2023 Gatzert Child Welfare Awardees Support Disability Justice and Mobility – UW Graduate School Skip to content

2023 Gatzert Child Welfare Awardees Support Disability Justice and Mobility

The Gatzert Child Welfare Fellowship is a one-quarter fellowship awarded to UW Ph.D. candidates writing dissertations that contribute to the lives of children with disabilities. The 2023 awardees support disability justice and mobility through their dissertation research and professional activities.

Maddie N. Zdeblick

Learning Sciences

“Transforming Educational Theater Towards Disability Justice”

Maddie Zdeblick

Maddie N. Zdeblick (she/her) is a Seattle-based teaching artist, theater director, and PhD candidate in education at the University of Washington Seattle. In research and practice, Maddie is passionate about Disability Justice, educational equity, and innovating new theatrical forms in partnership with learners of all ages and abilities. She is also founding Artistic Director of Parachute Players, a multisensory, immersive theatre company, and program manager of Dandylyon Drama’s Creative Adaptive Performance Ensemble (CAPE). Maddie holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Washington Seattle and a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Sociology from Northwestern University, with a focus in Theatre for Young Audiences. She is a 2019 graduate of the Washington State Teaching Artist Training Lab.

In preliminary research with disabled student actors in a performance group, Maddie explored how creative spaces can afford students access to diverse expressions of individual and collective agency. Maddie’s dissertation, Transforming Educational Theater Towards Disability Justice, will explore how a neurodiverse group of theater teaching artists and high school students might co-design inclusive theater learning experiences grounded in Disability Justice, how and what students with disabilities might learn through such experiences, and what tensions might arise. This research will occur in partnership with three community organizations: a non-profit theater, an inclusive year-round pK-12 school, and a day program for adults with disabilities.

Honorable Mention: Charlotte Caskey

Mechanical Engineering

Effects of Spinal Stimulation on Neuromechanics in Cerebral Palsy

Charlotte Caskey

Charlotte Caskey’s research is focused on implementing and understanding promising interventions designed to enhance mobility and function for children with cerebral palsy (CP). Current therapy and treatments for children with CP are highly variable across individuals and often require continued training to maintain improvements, leaving many parents and children desiring improved treatment options. Charlotte is interested in how transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation (tSCS) might be paired with physical therapy to maximize improvements in response to an intervention. She has led extensive experimental work to understand how tSCS affects the movement of children with CP ages 4-14. This includes a highly individualized training program to understand the long-term effects of tSCS when paired with interval treadmill training and an acute study focused on understanding of the underlying physiological mechanisms driving functional changes. Charlotte’s dissertation bridges the fields of neuroscience, rehabilitation, and engineering to better quantify responses to novel interventions to promote improved function and increased mobility for children with CP. She is a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and Ron and Wanda Crockett Endowed Fellowship.

Charlotte received her BS in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Biomechanics and a minor in Ethics from North Carolina State University in 2019. She then completed her MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2022. After completing her PhD, she intends to pursue a career as an assistant professor, continuing research that bridges the gap between engineering design and rehabilitation implementation.