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Meet the Mountain Hub

Dr. Jade Metzger-Riftkin is a Research Associate at the Northern Arizona University’s Institute for Human Development. She is a scholar and educator with experience in qualitative research methods, program evaluation, and facilitating inclusive and collaborative learning environments. Her published research explores the intersections of identity and virtual community building, privacy ethics in technology use, and online harassment of marginalized people. Through TAPDINTO-STEM, Metzger-Riftkin mentors’ students who are neurodivergent, disabled, and chronically ill, supporting them to achieve academic and professional success. She also collaborates with STEM faculty to adapt class curricula and research opportunity to be more accessible. Metzger-Riftkin has received numerous awards, including NAU’s Commission on Disability Access and Design Staff Award, NAU’s Educator of Influence Award, and Wayne State University’s Athletic Department’s Student Awarded Favorite Professor.

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Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University Yuma

Overview

The Northern Arizona University-Institute for Human Development (NAU-IHD) is a University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), one of two in the state of Arizona. IHD has more than sixty faculty and staff. It is an interdisciplinary unit working across a range of university departments, research institutes, community agencies, consumer advocacy groups, and state departments on projects that impact the delivery of services and supports to persons with disabilities. IHD has two labs/clinic –the Genetic and Developmental Disabilities Research Lab, and the Assistive Technology (AT) Lab.

NAU is a four-year public research university with its flagship camps in Flagstaff, Arizona. It is an R2: Doctoral Universities – Higher Research Activity institution, under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (Basic Classification 2015). It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has 24 satellite campuses in the state of Arizona. NAU is unique in its mission to become the leading university serving Native Americans. The Office of Native American Initiatives (ONAI) seeks to make a substantial and enduring contribution to American Indian self-determination by collaborating with Native American communities. NAU is an Associate Member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, as well as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) since March 2021. NAU’s Yuma campus has had HSI status for a significantly longer period, and NAU is currently celebrating the recognition of its service of Hispanic students throughout the entire NAU network.

Leadership

  • Jade Metzger-Riftkin, PhD, Research Associate, serves as Interim Mountain Hub Lead, Faculty Mentor, and Student Coordinator
  • Francisco Villa, PhD, Clinical Professor of Chemistry, serves as NAU Yuma Campus Lead and STEM faculty mentor
  • Kelly Roberts, PhD, Executive Director, Institute for Human Development and Professor, Education Specialties, serves as Mountain Hub Co-PI and Co-Lead TAPDINTO-STEM Workforce Development Committee (CB, check on specific committee)
  • Sandra Heath, PhD, Assistant Professor, College of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, serves as Lead for the Mountain Hub research study and STEM faculty mentor
  • Michele Lee, PhD, Evaluation Associate, coordinates the collection of institutional data from Mountain Hub partners and serves as the liaison with the evaluation team
  • Cynthia Beckmann, Program Manager, coordinates communication and information sharing across the Mountain Hub and with the UMKC backbone and Auburn University.
  • Alex Dickman, Financial Oversight Analyst, Intermediate, coordinates contracts, budgets, and invoices/payments with Mountain Hub partners
  • Zachary Estell-Ramsey, NAU-Yuma Student Coordinator
  • Callahan Franklin, Undergraduate Research Assistant
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Overview

The Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities (NCED) is located in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno and serves as Nevada’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). The mission of the NCED is to cooperatively work with consumers, agencies, and programs to assist Nevadans with disabilities of all ages to be independent and productive citizens who are included in their communities. This mission is accomplished by providing interdisciplinary training, offering model exemplary services, conducting interdisciplinary evaluations, disseminating information on developmental disabilities and service options, providing technical assistance, and conducting relevant research and evaluation studies.

The College of Education & Human Development is a recognized leader in guiding, shaping, and mentoring high-performing education professionals who will go forth with a lifelong love of learning and with the skills essential for thriving in a global, knowledge-based economy. We are committed to a diverse and inclusive learning community that works to promote education across disciplines for everyone, locally, nationally and around the globe. The University of Nevada, Reno is recognized by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as an R1 institution, which is reserved for doctoral universities with the highest levels of research activity.

Leadership

  • Dr. Randall Owens, Associate Professor of Special Education and Director of the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities, will serve as CLI.
  • Dr. Mehmet Gumus, Teaching Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, will serve as STEM faculty mentor.
  • Nicole Wadden, Student Coordinator, Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities
Utah State University

Leadership

  • Matt Wappett, PhD, Executive Director, USU Institute for Disability Research, Policy, & Practice (UCEDD), Campus Lead
  • Cassandra McCall, PhD, STEM faculty mentor
  • Autumn Cuellar, Student Activities Coordinator
Arizona Western College with W logo

Leadership

  • Lisa Swenson, AccessABILITY Resource Services Coordinator, Campus Lead
  • Laura Alexandre-Sandigo
  • Rainier Dischinger
  • Bryan Doak
  • Dawn Whinnery, PhD, Faculty Mentor
Paradise Valley Community College with building outline in blue circle logo

Leadership

  • David Jennings, PhD, Campus Lead
  • Joshua Frisby, STEM Faculty Mentor
  • Emmanuel Ojameruaye, PhD, CGW, GPC, Grants Officer

Leadership

  • Eric J Moody, PhD, Campus Lead
  • Canyon Hardest

The Mountain Hub will focus on the unique issues faced by students with disabilities within the Mountain Region. The research will use a lens of intersectionality, the Mountain Hub at Northern Arizona University, Institute for Human Development will be investigating disconnections and gaps between student experiences of bias, discrimination and stigma; the information and messaging available to faculty and staff of institutions of higher education as it pertains to inclusion and recognizing intersectionality; and the perceptions of faculty and staff of institutions of higher education that perpetuate bias, discrimination, and stigma.

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