What Your Gift Can Do

What Your Gift Can Do

Man making popcorn

For more than 60 years at the Life Span Institute, our science has toppled conventional thinking about the potential of people facing a wide range of challenges and disabilities. Our scientists have made pioneering and seminal discoveries in understanding how we develop, learn, think and age. All of these contributions have brought the Life Span Institute international recognition and unprecedented growth.

Through the support of its Friends, the Life Span Institute looks to maintain its continued growth and evolution, and continue its influence in discovery, innovation and impact that allows it to influence social policy, disciplinary practice and the quality of individual lives across the life span and in communities throughout the world.

Friends of the Life Span Institute Awards

Gifts provided to the Friends of the Life Span Institute fund awards that recognize and support the research and professional development of outstanding students, investigators and staff affiliated the Life Span Institute. These awards include:

The Friends of Life Span Institute GRA Awards, which recognize two doctoral students each year: one at the dissertation stage ($3000) and another in the early stages of graduate study ($2500).

The Friends of Life Span Institute Investigator Awards recognize outstanding new and mid-career LSI investigators. The awards are for principal investigators who are evaluated on the nature and quality of their research record and the potential impact, or realized impact, of their work in generating new knowledge. These awards include a stipend of $7500 to be used toward the investigator's research.

Friends of the LSI Paul Diedrich Award Staff Award honors former associate director of project development Paul Diedrich, who was for 36 years in charge of pre-award at the Life Span Institute. The award honors the contributions of a Life Span Institute staff member toward the research mission of the organization.

Current Awardees

Katey Burke_resized.jpg

The Friends of the Life Span Institute awarded Katey Burke the 2018 advanced stage graduate student award. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Special Education and is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Kansas University Center of Developmental Disabilities and the Beach Center on Disabilities. Katey with Senior Scientist and Professor Karrie Shogren on a Department of Education Leadership Grant. Her focus is on researching and advocating for self-determination, quality of life, and participation in the community for people living with disabilities.


Corinne Walker was selected to receive the 2018 early stage graduate student award. She is a doctoral student in Speech Language Pathology in the Intercampus Program in Communicative Disorders, working with Professor and Scientist Nancy Brady and Assistant Professor Brenda Salley, who directs the Child Development Lab. Corinne’s research centers on augmentative and alternative communication intervention programs for individuals with speech and language impairments.

Lisa Halberg

Lisa Halberg was selected to receive the Friends of the Life Span Institute Paul Diedrich Staff Award in 2019. A research database engineer, Lisa joined the Research, Data and Analysis team at the Life Span Institute in 2010 and has over 20 years of experience in database application development, both in academia and the public sector. She has extensive experience in web application development, including server configuration and administration, database management, application architecture and user interface design for desktop, web and mobile devices. 

Karrie Shogren

Karrie Shogren is a Senior Scientist in the Life Span Institute, Professor in the Department of Special Education, and Director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities. Her research focuses on self-determination and systems of support for students with disabilities and she has a specific interest in the contextual factors that impact student outcomes. Dr. Shogren has published over 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals, is the author or co-author of 10 books, and is the lead author of the Self-Determination Inventory System (www.self-determination.org). Dr. Shogren has received grant funding from several sources, including the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Dr. Shogren is co-Editor of Inclusion and Remedial and Special Education.

Mark Landau

Mark Landau is an Associate Professor at the University of Kansas. He received his doctorate from the University of Arizona in 2007. Dr. Landau has published many articles and chapters on metaphor's influence on social cognition and behavior as well as the role of existential motives in diverse aspects of social behavior. He has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Previous awardees


Dale Walker
Holly Storkel
Navin Viswanathan


Kathy Thiemann-Bourque
Vicki Collie-Akers


Howard Wills
Amy Gaumer Erickson


Michael Wehmeyer
Jonathan Brumberg