Meet Our Team!
So Hyun "Sophy" Kim, Ph.D.
Dr. So Hyun “Sophy” Kim is a clinical researcher with an extensive background in identification of early behavioral phenotypes and examining developmental trajectories of children with ASD. She has developed a new language assessment tool, the Observation of Spontaneous Expressive Language (OSEL), which is now undergoing a national norm based on a partnership with the publisher, WPS, in collaboration with Dr. Catherine Lord. She has also led the development of the new treatment outcome measure for ASD, the Brief Observation of Social Communication Change (BOSCC) with Dr. Catherine Lord. Currently, she is a PI of a NIMH funded project designed to examine the mechanisms of early, parent-mediated interventions for toddlers with ASD (1R01MH114925-01). Most recently, Dr. Kim has led efforts to examine school readiness in kindergarteners with ASD while integrating behavioral and electrophysiological (ERP/EEG) methods, with a particular focus on executive function.
Deanna Swain, Ph.D.
Dr. Deanna Swain is currently completing her second year of a 2-year post-doctoral psychology fellowship. She completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at Virginia Tech under the direction of Dr. Angela Scarpa and her clinical internship at Children's Hospital of Colorado, with a focus in Developmental Pediatrics. Her primary research interests include parenting stress and its impact on parent-mediated interventions as well as a multi-method approach to measuring emotion regulation in parents and children with ASD. Dr. Swain has received specialized training in several Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions (NDBIs), including the Early Start Denver Model, and she is an interventionist in the NYS Early Intervention classroom at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain. Currently, Dr. Swain conducts research related to parent-mediated interventions through a small randomized control trial in the Early Intervention classroom and she is also involved in a NIMH-funded project aimed at examining the mechanisms in parent-mediated interventions for toddlers with ASD.
Dr. Elizabeth McKernan is a first-year postdoctoral fellow in the ASD & Developmental Science Lab at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB). She completed her doctorate in school psychology at Syracuse University, and her predoctoral clinical internship at the Penn Center for Mental Health at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. McKernan has extensive experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She is interested in the heterogeneity of ASD, the presentation of internalizing symptoms such as anxiety and depression in individuals with ASD, and how we measure these constructs. In her current role, Dr. McKernan is involved in research examining early behavioral features and trajectories of children with ASD, as well as neural correlates of executive function and school readiness in children with ASD.
Elizabeth McKernan, Ph.D.
Elysha Clark-Whitney graduated from New York University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology and a minor in History. At NYU, Elysha worked with the Latino Family Engagement and Language Development Lab (L-FELD) under the supervision of Dr. Gigliana Melzi, studying the development of language and narrative skills in Latino preschoolers. Her work with L-FELD culminated in a senior honors thesis, in which Elysha examined the relations between expressive language, executive function and narrative organization in monolingual and bilingual Latino preschoolers. During her time as an undergraduate, Elysha also studied ADHD and behavioral problems in school-aged children with Dr. Anil Chacko. In her current role, Elysha coordinates a study of nonverbal communication in toddlers, which uses multiple measurement modalities to capture fine-grained information about communication behaviors in children with autism and other developmental delays, and typically-developing children. Elysha plans to undertake a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and is interested in studying parent-child interactions in autism and how parental stress and anxiety influence children's treatment outcomes.
Alyssa Viggiano graduated from Syracuse University in 2020 with a B.S in Psychology and Neuroscience and a minor in Disability Studies. At Syracuse, Alyssa worked in the Mind and Body lab, studying the cognitive and psychophysiological benefits of mindfulness practices with children. She also worked in the Neuroimmunology Lab for the NYS Department of Health at the Wadsworth Center, studying the mechanisms by which the immune and nervous systems regulate each other, and whether or not this impacts the incidence of neuroimmune disorders such as ASD. Most recently, Alyssa was a research assistant in the Center for Autism Research and Electrophysiology (CARE) Lab at Syracuse University. The CARE Lab studies the ways in which children on the autism spectrum process and integrate sensory information. Alyssa also completed independent research for her thesis in the Reneè Crown Honors Program at Syracuse. Her thesis studied the relationship between autism, ADHD traits, and sensory features and whether or not these differed between genders. Alyssa plans to pursue a Ph.D in clinical psychology and continue to research gender differences in autism, finding better diagnostic and intervention techniques for girls on the autism spectrum.
Nicolas Cristallo graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychological and Brain Sciences and a minor in Education. At UCSB Nicolas worked with the Social Cognitive Development (SCD) Lab where he studied the social cognition of infants and school aged children. While in the SCD lab Nicolas developed a program studying the development and expression of empathy in children 3-11 years old. Also, during his time at UCSB Nicolas was employed as the Clinic Coordinator at the Koegel Autism Center where he handled the organization of the center as well as clinical duties with adults and children on the autism spectrum. Nicolas also participated as a research assistant with the Koegel Autism Center testing the effectiveness of Pivotal Response Treatment and the PRIDE skills on treatment outcomes in school aged children. Outside of research Nicolas was also a Behavior Technician delivering therapy to clients of all ages. Nicolas plans to pursue a Ph.D in clinical psychology and is interested in studying therapy based intervention strategies and education based programs for individuals on the autism spectrum.
Helen Branyan graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2020 with a B.A. in Psychology and a focus in developmental neuropsychology. During her time at Barnard, she worked in the Cognitive Development and Spatial Cognition lab, researching and presenting on early numeracy development in toddlers. She also worked at the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai as a clinical researcher in the Foss-Feig Lab. After discovering a love for ASD research, she interned at the Conceptual Development and Social Cognition Lab at NYU with a focus on the development of stereotypes and prejudice in toddlers, in addition to working alongside a private neuropsychologist to gain a firsthand clinical experience. At the ASD and Developmental Science Lab, Helen is spearheading a collaborative study, under the supervision of Drs. Sophy Kim and Adriana DiMartino, using natural sleep MRIs to investigate neurobiological underpinnings of changes in restricted repetitive behavior/interests (RRBs) over the first five years of life, and their predictive outcomes. In the future, Helen plans to pursue a PhD in clinical neuropsychology and continue in ASD research.
Shanping Qiu received her B.A. in Philosophy from Fudan University, China and received her M.S. in Management in Computer Information Systems from University of Detroit, Michigan. She is the data manager at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain. Prior to joining CADB, Shanping worked at the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center as a data manager.
Savina Sikand is currently an undergraduate at Fordham University. She plans to graduate in the spring of 2020 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology from Fordham University. She is currently on the executive board of Fordham's chapter of A Moment of Magic, which provides creative programming to kids with medical vulnerabilities at no cost to them. In the past, Savina has held internships as a Research Associate at NYU Winthrop Hospital as well as a Regulatory Affairs intern for clinical trials at Hackensack University Medical Center. At the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, she helps with the data of the clinic and various research projects. In the future, Savina plans on going to medical school.
Claire Klein graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in Psychology and a Leadership Studies Sequence in 2018. While at CMC, Claire worked as a Fletcher Jones Research Fellow at the Claremont Autism Center with Dr. Majorie Charlop, providing early intervention to children with autism and conducting behavioral research on repetitive behaviors, speech, physical exercise, and decreasing problem behaviors. Claire’s honors senior thesis was on the generalization of iPad-learned skills in children with ASD. At the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, Claire worked on the randomized control trial of a parent-mediated intervention in the Early Intervention classroom, conducts behavioral and EEG assessments for the NEST project, and lead the Toddler Brain Study with Child Mind Institute. Claire is currently pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, under the supervision of Dr. Laura Klinger.
Hannah Thomas graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. During her time at USC, she worked as a research assistant at the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab where she studied the development of children with comorbid Fragile X syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) conditions. She also worked at the Applied Cognitive Neuropsychology Lab researching the cognitive and neurological profiles of specific learning disabilities. At the ASD and Developmental Science Lab, Hannah lead the NIMH funded R01 project investigating treatment mechanisms from three early intervention models for ASD. She also was the coordinator on the longitudinal study investigating school readiness in kindergartners with ASD using a child-friendly Go/NoGo EEG task. She also joined a project that was investigating the behavioral and neuronal correlates of ADHD and ASD under the supervision of Drs. Sophy Kim and Adriana DiMartino. Hannah is pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Connecticut, supervised by Dr. Inge-Marie Eigsti.
Denisse Janvier graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in both Psychology and Biology with a concentration in Neuroscience in 2018. During her time at SBU she worked as a research assistant at the Social Competence and Treatment Lab with Dr. Matthew Lerner studying the social and emotional functioning of children, adolescents and adults on the Autism Spectrum through various research projects. She was also involved in different public health organizations, taking a special interest in healthcare delivery for underserved populations. While at the Autism Development Lab, she worked on the Autism Navigator study (Mobilizing Community Systems) in the efforts of disseminating and piloting an early detection Autism screener among high-risk, underserved communities in the tristate area. In the future, Denisse plans to pursue an MD as a Developmental Pediatrician.
Hansee graduated with a M.A in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. While at Columbia, she worked at the Developmental Affective Neuroscience lab under the direction of Dr. Nim Tottenham studying the lasting effects of early adverse experiences on emotion and brain development. Prior to attending graduate school, she worked as a behavior therapist for children on the autism spectrum working with client specific treatment protocols that cater to each child’s intellectual and social capacities. At the ASD and Developmental Science Lab, Hansee primarily worked as an interventionist/researcher on the SPROUT study focused on validating new language and social communication based outcome measures over the course of a JASPER intervention program. In the future, Hansee plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.
Jackie Moses graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Psychology. During her time at Emory, she worked as a research assistant in the Infant & Child Lab as well as in the Spatial Cognition Lab. In collaboration with these labs, she expanded her cross-cultural research in Western Samoa and Ireland. Jackie also served as an undergraduate practicum student at Marcus Autism Center in the Severe Behavior Day Treatment Program and in the research department. In Severe Behavior, she implemented intensive individualized treatment plans which utilized ABA strategies to assess and treat dangerous and disruptive behaviors of children and young adults with autism. In the research department, she assisted on a project which adapted and used a gesture coding scheme to assess the development of early speech and hand gesture in children with autism. In connection with the Emory Autism Center, Jackie designed and led social and recreational skills interventions for young adults on the spectrum. At the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain her predominate work included the SPROUT study and the Home BOSCC. In the future, she plans to pursue higher education in the medical field and continue working with children and adults with autism.