Investigators

Dr. Jane Roberts : Principal Investigator of the USC Neurodevelopmental Disorders Project - University of South Carolina

Dr. Jane Roberts

Principal Investigator of the USC Neurodevelopmental Disorders Project - University of South Carolina

jeroberts@mailbox.sc.edu

Dr. Jane Roberts joined the faculty at USC in 2008. She is a school psychologist who received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998 and spent 10 years at UNC as a research investigator and scientist at the FPG Child Development Institute. Her work focuses on understanding the biological mechanisms that underlie cognitive and behavioral functioning in children and adults with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, fragile X syndrome, and ADHD.

Dr. Roberts' current research focuses on:

  • Early detection of autism in high risk populations: autism and fragile X syndrome
  • Genetic and psychosocial contributions to mood and anxiety disorders in women with the FMR1 premutation
  • Hyperarousal and stress in young children with neurodevelopmental disorders

For more detailed information regarding Dr. Roberts' research, funding, and teaching, you can review her vitae.

Dr. Roberts is married, has three children, and enjoys reading and playing tennis in her spare time.

Dr. Leonard Abbeduto : Director of the MIND Institute - University of California - Davis

Dr. Leonard Abbeduto

Director of the MIND Institute - University of California - Davis

 

Dr. Abbeduto, a nationally recognized researcher and a leader in improving the lives of children and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities, is the new director of the UC Davis MIND Institute and the holder of the Tsakopoulos-Vismara Endowed Chair in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the UC Davis School of Medicine.   Dr. Abbeduto received his undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Abbeduto is a leading expert on the behavioral growth of individuals with intellectual disabilities, particularly their development and use of language. His research focuses on the language and communication challenges faced by individuals with fragile X syndrome, the most common known cause of inherited intellectual disability and the leading single-gene cause of autism. Dr. Abbeduto also investigates the effects of stress on parents and caregivers who raise children with neurodevelopmental disorders and how their stress affects the behavior and development of their children.

Dr. Abbeduto is the recipient of the 2010 Enid and William Rosen Research Award for outstanding contributions to understanding fragile X syndrome from the National Fragile X Foundation. He is the recipient of the University of Wisconsin’s Emil H. Steiger Distinguished Teaching Award and the Distinguished Faculty Award from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Education. Dr. Abbeduto is a fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He is the author of more than 100 research papers, books and book chapters and has made numerous presentations throughout the nation and the world.

Dr. John E. Richards : Carolina Distinguished Professor - University of South Carolina

Dr. John E. Richards

Carolina Distinguished Professor - University of South Carolina

 

Dr. John Richards received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles with an interest in the psychophysiology of attention.  Dr. Richards is the principal investigator on two research grants. His grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development focuses on the development of sustained attention in infants ranging in ages from two to six months. Dr. Richards also received a grant from the National Science Foundation, Major Research Instrumentation Award, to develop a high-density EEG/ERP laboratory for the study of developmental cognitive neuroscience.  He has served as an ad hoc reviewer for scientific journals including Child Development, Psychophysiology, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Developmental Psychobiology, and Infant Behavior and Development. He currently serves on the editorial board of Developmental Psychology (Consulting Editor), Child Development (Consulting Editor), and Infancy (Associate Editor).

Dr. Richards’ current research focuses on:

  1. The development of sustained attention in young infants. This attention phase may be distinguished from other types of attention (e.g., stimulus orienting, automatic interrupt, attention termination). Sustained attention shows developmental changes from  2 to 6 months of age and is closely related to changes in the brain centers controlling attention.
  2. The development of extended fixations to television programs in the first two years. Young infants do not distinguish between abstract patterns and story-like television programs, but at the end of two years young children do.
  3. Dr. Richards is using EEG and ERP in the study of saccade planning, its development in the first few months of infancy, and its relation to cortical areas controlling eye movements. He also is using structural MRI of infants along with ERP to study the cortical sources of the behavior associated with planned eye movements.

For more information on Dr. Richard's research, visit the Infant Development Lab website. Most participants in the NDD lab infant study also participate in an EEG study with Dr. Richards.

Dr. Fredrick Shic : Associate Professor, University of Washington

Dr. Fredrick Shic

Associate Professor, University of Washington

Fredrick Shic, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in University of Washington's Department of Pediatrics. He is a Co-Investigator on the NIH grant entitled Emergence, Stability and Predictors of Anxiety in Fragile X Syndrome. Dr. Shic's current research interests include applications of eye-tracking and functional near infrared spectroscopy to the study of the social and cognitive development in infants, toddler, and children with autism and other development disorders, and the development of new technologies and methodologies for enriching both our understanding of neuropsychiatric conditions and the lives of affected children and their families. Previously, as an Assistant Professor, Dr. Shic led the Technology and Innovation Laboratory at the Yale University's Child Study Center.

Currently, Dr. Shic leads the Seattle Children's Innovative Technologies Laboratory at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute. This laboratory has the goal of using technology to improve the lives of individuals with ASD and the lives of their families, combining expertise in technology with expertise in developmental science to create a bridge between where a child with autism is, and where he or she can be.

For more information on Dr. Shic's work, please visit the University of Washington, Department of Pediatrics website.

Dr. Kim Cornish : Head of the School of Psychology and Psychiatry and Lab Director of the Cornish Developmental Lab - Monash University in Melbourne, Australia

Dr. Kim Cornish

Head of the School of Psychology and Psychiatry and Lab Director of the Cornish Developmental Lab - Monash University in Melbourne, Australia

 

Dr. Kim Cornish’s work focuses on identifying genetic-brain signatures in young children with genetic neurodevelopmental disorders, namely children with attention impairments. By developing novel attention paradigms that tap underlying cognitive attention mechanisms, Dr. Cornish’s work seeks to enhance academic achievement, mental health and build resilience in at-risk populations through the development of innovative, evidence-driven, early intervention programs (social, behavioural) that are community based and targeted to the most appropriate developmentally sensitive stage.

A collaboration with Dr. Roberts and her team will help develop a state-of-the-art training program to enhance attention and broader cognitive skills, in children as young as 8-12 months by combining Dr. Robert's expertise in capturing physiological predictors of early development in infants with fragile X syndrome and autism and Dr. Cornish’s expertise in identifying early cognitive deficits and translating to education resources.

For more information on Dr. Cornish’s work, please visit the Cornish Development Laboratory website.

Dr. Suzanne M. Adlof : Director - SC Research on Language and Literacy (SCROLL) Lab

Dr. Suzanne M. Adlof

Director - SC Research on Language and Literacy (SCROLL) Lab

 

Dr. Suzanne M. Adlof is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina, where she directs the SC Research on Language and Literacy (SCROLL) Lab. Dr. Adlof's research investigates the relationship between oral language and literacy development and disorders, with the long term goals of predicting, preventing, and remediating reading comprehension difficulties. Her current projects include a study of word learning in children with specific language impairment (SLI) and/or dyslexia funded by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, and a project aimed at developing a a web-based tutor to provide effective, individualized vocabulary instruction to high school students funded by the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. Dr. Adlof has also recently collaborated with Dr. Roberts’ team to examine literacy development in adolescents with Fragile X Syndrome.  For more information about Dr. Adlof’s work, please visit the SCROLL Lab website.

Dr. Jessica Klusek : Assistant Professor, USC Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Dr. Jessica Klusek

Assistant Professor, USC Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders

klusek@mailbox.sc.edu

Dr. Jessica Klusek is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, within USC's Arnold School of Public Health. Her research focuses on understanding communication impairments among individuals with autism and fragile X-associated conditions, with an emphasis on understanding cross-syndrome overlap and biophysiological underpinnings. These research interests stem from Dr. Klusek's early clinical experiences.

She received her M.S. degree in Speech-Language-Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 and is an ASHA-certified, state-licensed speech-language pathologist. Dr. Klusek completed her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Speech and Hearing Science, where she studied social-communication skills in children with autism and fragile X syndrome with the Communication and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Lab at FPG Child Development Institute. Her current work, which is funded by a prestigious NIH Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32; NIDCD), focuses on defining the nature, underlying mechanisms, and potential functional consequences of social language difficulties in women with the FMR1 premutation.

Please view Dr. Klusek's vitae for more information on her research experiences.

 

Dr. Bridgette Tonnsen :

Dr. Bridgette Tonnsen

 

Dr. Bridgette Tonnsen is an assistant professor of Psychological Science at Purdue University’s Department of Psychological Sciences . As part of the Purdue Autism Network, Bridgette continues her research in the early development of children and families affected by neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. autism, fragile X syndrome) using integrated clinical, experimental, and psychophysiological methods.  As a consultant on the grant entitled, Emergence and Stability of Autism in Fragile X Syndrome, Dr. Tonnsen leads the heart defined attention data and assists with the integration and collection of eye-tracking data, given her expertise in these methods.

For more information about Dr. Bridgette Tonnsen, please see her Purdue University faculty bio.

Kimberly Hills : Clinical Associate Professor

Kimberly Hills

Clinical Associate Professor

HILLSKJ@mailbox.sc.edu

Kimberly J Hills, PhD, is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina.  Dr. Hills received her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 2005 and worked in the public schools in the Columbia area until joining the USC faculty in 2008. Her current research interests focus on autism assessment and diagnosis, early identification of ASD, and positive psychology.  She is a recognized expert in ASD at the University of South Carolina. Her clinical interests reflect the previously mentioned research interests and include clinical training at the graduate level, assessment across the developmental continuum, prevention and intervention for at-risk youth and positive psychology. She serves as a trainer in the NDD lab and provides clinical training in ASD assessment skills to clinicians across the state of South Carolina.

Dr. James McPartland : Associate Professor, Yale Child Study Center

Dr. James McPartland

Associate Professor, Yale Child Study Center

James McPartland, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center. He is a licensed child psychologist and Director of the Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic as well as Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Child Center. Dr. McPartland's program of research investigates the brain bases of neurodevelopmental disabilities to develop biologically-based tools for detection and treatment. As a consultant on the NIH grant entitled Emergence and Stability of Autism in Fragile X Syndrome, he provides expertise on the development, implementation and interpretation of electrophysiological indicators of social perception in children with Fragile X Syndrome, FMR1 premutation, typical controls and high risk children who have siblings with autism.

For more information on Dr. McPartland's work, please visit the Yale Child Study Center website.

Dr. Alice Carter : Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston

Dr. Alice Carter

Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston

 

Alice Carter, Ph.D. is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is a consultant on the NIH grant entitled Emergence, Stability and Predictors of Anxiety in Fragile X Syndrome. Professor Carter researches the identification of infants and toddlers at risk for problems in social, behavioral, and emotional functioning and understanding the role of family functioning in the developmental course of children at genetic risk for or exhibiting clinical disorders such as autism, Tourette's Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She is also studying young children with autism spectrum disorder and their families as part of the Boston University Studies To Advance Autism Research (STAART). Her teaching interests include developmental psychopathology, child assessment, and child and family functioning.

 

For more information on Dr. Carter's work, please visit the University of Massachusetts, Boston website.

 

 

Dr. Quan Wang : Associate Research Scientist

Dr. Quan Wang

Associate Research Scientist

Quan Wang, Ph.D. is an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale School of Medicine and a Postdoctoral associate at the Yale Child Study Center.  She works in Yale’s Technology and Innovation Laboratory and is a collaborator on the NIH grant entitled The Emergence and Stability of Autism in Fragile X Syndrome.   She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and Computational Neuroscience from Goethe University Frankfurt, and has a M.S in Computational Science and B.S in Bioinformatics. She studies machine learning and computational methods, and has research experience in developmental psychology and visual attention. Her current research focus on eye tracking innovation and application, particularly interested in gaze-contingent eye tracking paradigms and its application in infants and toddlers affected by Autism.

For more information on Dr. Wang’s work, please visit the Yale Early Social Cognition Lab (YESCog) website.


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