Robert T. Schultz, PhD
Robert T. Schultz, Ph.D., received his doctorate in psychology in 1991 from the University of Texas at Austin, receiving training in clinical psychology, neuropsychology, and behavioral genetics. He received postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at Yale University, and joined the faculty there in 1994, rising to become the Harris Associate Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. In 2007, he moved to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and became the director of a new center the Center for Autism Research (CAR). He is the RAC Endowed Professor of Psychology in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and he holds a dual appointment with the Department of Psychiatry at Penn. He is the recent past President of the International Society for Autism Research and has served as the Associate Editor of the society's journal, Autism Research.
His research interests are broad and include the relationships between genes, brain, behavior, and treatment in autism. He is best known for his work with functional MRI to study the social brain in autism and for his interest in social motivation and perception. His lab is actively working in several areas of autism research, including studies of social motivation and reward mechanisms, studies of skill development and learning, studies of autism comorbidities including anxiety and sleep disturbance, studies aimed at using MRI to develop predictive biomarkers, genetic studies of autism, and treatment studies (including novel computer gaming approaches, psychopharmacology approaches, and studies that combine the two).
Sarah Paterson, PhD
Dr. Paterson is a scientist in the Developmental Neuroimaging Laboratory and a research assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She is project coordinator of the Infant Brain Imaging Study of Infants at Risk for Autism and conducts brain imaging and cognitive studies of infants at risk for autism and other developmental disorders.
She earned her doctorate in developmental psychology in 2000. Working under the supervision of professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Ph.D. at the Institute of Child Health, University College London, she studied language and number understanding in infants and adults with Williams and Down syndromes.
Her research interests are in developmental cognitive neuroscience, and in particular, brain imaging, language and cognition in infants and young children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Before joining the center, Dr. Paterson was an associate research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center.
John Herrington, PhD
Dr. Herrington is a a clinical psychologist in the Developmental Neuroimaging Laboratory at the Center for Autism Research with expertise in neuropsychology, psychophysiology and cognitive neuroscience. His research focuses on the neurobiology of social and emotional functions in autism.
Dr. Herrington earned his doctorate in clinical/community psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006. His clinical training focused on neuropsychological assessment and psychotherapy. His doctoral research focused on prefrontal cortex contributions to emotion processes among individuals with depressive symptoms. Dr. Herrington also received a master of philosophy degree working with Simon Baron-Cohen at the University of Cambridge. His work at Cambridge focused on biological motion perception among individuals with Asperger syndrome.
Dr. Herrington's research focuses on visual and motor cortex contributions to social understanding (i.e., the mirror neuron system), measured via fMRI. He also studies mechanisms of empathy and social reciprocity, measured via facial electromyography.
Gregor Kohls, PhD
Dr. Kohls is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Developmental Neuroimaging Laboratory at the Center for Autism Research with expertise in developmental neuropsychology, electrophysiology and social neuroscience. After receiving his Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Psychology, German Linguistics, and Educational Sciences in 2006 from the University of Freiburg, Germany, he earned his doctorate in child neuropsychology (summa cum laude) from the RWTH Aachen University, Germany, in 2009. His doctoral training was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) with a PhD scholarship as part of the International Research Training Group 1328 "Brain-Behavior Relationship of Normal and Disturbed Emotions in Schizophrenia and Autism" at the RWTH Aachen University and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kohls' doctoral research focused on the behavioral, electrophysiological (ERP/EEG), and neural (fMRI) responses to social and non-social reward, and the impact of reward on goal-directed, motivated behavior in children and adolescents with and without autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or ADHD.
In the Center Dr. Kohls investigates the neural responsivity to social stimuli and reward in children with autism, and how reward affects learning of social preferences. Another main focus of his work is on how computerized health games can motivate children with autism to perform a wide range of activities that promote social-perceptual learning and skill development in ways that have the potential to exceed conventional teaching and training methods by tapping "reward" circuits in the brain.
Research Lab Coordinator
Elinora is a research associate with the Developmental Neuroimaging Laboratory, and she collaborates on study design, task programming, fMRI data collection and fMRI data analyses. She is the lab's expert on the Brain Voyager fMRI data analysis package. Elinora received her bachelor's in cognitive science and Japanese studies from Wellesley College in 2001.
Assistant Research Lab Coordinator
Meghan is a research assistant involved in fMRI studies of neural plasticity as it relates to autism. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2005 with a bachelor's in biology. Meghan also received a master's in neuroscience from the University of Rochester in 2008, where she worked with Krystel Huxlin, PhD, on projects dealing with plasticity in the damaged visual system.
Larry is currently the Developmental Neuroimaging Laboratory manager and IT specialist with a primary role as the Unix/Windows System Administrator. He is responsible for all aspects of the research center's computer network, hardware, and software procurement, installation, and maintenance. He is also in charge of all morphometric analyses, a responsibility that cuts across multiple federally funded projects. He supervises student research projects in the lab and works closely with various postdoctoral fellows and faculty throughout the University of Pennsylvania to develop new approaches to brain measurement and to collect pilot data for new grant applications.
Harini is a research data analyst working on Diffusion Tensor Imaging. She received her Masters degree in EE:Systems from the University of Michigan in 2008.
James is a research assistant involved in fMRI studies of neural plasticity as it relates to autism. James graduated in 2009 from Gettysburg College with a bachelor's in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience, where he worked with Kevin Wilson, PhD, on projects involving neural correlates of visual attention.
Janelle is a research assistant working on studies of steady-state and psychophysiological responses in children with autism. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, where she completed an honors thesis which examined the effects of strategy training on working memory in younger and older adults.
Michael Perino, M.A. is a research assistant working on fMRI studies examining social perception as it relates to autism. Michael graduated from New York University in 2008 with a double major in Psychology and History and a double minor in Sociology and Arabic. At NYU, he completed his honor's thesis in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Phelps, PhD., where he studied how implicit race biases affect trustworthiness evaluations.
After graduating from NYU, Michael rejoined the Phelps' lab to work on the MacArthur Foundation's Law & Neuroscience Legal Decision-making project.
Michael also received a Master's in Forensic Psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2010. At John Jay, he completed an externship at the Forensic Panel, under the direction of Dr. Michael Welner, PhD., where he aided in research studying criminal depravity. Additionally, under the direction of Dr. Shuki Cohen, PhD., he completed his thesis, which examined factors that account for biased behavior in economic behavioral paradigms.
Julia is a PhD candidate in Developmental Psychopathology at Temple University, and is working on her dissertation studies at the Center for Autism Research. Her studies are designed to clarify the relationship between spatial/temporal cognition, social inference, and language outcome in 3- to 6-year-old children diagnosed with autism. Her research method includes eye-gaze tracking technology that records where on a television screen a child looks, how long they look at each part of the screen, and their sequence of looking to different aspects of a scene. The wealth of information gained from gaze tracking provides insight into how children with autism process the complex world around them.
In addition to spatial and language research, she is also very interested in the development of social compensatory strategies over time, beginning at the earliest point: the brain. She would like to explore the neural correlates of social inferential processing, such as intentionality and goal detection. By integrating multiple methodologies that capture information at various processing points (EEG, gaze tracking, behavioral) into a single study, she will endeavor to develop a clear picture of early precursors to Theory of Mind development in toddlers and preschoolers with autism.
Susan Epstein, PhD
Dr. Epstein is a clinical neuropsychologist at the Center for Autism Research. She began her career as a psychiatric social worker at New York University in 1981. Following her daughter's autism diagnosis, she returned to graduate school and received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2005.
Dr. Epstein completed a dual-track internship at North Shore University Hospital in child clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. She has worked at the Fay J. Lindner Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center as part of a transdisciplinary diagnostic team and at the Barbara C. Wilson Preschool Development. In these positions she performed evaluations, consulted educational staff and counseled parents.
Dr. Epstein also maintained private practices in New York City, and Westchester County, N.Y., where she provided general psychotherapy services, pediatric neuropsychological evaluations and comprehensive autism diagnostic evaluations. She has a special interest in differential diagnoses of complex childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.
Dr. Pandey is a clinical autism/neuropsychology fellow at the Center for Autism Research. After receiving her bachelor's degree in Psychology in 2001 from the University of Rochester, she worked as a research assistant at The Kennedy Krieger Institute at John's Hopkins University on projects studying infants at risk for developing autism and other developmental disorders.
She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology in 2008. Working under the supervision of professor Deborah Fein, Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, she ran a younger sibling study, worked on a number of projects investigating the M-CHAT as an effective screening tool for autism spectrum disorders in toddlers, and conducted comprehensive autism evaluations.
She completed her clinical internship at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., with a particular focus on neurodevelopmental disorders and comprehensive neuropsychological assessment of children and adolescents with high functioning autism. Dr. Pandey has a special interest in the early identification and diagnosis of ASD, clinical phenotyping, and brain-behavior relationships that impact diagnosis and treatment outcome.
Julie graduated from Saint Joseph's University in 2007 with her Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She then received a Master's degree in Counseling and Clinical Health Psychology from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2009. Her practicum study was completed at the Center for Management of ADHD at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Julie currently conducts clinical assessments as part of several research studies at CAR.
Clinical Research Assistants
Sarah is a research assistant working on the Face Station project, studying deficits in face perception skills in children with Autism. She is also working in CAR's research clinic, supporting the clinicians as they perform diagnostic, behavioral and neuropsychological evaluations. Sarah graduated from Alvernia University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Biology. She completed two practicums in developmental research labs, working in both London and Washington D.C., before coming to Philadelphia. She completed her honor's thesis on the importance of the relationship between neuroscience and education.
Ivy Giserman is a clinical research assistant working on the Social Functioning and Genetics study, supporting the clinicians as they perform diagnostic and cognitive evaluations. She graduated with honors from the University of Rochester in 2010 with a degree in psychology and a minor in American Sign Language. While at the University of Rochester, Ivy worked as a research assistant in the Developmental Neuropsychology Lab and completed her psychology honors thesis with Loisa Bennetto, Ph.D., on the use of social engagement devices in narratives of adolescents with high functioning autism.
Hee-Won Kang is a research assistant working on an fMRI project, studying the interrelated roles of the brain, behaviors, and genetics in autism spectrum disorders. She supports the clinicians as they perform cognitive and diagnostic assessments. Hee-Won is also a liaison on a research project focusing on identifying and evaluating reliable biological and behavioral markers for autism. Hee-Won graduated with honors from Barnard College in 2005, with degrees in Economics and Psychology. For three years, she worked with Peter Balsam, Ph.D. in the Adaptive Behavior Lab at Barnard on studies involving the neural bases of temporal learning. Her thesis work examined conditioned effects of dopaminergic drugs on learning.
Lauren Bradstreet graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor's degree in psychology in May 2010. During her undergraduate career, she worked as a research assistant with the Advancing Autism Treatment research team directed by Bill Hudenko, Ph.D. and cultivated a fascination with brain-behavior relationships as they relate to neurodevelopmental disorders. Lauren currently works on a study examining the interactions between genetics, the brain, and behavior in autism spectrum disorders.
Lizzy is a clinical research assistant working on CAR's FaceStation project-an interventional study looking at the ability of computer games to enhance face perception skills in children with ASD. Lizzy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University in 2008, with a Bachelor of Arts in cognitive science, and worked as a research assistant and lab manager at Yale's Infant Cognition Lab under the direction of Karen Wynn, Ph.D. Lizzy's senior thesis focused on theory of mind development in 14-and 18-month-olds. Lizzy is also currently taking premedical courses at the premedical postbaccalaureate program at Bryn Mawr College.
Deb is the public relations director and recruitment coordinator for the Developmental Neuroimaging Laboratory and the Center for Autism Research. She received her bachelor's degree with honors in political science from Duke University in 1990 and her juris doctorate with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1994. She has served on a number of boards for disability organizations in the greater Philadelphia area, including the ASCEND Group, Autism Society of America Greater Philadelphia Chapter and the Right to Education Task Force of Delaware County.