Faculty in the Purdue Autism Cluster
Edward Bartlett, Ph.D.
College of Science
College of Engineering
Edward Bartlett studies auditory processing across the lifespan, starting from birth to auditory maturation, and from young adult to an aged system. He also studies changes in auditory processing in pathological conditions like autism and dyslexia.
Bartlett received his undergraduate degree from Haverford College and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Alexander Chubykin, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Sciences
Alexander Chubykin earned his M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow, Russia. Dr. Chubykin then received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX in Neuroscience in 2006. During his graduate training Dr. Chubykin studied how synapses, connections between neurons, are established and stabilized by neuronal activity, and how this process is impaired in autism spectrum disorders (ASD’s). He completed his postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied impairments in synaptic plasticity and neuronal excitability in Fragile X Syndrome, the most common inherited form of autism. In August 2014 Dr. Chubykin joined Purdue University with an appointment in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Dr. Chubykin’s research uses in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, behavior assays in mouse models of autism. The goal of his research is to understand how impairments in synaptic and neural circuit functions lead to changes in sensory perception and learning impairments. Characterizing single gene mutations associated with ASD’s in genetically modified mice provides a unique opportunity to dissect the biochemical pathways involved, and to study the functional impairments both at the level of neural circuits and at the level of an organism. This approach holds promise for development of new biomarkers and for potential discovery of pharmacological therapies, which could target the biochemical pathways altered in ASD’s.
Ulrike Dydak, Ph.D.
School of Health Sciences
After studying physics and mathematics at the University of Vienna, Austria, Dr. Dydak received her PhD and postdoctoral training in physics and engineering of Magnetic Resonance Imaging at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich, Switzerland. Dr. Dydak’s research is focused on the development of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) techniques for the noninvasive in-vivo assessment of metabolite and neurotransmitter concentrations, and their application to study physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms. A long-term goal of this research is to translate these novel MRS methods into viable clinical diagnostic procedures that aid in disease detection as well as assessment of treatment response. Special emphasis of her work lies on the development of the in vivo detection and quantification of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter, to study manganese-induced parkinsonian neurotoxicity and idiopathic Parkinson Disease. A second focus lies on the development of whole-liver phosphorous (31P) magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging of the human liver to improve treatment monitoring in liver cancer.
Uzay Emir, Ph.D.
School of Health Sciences
Dr. Emir specializes on developing and implementing new techniques of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to investigate brain diseases. He graduated from Ege University in Izmir, Turkey with BS degree in Electrical Engineering and obtained his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the Bogazici University, Istanbul. Dr. Uzay E Emir is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Health Sciences at Purdue University. The focus of Dr. Emir’s research aims to establish MRI based biomarkers of various types of neurodegenerative diseases that allow accurate detection of neurological diseases as well as assessment of their progressions and treatment responses. He has developed techniques to quantify various brain metabolites, including neurotransmitters (γ-amino butyric acid, GABA, and glutamate, Glu) in Parkinson’s Disease (PD); antioxidants (glutathione, GSH, and ascorbate, Asc) in aging; and oncometabolites (2 hydroxyglutarate, 2-HG, and lactate, Lac) in patients with glioma.
Brandon Keehn, Ph.D.
Departments of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Psychological Sciences
Brandon Keehn received his Ph.D. from the San Diego State University / University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders in 2011. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In fall 2014 he joined Purdue University with a joint appointment in the Departments of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and Psychological Sciences.
Dr. Keehn’s research uses a multimodal (fMRI, EEG, eye-tracking) approach to understanding attentional strengths and weaknesses and their neurofunctional underpinnings in individuals at-risk for or diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The aim of this research is to provide insight into how early impairments in attention impact the development of social and communicative abilities in children with ASD. Ultimately, the goal of this research is to identify behavioral and biological markers to assist in making an earlier diagnosis of ASD and to determine potential targets for early intervention.
Rose Mason, Ph.D.
Department of Educational Studies
Rose Mason is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst whose research focuses on increasing access to effective interventions for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities by addressing both intervention development and implementation. Utilizing an implementation science framework, ecobehavior assessment methods are utilized to identify barriers to implementation of evidence-based practices through partnerships with schools or service organizations. Information obtained is then utilized to develop and evaluate training methods that address these barriers. For example, she recently utilized single-case methodology to evaluate the impact of a teacher-as-coach model to train paraprofessionals who work with students with autism and developmental disabilities to implement discrete trial training with fidelity. A second and complementary line of research evaluates ways to increase the efficiency of interventions for individuals with autism including more effective delivery mechansims. This includes the development of a web-based instructional system for adolescents and adults with ASD, incorporating web-based learning, tele-coaching, and a technology delivered self-management application aimed at enhancing social-communication, problem-solving and organization skills to improve post-secondary trajectories.
Carolyn McCormick, Ph.D.
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Carolyn McCormick joined the Department of Human Development and Family studies as part of the Purdue Autism Cluster in the fall of 2017. She received her PhD at the University of California, Davis in Developmental Psychology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.
Dr. McCormick’s research focuses on early developmental trajectories of children with an emphasis on children on the autism spectrum. In addition to describing symptom trajectories over time, she is interested in mechanisms and moderators of changes in behavior. To that effect, her research has included, naturalistic longitudinal work, longitudinal work within the context of clinical trials of early intervention for ASD, and cross-sectional work using multi-modal approaches. Of special interest is using multi-modal measurement across different contexts to develop a better understanding of the variability observed in outcomes of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder who receive early intervention services. As part of her program of research, Dr. McCormick is committed to engaging stakeholders at every level of the process. This means working with stakeholders to make sure that they not only benefit from research findings but also influence the goals, execution, and dissemination of autism research.
Maggie O’Haire, Ph.D.
Center for the Human-Animal Bond, College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Marguerite (Maggie) O’Haire is a Fulbright Scholar who is currently an Assistant Professor of Human-Animal Interaction in the Center for the Human-Animal Bond in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University. She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Vassar College in New York. She then received a Fulbright Fellowship to travel to Australia to be one of the first psychology researchers to rigorously study animal-assisted intervention for autism. She was completed her PhD in Psychology at The University of Queensland in Australia. During this time she secured funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a multi-site trial of a classroom-based, animal-assisted intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder. The results of this work have been published in international outlets and received media attention through over 250 popular press publications. At Purdue, Dr. O’Haire’s autism research focuses on the effects of interacting with animals for individuals with autism. More information on her research group and opportunities can be located at: www.humananimalinteraction.org.
Mandy Rispoli, Ph.D.
Department of Educational Studies
Dr. Mandy Rispoli is an Associate Professor of Special Education in the Department of Educational Studies at Purdue University and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst- Doctoral level. Operating from a behavior analytic framework, Dr. Rispoli’s research explores: (a) variables that may alter a child’s motivation to engage in challenging behavior and (b) innovations in professional development for teachers of young children with autism and challenging behavior. Dr. Rispoli has published over 80 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters concerning behavioral interventions for children with autism and developmental disabilities.
A.J. Schwichtenberg, Ph.D.
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
In 1995 I met Adam, a young boy with autism, and worked on his home-based intervention team. Teaching Adam was my first experience with autism and his developmental trajectory shaped much of the education, training, and clinical experience I pursued as an undergraduate at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. During the time I worked with Adam and his family, I received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Communications and developed my skills in the areas of autism treatment, inclusion practices, and family stress and coping. My passion for autism was sparked by Adam and grew with each family I worked with. After graduation, I longed to continue helping families and expand my understanding of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), so I pursued a graduate degree under the mentorship of Dr. Betty Black at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Shortly after my arrival in WI, Dr. Black passed away and unfortunately she was the only faculty member actively working in the area of autism. I was able to complete my Master's thesis, which addressed the roles of intervention intensity in maternal stress and well-being in families raising a child with ASD.
While at the University of Wisconsin, I was fortunate to obtain a position with Dr. Julie Poehlmann at the start of her longitudinal study of self-regulation in children at risk for developmental disabilities. My dissertation was an extension of this study. My dissertation, which was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31) from NICHD, was a prospective longitudinal study that followed infants born preterm from hospital discharge to 24 months post-term. This study focused on the dynamic nature of parent-child relations and the development of sleep in this at risk population. Although this project and my dissertation were fulfilling and rewarding experiences, I wanted to work with families raising children with ASD again and sought postdoctoral opportunities to return to ASD research.
I was delighted when I secured a postdoctoral training position at the M.I.N.D. Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) at the University of California, Davis. The Autism Research Training Program (ARTP) provided a rich curriculum of developmentally-based training in epidemiology, genetics, brain development, neuroimaging, neurophysiology, neurotoxicology, immunology, and the early identification and treatment of ASD. Mentored by Sally Ozonoff, Ph.D., my ARTP research included applying my knowledge of early parent-child relations to children at risk for ASD (infant siblings of children with ASD) within an ongoing prospective longitudinal study. My training at the M.I.N.D. also expanded my knowledge of sleep assessment and my understanding of sleep in ASD.
Building on the wide breadth of training provided at the M.I.N.D. Institute, I received a career transition award from the NIMH (K99/R00) which combined my interests in autism and sleep development. I joined the Purdue team at the start of 2013 and I am continuing my research line in early childhood developmental trajectories and sleep. At the Purdue Developmental Studies Laboratory we have several ongoing studies of early autism development and the role(s) of sleep in treatment, language learning, autism emergence, and family life.
Emily Studebaker, M.S., CCC-SLP
Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Emily Studebaker supervises clinical practicum for graduate students in speech-language pathology within Purdue’s M.D. Steer Audiology and Speech Clinic. Clinical supervision has included the Pragmatic Language Groups, Preschool Language Program, and other pediatric and adult clients, with a focus on treating individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Studebaker received her undergraduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from Miami University (Oxford, OH) and her M.S. in Speech Pathology from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) as a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and maintains professional licensure as a speech-language pathologist in the State of Indiana. Prior to joining Purdue in 2008, Studebaker worked at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD.
Bridgette Tonnsen, Ph.D.
Department of Psychological Sciences
Dr. Bridgette Tonnsen joined the clinical psychology faculty in Purdue University's Department of Psychological Sciences in 2015 as part of the Purdue Autism Cluster. She received her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of South Carolina and completed her predoctoral internship at the APA-accredited Charleston Consortium. Dr. Tonnsen’s research examines early behavioral and biological markers of risk and resilience in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Her primary work investigates infant precursors of clinical conditions such as autism, attention problems, and anxiety through cross-syndrome, longitudinal surveillance. She also studies the intersection of family factors (e.g. maternal psychopathology, genetic risk, parenting stress) and child clinical outcomes in genetic conditions such as fragile X syndrome. By integrating gold-standard clinical tools with both experimental and physiological methods, her work aims to inform developmental emergence of neurodevelopmental phenotypes and potential points of intervention.
Dr. Tonnsen’s lab is currently recruiting families to participate in two ongoing longitudinal studies. The Infant Development Project examines early patterns of risk and resilience in children with Down syndrome and infants born preterm. The Early Phenotype Survey is a national parent survey of child and family factors related to genetic syndromes such as fragile X syndrome, Williams’ syndrome, Prader Willi syndrome, and Angelman syndrome. For more information about ongoing studies, please visit Dr. Tonnsen’s laboratory web site or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.