Now Accepting Applications!   Bridging the Word Gap (BWG) Emerging Scholars Program

The Bridging the Word Gap Research Network (BWGRN) is now seeking applicants for the Bridging the Word Gap Emerging Scholars Program!  

The Bridging the Word Gap Emerging Scholars Program is a mentorship program designed to enhance the ability of emerging scholars to enter into productive careers focused on carrying out research that will help understand the word gap and develop interventions to reduce the gap.

During this two-year fellowship, scholars carry out a proposed research study related to the word gap under the guidance of BWGRN mentors. Scholars later then present their research.

Click here to learn more information about the Emerging Scholars Program and access the application here.  The application deadline is November 30, 2018. 

Questions about the BWG Emerging Scholars Program or application can be directed to Alana Schnitz, Project Coordinator, at (913)735-2672 or or Judith Carta, Ph.D., Director of BWG Research Network, at 913-321-3143 or


Meet our current Emerging Research Scholars: 



Jennifer Cunningham, M.Ed. is a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Special Education. She completed her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education at Vanderbilt in 2013, and worked as a classroom teacher in the laboratory school at the University of Maryland prior to beginning her doctoral work in 2015. Her research interests include early language and literacy development, naturalistic language interventions, and training teachers and caregivers to support language development in young children who are considered at risk for future language and literacy delays.


Carrie Gillispie, M.Ed. is a doctoral candidate in special education and disability studies at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She obtained her M.Ed. in school psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010. Carrie’s research interests include early social and communication development and intervention, role of parent responsivity in language acquisition, and translating research into policy and practice. Carrie has supported children with disabilities and their families through her previous work at the National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Speaks, Mathematica Policy Research, the TEACCH Autism Program, and as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Education. As a Bridging the Word Gap Research Network Emerging Research Scholar, she will examine early gesture use and parent responsivity to nonverbal communication with families from low-income backgrounds and will conduct a review of language interventions that support prelinguistic communication (including gesture use) to better understand features of parent-implemented interventions that improve language outcomes of children from low-income backgrounds.


Maria Cristina (Cricket) Limlingan, Ph.d is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Classroom Intervention at the Developing Language and Literacy Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research interests focus on improving the quality of educational experiences for linguistically and ethnically diverse young children in the United States and in low- and middle-income countries. She is particularly interested in the environmental and cultural influences on immigrant children’s experiences and interventions that may improve their school readiness outcomes. Cricket received her Ph.D. in Child Development from Tufts University in 2016. Her dissertation examined the relations between teacher-child interactions, classroom context and Latino dual language learners’ (DLLs) school readiness. As a Bridging the Word Gap Emerging Research Scholar, she will examine the impact of an online teacher professional development program on the use of high quality teaching strategies for promoting DLLs’ language skills in preschool and kindergarten.







Danielle Erkoboni-Wilbur, MD is a general pediatrician who was raised in Central New Jersey and attended Wheaton College in Massachusetts for her undergraduate training. Following college, she worked as a Research Coordinator at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. During her time there she designed and implemented several technology-based interventions to promote child passenger safety across the United States and in China. Her work and publications on the translation of public health interventions across cultures has been adapted by research teams across the country to adapt existing tools to meet the needs of diverse communities. Danielle did her undergraduate medical training at The Chicago Medical School and her Pediatric training at St Christopher’s Hospital for Children. She is currently a National Clinician Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, investigating how media can be used to promote parent-child scaffolding around early learning, literacy and health.



Former Emerging Research Scholars:

Constance Beecher- Iowa State University

Elizabeth Fuller- Vanderbilt University (doctoral candidate)

Lauren Cycyk- University of Oregon

Lauren Head- Emory University (doctoral candidate)

Naomi Rahn

Natalie Brito- Columbia University