successes in the area of autism were discussed.  Thanks to support of Dr. Bloomfield, Dr. Hagan-Burke and Dean Alexander, all in attendance as well, the event was a tremendous first time success with plans already in the works for future Aggie Autism Forum events.  The CERD office helped support this forum in an effort to help disseminate research findings and network with the special education community.


Outreach Services

CERD Outreach Coordinator, Amy Jurica Hinnant,  along with Dr. Janice Meyer, Program Manager, from the Office of the Provost, Public Partnership and Outreach and Dr. Valerie Hill-Jackson, Assistant Dean of Educator Preparation and School Partnerships attended the recent Summer Institute on Community -Engaged Teacher Preparation at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. The trio met with members of the Schools Within the Context of Community (SCC) program at Ball State.  This unique program broadens the definition of “teacher educator” by immersing preservice teacher candidates in a historically African-American neighborhood, where they are matched with community mentors who serve as cultural ambassadors.  These mentors import the values and strengths of the children and families with whom candidates work with during their practicum placement at Longfellow Elementary in the Whitely community in the Muncie area.  This award-winning program will enter its 11th year in the fall  and serves to prepare culturally responsive, community-engaged teachers.  CEHD is looking to partner with schools, communities and funding sources to model some of the practices used in the SCC model.

CERD Outreach promoted and recruited for research projects including MOOPIL, PREP and literacy.IO at the recent West Texas Excellence in Education Conference in Odessa.

At the Transform ED Conference at Region 12 in Waco with John Bullion, Special Ed Liaison and his three children after John’s podcast session at the conference.

Spotlight on Research Staff

The CERD Office works with faculty PIs from the entire College, as well as the research staff that ensures the success of the researchers.  Each month we like to highlight the work of various research staff members.  This month we are highlighting two of Dr. J. Ganz’ research staff,  Dr. Ching-Yi Liao and Sankian Wattanawongwan.

Ching-Yi Liao is a doctoral student in the Special Education doctoral program. She successfully completed her dissertation defense in April with a Summer 2019 graduation date. She holds  two Master’s degrees in Special Education and Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and has more than 10 years of experience working in general and special education. Her  research interests are in evidence-based communication interventions, particularly applied behavior analysis (ABA) based interventions, for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD). Most recently, she has focused  on culturally responsive approaches for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) caregivers to use ABA-based skills in working with children in natural settings. Over the past three years, she has worked with Dr. Ganz to conduct single-case studies, systematic reviews, quality reviews, and a meta-analytic study in three areas: (a) multimodal communication interventions, (b) parent-mediated intervention, and (c) culturally and linguistically-responsive parent coaching for CLD families with children with ASD and IDD.

Sanikan Wattanawongwan, is currently a fourth-year doctoral student and project coordinator in Special Education for Dr. Ganz. Sani has provided services for individuals with autism in Thailand and the United States in school, clinic, and home settings. Her current research interest focuses on coaching families and paraprofessionals of individuals with autism to use evidence-based behavioral strategies to enhance communication and social skills. She coordinates the study in a comprehensive meta-analysis federal grant project related to communication interventions for people with autism and developmental disabilities.

When asked about Ching-Yi and Sani, Dr. Ganz had this to say, ” Ching-Yi and Sani work non-stop on behalf of  individuals  with disabilities and their families. Dr. Ching-Yi Liao (successfully defended her dissertation in April) challenges the research team to implement culturally responsive practices with our families of children with autism in assessment and delivery of services. Team members consider her a role model in conducting ethical and high-quality research. Sani  is compelled to facilitate her own work and that of others. Her commitment to collegiality and promoting a positive climate for the team is exemplary.”