Our lab members include research faculty, post-doctoral scientists, master’s and doctoral students, post-baccalaureate researchers, and undergraduate students. Our members have expertise and background in neuroimaging, cognitive neuroscience, clinical neuropsychology, developmental psychology, computational science and bioinformatics, linguistics, and neuroanatomy.
Interested in joining our team? Current positions can be found here! We also offer research opportunities to highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students. For more information, email BDIL@sdsu.edu
Ralph-Axel Müller, Ph.D. — Professor, Lab Director
Dr. Müller, aka Axel, has specialized in functional brain imaging of neurodevelopmental disorders and typical child development for over 20 years. Following postdoctoral work on functional plasticity in children with early brain damage, he has applied neuroimaging techniques in autism since the late 1990s. He founded the Brain Development Imaging Laboratory in 2001. He is also one of the founding members of the SDSU Center for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN).
Inna Fishman, Ph.D. — Research Associate Professor, Associate Clinical Director
Research Interests: Social Brain Networks in ASD; Early Brain Development in ASD
Inna’s broad research interests lie in understanding neural mechanisms underlying human social behavior. Her current research efforts focus on applying multimodal approaches (EEG, fcMRI, DTI) to examine the connectivity patterns in brain networks associated with social cognition in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Inna’s research has been funded by the Autism Science Foundation (ASF) and NIMH (K01 and BRAINS R01 awards). Her current work is focusing on characterizing structure and function of cortical networks at the time of first behavioral signs of autism (at age 1.5-2 years), and tracking changes in brain network organization through the full symptom manifestation at age 4-5 years. For more information on Dr. Fishman’s current projects, see scan.sdsu.edu
Ruth Carper, Ph.D. — Research Associate Professor, Associate Director
Research Interests: Neuroanatomy of ASD
Ruth has two areas of research focusing on the brain bases and long-term phenomenology of autism spectrum disorders. (1) She uses structural MRI and Diffusion Tensor Imaging to study the neuroanatomy of autism, how it changes during development, and how these structural differences help to explain differences in cognition. She is working with other BDIL members to combine measures of anatomical connectivity (DTI) with measures of functional connectivity (fcMRI) to better understand the brain bases of autism-related behaviors in toddlers, adolescents, and mature adults. (2) Ruth also has a strong interest in how adults with autism fare as they age. She currently leads a study examining 40 to 65 year olds with autism.
R. Joanne Jao Keehn, Ph.D. — Research Assistant Professor
Research Interests: Neural and Behavioral Development of Multisensory Processing in ASD
Joanne received her doctorate in Cognitive Science and Psychological and Brain Sciences from Indiana University where her dissertation work focused on the neural development of multisensory visual and haptic processing. Joanne’s research interests focus on the development of neural and behavioral mechanisms underlying visual, haptic, and multisensory processing in children with and without autism spectrum disorders. Her work currently involves the use of multimodal imaging techniques, including task-based functional MRI and functional connectivity MRI among others, to examine the impact of sensory development on socio-communicative abilities in young children (aged 4-7 years) with autism.
Mikaela Kinnear, Ph.D. — Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research Interests: Social Cognition & Behavior in ASD
Mikaela received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from University of Colorado, Boulder where her dissertation focused on understanding social functioning in adolescents and young adults with ADHD and continued her research as a postdoctoral fellow at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego, working on studies examining novel assessment and intervention techniques for children and adults with ASD…
Annika Linke, Ph.D. — Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research Interests: Neural Mechanisms of Development
Annika received her doctorate in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge in England and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Brain and Mind Institute, Western University in Canada. Her main interest is understanding how brain function changes over the course of development, and how it is altered in neurodevelopmental disorders. She has worked with neonates, infants, children and adults…
Janice Hau, Ph.D. — Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research Interests: Atypical Structural Connectivity in ASD
Janice received her doctorate in Neuroscience from the University of Bordeaux where her dissertation work focused on using diffusion MRI to study the connectional anatomy of white matter pathways and their asymmetry and variability. Her current research interests span across the neuroanatomy of fiber pathways and diffusion MRI methods, and focus on understanding atypical structural connectivity in autism spectrum disorder using diffusion MRI combined with other imaging methods…
A.R. Jac Fredo, Ph.D. — Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Research Interests: Neuroinformatics
Jac Fredo received his doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Anna University (India) and continued his research as a Research Associate at the Non-Invasive Imaging and Diagnostics Laboratory, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (India). He received a MANF fellowship to pursue his Ph.D and a SERB-IUSSTF fellowship to pursue his post-doctoral research at BDIL. He continually seeks to broaden his scientific…
Bosi Chen — Doctoral Student
Bosi is a doctoral student in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. She graduated from New York University with B.A. in Psychology and Economics. She then worked as a Research Associate at the NYU Child Study Center to study the underlying neural mechanisms of autism and ADHD in children and adolescent. Her current research interest is in brain development of autism with a focus on resting state functional connectivity and neural correlates of restricted and repetitive behaviors.
Feifei Gao — Doctoral Student
Research Project: Heterogeneity of Language Network Connectivity in ASD
Feifei is a PhD student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at SDSU and UCSD. She received her bachelor of science in neuroscience from University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests include exploring higher cognition and phenomonology of neurodevelopmental disorders using multimodal imaging techniques. Prior to working at BDIL, Feifei studied hallucinations and sensory processing…
Afrooz Jahedi, M.A. — Doctoral Student
Research Project: Diagnostic Prediction in Autism using Conditional Random Forest with resting state fcMRI
Afrooz received her second Masters degree in biostatistics from San Diego State University. She got her first Masters in Mathematical statistics from Shiraz University in Iran. Her research interests include Machine Learning and Data Mining, and analyzing the behavior of high-dimensional learning algorithms. She is particularly interested in the computational aspect of learning and decision making.
Jiwandeep Kohli, M.A. — Doctoral Student
Research Interests: Cortical Macro & Microstructure in ASD; Multimodal Neuroimaging Methods
Jiwan completed his undergraduate studies in Psychology at UC Berkeley and received a master’s in Psychology with an emphasis in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience at SDSU. He is broadly interested in applications of multimodal neuroimaging techniques to study ASD and other neurodevelopmental pathology. His current focus lies in structural and diffusion MRI modalities, which he applies to investigate differences in the trajectory of both macroscopic and microscopic features of cortical development in ASD.
Lisa Mash, M.S. — Doctoral Student
Research Interests: Dynamic Functional Connectivity; Multimodal Neuroimaging Methods
Lisa is a PhD student in the SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. She graduated from Binghamton University with a B.S. in Neuroscience, and then worked at Vanderbilt University studying the neural basis of sensory dysfunction in children and adults with autism…
Lindsay Olson — Doctoral Student
Research Interests: Early social and brain development; Health disparities in underserved communities
Lindsay is a PhD student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at SDSU and UC San Diego. She received her BA in Psychology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington where she studied the effects of socio-economic status on adolescent identity development. After graduating, she studied pragmatic language use in children with and without ASD as a research assistant at Oregon Health & Science University.…
Maya Reiter — Doctoral Student
Research Interests: Multi-modal neuroimaging in ASD; Quality of life and psychological well-being
Maya studies the neural substrates of Autism Spectrum Disorder using neuroimaging methods such as fMRI, DTI and MRS. Her research seeks to identify neural mechanisms that are linked to positive outcome and psychological well-being in this population during key stages of life. Maya joined BDIL in August of 2016 as a doctoral student in SDSU/UC San Diego’s Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology…
Tiffany Wang — Doctoral Student
Tiffany is a PhD student in the Psychology department at UC San Diego (UCSD). After graduating from UCSD with a B.A/B.S in psychology and biology, she worked with Dr. Aubyn Stahmer at the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center on ways to deliver evidence-based practices into community settings. Tiffany is jointly working with our lab, as well as with Dr. Leslie Carver’s Developmental Neuroscience Lab at UCSD. She is interested in identifying biological or behavioral markers in infants and toddlers at risk for autism.
Aina Eill — Master’s Student
Research Project: Multivariate Clustering of Multimodal Data
Aina is a Master’s student in the Biomedical Informatics program and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from SDSU. She joined the BDIL in 2014 and has been working on her thesis topic which consists of a multimodal analysis of the in-house dataset using the machine learning algorithm called Conditional Random Forest. Her area’s of interest are neuroinformatics and machine learning algorithms.
Michael Olson — Master’s Student
Research Interests: Functional Connectivity in ASD
Michael received his B.S. in Neuroscience and Psychology from Regis University in Denver, Colorado and is currently a master’s student in psychology at SDSU. His research interests include using functional and structural neuroimaging methods to better understand behavior and neural mechanisms underlying ASD.
Cynthia Ibarra — Master’s Student
Cynthia is a master’s student in Psychology at SDSU. She graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a B.S. in Psychology. As an undergrad, she investigated the role of interactive media and individual differences in children’s cognitive development. She is interested in examining the neural mechanisms underlying social processes in children with ASD.
Perrod Theo Uwimana — Visiting Master’s Student
Research Interests: Sub-typing ASD using multimodal data
Theo is a Master’s student in the Bioengineering program of Swiss Federal Instute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) and graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences and Technologes from there. He joined the BDIL in 2017 and has been working on his thesis topic which consists of identifying subtype of ASD using the subspace clustering and hierarchical clustering . His areas of interest are neuroinformatics and machine learning algorithms.
Ian Shryock — Lab Coordinator
Ian graduated from UC Santa Cruz with degrees in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. Since then, he has taught AP Psychology and worked as a Behavior Interventionist. Additionally, he was a research assistant at the SDSU Center for Understanding and Treating Anxiety, focusing on the role of attentional bias in anxiety disorders and the psychometric properties of laboratory measures of attention. In BDIL since 2018, Ian coordinates all aspects of the Aging in Autism Project and serves as a supervisor to BDIL Research Assistants. Ian plans to pursue a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology.
Vinton Omaleki, MPH — Community Outreach Coordinator
Vinton is a recent graduate of SDSU’s Masters of Public Health program in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science. Specializing in Community Engagement, Vinton is helping us build trust and partnerships between BDIL and the many communities throughout San Diego County and beyond.
Mikaela (Mikki) Orner — Project Coordinator
Mikki received her B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience from UC San Diego in March of 2018. During her time at UCSD she was a research assistant in the Infant Vision Lab and the Wellness Initiative for Senior Enrichment (WISE) Lab. She plans to obtain a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology and hopes to become a Clinical Neuropsychologist. At BDIL, she coordinates participant recruitment for the children and adolescent studies while also conducting cognitive assessments and MRI scans.
Chris Fong — Research Associate
Chris received his B.S. in Psychology from University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and has completed Masters Thesis in psychology at SDSU. In his thesis project, Chris examined functional brain network development in children with ASDs. He is currently working on completing several manuscripts and is assisting with many aspects of the Toddler and Aging Project, including Toddler night scans and neuropsychological assessment of adults with ASDs. Chris’ research interests lie in the intersection between neuropsychology and neuroimaging throughout lifespan.
Sarah Reynolds — Project Coordinator
Research Project: Toddler MRI Project
Sarah has worked with BDIL since January 2016. She graduated from University of San Diego in May 2017, where she obtained a B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience and help various leadership roles in Psychology Club, Mortar Board, Active Minds and Climbing Team. Sarah currently works as a Behavioral Interventionist conducting Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She plans to obtain a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. Her career interests include integrative health psychology and outdoor therapy.
Fardowsa Hassan — Undergraduate Research Assistant
Fardowsa Hassan is in her 4th year of undergraduate studies at SDSU. She is a Psychology major and joined BDIL in August 2017. She hopes to work as a therapist in the future and joined the lab to gain experience in research. She is interested in both Neuropsychology and Clinical Psychology with a specific concentration on children with behavioral disorders. She wants to work with children in schools, based on her experience as an after-school program leader visiting schools in the San Diego Unified School District. She assists with the adult ASD project at BDIL by scoring and entering data from neuropsychological assessments.
Wanda Snell— Post Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Wanda has been a research assistant at BDIL since July 2017. She graduated from UC Berkeley in June 2016, where she obtained a B.A. in Psychology. During her undergraduate studies she conducted research at Berkeley’s Auditory Perception Lab, where she investigated semantic and phonetic comprehension for cochlear implant technologies. She is interested in developing expertise in brain imaging methods, and is currently an EEG technician for Grossmont Hospital’s Electrodiagnostic Center. Wanda is planning to apply to medical schools in the near future.
Chantal Chaaban— Undergraduate Research Assistant
Chantal Chaaban is an undergraduate student at SDSU studying Psychology. She joined BDIL in October 2017 and has been assisting with the Aging in ASD study by scoring behavioral protocols, entering data, and attending MRI scans. She has a passion for working with children and plans to be a Pediatric Occupational Therapist in the near future. Outside of school and research, she interns for an Occupational Therapist and helps kids improve their cognitive, motor, and social skills.
Michelle Ortega— Undergraduate Research Assistant
Michelle Ortega is an undergraduate student at SDSU majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Counseling and Social Change and an Honors Minor in Interdisciplinary studies from the Weber Honors College. She joined BDIL in September of 2017. She mainly works with the Adult ASD Study by scoring neuropsychological assessments and helping with MRI scans. She is also working with the Diffusion Tensor Imaging software “TRACULA” to examine white matter tracts in the brain. In the future, she hopes to pursue a Clinical Neuropsychology program and obtain her PhD. She has a passion for autism and would love to continue to specialize in autism research/treatment.
Katherine Paszek— Post Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Katherine has been a research assistant at BDIL since December 2017. She graduated from Syracuse University in May 2017 where she obtained a B.S in Psychology. Katherine has been involved in Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy as well as intervention research since May of 2016 and hopes to further her education through obtaining a PhD in Clinical Psychology. She is passionate about autism research and hopes to learn more about the neurological signs of autism to further and expand opportunities for treatment for individuals with autism.
Mercedes Palacio— Undergraduate Research Assistant
Mercedes is an SDSU student, majoring in Psychology with a minor in statistics. Mercedes joined BDIL in January 2018 and is assisting with the Toddler Project. She is passionate about childhood development and neuroscience and hopes to further expand her knowledge on cognitive neuroscience to better understand and provide for children with neurological disorders. In the near future she hopes to obtain her Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology with an emphasis in pediatrics..
Ashley Baker— Undergraduate Research Assistant
Ashley is an undergraduate student at SDSU studying psychology with a statistics minor. She joined the lab in January 2018 and is assisting with the Aging in ASD project through data entry and scoring. In the future she would like to pursue a doctoral degree in neuropsychology, specializing in autism and neurodegenerative disorders.
Ian Martindale — Undergraduate Research Assistant
Ian is a third-year undergraduate and is majoring in psychology at SDSU. He joined BDIL in January 2018. He is interested in social development and neuropsychology. After graduating, he plans on pursuing a PhD.
Ryan Tung — Undergraduate Research Assistant
Ryan Tung is a first year undergraduate student at SDSU majoring in psychology. He joined BDIL in February 2018. He is interested in neuropsychology. In the future, he plans to obtain a PhD in Neuropsychology and be a researcher.
Juliana Lucena— Undergraduate Research Assistant
Juliana is a junior student at the University of San Diego, majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Biomedical Ethics. She joined BDIL in February 2018 and is currently working on the Toddler MRI study. In the future, she hopes to pursue a postdoctoral degree in Clinical Psychology and work with children with behavioral disorders.
Ashley Manley — Post Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Ashley is a graduate from California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM) and obtained a B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development. She joined the BDIL lab in November 2017 as a research assistant. She hopes to continue her education to obtain a PhD and is interested in developmental psychology and neuropsychology.
Julia Pastrana — Undergraduate Research Assistant
Julia is an undergraduate student at SDSU working towards a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Child and Family Development. She joined the lab as a research assistant in January 2018 and mainly focuses on the child and adolescent studies. Julia enjoys working with children and is greatly interested in disorders of development. As a research assistant, she hopes to discover more about child development, as well as about different approaches used to help those who are affected by developmental disorders. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career as a Occupational Therapist for elementary school-aged children.
Kalekirstos Alemu — Undergraduate Research Assistant
Kalekirstos is graduate from San Diego State University where he double majored in Public Health and Psychology. He joined BDIL as a research assistant in July 2018. He hopes to attain a doctoral degree in neuropsychology and become a researcher.
Courtney Parker— MA, APPC
Courtney is a graduate from the University of San Diego where she obtained a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She joined BDIL in June 2018 and is mainly focused on the child and adolescent studies. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D in Clinical Neuropsychology in the near future with an emphasis on neurodegenerative disorders. Outside of lab, Courtney currently works as an Addictive Disorders Counselor at Alvarado Parkway Institute Behavioral Health Systems
Past Post-Doctoral Researchers (and Where Are They Now)
Katherine Turner, Ph.D. — Associate Director of Psychology Undergraduate Advising, SDSU
Erica Palmer, Ph.D. — Research Scientist, Pacific Science & Engineering Group, Inc.
Monika Kast, Ph.D. — School Psychologist, Zurich School District, Switzerland
Dinesh Shukla, Ph.D. — Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland
A.R. Jac Fredo, Ph.D. — Centre for Bio Devices and Signal Analysis (VALENS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Past Graduate Students (and Where Are They Now)
Angela Abbott, M.A. — Psychometrist, Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, AZ
Surina Basho, Ph.D — Director of Research in Learning Disabilities, Morrisey-Compton Educational Center, San Francisco, CA
Christine Brown, M.A. — Director of Research and Compliance, Pacific Science & Engineering Group, Inc.
Laurie Brenner, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor, Dept. of Neurology, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA
Erin Burns, M.A. — Lab Manager, The Child Language and Cognitive Processes Lab, SDSU
Colleen Chen, M.A. — Doctoral Student in Cognitive Science, UC Irvine
Mike Datko, Ph.D. — Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, Worcester, MA
Janae Deyoe, M.A — Study Coordinator, UC San Diego CARE Program
Michael Gaffrey, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology & Neuroscience, Duke University
Merage Ghane, B.S. — Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, Virginia Tech
Emily Grenesko, M.A. — Neuroimaging Research Manager, UCSD Eating Disorders Treatment and Research Program
Kai Hwang, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Iowa
Kiley Hill, M.A. — Research Assistant, Gleeson Neurogenetics Lab, UC San Diego
Amanda Kahn, M.A. — Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, Suffolk University
Brandon Keehn, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, Indiana
Chris L. Keown, M.A. — Doctoral Student in Cognitive Science, UCSD
Anna Christina Macari, M.A. — Neuroimaging Research Associate, UCSD
Samantha Marshall, M.A. — Instructor, MiraCosta College, San Diego, CA
Alecia Moser, M.S. — Graduate Student at Binghamton University
Aarti Nair, Ph.D. — Postdoctoral Fellow, UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior
Sangeeta Nair, M.A. — Doctoral Student in Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birgit Öttl, Ph.D. — Professional School of Education, , Germany
Erin Parks, Ph.D. — Clinical Psychologist, Director of Outreach and Admissions, UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center
Theo Perrod Uwimana, M.S. (Visiting Graduate Student) — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)
Colin Porter, M.A.
Mike Rubio, M.A., BCBA —Case Manager, Psychiatric Centers at San Diego (PCSD)
Sandra Sanchez, M.A. — Study Coordinator, UC San Diego CARE Program
Mark Shen, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Patricia Shih, M.A. — Doctoral Student in Cognitive Neuroscience, Brown University
Claire Stewart, M.A. — Research Associate, Affiliated Research Institute
Vicky Weiqi Zhao, M.A. — Doctoral Student in Cognitive Science, UC San Diego
Past Research Staff (and Where Are They Now)
Shadia Assi, MPH — Dept. of Family Medicine and Public Health, UC San Diego
Past Undergraduate Students (and Where Are They Now)
Akiko Mizuno, Ph.D. — Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie-Mellon University
Aurora Ramos, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Coastal Georgia, Brunswick, GA
Becky Bazzill, B.A.
Brad Monk, M.A. — Doctoral Student in Psychology, UC San Diego
Brent Jensen, B.A. — Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant, Center for Understanding and Treating Anxiety
Francisco Velasquez, Ph.D. — Integrated Brain Imaging Center, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Jeff Treiber, M.D. — Resident Physician, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Lancey Pratt, B.A. — Doctoral Student in Speech, University of Colorado, Boulder
Michael Toussaint, B.A. — Master’s Student in Neuropsychology, University of Maastricht
Michele Villalobos, Ph.D. — Assistant Professor and Clinical Director of TEACCH Autism Center, UNC School of Medicine
Omar Maximo, B.A. — Doctoral Student in Developmental Psychology, University of Alabama, Birmingham
Ryan Cardinale, B.A. — Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, University of Michigan
Saba Al-Jawad, B.A. — Research Technician, Johnson & Johnson
Jansyn Spradling, B.A. — PsyD Student, Alliant University, San Diego
Sarah Levy, B.A. — Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, Suffolk University
Kelly Leyden, B.A. — Doctoral Student in Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK
Shae Dinino, M.A. — Doctoral Student in Neurobiology and Behavior, University of Washington
Shelly Jones, B.A.
Valerie Posada, B.A.
Yuliana Cabrera, B.A. — Project Coordinator, UCS Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute (ATRI)
Nicholas Ray, B.A. — Graduate Student at Harvard Graduate School of Education
Laura Alba, M.A. — Doctoral Student in School Psychology at UC Riverside
Seraphina Solders, B.A. — Doctoral Student in Neuroscience at UCSD
Nicole Baggett, B.A. — Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology at Pacific University
Elly Pueschel, B.A. — Doctoral Student in Developmental Psychology at University of Southern California (USC)
Irene Demarco, B.A. — Traveling the world post-graduation