Conscious Collaboration for Equitable Research

In this interactive session, a panel of leaders will share their experiences and perspectives regarding equity in research. They will discuss what equity in research means and looks like throughout the lifecycle of a research project from conception through implementation to dissemination. Panelists will explore with one another the who, what, when, where and how of meaningfully involving diverse individuals and partnering with diverse communities throughout the process of scientific discovery.


Dr. Rodney Samaco is the Associate Director of the BCM Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC), Director of the BCM IDDRC and Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) Neurobehavioral Core Facilities, and am the Academic Lead for the behavioral phenotyping component of BCM’s Knock Out Mouse Project, an NIH Common Fund Research Program contributing to the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium’s overall goal to create and characterize a null allele of every protein-coding gene of the mouse. Through these endeavors and his current research program, Dr. Samaco is actively engaged in fostering collaborations with academic, non-profit and industry partners to conduct large-scale rodent behavioral evaluations and preclinical studies.


Karen Ward has been the Director of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Center for Human Development, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities since 1994. She is also the Director of the Alaska’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. Karen has over 35 years of experience as an educator, practitioner, and researcher in the field of disabilities, with numerous published articles. Her research has focused on violence presentation and healthy relationships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Dr. Douglene Jackson is an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and associate director of community engagement at the University of Miami Mailman Center for Child Development (MCCD). She has been a part of the MCCD family since 2014, working with various programs, including the Interdisciplinary Developmental Evaluation Team (IDES), engaging in research, and serving as the occupational therapy discipline leader for the LEND training program. Dr. Jackson is an occupational therapist with over 20 years of experience in the rehabilitation field, primarily working with individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities across the lifespan in schools, hospitals, clinics, and community-based settings. She holds a Ph.D. in special education in early childhood, master of occupational therapy, bachelor of health science in rehabilitation services with a concentration in counseling, and professional certifications in various fields including assistive technology, telehealth, autism, sensory integration, feeding, and health and wellness. Dr. Jackson has served in leadership roles with various professional associations and organizations. She has worked in academia and is an experienced researcher, with interests in health and education equity, early childhood, autism, telehealth, and assistive technology. 

Sandy Magaña, PhD, MSW, holds the Professorship in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. She received a Master of Social Work from California State University, San Bernardino and her Ph.D. from the Heller Graduate School of Social Policy at Brandeis University. Magaña completed post-doctoral training from the NICHD funded Post Doctoral Program in Developmental Disabilities Research at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a faculty member in the UW-Madison School of Social Work for 12 years and later served as a Professor at the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. At UIC, Magana was awarded a center grant from The National Institute on Disability Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and founded the Family Support Research and Training Center (FSRTC) which she continues to co-direct from UT SSW. The FSRTC aims to expand the research on family members who provide support and care to people with disabilities across the life course.

Dr. TC Waisman is the design lead for the Autism Training Academy which offers asynchronous online courses on autism and neurodivergence. She is the co-founder of the Autism Researchers Committee for the International Society for Autism Research, founding editorial board member of the Autism in Adulthood journal, and a board member of the Autistic Researchers Review Board for the Autism Intervention Research Network for Physical Health. She is currently co-leading research with Dr. Kristen Gillespie-Lynch on autism and Universal Design training for faculty. Dr. TC Waisman was diagnosed as Autistic at 48-years-old.

Published by TC Waisman

Since 1998, TC has worked with leaders in large organizations to enhance their leadership capabilities and make consequential changes to their leadership practice. Coaching and training leaders for over 20 years, TC has learned to support her clients’ development using organizational best practices and evidence-based research. TC is an ICF certified coach, she holds a Master’s degree in Leadership & Training, and she is currently undertaking her doctoral degree in leadership in a post-secondary context. Inspired by her late autism diagnosis at 48 years old, her research focuses on how higher education leaders can enhance services and outcomes for autistic students in higher learning. Since beginning her research two years ago, TC has co-founded a not-for-profit society for neurodiverse individuals, spoken on autism related topics, published an academic literature review on autism and the implications for higher learning, and was appointed an editorial board member of the new scientific journal Autism in Adulthood. TC is of Indigenous Fijian and Nepalese origin. She moved to Vancouver in 1976 where she currently lives with Dean her partner of 30 years. TC is a proud mother to her fiercely funny 23-year-old daughter Sunshine and the author of the book 75 Traits of Great Leaders. TC is on target to complete her doctoral degree in 2020.

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