Meet the Team

Dr. Kristi Morin

Dr. Kristi Morin is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst - Doctoral level (BCBA-D) and a previous general and special education teacher. Her primary research interests are in improving outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorder, both locally and globally. Dr. Morin has over 15 years of experience working with individuals with autism as a classroom teacher, behavior therapist, and researcher. Her local efforts include leading Project STAY, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences that aims to develop a professional development model to support beginning teachers of students with autism working in high-needs schools or districts. Her global efforts include leading a funded project through the Office of Creative Inquiry at Lehigh University that aims to develop a culturally appropriate screening tool to identify individuals with autism in Sierra Leone. Dr. Morin has an affiliated faculty position in the College of Health where she collaborates with faculty on projects related to improving outcomes for individuals with autism. In addition, she is a Consulting Editor for Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities and the Past President of the Council for Exceptional Children North Carolina Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Morin has published numerous peer-reviewed articles related to improving outcomes for individuals with autism and has presented on this topic extensively. Further, Dr. Morin has authored five online modules on evidence-based practices (EBPs) for students with autism and co-authored publications by the National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice (NCAEP) on EBPs for students with autism.

Dr. Lee Kern

Dr. Lee Kern is a Professor of Special Education and Director of the Center for Promoting Research to Practice and Lehigh University Autism Services. She has extensive experience with children and youth with special needs, having worked for over 35 years in education as a paraprofessional, general and special education teacher, behavior specialist, consultant, and researcher. Dr. Kern has received approximately $25 million in grant support from IES, NIMH, USDA, and other agencies to conduct research in the area of child disabilities. Her research focuses on reducing behavioral and mental health problems in children and adolescents using positive behavior support strategies. In 2018 Dr. Kern received the James Kaufman Research Award for excellence in research. She has written numerous articles, book chapters, and four books. Dr. Kern is co-Editor of Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions and serves on the editorial boards of 10 journals in the fields of education and disabilities.

Dr. Melinda Leko

Dr. Melinda Leko is a Professor and current Chair in the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Leko has research interests in educator preparation and development to promote and support equitable educational experiences for learners with disabilities. She has received more than $5.5 million in external funding to support these research interests, including a recent IES Development and Innovation award aimed at developing an induction program for emergency certified rural special educators. Dr. Leko has disseminated her research findings in over 40 peer-reviewed articles, four book chapters, and one book, and she is the Co-Editor of Teacher Education and Special Education and Associate Editor for both researcher-focused and practitioner focused journals.

Dr. Jessaca Spybrook

Dr. Jessaca Spybrook is a Professor of Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology at Western Michigan University, specializing in evaluation, measurement and research. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Michigan, where she also received an M.A. in Applied Statistics and a B.A. in Elementary Education. Her research focuses on improving the design of causal inference studies, particularly in education. She is an expert in power analyses and is coauthor of Optimal Design and PowerUP!-Moderator, programs for conducting power analyses for main effects and moderator effects for multilevel studies. Dr. Spybrook has substantial experience designing and conducting statistical analyses for cluster randomized trials (CRT) and frequently provides consultation to research organizations on the design, implementation, and evaluation of educational studies, including to the American Institutes for Research and Abt Associates. Additionally, she is a regular invited speaker at the annual IES Summer Institute on CRTs and she has conducted numerous workshops at the Annual Meeting for the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. Dr. Spybrook’s research has been funded by IES, NSF, and the William T. Grant Foundation. She was a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow in 2010-11 and a Fellow for the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness in 2015-16.

Demi RohlfingDemi Rohlfing

Demi Rohlfing is currently a Director of Special Education at a school district in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Content Manager for Project STAY, and a doctoral student in the special education program at Lehigh University. She graduated from Kutztown University in 2014 with a B.S. in education. Additionally, she earned her Master of Education and Supervisory certificate in special education from East Stroudsburg University in 2020. Mrs. Rohlfing has been in the field of special education as a paraprofessional, teacher, facilitator, and administrator for over a decade. Her research interests include teacher preparation,  in-service teacher training for special educators and paraprofessionals, strengthening teacher and paraprofessional relationships, and the use of evidence-based practices in the field of special education.

Grace MurphyGrace Murphy

Grace Murphy is currently a third-year doctoral student in Special Education at Lehigh University’s College of Education. Grace graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in anthropology from The Catholic University of America before becoming more familiar with child development in a classroom setting as a lead preschool teacher. She furthered her education at Tufts University from 2019-2021, where she received her M.A in Child Study and Human Development, with a concentration in 21st Century Literacies: Media and Technology. Currently, her research interests include the female presentation of autism, autism across the lifespan, and autism comorbidities, with a special focus on identifying and diagnosing autism in females, individuals without an accompanying intellectual disability, and individuals in late childhood and early adulthood. Her main goal is to help improve the diagnostic process for groups of individuals whose autism is commonly missed in childhood so that early diagnosis and accommodations can be achieved.