Faculty in the Purdue Autism Research Center
Hari Bharadwaj, Ph.D.
Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Hari Bharadwaj is an Assistant Professor at Purdue University with a joint appointment in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, and Biomedical Engineering. He received a B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 2006. He then received M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2008. In 2014, he completed a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University with a dissertation on how the representation of sound information by the auditory nerve and brainstem, even among those with clinically “normal” hearing, could influence one’s ability to listen in challenging hearing conditions. Hari’s post-doctoral work at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital used neuroimaging techniques to study the cortical processing of complex sounds in school-aged children, including those with autism spectrum disorders. For this work, he received the Emerging Research Grant from the Hearing Health Foundation in 2015. In 2016, he joined the faculty at Purdue, where his lab integrates behavioral experiments, computational modeling, and an array of non-invasive physiological measurement tools to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying auditory perception in humans. Hari is a member of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology and the Acoustical Society of America.
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.
Dan Foti, Ph.D.
Dan Foti is an Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Stony Brook University in 2013. His research using psychophysiological techniques (EEG/ERP) to understand abnormal emotion and motivated behavior in psychological disorders. The broad aim of this research is to identify deficits in information processing that can predict the onset and course of psychological disorder. Current projects that are particularly relevant to PARC include: (a) a Purdue- and CTSI-funded study testing neural predictors of increased risk for depression and other psychological disorders among women with the FMR1 premutation, and (b) a Purdue-funded study examining abnormal conversation processing among adults with the broader autism phenotype.
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.
Bridgette Kelleher, 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. Kelleher's laboratory web site or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Rebecca McNally Keehn, Ph.D.
Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine
Department of Speech Language and Hearing Sciences Purdue University
Department of Psychological Sciences Purdue University
Dr. McNally Keehn is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine and clinical psychologist at Riley Hospital for Children. She also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor in the Departments of Speech Language and Hearing Sciences and Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. Her career has been focused on improving access to evidence-based services for children with autism spectrum disorder and related neurodevelopmental disabilities. Dr. McNally Keehn provides training to emerging interdisciplinary leaders through Indiana’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program. She also trains primary care clinicians in evidence-based methods for early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Dr. McNally Keehn is a Certified Independent ADOS-2 Trainer and maintains research reliability on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 (ADOS-2) and Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised (ADI-R), both gold standard ASD diagnostic measures widely used in ASD clinical practice and research. Dr. McNally Keehn’s research interests reflect her longstanding commitment to improving evidence-based care for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. She directs the research efforts of Indiana University School of Medicine’s Early Evaluation Hub system, a state-wide initiative to lower the age of neurodevelopmental diagnosis in Indiana, and was an integral team member in the implementation and evaluation of an innovative care coordination program for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities at Riley Hospital for Children. Dr. McNally Keehn also collaborates with translational researchers to provide neurodevelopmental diagnostic phenotyping services.
Maggie O’Haire, Ph.D.
Center for the Human-Animal Bond, College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Marguerite (Maggie) O’Haire is an internationally recognized Fulbright Scholar who is currently an Associate Professor of Human-Animal Interaction in the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. She earned her BA in Psychology from Vassar College in New York and her PhD in Psychology from The University of Queensland in Australia. Her research program focuses on the unique and pervasive ways that humans interact with animals. From research with household pets to highly trained service animals, her findings have been instrumental in evaluating the effects of human-animal interactions. She has received funding from three different National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes (NICHD, NCCIH, NCATS) to fund her human-animal interaction research. In addition to her peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters, her work has also been highlighted in over 1,000 media stories around the globe, including NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
Peristera Paschou, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Sciences
Dr. Paschou works at the intersection of human population genetics, statistical analysis, and genomic medicine, and her research interests lie in two main areas: first, she studies the genetic basis of complex disorders in diverse human populations aiming to translate research findings into clinical applications and, second, using novel methods for large-scale data analysis, she investigates human genomic variation and population genetic relationships around the world.
Towards the first goal, a major focus of her research is the elucidation of the genetic background of neurodevelopmental phenotypes, such as Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She studies genomewide datasets and she has a leading role in multiple large-scale collaborative efforts such as the EMTICS and TS-EUROTRAIN consortia. At the same time, working with neuropathologists and analyzing whole genome sequencing data, she also investigates the potential link between neurodegeneration and neurodevelopment
On the other hand, working towards the decomposition of human genetic variation around the world, she investigates human evolution and the migration patterns of the human population across the globe and in particular population movements around the Mediterranean basin (GENOMAP.GR project). Interdisciplinarity is an important aspect of her work and she places particular emphasis on transferring algorithms and methodology from the fields of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics to population genetics and medical genetics. In an era of Big Data and the ability to mine the genome of hundreds of thousands of individuals, such approaches pave the way towards the direction of personalized medicine.
Mary K. Pilotte, MBA, Ph.D.
College of Engineering
Dr. Mary Pilotte is an Associate Professor of Engineering Practice and Director of the School of Engineering Education’s Undergraduate degree programs in Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies and Multidisciplinary Engineering. She teaches varied undergraduate topics across levels of student development, from preparing for professional practice, to engineering economics and Senior Capstone Design.
She also instructs workshops on intentional learning, and leads corporate and community workshops on generations in the workplace based on her book “Millennial Reset” (2018). Her research interests include engineering work culture, examining what it means to identify as “multidisciplinary”, and exploring new approaches and dynamic strategies around increasing workplace diversity, especially for the neurodiverse, and those with invisible differences.
Prior to her roles in academia she worked professionally for more than 20 years in the automotive, aerospace, airline, and commercial products industries, holding a variety of engineering and senior leadership roles.
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 100 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters concerning behavioral interventions for children with autism and developmental disabilities.
Anne Sereno, Ph.D.
Department of Psychological Sciences
College of Health and Human Sciences
College of Engineering
Dr. Anne Sereno received her BS from Northern Illinois University in Biological and Mathematical sciences. She then went on to receive her AM and Ph.D in Psychology from Harvard University in 1991. Anne completed a postdoctoral fellowship from Harvard medical school and then another postdoctoral fellowship from Baylor University in neuroscience. Her research focuses on the higher cognitive functions of attention and memory with findings having a direct impact on the diagnosis, treatment and etiology of various human disorders. She has developed an easy-to-use tablet-based app and recently reported both enhanced reflexive and deficient voluntary attention in children with autism spectrum disorder.
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.
Yang Yang, Ph.D.
Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
Yang Yang, PhD is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Purdue University College of Pharmacy, also affiliated with Purdue Institute for Integrative Neuroscience. Dr. Yang graduated with dual bachelor’s degrees (B.S.: Life Sciences and B.A.: Sociology) from Shanghai University. Dr. Yang completed a PhD degree at Georgia State University under the mentorship of Dr. Chun Jiang. Dr. Yang then moved to Yale University School of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow for three years under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Waxman, and was promoted to Associate Research Scientist. Dr. Yang joined the faculty of Purdue University as an Assistant Professor in 2017.