Meet our Team!
Emily Shea Tanis
Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Associate Research Professor
Emily Shea Tanis, PhD, is currently a Associate Research Professor at the Kansas University Center in Developmental Disabilities, Life Span Institute, University of Kansas. She has published articles and investigated the definition of intellectual disability, the measurement of adaptive behavior and support need, the construct of self-determination, federally funded supports and services for people with IDD and their families, and self-directed employment strategies. She is nationally recognized for her expertise in applied technology solutions, Technology First, cognitive accessibility, and advancing the rights of people with cognitive disabilities to technology and information access.
She also serves as PI for the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Longitudinal Data Project of National Significance funded by the U.S. Office on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. For over 35 years, the project has investigated determinants of public spending for Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services and Supports in the United States. Dr. Tanis has been a co-author on The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Monograph since 2011. She is the sibling of a man with a traumatic brain injury and is past chair of the National Sibling Leadership Network and co-founder of the Colorado Sibling Leadership Network Chapter. She received her PhD from the University of Kansas, Department of Special Education and BA from Brown University in Psychology.
Ph.D., Research Analyst
Since 1985 Joy Wu has researched language and cognitive development among normal children vs. children with cognitive disabilities and cross disabilities in China and in the United States. Joy has also studied first language acquisition and second language learning in children and adults, especially bilingual persons’ second language loss. She has authored articles and textbook chapters in both English and Chinese.
Joy received her PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder Campus. Beginning in 1990 as a graduate research assistant, Joy worked with data entry, data analysis and data management using SPSS, SAS and Excel. She worked as a Webmaster from 1996 to 2008. Joy has worked for data entry and as data graphic designer for the State of the States in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Project since 2006, and she has worked for data analysis and data management since 2018 in the University of Colorado. Joy also works as a bilingual volunteer for the National Language Service Corps.
Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor
Daria (Dasha) Gerasimova, PhD, is currently a Assistant Research Professor at the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD), Life Span Institute, University of Kansas. At KUCDD, she serves as a methodologist in the areas of quantitative methods and measurement. Her duties include consulting researchers on research design and methodology, cleaning and statistically analyzing data, writing Methods and Results sections in manuscripts, contributing to Methods sections of grant proposals, and providing other methodological services as needed to support research projects at the center. For the State of the States, she contributes to the ongoing methodological work on the project.
Her research interests are in applied methodology and educational psychology. In the area of applied methodology, she is interested in advancing methods for instrument development and validation, as well as in making methodological advances more accessible to and commonly used by researchers. In the area of educational psychology, she is interested in STEM teaching and learning. Her research is particularly focused on student engagement in a classroom setting. She received her PhD in Education from George Mason University in 2020.
Lucy graduated from the University of Kansas in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language-Hearing. She just recently joined the KU Center on Developmental Disabilities as an Administrative Assistant in August 2022 and looks forward to continuing her career journey here.
Austin graduated from Missouri Western State University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Digital Animation. He has also served as a freelance artist since 2014, specializing in animation, graphic design, and video editing. Austin started his KU career in 2021 as a Research Aide for the KU Center on Developmental Disabilities, before becoming their Communications Specialist in early 2022.
Research Project Specialist
Baylee graduated from the University of Kansas in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. Since 2020, she has been employed at the University of Kansas. Baylee started her career at KU in animal care and has been with the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities since 2021.
Baylee provides various types of support to the State of the States project including website support, scheduling meetings, checking PDFs for accessibility, and preparing annual worksheets for each state. Baylee has mainly focused on accessibility while working for the State of the States and has created an accessible color palette used for graphs and charts.
Accessibility Media Manager
Drew graduated from the University of Kansas in 2004 with a bachelor’s in History of Art. He has worked at KU Life Span Institute in a variety of roles from research assistant, to communications for 17 years. His current role is Associate Director for Communications and Media Services. He supports research across the Life Span Institute by creating digital and print media, social media, research website for communication and data collection, video and audio projects. Drew has a passion for problem solving communications challenges and learning new media. On the State of the States project, Drew is managing website transition efforts with accessibility first approach, and producing the Black Feathers Podcast.
Gloria recently graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish and Social Justice in the U.S. Through her undergraduate program, Gloria gained research experience in several labs where she was tasked with activities such as data management and analysis. Gloria will be working with the State of the States team and will assist other projects led by Shea Tanis.
Ski Adams has been a disability advocate for over twenty-four years. Some advocacy activities that he’s been involved in include passages on the Kansas Employment First Law and serving on a five-year core grant review team.