Matthew Wappett Portrait

Matthew Wappett

Executive Director

Matthew Wappett is the Executive Director of the Utah State University Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice (UCEDD), with an affiliate appointment as a Research Associate Professor in the USU College of Education and Human Services.  He was formerly the Co-Director of the University of Idaho Confucius Institute and had an affiliate faculty appointment as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.  Dr. Wappett has also served as the Associate Director of the UI Center on Disabilities and Human Development and had a faculty appointment in the UI College of Education.  Dr. Wappett’s background is in special education and disability studies; most of his research has been focused on creating inclusive environments to accommodate the needs of diverse populations. 

Dr. Wappett also conducts research and writes about the effects of laughter in the classroom and genuinely enjoys teaching people how to laugh!  He has been referred to by many as the “Laughter Doctor”!  He has been a featured speaker at state and national conferences and training events.  Dr. Wappett’s teaching and research on creating inclusive learning environments has recently turned to the effects of environmental stress on learning and social interaction. 

Dr. Wappett earned his Ph.D. in Special Education, an M.Ed. in Educational Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.  Dr. Wappett has also attended Clinical Training for Mind Body Medicine through the Harvard Medical School.  He completed his secondary teaching certification while pursuing his Master’s degree at the University of Utah. 

In his spare time, Dr. Wappett coaches youth hockey, competes in powerlifting, and spends as much time as possible outdoors rafting Western rivers.