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Research Staff

We draw upon the intellectual resources of our research scientists as they contribute to research and innovation in the early childhood sector from various backgrounds and disciplines. Our research staff are actively involved in current research projects, share their expertise at presentations, advise and mentor junior scholars, and author working papers that inform evidence-based interventions and program evaluations.


Early Intervention & Prevention Studies


Raymond Biggar, Jr., Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist

Dr. Biggar has expertise in Applied Psychology and Counselor Education. His research focuses on juvenile justice, behavioral health, and prevention, and he has experience evaluating program processes, implementation, and outcomes. Dr. Biggar also collaborates with other faculty and investigators within the Center, in the Colleges of Education and Liberal Arts, and other University scholars as well as faculty and researchers at other academic institutions. He has built valuable research partnerships relevant to early intervention and prevention programs in the state, nationally and internationally.

Read more about Dr. Biggar and his recent work.

Kat Penna, M.P.H.
Research Associate

As an integral part of our research team, Ms. Penna focuses on applied research that will inform public policy as it relates to early intervention and prevention programs. Penna has over 10 years of experience in health services research with a focus on the impact of health literacy and other health systems factors on a person’s ability to successfully navigate healthcare. Research experience and interests extend across various contexts and include disease prevention, chronic disease self-management, medication safety, and effective ‘low-literacy’ intervention strategies to help individuals promote, protect, and manage their health.

Read more about Kat and her recent work.


Early Childhood Health, Mental Health, & Nutrition Studies


Paula D. Zeanah, Ph.D., MSN, RN
Director of Research

Throughout her career as a pediatric nurse and clinical psychologist, Dr. Zeanah has worked with children and their families with significant medical and psychiatric issues as well as healthy children and families. Prior to becoming a psychologist, Dr. Zeanah worked in a variety of primary care and tertiary health care settings as a pediatric nurse, educator, and administrator. She served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the LSU Health Sciences Center from 1993-1998, and as Associate and Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Tulane University School of Medicine from 1998-2015. At Tulane, she was the Chief of the Psychology Division in the Department of Psychiatry, was actively involved in teaching, and supervised psychology interns, adult psychiatry residents, child psychiatry fellows, and medical students on the pediatric-psychiatry consultation-liaison service at Tulane Hospital. Since 1997, she has worked closely with the LA Office of Public Health, Bureau of Family Health’s maternal and early childhood health and home visiting programs in program development, administration, and supervision, technical assistance, and education for professional staff. In 2015, she was appointed the Director of Early Childhood Health, Mental Health, & Nutrition Research at the Picard Center and the Lafayette General Medical Center/Our Lady of the Lake Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in the College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Dr. Zeanah’s clinical and research interests center at the interface of physical and mental health, including mental health in non-mental health settings; perinatal, infant, and early childhood mental health; and chronic illness in children and adolescents. She has obtained external funding for projects including initiation of a university-based outpatient program for children with autism and development of an infant mental health service within a primary care public health setting. She has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters.

Read more about Dr. Zeanah and her recent work.


Early Childhood Education Studies


Anjenette Holmes, Ph.D., Ed.S.
Research Scientist

Holmes' research focuses on early childhood education studies, specifically in Currliculum & Instruction and teacher-child interactions. She is a certified higher-ed online instructor through the Online Learning Consortium, Louisiana Pathways trainer for early childhood teachers, and a reliable Teachstone CLASS observer (Toddlers/Pre-K). She has held various leadership, management, and supervisory roles in the education field in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. She has been a pre-K teacher in addition to three years of higher-ed teaching experience. Her areas of interest include working with adults who care for and teach children, focusing on early childhood teacher sensitivity, parenting styles, and the role an educational organization plays in shaping teacher behavior and attitudes towards children. Holmes is passionate about the role adults play in shaping children's lives during childhood through adulthood and how adults interact with children, shaping a child's personality and social/emotional development and functioning. At the Picard Center, Holmes is eager to assist the Acadiana region in providing quality experiences for young children.

Read more about Anjenette and her recent work.

Nicole Theriot
Project Coordinator

Ms. Theriot works directly with Dr. Holmes, performing daily administrative tasks in support of her research endeavors, and serves the Center as needed for other early childhood programmatic activities. She supports our research staff in project management, proofreading technical documents, scheduling and maintaining the project calendar for deliverable timelines, maintaining spreadsheets for billing, and tracking deliverables and other project-specific documents. Ms. Theriot has over twenty years of experience providing extensive administrative/managerial support for private, public and non-profit organizations.

Read more about Nicole and her work at the Center.


Early Childhood Programs: Assessment & Evaluation


Kara Farmer-Primeaux, M.S., CCC-SLP
Project Director

Ms. Farmer-Primeaux has nearly ten years of experience working in evaluative research in the areas of early childhood and education. She has previously worked as a speech language pathologist in the public school system. Her research interests include early language and literacy development, multicultural issues, and the use of qualitative methods to learn more about the social world of human communication and development. Farmer-Primeaux is involved in the implementation of an early childhood quality monitoring program in various early childhood settings across Louisiana. Her work involves supervising the administration of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), which is used to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher-child interactions in toddler and preschool classrooms. She also trains individuals to become certified observers using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) tool. She works on various community projects evaluating local efforts to promote literacy for young children.

Read more about Kara and her recent work.

Alisha Bourque, M.S.
Project Administrator

Ms. Bourque has over ten years of experience in evaluative research, including both quantitative and qualitative methods, in the areas of early childhood and education. Her research interests are on children and families experiencing extreme poverty. Currently, she is involved in the implementation of an early childhood quality monitoring program in various early childhood settings across Louisiana. Her work involves overseeing the quality of the administration of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), which is used to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher-child interactions in infant, toddler, and preschool classrooms. She also provides training to individuals to become certified observers using the Pre-K Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS).

Read more about Alisha and her recent work.

Kimberly Mouton, B.S.
Project Coordinator

Ms. Mouton has nearly five years of experience in Early Childhood Development and over five years' experience in administrative support. She currently serves as the CLASS Project Coordinator, working with the PIs and performing daily administrative tasks, communicating with all staff and project contacts, and maintaining on-going up-to-date records for early childhood projects/deliverables.

Read more about Kim and her work at the Center.