Currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas, Austin, Nicole's research centers around reading disabilities and RTI. As a post-doc fellow she is a member of the Dropout Prevention Institute where she is assisting in the implementation of a dropout prevention intervention for eighth-grade students who are at risk for dropping out of school, as well as an intensive reading intervention for incarcerated TX youth.
"When I became a high school teacher I realized that I didn't know how to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities, particularly reading disabilities. I felt I needed to go back to school to understand how to work with students with severe reading disabilities who were placed in general education. I felt like there needed to be a service or intervention that special education teachers could do to create access when students were fully included in a high school setting."
Shortly after completing her M.A., Nicole enrolled into the joint-doctoral program between San Diego State University and CGU. At CGU is where she was able to link her professional background with her research interests.
"In my summer course with Dr. Sue Robb she encouraged me to take the RTI (Response-to-Intervention) class with Dr. Deb Smith in the fall. That was the turning point for me. That's where I was able to name what I wanted to do."
Nicole was able to form a relationship with Smith and Robb that afforded her the opportunity to work on the IRIS project, where Smith is the Co-Principal Investigator. The IRIS Center is a federally funded technical assistance and dissemination project that provides free, high-quality, online, and interactive resources to college and university faculty and other professionals about the education of students with disabilities.
Deb and Sue encouraged me to attend and present at conferences both at the local and national level. That really was a great opportunity for me to see how it (the IRIS project) transferred to practice. They (Deb and Sue) have a flawless "joint-advisemanship." They are both speaking the same language."