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Research & Projects

Project Excellence

Long-term collaborative (grant supported) relationship with Michigan Rehabilitation Services with the goal of providing long-term stability to the existing program evaluation and research function of the Bureau and expanded capacity to address new evaluation and research questions to provide the agency with data and analysis regarding the impact of the rehabilitation services provided to citizens with disabilities in the State of Michigan. The Bureau serves approximately 40,000 individuals with disabilities each year. The research grant, titled Project Excellence: A Program Evaluation Partnership,” funding provides support for two full-time doctoral level staff researchers (senior research associates), and seven graduate research assistants from our doctoral program.

During 2012 we designed and implemented a series of studies that were of critical importance to the state agency in understanding the impact of their policies and services. Last year alone, we initiated nine separate studies that included short-term and long-term efforts. To date, this experience has been very rewarding. Our doctoral students have had an opportunity to work in a meaningful research setting with real data, while they are developing their research competencies through formal coursework in our program. Our more advanced students have been able to identify and pursue dissertation topics through the project.

Dr. Michael J. Leahy is the principal investigator and Dr. Sukyeong Pi is the co-principal investigator and director for this long-standing research and program evaluation project.


Rehabilitation Research and Training center on Evidence-based Practice in Vocational Rehabilitation (RRTC-EBP-VR)

Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), this is a five-year grant that establishes a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on evidenced-based practices in vocational rehabilitation. We are partners in this large-scale effort with researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (administrative home of the RRTC), and the University of Wisconsin-Stout. At MSU, Dr. Leahy works as a co-investigator on the entire project (five years of funding at 5 million dollars), and a five-year subcontract at MSU to fund the multiple case study phases of the project, where Dr. Leahy serves as the principal investigator. The RRTC will generate new knowledge about culturally sensitive evidence-based vocational rehabilitation practices to build the scientific base needed to improve effectiveness of strategies and interventions used to attain better employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, especially subpopulations of people with disabilities in state vocational rehabilitation agencies throughout the nation.


DOCTRID International Research Institute


At the international level we continued to work on a unique interdisciplinary research institute on autism and intellectual disability that involves MSU/ORDS and ten universities (Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Dublin City University, the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, University of Limerick, University of Galway, University of Cork, Manook University, Queen University, and University of Ulster) as partners with the Daughters of Charity Service, in Dublin, Ireland. The new Institute is designed to serve as a center of international research excellence in providing empirical research to help inform policy and practice in the area of intellectual disability. We have begun designing the guiding elements and features of this exciting international research partnership to enhance the productivity, value and sustainability of this highly unique concept. In 2013, we received seed funding from the Vice President of Research Office, the Provosts Office and the College of Education at MSU. The funding from MSU will be used to fund three post doc research fellows through the Hegarty Fellows Program and establish a presence in the DOCTRID offices in Dublin. This project has extraordinary potential and we are all excited about the possibilities.


Dr. Michael J. Leahy serves as the Principal Investigator for the MSU DOCTRID initiative, and director of the Hegarty Fellow Program.