dbeukelmanDavid R. Beukelman, Ph.D (  has been the Barkley Professor of Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Senior Researcher at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital since 1985, where he has focused on communication supports for adults with acquired medical conditions. He has co-authored two leading textbooks, Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Supporting Children and Adults with Complex Communication Needs and Management of Motor Speech Disorders in Children and Adults, and has co-edited the book, Augmentative Communication Strategies for Adults with Acute and Chronic Medical Conditions. Under the current RERC on AAC, he will serve as a mentor to all research, development, training and dissemination teams and will also participate actively in the webcasts/ MOOC and doctoral training activities.

SFager_150_x_200Susan Fager, Ph.D. is the Director of the Communication Center in the Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering at Madonna. She specializes in AT/AAC for adults with acquired and degenerative neurologic conditions, and has over 20 peer-reviewed publications. She has been PI on an NIH-R03 grant, and co-investigator in 10 NIH-funded SBIR projects. She has served as the site lead researcher on two previous AAC-RERCs. Her research has focused on the evaluation of new and emerging assistive technologies for individuals with severe physical impairments. She will play a leadership role on the development project, Access.D1, on multimodal access.

TJakobs_150_x_200Tom Jakobs, MS, P.E., is the President and founder of InvoTek, Inc. He will serve as Co-Leader of the life span strand on R & D for children with CCN. A licensed Professional Engineer, he holds BS and MS degrees in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Under Jakobs’ leadership, InvoTek has received over 26 grants totaling more than $5,400,000 for R&D of technologies to support people with severe disabilities. In 2011, Tom and his wife Diane started “Be Extraordinary”, a nonprofit corporation that helps people with severe disabilities to achieve their life goals. Tom is a member of RESNA and USSAAC.

Heidi KoesterHeidi Koester, Ph.D., President of Koester Performance Research (KPR), is co-leader of the R&D team focused on individuals with acquired conditions. She earned a PhD in bioengineering from the University of Michigan. She has over 20 years of experience as a PI in AT research, with a focus on using quantitative data and user modeling to improve computer access, resulting in numerous products used worldwide. She has extensive clinical experience providing AT services. Her significant contributions have been recognized by the RESNA Fellow award and multiple distinguished research paper awards.


Janice Light, Ph.D. will serve as Principal Investigator and Co-Leader of the lifespan strand on R & D for children with CCN. She holds the Hintz Family Endowed Chair on Children’s Communicative Competence at Penn State where she leads the largest research and development program in AAC in the nation (with 5 full time tenure track faculty in AAC, 2 clinical faculty, and more than 20 graduate students in AAC). She has served as Principal Investigator on 27 externally funded AAC grants totaling more than $13 million; beyond these federally funded research grants, she is also responsible for a $2 million endowment to jumpstart research, development, and training activities to enhance the communicative competence of children with CCN. She is currently a partner in the RERC on AAC. She has an excellent record of bringing projects to successful completion including effective knowledge translation and tech transfer. She has over 80 peer-reviewed publications and over 240 conference presentations; she is an author of two comprehensive websites on evidence-based AAC interventions that have received over 80,000 unique visitors in the past year and are currently used by numerous pre-service training programs. Her research and development on visual scene displays (VSDs), just-in-time (JIT) programming, and literacy intervention technologies has been transferred successfully to the field and is currently utilized by the leading AT manufacturers/ app developers. She regularly serves as a mentor to minority students and is a member of the Penn State advisory committee to ensure the full participation of individuals with disabilities. The excellence of her research and teaching has been recognized through the Faculty Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Distinguished Research Career Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, and the International Society for AAC Distinguished Lecturer Award.

DMcNaughton_150_x_190David McNaughton, Ph.D., Professor of Educational and School Psychology and Special Education with a cross appointment in Communication Sciences and Disorders, will serve as Co-Leader of the Training and Dissemination team. He teaches classes on AT, grant writing, and literacy instruction. His current research interests include literacy instruction for individuals who require AAC, the development of vocational opportunities for individuals with severe disabilities, and the effective use of web-based instructional materials to support pre-service and in-service instruction. He is currently in charge of training and dissemination activities and a member of the management team for the RERC on Communication Enhancement. He is committed to effective dissemination and has published over 65 journal articles and book chapters. He is the co-author of a website on effective literacy instruction for individuals who use AAC that attracts more than 40,000 users per year worldwide.

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