Our Team

Lab Director: Connie Sung, Ph.D., CRC, LLPCconnie

csung@msu.edu or 517-353-1638

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Connie Sung is an assistant professor of rehabilitation counseling and the co-director of Spartan Project SEARCH. Her educational background includes rehabilitation counseling psychology, neuropsychology, and occupational science. Her research interests focus on biopsychosocial factors associated with successful transition, psychosocial and employment outcomes as well as quality of life of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Dr. Sung is also a Mary Switzer Fellow awarded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). She has published close to 40 refereed journal articles and book chapters. She is a principal investigator of several community-based participatory research projects, includes evaluation of intervention strategies to improve career development and employment outcomes of transition-aged individuals with autism and/or epilepsy. As the co-director of Spartan Project SEARCH, Dr. Sung and her students provide support to students with intellectual/developmental disabilities who participate in internship experiences across MSU campus. She also conducts research to examine the impact of the program on transition outcomes of participating students and campus climate/attitudes toward individuals with disabilities.

Lab Coordinator: Alicia Strain, M.Ed., CRC


Ms. Alicia Strain is a doctoral student in Rehabilitation Counselor Education and serves as the neurodevelopmental lab coordinator, research assistant, and teaching assistant.  She attended the University of Idaho and obtained a M.Ed. in Human Services and Community Counseling and has been a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor since 2010.  She has several year’s experience in both the public and private sectors working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist supporting youth and adults with disabilities in developing and maintaining employment, psychosocial, and independent living skills.  Her current research interests include program evaluation and evidence-based practice for successful vocational outcomes for transition youth.


Lab Members: 

Allison Levine, MS.Ed., CRC


Ms. Allison Levine is a doctoral candidate in Rehabilitation Counselor Education. Allison’s research interests include evaluation in pre-service counselor education programs, leadership, and clinical supervision in interdisciplinary work environments. Her dissertation involves the establishment of an instrument for systematic evaluation of professional dispositions in counselor education, in alignment with CACREP Standards. Allison attended Hofstra University, where she obtained an MS.Ed in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, and has been a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor since 2012, with experience working in psychiatric rehabilitation. Allison also serves as the Midwest Representative on the board for RCEA.


copy-of-brenna-breshears20170828-cepse_phd-0023.jpgBrenna Breshears, MA, LLPC, CRC


Ms. Brenna Breshears is a doctoral student in Rehabilitation Counselor Education and serves as both a research and teaching assistant. Brenna is also a practicing clinical therapist and a mental health consultant for the Lansing City Detention Center. Her primary research interests revolve around the intersection of psychiatric disability and vocation within jail, prison, and returning citizen populations. Brenna is currently is in the process of adapting ASSET and EPASS models for returning citizens, and works closely with Northwest Initiative in Lansing, MI to provide mental health and vocational counseling to individuals participating in Mental Health Court. She has experience in community based intervention delivery systems both within correctional facilities and re-entry programs, with a focus on reducing recidivism through vocation and trauma informed care models.


Yurgos Politis, Ph.D.


Dr. Yurgos Politis completed a Physics degree at the University of Athens, qualifying as a Physics teacher. He then undertook a Masters in Education and a PhD in Education in University College Dublin. He is currently a Marie Curie Fellow with the ASSISTID programme, spending two years at Michigan State University and one at University College Dublin. His project, Virtual Learning for people with ASD, will offer training on communication skills through a Virtual World. He will develop an intervention that is personalized according to the needs and preferences of each participant to ease their transition from education to independent life.

nigel-copyNigel Robb, Ph.D.


Dr. Nigel Robb received his PhD in philosophy from Queen’s University Belfast. He also holds a Master’s degree in software engineering. His research is focused on the effects of video games on learning and cognition, and the application of games as interventions for people with disabilities. He is currently a Marie Curie ASSISTID Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Dublin, and a Visiting Scholar at Michigan State University. He is currently developing an inclusive online multiplayer game for children with intellectual disability, with children participating in the design process.


copy-of-keeley-white20170828-cepse_phd-0027.jpgKeeley White, Ph.D.


Dr. Keeley White received her PhD in School/Applied Child Psychology from McGill University in 2016. Prior to her PhD, she completed her undergraduate degree in honours psychology at Concordia University and her master’s degree in applied disability studies (with a specialization in applied behaviour analysis) at Brock University. She has collaborated on a number of research projects emphasizing community involvement, mental health, outcomes of deinstitutionalization, physical health, rights-based education, behaviour challenges, employment, social inclusion and self-determination, and the effectiveness of various interventions in promoting the betterment of lives of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or intellectual disabilities (ID). Dr. White has also worked as a clinical psychologist in school, hospital, and community settings with a specialized interest in serving the needs of individuals with ASD and/or ID across the lifespan. She is currently a Marie Curie ASSISTID Postdoctoral Fellow at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a visiting scholar at Michigan State University. Her current research focuses on promoting work-related social skills and mental health in young adults with autism spectrum disorder.


copy-of-lindsay-athamanah20170823-fall-staff-headshots-0142.jpgLindsay Athamanah, Ph.D.


Dr. Lindsay Athamanah received her PhD in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has an M.S. in Communicative Disorders from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and a B.A. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  She has 10 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist working in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) primarily with students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities (ASD/ID). She is a Hegarty Fellow completing her postdoctoral fellowship at Michigan State University and the National University of Ireland, Galway. Her research focuses on evaluating the impact of peer-mediated interventions on the vocational and social skills of students with ASD/ID and their peers in inclusive work-based learning settings before they graduate from high school.


copy-of-tim-zeng20170823-fall-staff-headshots-0146.jpgSongtian (Tim) Zeng Ph.D. BCBA


Dr. Songtian (Tim) Zeng received his Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Washington in Seattle and is a board certified behavior analysis (BCBA). As a Hegarty Fellow, he will be co-located at Michigan State University and Trinity College. In the past five years, his research focuses on early intervention and assessment for students with autism and other neurological disabilities. He supported program evaluation and quantitative data analysis in a number of federal and state funded research projects at the University of Washington Childcare Quality and Early Learning Center for Research and Professional Development, the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning, and the Center for Strong Schools. In the coming two years, he is excited to collaborate with faculties at MSU and Trinity College on a number of research projects to support people with disabilities across lifespan.


pro-photo.jpgTammison Smith, MS


Ms. Tammison Smith is a doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at Walden University. She is also a full-time career counselor at MSU’s Career Services Network. In addition, she is a teaching assistant through Walden University and teaching a class in the Rehabilitation Counseling program at MSU. Tammison received her master’s in Counseling Psychology from Avila University. She spent the next few years working in Alzheimer’s research at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Her current research interests include the impact of anxiety on readiness for career counseling, the relationship of identity formation, grit, and academic persistence, and the quality of University services influence on students’ with disabilities self-efficacy.


blairdammerman.jpgBlair Dammerman, MA, CRC


Ms. Blair Dammerman received her Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Michigan State University. Blair has experience working with people with varying disabilities of all ages in the nonprofit and public sectors. Her passion lies in working with transition populations of young adults with neurodevelopmental and/or intellectual disabilities. Blair serves as the Project/Research Coordinator for ASSET and EPASS and Spartan Project SEARCH. She is responsible for communicating with community partners, young adults with disabilities, and family members to organize successful clinical research programming. Blair also supervises undergraduate and graduate students throughout all research project implementation.


jane-forrest.gifJane Forrest, MA


Ms. Jane Forrest completed her MA in Special Education with an Endorsement in Autism from Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan.  She has a B.A. in Elementary Education and a B.A. in Family Education both from Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan.  Jane has been working in the field of special education for more than 17 years, and is recently retired from public education.  Prior to her teaching career, she worked for the State of Michigan in the social work field for 20 years.  She has background in Children’s Protective Services, Delinquency and Family Services.  Jane is currently employed as a facilitator and research assistant for the ASSET and EPASS programs at MSU.

alexAlex Ward


Ms. Alex Ward is an undergraduate student studying Special Education, Spanish and TESOL. She hopes that her research will help her in her future career so that she’ll be able to better the lives of others through her work.


Lab Alumni:

Hung Jen Kuo, Ph.D, CRC, LLPC, MCP, MCSA


Dr. Hung Jen Kuo is an assistant professor of rehabilitation counseling. His educational background includes rehabilitation counseling and psychology. His research interests include evidence-based practice, rehabilitation interventions for individuals with intellectual and cognitive disabilities, and accommodation and assistive technology.

Annemarie Connor, Ph.D., OTR/L


Dr. Annemarie Connor is a doctoral student and
research/teaching assistant in Rehabilitation Counselor Education in the Office of Rehabilitation and Disability Studies at the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education, Michigan State University.  Annemarie is also a licensed occupational therapist with a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University, and 15 years of clinical and consultative experience working with individuals with disabilities in school, home, community, inpatient and outpatient settings.  Her research interests include multidisciplinary models of service delivery in Special Education, Vocational Rehabilitation, and community-based settings.  In addition to her work with the ORDS Research Group, Annemarie is a research assistant for Project Excellence, a program evaluation collaboration between Michigan State University and Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

Hung-Ju Kang, Ph.D.


Dr. Hyun-Ju Kang completed her Ph.D. in Special Education in the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellow Program at Michigan State University. She is interested in adolescent transition to adult life, inclusive education, assistive technology, functional life skills, school, family, and community partnerships, and multicultural education. She has nearly 4 years of work experience in the area of disability and transition as a play therapist and teacher. She also has nearly 5 years of research experience in transition and post-school outcomes as a research assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is currently examining factors associated with parental expectations for their children’s post-school outcomes, especially for student, family, and school factors.

June Chen, Ph.D.


Dr. June L. Chen is an associate professor and the deputy director of the Department of Special Education at East China Normal University (ECNU).  She earned her doctorate in Special Education from ECNU.  From 2013 to 2015, she worked at Michigan State University as a Hegarty Fellow.  She was closely involved in the initial pilot projects of ASSET and EPASS.  Her research focus on career education, transition and employment related social inclusion for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.  Her second line of research focuses on public attitude towards social inclusion for people with disabilities.  Dr. Chen is also selected for Shanghai Pujiang Program by Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Commission.

Chien-Chun Lin, Ph.D., CRC


Dr. Chien-chun Lin obtained her master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and doctoral degree in Rehabilitation Counselor Education from Michigan State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling from National Taiwan Normal University. Her research interests including caregiver’s quality of life, and adults with developmental disabilities.

Boyang Tong, Ph.D.


Dr. Boyang Tong completed her doctoral degree in Rehabilitation Counselor Education at Michigan State University. Her educational background includes education and counseling. Her primary research interests are psychosocial adjustment, community integration, and quality of life for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.