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Lab Members

Principal investigator

Vanessa H. Bal, PhD

Karmazin and Lillard Chair in Adult Autism, Associate Professor

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Dr. Vanessa Bal earned her M.Sc. in neuroscience from the University of Oxford and her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan. She also completed her clinical psychology internship at the University of Michigan and a postdoc in human genetics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Bal's research program emphasizes a lifespan perspective to furthering understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adulthood. She employs a variety of approaches to measure and track outcomes and predictors of outcome at different stages of development. In addition to expanding knowledge in these areas, Dr. Bal is leading several projects to develop and refine methods to assess and quantify clinical phenotypes. This includes studies evaluating both biological and behavioral approaches that may be useful in screening and diagnosis, tracking of symptoms across development, and evaluating response to treatment. By emphasizing a multidimensional, lifespan perspective, her research aims to delineate relationships between dimensions of social-communication, language, cognition and emotion in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders in order to inform the development of targeted interventions that capitalize on individual strengths in order to promote well-being for individuals with ASD across the lifespan.

 

RESEARCH STAFF

Macy Turley

Research Coordinator

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Macy is a Research Coordinator for the LifeSPAN ASD Lab. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and has experience in clinical and developmental research studying individual differences within diverse populations. She is excited to strengthen her research skills with clinical populations and prepare to start her Ph.D. In her free time, Macy loves to read, go on hikes with friends, and bake bread.

 

 

 

Ellen Wilkinson

Research Coordinator

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Ellen is a Research Coordinator at the LifeSPAN ASD Lab and has degress in Cognitive Science and Developmental Psychology. She is particularly interested in the use of assessments to inform better clinical support and research practive. She has extensive experience with children and young adults with developmental disabilities and hopes to attain her PhD in Clinical Psychology. Outside of the lab, Ellen gives a lot of love to her dog Lucy and drinks a lot of tea.

 

 

 

 

STUDENTS

Gabrielle Gunin

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Gabrielle is in her first year of the clinical psychology PsyD program. She is interested in supporting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder as they transition to adulthood. Her research interests include socio-emotional functioning, comorbidities, and overall quality of life. Gabrielle is also a certified yoga teacher, and enjoys practicing yoga in her spare time.

 

 

 

 

Nikita Jadav

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Nikita is an undergraduate research assistant in the LifeSPAN ASD Lab at Rutgers University. She is currently majoring in Cell Biology and Neuroscience as well as Psychology. Her research interests include Autism Spectrum DIsorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders. She is looking forward to completeing her undergraduate career, and eventually pursing her interests in neuroscience and psychology in graduate school. In her free time, Nikita loves to read, watch netflix, and swim.

 

 
 

Carina JohnKlein

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Carina is a research assistant in the LifeSPAN ASD Lab and a student in the Applied Psychology program of GSAPP. Her research interests include identifying the cognitive mechanism of ASD and how they change and develop over time. She has experience in home-based ABA therapy, as well in-community behavioral assistance. Ultimately, she wants to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and hopes to provide mental health services to adolecents and adults with Autism. 

 

 
 

norna jules

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Norna is in her first year of studies in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at GSAPP. She started her journey in the field of Autism by providing behavioral therapy as a Registered Behavior Technician and plans to continue providing ABA services. Norna's interests include the assessment and treatment of various neurodevelopmental disorders. She is also interested in learning how to develop treatment programs for low-socioeconomic and minority communities.

 

 

 

Hyein lee

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Hyein is in her third year as a Psy.D. student in clinical psychology. She has begun her journey as an ABA therapist for children with autism in Seoul, Korea, and continued her work with children, adolescents, and adults in Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. She currently works at Tourette’s Syndrome Clinic providing cognitive behavioral therapy for individuals with tic related disorders and various comorbidities including OCD, ADHD, ASD, mood disorder, and more. She is a big fan of the show Friends and likes to paint and play the piano.

 

 

 

Jonathon Liu

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Jonathon Liu is a first year student in the Masters of Applied Psychology student program at Rutgers University. He also currently works as an ABA therapist. His clinical interests involve working with children, adolescents, and young adults with mood and anxiety disorders. After his graduation, he wants to pursue a doctorate degree and continue on to become a clinical psychologist. During his free time, he likes to cook whatever delicious recipes he finds on the internet and play video games. 

 

 

 

Courtney McDermott

cm-head-rsCourtney is a second year Ph.D. student in Neuroscience and Cell Biology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She is ecstatic to work in the LifeSPAN ASD lab in addition to her thesis work in Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom’s lab. Her primary goals throughout her graduate training are to develop the knowledge and skills to think across multiple disciplines of autism research and to better understand how basic science and clinical evaluations can help individuals diagnosed with autism. Her dream is to become an autism scientist and to help affected individuals, including her brother. In her free time, she likes to attend hot yoga classes, journal, and hike.

 

 

Jacqueline Shinall

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Jackie is in her second year as a Psy.D. student at Rutgers GSAPP. She previously obtained a Masters in Neuroscience before beginning her doctorate in clinical psychology. Jackie has almost 10 years of experience working with children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder in a variety of research and clinical settings. She is currently working at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, where she hopes to earn her BCBA. Jackie’s interests in the field revolve around development and assessment of vocational skills in transition-aged young adults on the autism spectrum. She ultimately hopes to become a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist after she graduates from GSAPP. In her free time, she enjoys playing basketball, watching sports and Netflix, and spending time with her family and friends.

 

Jacqueline Smith

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Jackie is in her fourth year of studies in the clinical psychology doctoral program at GSAPP. Her interests include the assessment and treatment of challenging behavior in individuals with developmental disabilities and externalizing disorders. As part of her dissertation work, she is developing a latency-based functional analysis screener to assess automatically maintained problem behavior in adults with autism spectrum disorder. In her free time she likes to run and spend time with her nephews.

 

 
 

Shin Er Teh

Shin-pic-rsShin is in her third year of the clinical psychology PsyD program. Shin has extensive ABA experiences in working with children, adolescents and adults with ASD. She also provides behavioral and social-emotional intervention for children with other disorders including ADHD, selective mutism, anxiety and depression. Shin's research focus is on how parental involvement affects the adaptive functioning of adults with ASD. Shin enjoys snacking, all day, anytime!

 

 

 

Vy Vo

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Le Thao Vy Vo isan undergraduate student majoring in Psychology. She has experience working with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She loves books, traveling and learning new things.

 

 

 

 

Sherri Wilson

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Sherri is a second-year Doctor of Social Work student at Rutgers University. While currently involved in psychiatric genetics research, Sherri is interested in researching strengths in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a licensed social worker, Sherri also works as an outpatient therapist in a private group practice. In her free time she likes to go down to the shore and traveling.

 

 

 

May Yuan

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May Yuan is a second-year Ph.D. student in Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, she completed her Masters at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2018. In the LifeSPAN ASD Lab, May is a part of the clinical team and will help with the Transitioning Together groups for teens with autism and their families. Her research interests include learning ways to provide effective psycho-education to various communities, and providing socio-emotional support and reduce negative outcomes such as bullying for those with disabilities. She is also interested in program evaluation, and investigating best practices for implementation and dissemination.

 

 

Alumni

Rachel Amasah-Dsani

RD-pic-RSRachel is currently an undergraduate student in the School of Public Health at Rutgers. 

 

 

 

 

Megan Fok

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Megan is currently a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD program at Virginia Tech. 

 

 

 

Samreen Rizvi

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Samreen is currently a graduate student in the Masters of Applied Psychology at Rutgers. 

 

 

 

Han Yan

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Han is currently a graduate student in the ABA program at Columbia University.