The Early Learning Institute was developed by Dr. Joshua Plavnick, a Doctoral Level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), and Laurie Linscott, M. A. and Director of the Child Development Laboratories.
The Clinical Director of the Institute is Dr. Katherine LaLonde, BCBA-D. Dr. LaLonde is an expert in developing behavioral therapy programs for children with ASD, with specific expertise in teaching early language to young children.
Joshua Plavnick, Ph.D., Michigan State University
Joshua Plavnick is an associate professor of special education, and Director of the Early Learning Institute, which he founded in 2014. His research interests involve the development and implementation of community-based interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, automated measurement of human behavior, applications of technology to behavior analytic interventions, and training educational service providers to administer behavior analytic interventions.
Kate LaLonde, Ph.D., Western Michigan University
Kate LaLonde is an assistant professor of special education, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Doctoral (BCBA-D) and the Clinical Director of the Early Learning Institute (ELI). She is responsible for assessment and treatment of children enrolled at ELI, development and evaluation of ELI’s curriculum, training of behavior technicians, development and implementation of family training. She also teaches Master’s-level courses in the Applied Behavior Analysis program. Currently her research focuses on teaching language skills to young children with autism. Specifically, she has completed studies that teach children expressive language skills (e.g., tact and intraverbal). Her research aims to teach language skills using naturalistic behavioral interventions and developing interventions that lead to emergent learning.
Matt Brodhead, Ph.D., Utah State University
Matthew T. Brodhead is an assistant professor, the Research Director of the Early Learning Institute, and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst whose research examines behavioral determinants of response variability, choice and independent social skills in children with autism. He is also interested in research and conceptual issues relating to the ethical and professional behavior of practicing behavior analysts. He is on the editorial boards of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and the Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Through workshops and consultation, he has established multiple school-based programs for children with autism, and he has provided training to teachers, related service providers and behavior analysts throughout the United States.
Laurie Linscott, MA, Michigan State University
Laurie Linscott is a Senior Academic Specialist who serves as Director of the Child Development Laboratories. She joined the faculty of HDFS (formerly Family and Child Ecology) in 1999 as a Head Teacher where she worked with the MSU/C.A.C.S. Head Start Collaboration. In 2001, Laurie moved to Central School as Head Teacher.
Kathryn Colaluca, MA
Kathryn Colaluca is the Outreach and Operations Director of the Early Learning Institute.
Gretchen Ewart, MBA, Cleary University
Gretchen Ewart is the Business Manager of the Early Learning Institute. She has over ten years of experience working for Deans, Directors and Chairs across multiple Big Ten universities in Michigan. She has been with MSU since 2012.
Board Certified Behavior Analysts/Site Directors
Erica Weber, MA, BCBA
Erica Weber is the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) at the on-campus location of the ELI. In addition to her board certification she also holds a State of Michigan Professional Teaching Certificate and has 15 years experience working in the public school system.
Sara Dodson, MA, BCBA
My name is Sara Dodson and I am the behavior analyst at Lansing site (ELI2). I live with my family in Haslett and we have 3 beautiful girls. My oldest daughter is Jocelyn, followed by Lyla and Vivian. We stay very busy around our house! I began my career teaching special education with a degree from Eastern Michigan University. I taught in classrooms for transition aged students (16 to 26) focusing on work experiences, community based instruction, functional academics, independent living skills, and social skills during the first 6 years of teaching. During this time, I went to Michigan State University and received graduate degrees in both Autism Spectrum Disorders and Applied Behavior Analysis. Most recently, I taught a classroom for elementary aged students (4 to 9) with ASD and cognitive impairments in a center based school setting. I love teaching, but found that I preferred using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis to increase student success in my classroom. I am excited to become a part of the Early Learning Institute and provide high quality education to this amazing set of learners!
Katie Bishop, MA, BCBA
Hi! My name is Katie Bishop and I just recently moved to Michigan to work as a behavior analyst at the Holt site (ELI 3). I’m so excited to be here and to get to know all the children and families at ELI! I graduated with a master’s in Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi through the Applied Behavior Analysis program. I also have a bachelor’s degree in English and I love creative writing and reading a good book. Most of time outside of work, though, is spent running after my very energetic four-year old boy named Archer.
Savana Bak is a doctoral candidate in Special Education at Michigan State University. Her research interests are in language and literacy in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She is currently working on her dissertation with Dr. Joshua Plavnick on how different language environments effect expressive language in young children with ASD using the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system.
Sarah Byrne is a first-year doctoral student in Special Education at Michigan State University under the guidance of Dr. Joshua Plavnick and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Previously, Sarah received her B.S in psychology and B.A in anthropology at Michigan State University in 2015, and went on to receive her M.A. in Behavior Analysis under the supervision of Dr. Denise Ross from Western Michigan University in 2017. Sarah is currently a research assistant and works at various levels within the Early Learning Institute, and is looking at the use of Headsprout Early Reading instruction with children who have autism.
Ana Dueñas is a third year PhD student in the Department of Counseling Educational Psychology, and Special Education (CEPSE) and a certified behavior analyst (BCBA). Her work at the Early Learning Institute focuses on the application of naturalistic behavioral interventions to improve the language of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the application of peer mediated strategies to improve social interactions among children with ASD and typically developing preschoolers. She is currently working on developing a procedure to enhance social responsiveness in typically developing peers to the initiations of children with ASD, using video feedback and the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Unhee Ju bio.
Emma Seliina Sipila, MA, BCBA
Emma Sipila is a first-year doctoral student in the Special Education program at Michigan State University under the guidance of Dr. Matthew Brodhead. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and has been working with individuals with autism for 11 years. Currently, she is a research assistant at MSU and works at various levels at the Early Learning Institute. Prior to coming to MSU, Emma received her Master’s degree in Behavior Analysis under Dr. Richard Malott from Western Michigan University in 2017 and her Bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in 2013.
My name is Mariekie. I graduated in December 2017 with my Bachelor’s in Psychology. I am passionate about working with children and thoroughly enjoy every minute I get to spend teaching them new skills and watching them grow. After taking time to discover my primary interest in methods of treatment, I intend on pursuing a Ph.D to become a child psychologist.
After graduating from MSU in 2017, I will continue my education at MSU for a master’s degree in applied behavioral analysis. I started with ELI in 2016 and can’t wait to continue my work and journey in the field of ABA.
My name is Emily Cooper; I recently graduated MSU’s Kinesiology program in December 2017 and plan to continue on to receive a Masters (and later, PhD) in Exercise Physiology, with a focus in Cardiac Rehab. I am very passionate about Kinesiology, coffee, MSU athletics, and ELI! Working at ELI 1 not only gives me the amazing opportunity to help kids learn in innovative, meaningful ways, but also gives me the chance to participate in active research studies that could serve to benefit individuals with ASD for years to come. Go green!
Laurie Domino bio.
Hi, my name is Alexa and I graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I began working at the Early Learning Institute as an intern my senior year of college and fell in love with all things ABA. After graduation, I became a Behavior Technician at ELI. I have enjoyed being part of the ELI team and getting to know all the children. This fall I began the graduate program of Applied Behavior Analysis at MSU with plans to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
Anjela Galimberti is a proud member of the team of behavior technicians at ELI 1 where she provides 1:1 and group therapy to children enrolled in the Early Learning Institute’s exceptional ABA therapy program. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the College of Wooster with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in May 2016 and then spent a year working as a behavior technician at an Autism Center in Ann Arbor, MI that provided ABA therapy to children from 3-15 years of age. During this year, she also became a Registered Behavior Technician certified by the BACB. This experience inspired her passion for encouraging the growth and development of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder through principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis to help each child thrive in their own way. She is currently a first year Master’s student in Michigan State University’s Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Analysis program and hopes to continue serving children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder by becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst after completing the program.
Kenzie Gatewood is a lead behavior technician at the Early Learning Institute and a second-year student in the Masters of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis program at Michigan State University. During her undergraduate studies, she obtained a Bachelor of arts in special education with an emphasis on learning disabilities, and specialized in working with urban populations. She completed her full year internship in Lansing public schools teaching eighth grade English as well as special education English and study skills courses. Currently she is conducting her thesis project, researching effective practices for teaching expressive language (e.g., tact) skills to young children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Following completion of her thesis project and graduation she plans to continue to work with young children with disabilities in a clinic or public-school setting.
My name is Ariel graham and I am currently a first year Master’s student in the MSU Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program. I received my Bachelor’s degree at MSU in psychology with a focus on child development. Following the completion of the ABA program I plan on moving out of state to pursue a Ph.D. program in Clinical psychology. I was also a former cheerleader at Michigan State during my undergraduate career and because of this I have grown to have a strong passion for fitness. My love for this area has inspired my focus for my Master’s thesis, which is to teach children with Autism to participate in outdoor sports and gross motor play. Overall, since joining the ELI team my passion for working with children has grown to a new level. I am excited to continue working with the ELI children and impact so many lives for years to come!
Hi I’m Audrey and working at ELI is my first experience as a BT! I graduated from MSU in August with a dual degree in psychology and human biology. I have hopes of going to medical school next year but for now I’m enjoying learning and gaining new experiences. Outside of work I love to travel, read, and try new restaurants. My time at ELI has been extremely rewarding so far, and I’m excited to see what the future holds!
I graduated from Michigan State University in May 2017 with a B.S in Neuroscience and a minor in Cognitive Science. I have been working as a behavior technician at ELI since the Spring of 2017 and was previously an undergraduate research assistant for ELI too. In my spare time I love to cook, bake, travel, and do anything that involves warm weather and the outdoors. My goals are to gain more research and clinical experience to help further my educational career and attend graduate school in the near future.
Zac is a first-year BT, who graduated from Michigan State in 2017 with a degree in cognitive neuroscience. He is currently taking a gap year as he takes some time off school while exploring the possibility of professional school. Zac is currently considering the possibility of a masters in either public health or ABA. Zachary has a passion for helping others and thinks that being a BT is a great way to do that every day. Outside of work Zac enjoys watching and playing sports, watching Netflix’s, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Hi, my name is Abbey! I am a recent graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Education, where I studied Special Education-Learning Disabilities. My ultimate goal is to become a Special Education Lawyer–hopefully in the next few years! I love to spend my time outside, traveling, or eating yummy (vegetarian) food!
My name is Shantinique Jones and I have been a Behavior Technician at the Early Learning Institute for two years. I am currently in the ABA Masters program and will be graduating in May. I have had a wonderful experience at ELI and am happy to be going to ELI 2. I am excited to get to know you and your families and the year ahead.
My name is Kailie and I am currently a 2nd year Master’s student in MSU’s ABA program. I received my Bachelor’s in Psychology from Michigan State University in 2014. I am currently completing my practicum and BCBA supervision at the Early Learning Institute in East Lansing. My thesis evaluated training visual analysis using a clinical decision-making model. After graduation, I plan to move out of state and possible pursue my PhD in Clinical Psychology. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, admiring waterfalls and spending time with my cat, Noel.
My name is Darla Kril and I am a first year Master’s student at Michigan State University. I received my Bachelor’s degree in psychology at MSU. I am currently completing my practicum at The Early Learning Institute within the Child Development Laboratories. My research interests involve increasing the effectiveness of training of individuals at a clinical level. I enjoy spending time outdoors exploring and loving on my dog, Sosa. Art and other creative activities are also a passion of mine.
Hi! My name is Emma Mitchell and I am a lead behavior technician at ELI 2! I am originally from Mississippi and moved here last year after being hired as a BT at ELI. I received my BA in Psychology from Millsaps College and will be attending the masters program in Applied Behavior Analysis at Michigan State this fall. I absolutely love working with these kids and have so much fun getting to know each of them and what they find reinforcing. I feel so lucky to be a part of the ELI community and to be able to work with these amazing kiddos!
Hello, my name is Kala Myers and I moved to Michigan from Virginia last August. I received my Bachelors degree from Radford University in Communication Science and Disorders with a concentration in Speech Language Pathology. I have worked at ELI for over a year, I am excited to work at our newest site in Holt. I’m so grateful to be a part of ELI and I am excited to continue to see your children learning each day.
Brendan Nordstrom bio.
Meaghan graduated from Michigan State University in May of 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, with a focus in communicative science and disorders. With a passion for helping people and a drive to have a new experience, she had the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps Member through Michigan College Access Network following graduation. The AmeriCorps experience brought her back to her northeastern MI home town in Oscoda, Michigan for two years serving in the high school she graduated from. While she highly enjoyed serving the high school aged children, she was ready for something new and that’s when she learned of the Early Learning Institute. Meaghan is excited to be working with such a supportive team at ELI and can’t wait to see the growth of each learner this school year.
I’m a second-year graduate student in the Applied Behavior Analysis program at Michigan State University. I graduated from MSU in 2015 with a degree and teaching certification in special education. I spent the 2015-2016 school year completing a yearlong student teaching experience within a K-5 resource room and a 1st grade classroom in Metro Detroit. Before ELI, I spent four summers working at and overseeing an extended school year program for 5-18 year olds diagnosed with ASD. I spent the past year at ELI 1, where I enjoyed a year of laughter, progress, and fun with nine different families. Outside of ELI, I also work as a collaborative instructor for 4th Wall Theatre Company and stay very involved with Special Olympics. I have two one-year old puppies who keep me very busy outside of work and school. I am very excited to continually learn more about your families, work and learn with your children, and share excitements and day to day progress with you. Go green!
Brittany Roulo bio.
My name is Cora Santman. I am a lead behavior technician at ELI 2 and I am also a second-year student in MSU’s Applied Behavior Analysis Masters program. I am currently conducting research for my thesis on promoting and generalizing independent play in the general education setting using an activity schedule for children with autism. Outside of work I enjoy going on long runs, camping, exploring Michigan and spending time with my family.
Jenna Silverstein bio.
Lauren is currently a Lead Behavior Technician at the Early Learning Institute (ELI). She is responsible for implementing applied behavior analysis (ABA) services to the children enrolled at ELI. Lauren holds a Standard Teaching Certificate, and prior to ELI she was a General Education Teacher for Grand Ledge Public Schools for two years. Lauren is currently a first year Master’s student in Michigan State University’s Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis program. Her research interests include incorporating ABA into the general education classroom. Upon graduation, Lauren plans to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst to continue serving individuals and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Hi, I’m Laura and I graduated from Michigan State University in August 2015 with a bachelors in Psychology. Immediately upon graduation, I started working at the Early Learning Institute as a behavior technician. Over the past two years, I have fallen in love with this job and all of your child. I am currently enrolled as a graduate student at Michigan State University, studying Applied Behavior Analysis and working as one of the lead behavior technicians at the first site.
Savannah Csokasy bio.
Mady Robson bio.
Sydney is originally from Highland, Michigan. She is a third year Lyman Briggs undergraduate at Michigan State University and is majoring in behavioral neuroscience. She has future plans to pursue a PhD in neuroscience research.