Skip to main content

Elizabeth Biggs

Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education

Elizabeth E. Biggs, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University and a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Her research focuses on identifying interventions that promote the flourishing of children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities, autism, and multiple disabilities in authentic school and community settings. 

Dr. Biggs is particularly interested in social, early communication, and language development for children and adolescents with complex communication needs who use various forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). She is currently working to develop and evaluate school-based peer network interventions for school-age students with autism who have limited verbal speech, focusing on understanding the impact of these interventions on the development of social, early communication, and language skills and on children’s reciprocal interactions and relationships with peers without disabilities. She is also working to design feasible and effective ways to train and coach the communication partners of children learning to use speech-generating devices (SGDs), including family members (e.g., parents, siblings) and school staff (e.g., teachers, paraprofessionals).

Prior to receiving her doctorate, Dr. Biggs worked as a special education teacher, and she has worked extensively with students with complex communication needs who use AAC in the roles of an educator, a consultant, and a researcher. Her work is applied in nature, and she focuses much of her work on understanding the complex factors that influence implementation and sustainment of effective interventions in authentic school and community settings, including through the use of mixed and multiple research methods.

 Dr. Biggs works closely with undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level students in her research. There is generous funding available for graduate students interesting in pursuing a master’s degree or doctoral degree in severe disabilities (e.g., intellectual disability, autism, multiple disabilities).